By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

Four student groups affiliated with School of Information Studies (iSchool) programs and the iSchool-hosted Student Sandbox won top awards in last week’s university-wide Panasci Business Plan competition.

The student groups won the first, second and third places in the competition, while another iSchool team was recognized with the “Dreamer and Doer” award, plus was named recipient of the inaugural Goldberg Prize for Technology and Innovation. The teams were judged based on how their new venture ideas represented the best potential for growth and attracting outside financing.

Prizes won and the teams involved are:

Top place, a $25,000 cash award, was presented to the team of Kyle McShane, Gerald (Jerry) Decelian, Benjamin Joseph and Dylan Hsu, for their business, Fiesta Frog. Decelian is an iSchool graduate (2011) and McShane is currently a graduate student at the iSchool. The group will work in the Student Sandbox this summer.

Second place, a $10,000 prize, was won by Craftistas, another team that will start in the Student Sandbox this summer. The team consists of Camille Malkiewicz, Marissa Rehkopf, Troy Zellers, Marina Zarya.

Third place, an award of $5,000, went to James Barrett Co., a spring 2011 Student Sandbox participant.

The “Dreamer and Doer” award recognition and the Goldberg Prize for Technology and Innovation (a new $2,500 cash prize) was awarded to the team for PsyQic. It includes iSchool doctoral student Keisuke Inoue and Master’s program student Bin Zhu; plus Laura Beachy and Gabrielle Gosselin.

The competition for business startups and technology entrepreneurs is hosted annually by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship and the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) at Syracuse University.  It is known as one of the premier cross-campus business plan competitions in the country, and it is it is open to students from all Syracuse University schools and from neighboring SUNY-ESF, according to Whitman School organizers.

Fiesta Frog is a website that automatically updates users about social events that are taking place in their area and that allows promoters to easily and effectively advertise their events. The website launched in Syracuse in mid-October 2011 and currently has more than 4,000 users in that market.  It expanded to Albany, NY recently, gaining 1,200 users, and has plans to move into the Boston and Philadelphia markets this fall.

PsyQic (pronounced “psychic”) is a first-in-kind mobile/web service, where people exchange questions and predictions about the future on various topics.  It is a platform where people can learn about topics of interest, share predictions, and have fun.  However, PsyQic  also allows users to gain online information credibility and learn about good information resources (e.g. books, podcasts) to make a prediction and follow questions or prediction from their friends.

Craftistas aims to eliminate the tedium of do-it-yourself crafting by offering pre-assembled craft kits through a monthly subscription website.  Craftistas’ web presence is  both an e-commerce site and a crafting community that collaborates to deliver desired products.

James Barrett Co. is a firm that designs, produces and retails original graphic apparel having a positive message. The company has sold more than 3,500 products from more than 31 Barrett Co. states since April 2010. Its local outlet is at J. Michael on Marshall Street in Syracuse.