By: J.D. Ross
As part of the Raymond von Dran Innovation and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA) , the Student Sandbox is a business acceleration program that provides aspiring student entrepreneurs with the resources and professional connections they need to turn their business visions into reality. The objective of the Sandbox is to promote the process of ideation, development and deployment through mentorship and coaching. The 14-week program culminates with a Demo Day event, and has an end goal of producing revenue-generating entities or investment-ready firms.
“The unique partnership between the University, CenterState CEO, the local business community, and other institutions — coupled with the creativity of college students who are creating diverse companies — significantly enhances our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said John Liddy, Sandbox director and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Sandbox’s Tech Garden location.
Isaac Budmen, an incoming School of Information Studies graduate student, is part of a team participating in the Sandbox this summer. Budmen’s company, Little Tinker Co., works to connect social media platforms with the tangible world. Their projects include a gumball machine that will dispense product based on a Foursquare location-based service check-in.
“The Sandbox has provided an incredible environment for Little Tinker, both as a company and as creative individuals, acting as a catalyst for the development and growth of our company vision, product life cycle and respective disciplines,” explained Budmen. “The mentorship we have received has been a vital component in our mission to building a more delightful internet-connected future.”
The Sandbox was established in 2009 and hosted just 5 companies in its first year. Teams grew to 12 in 2010, 21 in 2011 and 34 teams make up this summer’s cohort. The entrepreneurial community has also grown with nearly 120 mentors involved with the student teams (compared to 4 in 2009).
In addition to the Sandbox, three other institutions from New York State had incubator programs that made the list – Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Stony Brook, and NYU-Poly.
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