Winners Announced for Emerging Business Competition

SYRACUSE, N.Y.The Central Upstate Regional Alliance announced today Brand-Yourself, of Syracuse, is the winner of the $200,000 grand prize in the New York’s Creative Core® Emerging Business Competition. The first company to win the $50,000 runner up prize is ZetrOZ, LLC of Ithaca.

“We are creating a hub for high growth young start ups in the region and showing that you don’t have to move to Silicon Valley to grow a tech start-up,” said Pete Kistler, CEO of Brand-Yourself. “With this prize we are ready to invest in customer acquisitions with several distribution partners and drive more traffic to the site to scale up business. “

Brand-Yourself technology makes it easy for people 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. Learn more at

Brand-Yourself was a finalist in the New York’s Creative Core® Emerging Business Competition in 2010 and a participant in the student competition in 2009.

“Brand-Yourself is the youngest group of entrepreneurs to ever claim the competition’s top prize,” said Robert M. Simpson, president of CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity. “This team has worked to take an idea they developed as students at Syracuse University and advance it through the help of regional mentors into a viable company. We are excited to award them this prize as we know they will return our investment, not only in dollars, but in their support of the region’s future entrepreneurs.”

“Winning this prize means we can scale up manufacturing capabilities quicker and generate revenue faster,” said Bryant Guffey, CEO and Co-Founder of ZetrOZ. “This is a fantastic opportunity to jumpstart our May product launch and expand our upstate NY facilities.”In addition to awarding the competition’s grand prize, ZetrOZ, LLC of Ithaca was announced as the first company to win the $50,000 runner up prize.

ZetrOZ, makes the world’s smallest ultrasound therapy system. Unlike competitor devices on the market today, its system is battery powered and wearable. Devices are used to reduce pain and increase rate of healing without the use of drugs or repeat doctor’s office visits.

“Each year we receive numerous entries to this competition, this new prize gives us the opportunity to recognize another competitive finalist” said Allen J. Naples, regional president, of title sponsor M&T Bank. “This prize is more than a way to help ZetrOZ advance its product it also provides the support ZetrOZ may need to attract attention from additional investors.”

Brand-Yourself beat out 100 companies to be named the region’s most innovative and growth- oriented business. The competition’s $200,000 grand prize will be given to Brand-Yourself as a convertible note. The prize will be a 0% interest investment in the company, which can be converted to an equity note.

“The quality of our finalists made choosing these winners exceptionally difficult for our judges,” said Patrick J. MacKrell, president and CEO of New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC). “Each of these companies is capable of positively impacting our region’s economy. Designating a winner for the $200,000 and $50,000 prizes doesn’t signal the end of our support for the rest of the finalists. We look forward to working with each company and fostering their growth.”

Additional Finalists in the New York’s Creative Core® $250K Emerging Business Competition:

Haledyne, LLC, Syracuse: Haledyne, Inc. is a UV-C lighting technology development company that designs, manufactures and distributes air sterilization products with the mission of reducing health risks in any indoor environment where people congregate or are exposed to infectious disease.

Microgen, LLC, Ithaca: MicroGen Systems’ technology harvests the energy created by vibrations which can then be used in a range of applications. MicroGen is developing a product suite of long life vibration energy harvesters. These low cost, long life micro-power sources will extend rechargeable battery lifetime.

Orthogonal, LLC, Ithaca: Orthogonal is a specialty chemicals company selling a suite of non-toxic organic electronics. Organic electronics, also known as plastic or flexible electronics, are expected to grow into a $19.7 billion industry in 2012 (NanoMarkets) due to several advantages over traditional electronics such as improved form factor, improved performance, and lower energy consumption. Orthogonal’s technology will allow the electronics industry to accelerate its production of organic electronics and recognize higher profit margins, while utilizing its existing manufacturing infrastructure.

In addition to awarding the $200,000 and $50,000 prizes, two $15,000 prizes were announced.

The winner of the $15,000 Innovations in Agri-Business prize is Fisher Electric, Madison County. Fisher Electric has developed a working prototype for a small scale mechanical hops harvester which will support regional hops growers so they can meet the demands of local craft brewers with a year-long supply of hops.

