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Startup Roundup: Cuselight – A College Resource Network

Student Startup Madness
Student Startup Madness

Student Startup Madness (SSM), a national tournament-style competition for college student digital media startups, began its 2015 competition by announcing that 64 startup teams from across the nation made it to the first round of the competition. Six teams from Syracuse University were among them.

Then, according to the SSM official website, eight more teams were chosen to pitch at SXSW’s Interactive Events competition for the title of SSM National Champion. The national champion was chosen this week, and the results can be found here.

Last year, however, Platypus TV, a startup from Syracuse University, made it to the finals for appearances at SXSW Interactive and proudly represented our campus. (To learn more about the team members’ experiences, visit their article on IDEA, an on-campus organization targeted to provide the necessary resources and connections for young ideas and startups.)

This series looks at the six Syracuse University teams that placed in the original standings.

Six SU Teams

They are: Contact, CUSELIGHT, HoundDog, Out There Productions, S.R.T.E.X., and Ulocal.

Today, we’re looking at Cuselight.

Who: Aldrine Ashong-Katai

What: A network that is exclusive to a University that connects students within local environments and provide access to resources.

Where: Syracuse University

When: 2012

The Problem: Students simply do not have access to resources. For example, students buy textbooks at retail prices but are not able to sell them back for a reasonable price. As a result, most of the resources pile up and are thrown away.

Who’s Behind Cuselight?

Aldrine Ashong-Katai
Aldrine Ashong-Katai

Aldrine was a Public Health major, a Business Management minor, and on the Pre-med track for his undergraduate career at SU. Without a doubt a go-getter, Aldrine decided to come back for his Master’s degree for Information Management in the iSchool. He is a devoted student who overcomes the excuses most people make, and he makes the most out of every situation.

While he is the sole founder of Cuselight, Aldrine also works with Morgan Striggles, SU Alum, and with a team of developers overseas in India.

While he admits it is always difficult to work remotely, Aldrine’s outgoing personality allows him to work extremely well with his team members despite the distance. Companies with remote positions and employees need engaging and dedicated leaders like Aldrine in order to get anything done.

How Does it Work?

The idea for Cuselight was born in 2012 during the course, EEE 370, Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises. Three years later in January, the website for Cuselight was launched, gradually providing more and more resources to the students of Syracuse University. In the future, Aldrine and his team hope to expand the network to other Universities. Aldrine shares his insight on his company:

“Why take advantage of the youth when they’re trying to get an education, trying to help their family?”

Through Cuselight, there is a mutual benefit for students that are either selling or buying through a single interface. Using the service, students no longer need to see their resources eventually pile up and be thrown away. This service works for everything: furniture, living supplies, paying money for storage, and also serves as a sustainability initiative.

This video illustrates what Aldine’s company is all about:

Typical Business Days

Aldrine’s work days are spontaneous. He checks his business email constantly throughout the day, on top of being a full time student. Throughout his work with Cuselight, he saw the importance in the science of marketing.

Currently, he promotes his service and the available products through Facebook to gain exposure. Aldrine also keeps in contact with his current users through email. Taking the time to communicate with his users shows how invested Aldrine is to the immediate Syracuse University community.

Why the Name?

Aldrine adds his personal experiences to the name Cuselight. Since the company was founded in the city of Syracuse, he added “Cuse” to the first half of the name. He added “Light” to the second half because his father had his own business, called FanLight. Aldrine also saw that the name “Light” figuratively represented showing students the way, through empowerment. This brief background adds to the value and importance of the company name.

What’s Next for Cuselight?

For the near future, the Cuselight team is working hard to develop the iOS and Android compatible app. This will add significant convenience for both the company and the users, as they are able to quickly browse through the resources through their smartphone.

Aldrine also recently implemented a special promotion. He dropped one $10 giftcard every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (the value was for restaurants on Marshall Street, including Starbucks, Insomnia, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, and Subway). If students sign up through the website and list at least one item, they are eligible to win the gift card. Aldrine personally delivers these promotional rewards, showing his passion and motivation for his company.

Are you interested in Cuselight and how you can post your books, furniture, or other belongings? Check out Cuselight on Facebook! And send any comments you may have about the service here!

Hikari Matsuo

Currently, I am a senior in the iSchool majoring in Information Management and Technology with a Global Enterprise Technology minor. Recently, I picked up a growing interest in the upcoming Internet of Things and am curious about its applications in the future. Tweet me, connect with me, let's talk!

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