Last week was a busy one for the IgniteU team. With three different events, our week was full of supporting entrepreneurs, stimulating speakers, and lots of networking.

1.     Troy Small-Business Summit


We kicked off the first half of the week with the Troy Small-Business Summit. The event, held in the Center of Gravity, showcased small businesses and entrepreneurs in Troy.  The keynote given by Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda, was a thought-provoking speech on why he and his cofounders chose to grow their business here in Troy. He said, “You need to realize improbable and impossible are two different things” when you start growing your company in Upstate New York.

Schuller also spoke about how their company puts a strong emphasis on developing the people within their organization, because cultivating smart, driven people will, in turn, be able to drive economic growth and prosperity within a region. The speech set the tone for the rest of the day and the workshops.


The workshops held in IgniteU NY and the Center of Gravity were designed to provide small-business owners and entrepreneurs with advice and hands-on training from other successful business owners in Troy. The topics ranged from simplifying a digital marketing strategy to how to properly manage staff growth and scaling. The great day of events capped off with a networking mixer sponsored by the Ruck and Troy BID.

It was an excellent end to the day, enabling attendees to connect and build relationships in the community.

2.     Blackstone Launchpad and Techstars


On Wednesday, IgniteU sent Bruce and Elyssa down to NYC to partake in the Blackstone Launchpad and Techstars event.  Blackstone Launchpad and Techstars joined forces to bring two startups from 20 universities into the Blackstone Launchpad program.  Over the course of the two days, these startups listened to successful entrepreneurs, received one-on-one mentoring, and were able to network with other startup companies from across the country and abroad.


IgniteU was invited to attend the event by the Blackstone Launchpad at SUNY University at Albany, which had Tony Hoang from Advanced Modular Instruments and Nancy Min from EcoLong take part in the two-day workshop. We attended the finalist showcase, in which seven out of the 40 Blackstone Launchpad startups pitched live for funding and a trip to Techstars FounderCon. The event showcased cross collaboration between two prominent organizations that are helping develop the future of entrepreneurship.

After the seven companies pitched, the crowd voted on a winner via text message. The grand-prize winner, which received $15,000 and a trip to Techstars FounderCon, was Syracuse’s SparkCharge! It was awesome to have an Upstate company win the grand prize.

3.     Weather Solutions for Ground Transportation

IgniteU closed out the week of events on Thursday with Weather Solutions for Ground Transportation, held on UAlbany’s campus in collaboration with Innovate 518 and the Center of Excellence in Weather Enterprise at UAlbany. The event was designed to feature ground transportation solutions that increase the breadth of cloud-based weather services and traffic insights to improve critical business decisions and optimize business performance. The extremely informative event started with AccuWeather’s Jonathon Porter speaking on how he integrates weather data with AccuWeather’s products.


The highlight of the event was hearing from the four local startups that are working to develop innovations in weather technology. We heard from EcoLong, Stonewall Defense, TruWeather Solutions, and Actasys. You can learn more about these companies by visiting their websites.

All in all, it was a great week filled with creative collisions and fostering innovations!