The winner of the new $15,000 Green Business prize is SynAirCo, Tompkins County. SynAirCo’s technology replaces the standard air-conditioner with a new highly energy efficient air conditioner that uses zero harmful chemicals. This technology is expected to improve cooling efficiency, improve the control of temperature and humidity, and improve comfort and air quality. To learn more visit

A $6,000 prize was also given for the best individual business idea submitted by a high school or college student within the region. A team of Clarkson University students are the winners of the $6,000 prize for the Student Business Idea Competition awarded at Emerging Talk on Friday, April 1, 2011. The team will use their prize money to incorporate a company called “East Coast Ski.” Cameron Jones, Gregory Bright, Donald Lienau, Robert Pelletier, Ryan Ericson, and Cyrus Schenck are the founders of east coast ski. The innovative design of the ski enables it to stay on edge even on the slickest of ice yet light and wide enough to float through powder. An additional $1,000 awarded to a professor, school, or business club associated with the student winner.

Five Years of NY’s Creative Core Emerging Business Competition Prize Money
2007: $102,500 $100K grand prize, $2.5K best business idea
2008: $105,000 $100K grand prize, $5K best student business idea
2009: $120,000 $100K grand prize, $15K innovations in agribusiness, $5K best student business idea
2010: $221,000 $200K grand prize, $15K innovations in agribusiness, $6K best student business idea
2011: $286,000 $200K grand prize, 50K second place prize, $15K innovations in agribusiness, $15K innovations in green business, $6K best student business idea

Job Growth: Winning companies combined have increased from 9 to 30 employees

Follow on Funding: $7,667,500 dollars have been raised by the four winners of the New York’s Creative Core EBC

Pipeline Development: The New York’s Creative Core EBC has served as a valuable pipeline development tool that now has identified more than 250 potential startups within the Central Upstate New York Region

The competition is part of CenterState CEO and the Central Upstate Regional Alliance’s strategic plan to transform the region to a knowledge-based economy. The competition aims to:

  • Stimulate job creation and business development by providing financial and in-kind resources to companies.
  • Increase the entrepreneurial culture and visibility of entrepreneurial activity.
  • Increase investment-grade deal flow in the region.
  • Identify high growth potential business opportunities in Central Upstate New York, and connect them to a wide range of resources.
  • Expose investors to the best, brightest, and most highly motivated entrepreneurial minds in the region.

Finals Judges

David Friedensohn, Acting CEO, The Wall Street Transcript
David Friedensohn is a returning competition judge and has managed successful exits as CEO of three internet and mobile web based companies, including one from inception to IPO. Currently, David is CEO of The Wall Street Transcript, focusing the financial information company on the web and restoring significant positive cash flow in the midst of a publishing recession. Most recently, David led the turnaround at Upoc Networks as its CEO for over 2 years, increasing its revenues 400% before selling it to Dada, a publicly traded Italian company.

Reid C. Hutchinson, Senior Vice President of NY, Advantage Capital Partners
Reid Hutchins is a first-year competition judge and a manager of Advantage Capital's New York investment portfolio. His responsibilities include sourcing and structuring new investments, as well as working with current portfolio companies. Mr. Hutchins is a Director of GridApp Systems and a board observer of Mezmeriz, Monarch Machine Tool, Peco Pallet. In addition, he currently sits on the Board of the Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY).

Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, Founder of AirPR
Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer is a returning competition judge and the founder of AirPR, a stealth company to disintermediate the PR industry. He is a former Entrepreneur in Residence at Shasta Ventures focused on consumer internet and the social graph. Prior to joining Shasta, Sharam was a Senior Associate at Sierra Ventures focused on consumer internet, software (cloud computing / virtualization), and mobile. He served as a Board Observer at Makara (sold to RedHat) and TouchCommerce.

