, a Web 2.0 company created by a team of Syracuse University students, has been named one of five finalists competing for $200,000 in New York’s Creative Core® Emerging Business Competition. Their hope is to not only win this competition, but also to act as a catalyst for other technology and web-based
start-ups in the region.

Brand-Yourself is run by:

  • Pete Kistler ’10, a student in the School of Information Studies (iSchool), who serves as CEO;
  • Robert Sherman ’09, G’11, an iSchool/Whitman School of Management alumnus, iSchool graduate student, and an Engagement Fellow, who serves as CTO/CFO;
  • Evan Watson ’11, a Whitman School of Management student, who is chief evangelist; and
  • Patrick Ambron ’09, an alumnus of the Newhouse School of Public Communications, who serves as CMO.

“We are honored beyond belief,” Ambron said. “We’ve all put our heads down and worked day and night for the last year to turn this idea into a revenue-generating company. We’ve been fortunate to have the support of the community and to be recognized by this competition is both gratifying and humbling, and I believe, a sign of things to come from us.”

Brand-Yourself is the first web platform for job applicant
s to diagnose, manage and monitor their personal online brand through the power of social media. The online platform provides easy-to-use instructions on how to create, maintain and expand their online presence while giving them control over information displayed through Google searches.

“Our colleagues were losing and winning opportunities because of their activity online,” Kistler said. “Their reputations have always mattered, but where people research them shifted online. 80 million people are Googled daily. We grew up using social media and understand its power for good, so in the worst job market since the Great Depression, we built a toolset that empowers the average Joe to tap the social web to win new jobs, clients, and business.” and the other four finalists will make their ultimate pitch for the grand prize before a panel of distinguished judges—nationally recognized financial experts, venture capitalists, and investors—on Tuesday, April 27, 4 to 6 p.m., in Storrs Auditorium at Onondaga Community College. The event will also feature the announcement of the $6,000 Student Business Idea
competition winner.

Last year, Brand-Yourself attracted a lot of attention when it was named a finalist in the New York’s Creative Core Student Business Idea competition. also won second place and $10,000 in the Whitman School of Management’s Panasci Business Plan Competition in spring 2009, and in April 2009, the Kairos Society named one of the top 100 most innovative student startup companies in the country and recognized the team with the Best Marketing Award. The company was also among five finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2009.

Despite their winnings and success, Brand-Yourself has maintained its original company goals: “To grow the business quickly and return the support of the community and University by helping CNY retain talent and turn it into a hub for high-growth Internet start-ups,” Ambron said.

The contest spurred from a study conducted by The Essential New York Initiative®, the Metropolitan Development Association’s (MDA). The study showed that Central Upstate was lagging in new business formation, patent growth, and venture capital investment. These findings led to the MDA’s strategic plan to transform the Central New York Region into a globally competitive knowledge-based economy. The Emerging Business, Innovations in Agriculture, and Student Business Idea competitions are growth programs developed as a direct result of Essential’s recommendations.

“We’re demolishing the stigma of Silicon Valley being the only place rapid-growth software companies thrive,” Kistler said. “CNY has all the right pieces to become a Mecca for Internet startups. All it needs is an example of success. We’ve made it our mission to make Central New York a hub for cutting edge, high-growth young startups by leading the way.”

The New York’s Creative Core® Emerging Business Competition is the largest privately-funded competition of its type in the nation. This year more than 30 sponsoring companies are supporting the competition and ultimately the success of
these finalists.

New this year, audience members will be able to weigh in on the finalists presentations and vote for their favorites. Each company will have a five digit code associated with it. Audience members will use that code to send a text from their mobile phones. The audience’ choice will be considered by judges as they make their final selections.

“We want to better engage the audience and to encourage the community to learn more about the incredible technologies being developed in Central Upstate,” said Mitchell Patterson, director of business initiatives for the Metropolitan Development Association.”After hearing the finalists’ presentations audience members will be able to vote for the company they feel will have the biggest impact on our region’s growth.”

The grand prize winner of the $200,000 Emerging Business Competition will be announced during the MDA’s Annual Meeting at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at OnCenter in May.

New York’s Creative Core® $200K Emerging Business Competition finalists:

  • Brand Yourself, LLC, Syracuse: Brand-Yourself is the first web platform that empowers individuals to manage their entire online reputation from one central hub, and establish a remarkable web presence by harnessing the power of social media. The platform makes it easy for customers to control how they are perceived online from their Google results to their social networking profiles, and helps them network by tapping the data of the social web.
  • Floodwatch, LLC Ithaca: FloodWatch has developed a patent pending cost-effective optical based water sensor. Typically mounted on the ceiling, this technology is able to detect very small quantities of water (and other fluids) in a safe and reliable manner, while supporting a wide range of applications. The water sensor detects the presence of moisture, leaks, or flooding without touching the surface that it monitors. It is placed upwards of 14 feet from the floor and has a detection circle of 40 inches in diameter. The FloodWatch solution will notify building owners on a local or remote basis, including through security monitoring systems, building management systems or via a simple cell phone text message or email.
  • GeneWeave Biosciences, LLC, Ithaca: GeneWeave Biosciences is commercializing a disruptive bacterial detection technology developed at Cornell University. The diagnostic testing technology will rapidly determine drug-resistance and toxicity of bacteria with results accurate to the genetic level, while requiring no laboratory or expensive equipment, at one-tenth the production costs of
  • Microgen, LLC, Ithaca: MicrGen’s energy harvester prototype chips are synergistic with batteries including advanced long-life batteries. It harvests the energy created by vibrations which can then be used in a range of applications. They have successfully fabricated 3 wafer MEMS which have demonstrated increasing voltage, power and yield.
  • Sound Reading Solutions, LLC, Ithaca: Sound Reading Solutions provides Reading Therapy software to improve reading abilities in children and adults by using proprietary cognitive learning methods. Sound Reading creates Reading Therapy to effectively help the brain match sounds to the symbols on a written page.