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Commercialization Academy’s Demo Day Sees Local Startups Win Big; Awards $50,000

ROME, NY — Griffiss Institute, along with Wasabi Ventures, hosted five local startups that had completed the 2015 Commercialization Academy, as they pitched an audience of 100+, on how they have been disrupting the market with Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) technologies as a pivotal part of their business model, at Demo Day, this past Monday, October 5, 2015.

$50,000 was up for grabs as teams took the stage for four minutes each, to pitch audience members and a panel of judges, that their startup company and AFRL technology-based products and services, were most deserving of the money.

The five startup teams who took the stage on Monday evening were; Synerji, Lilo, SkyTubeLive, VidFall and Critical Signal Receivers.

Online shopping service VidFall walked away with the judges’ vote and $25,000, while Lilo, a hydration production company, won the audience vote and $25,000.

VidFall co-founder Joel Robinson said, "We are so proud of the hard work that we've done, and that it's being recognized by people who really believe in the product that we've built, the growth and the traction that we've seen, and that they believe that we're going to bring new jobs to New York.”

"I'm from here, and I really wanted to be able to stay here, and make this into a success for this area. So to win, definitely reassures me that it's going to happen," said Stacey Smith, co-founder of Lilo, who went on to add, “I can't even tell you how excited I am right now!”

The judges looked at how each team is using AFRL technologies, and the innovative ways they each currently bring, or will bring, these technologies to the public market.

The Commercialization Academy is blazing a path in Department of Defense (DoD) IP Tech Transfer; fundamentally changing the way a startup gets built by pairing hungry entrepreneurs with AFRL technologies, creating new companies to impact local ecosystems. The Commercialization Academy is creating the building blocks for a stronger community in the Mohawk Valley.

"The Commercialization Academy represents a transformative approach to doing tech transfer at a research lab. The combining of hands-on mentoring, local funding, founders with domain expertise, and world-class intellectual property from the labs, has created the ability to create scalable companies that impact the entire ecosystem,” said Wasabi Ventures general partner TK Kuegler.

Over the past ten months, the 2015 Commercialization Academy, run by The Alva Group and Wasabi Ventures, has seen 24 individuals setting out to transform Air Force Research Laboratory technologies into new startups, with five startups developed. With the full support of Wasabi Ventures’ mentoring and education, including hundreds of constructive meetings and thousands of interactions, each team was able to accomplish a tremendous amount. All five teams were able to create a legal entity, license their piece of Intellectual Property (IP), spec up product designs, learn the proper way to pitch their IP, develop a go-to-market, and define their growth strategies, which all lead up to Demo Day.

The Commercialization Academy is looking for the next great founder. The next program begins in January 2016. Contact Griffiss Institute for more information at 315-838-1696.

Photo (l-r): Stacey Smith, co-founder of Lilo, stands with Steve Messa and Joel Robinson, co-founders of VidFall, after wining the Demo Day audience and judges’ vote, respectively. (Photo by: Simon Eisenbach Productions)

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