Jim Conroy, Senior Vice President, New York Business Development Corp.
James J. Conroy III, is a returning competition judge and the Senior Vice President for the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) and its affiliate, Empire State Certified Development Corporation (ESCDC). Mr. Conroy obtained a BA from Siena College, Loudonville, an MBA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Mr. Conroy is a board member of The Risk Management Association (RMA) Empire Chapter and is a board member of the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) Region 1-3.

Stuart Smith III, Director, M&T Corporate Finance Group
Stuart Smith is a returning competition judge and a Managing Director and co-founder of M&T Bank’s Corporate Finance Group. Mr. Smith has over 17 years of diversified financial services experience including senior and subordinated debt raises, private equity raises, mergers and acquisitions, and leveraged buyouts. Prior to joining M&T, Mr. Smith was a Director in the Consumer and Industrial Products group at PricewaterhouseCoopers Securities, and previously worked for First National Bank of Maryland as a Commercial Loan Officer in the Private Banking Division. Mr. Smith graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and received his M.B.A. from Georgetown University.

Emerging Business Competition Judges 
David Reaske, NYBDC
Dave DiMaggio, CASE
Joe Charles, Fust Charles and Chambers
Pat Higgins, Onondaga County SBDC
Tania Hanouille, Onondaga County SBDC
Emad Rahim, Morrisville State College
Nancy Ansteth, Onondaga County SBDC

Round Two Preliminary Judges 
Chris Neuman, Erie Materials
Mike Feng, PEC
Art Hamlin, National Grid
Lee DeAmicis, M&T Bank
Joan Powers, OCC Small Business Development Center

Semi?finalist Judges 
Matt Van Rynn, Melvin and Melvin
Jim Muldoon, Muldoon & Marjama
Greg Hubbel, Sound Reading Solutions
Jennifer Tegan, Cayuga Venture Fund
Steve Gorczynski, M&T Bank
Greg Slack, Clarkson University
Jon Greene, Widetronix
Jim Conroy, NYBDC
Pat Dailey, Fust Charles, and Chambers
Denny Deleo, Trillium Group
Mike Feng, PEC Consulting
Bob DelZoppo, SRCTec
Doug Gorman, Hancock & Estabrook

New York’s Creative Core $250,000 Emerging Business Competition Sponsors

Title Sponsors
M&T Bank
New York Business Development Corporation

50K Sponsors
National Grid

25K Sponsors
Otis Technology, Inc.
Delta Air Lines
Erie Materials
Bristol-Myers Squibb

Media Sponsors
The Post-Standard
The Central New York Business Journal
The Mohawk Valley Business Journal
Lamar Advertising

Fust, Charles, Chambers LLP
Hancock & Estabrook
Upstate Venture Association of New York, Inc.
Professionals, Inc.
O’Brien & Gere
CenterState CEO
Pathfinder Bank
Progressive Expert Consulting
Haylor Freyer and Coon

The Tech Garden
Hopko Designs
Mohawk Valley EDGE
Jefferson County Job Development Corporation
Operation Oswego County
Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley

NYS Small Business Development Center

Created by an act of the New York State Legislature in 1955, New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) is a private corporation funded by more than 147 New York State banks. Its mission is to promote economic activity within New York State by joining with partner banks to provide innovative loans to small businesses and the communities they support, and, particularly, to assist minority and women-owned businesses.

NYBDC is a complement to conventional banking, working in partnership with banks to provide term loans, many of which do not meet the requirements for traditional financing. Its goal is to be more creative in underwriting. In many cases, NYBDC includes multiple participations, SBA guarantees, flexible amortization and long-term payouts.

About Central Upstate Regional Alliance
The Central Upstate Regional Alliance was launched in September of 2004 to serve as a vehicle for collaborative regional development. The 37-member, 12-county public-private economic development consortium is building a coalition of regional leaders from business, academia and the public sector, willing to work together on a common agenda.

About CenterState CEO
Based in Syracuse, the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity is a twelve-county business leadership and economic development organization. A private, not-for-profit organization, CenterState CEO represents more than 2,000 members and serves as the region’s primary economic, community and business development catalyst. CenterState CEO works to achieve regional growth and total community prosperity through partnerships, planning and problem solving.