By: Diane Stirling
Two graduates of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) were among those involved in this summer’s Syracuse Student Sandbox, and they pitched their business concepts at the entrepreneurship incubator’s Demo Day showcase last Friday.
May bachelor’s-degree graduate Max Matthews presented his concept, Tandem, an in-classroom communications application. Also presenting on the Demo Day stage was Faten Matmati, who received her master’s degree in information management in May. Her startup, KrossTalk, connects all types of messaging apps.
Matthews, who describes himself as a full stack developer, said his application “makes every class more engaging.” The Information Management and Technology major and IDS minor now plans to take his app into iSchool classrooms this fall for beta testing and feedback. He hopes to work with several iSchool faculty members throughout that semester. Then, in January, he wants to start monetizing his product while finding ways to help him move the app to market.
Tandem is already available in the Apple App store, on Google Play and from his website, Matthews said.
As someone who also experienced a semester-long Sandbox immersion last fall, the condensed, six-week summer experience was “absolutely awesome” and realistic, he said. “I was here in the fall, and came back in the summer, and kind of made it my home. Just to have access and be able to run business ideas by people is a great, stimulating environment,” the founder added.
Faten Matmati, a May master's graduate, spent a previous semester in the Student Sandbox, too. Based on Sandbox director and iSchool adjunct faculty member John Liddy’s encouragement, she decided to re-enter the Sandbox. The six-week summer session provided her another period of focus and more opportunity to make added progress on her company, KrossTalk, she said. Her startup lets users connect from their favorite messaging app and reach out to their contacts, wherever they are.
“I made a lot of progress in six weeks,” Faten said. “I really liked the aspects of everyone being here every day the whole week, of it being like a real work space, the students helping each other, and the presence of the international students,” added the native of Tunisia. Faten has been at Syracuse University as a Fulbright scholar for the past two years. Her goal now is to raise the funds to take her company’s technology closer to market, and to be able to hire the employee team that will help her do that. Her web site is www.krosstalk.com.
This year’s Student Sandbox was a disruption from previous summer Sandbox models, noted Liddy. The shorter term–taking it from start to conclusion in six weeks versus 12, was done “ so we can get students and entrepreneurs out there in front of customers early. We want to get them out there in the world to practice what they preach, to go out and entertain clients, and to work with people,” Liddy said.
Another difference in this year’s Sandbox was the addition of 26 International students from Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia, and six mentors who came along with them. “Those students taught us something,” Liddy described during the pitch presentations. “What we’ve learned from our counterparts across the ocean is that traction and getting customers matter. We’re making interactions earlier and that interaction has been really vital,” he added.
Startups that pitched ideas at the Demo Day event included:
Hypeist – a beacon-based scavenger hunt app for brand engagement
Klastic– a shoe company
Park Amigo – a parking space rental and use app
YOY Studio– leather bags and accessories
Urangle– localized video sharing
Me.More.Ideas – a scrapbook platform and product
ExPrep– Microsoft Excel training software
Arafatea – Tea education and service
Uniportal – a localized online market
UMA– fashion bags made of bamboo
Gilded Social– turns any device into social ad space
Hejo– a waste management company
Kross Talk– connecting all messaging apps
Griya Jamur – mushroom cultivation
Tandem – an in-classroom communication app
GDG– adventure bag and community
MagiTech– Internet of Things and a personal product
We.Bid – Indonesian ingredient discovery
Blue Defib– an emerging market defibrillator
Also presenting at the tradeshow were the following teams:
Angkasatrams– an online travel agency
Aware golf– a golf swing app using sensors
Figo– a coffee shop in Bandung, Indonesia
Hitam– a clothing line
Joy’s Jell-shots – pre packaged Jello shots
Planned– a smart sleeping lamp
Raffy– a website for readers and publishers
Roffee– a dessert company
Roux– a pop-up dining experience
Syver Vermond– a specialty handbag company
This is me– a clothing line
Wips– a shoe and sandal distributor