Thursday, December 4, 2014

Winner's of the #ATTWNY Civic App Challenge - December 4, 2014 at DIG

The #ATTWNY Civic App Challenge came to a close today with the announcement of the 3 winners.

To recap The AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge is a two month virtual hackathon for WNY's most talented computer scientists, software developers and hardware engineers to build products that have the potential to benefit the local community. Over 30 applications were submitted and for the record the most so far across New York State! 

To learn more about this Hackathon, Go to

The announcement was held at DIG BUFFALO and all the judges and community partners that helped make this possible were present.

Jessica Edwards, DIG's Curator opened the ceremony and she explained that all App Challenge participants had free access to DIG for the 2 months to collaborate and work on their projects which was great!

Neil Giacobbi from AT&T thanked all the participants, judges and community partners. As one of the Community Partners (InfoTech Niagara) I cannot tell you how great it is to have worked with Neil and his AT&T partner, Ben Roberts. Highly professional and hard working guys that were on top of everything from start to finish! Thank you!!!

NYS Assemblyman Sean Ryan said he enjoyed the judging and was impressed with the amount of great submissions. On top of congratulating the winners, he said Buffalo was the real winner as it proved that Buffalo was moving forward and in the right direction. I got a chance to speak with him afterward and he is very happy about the direction Buffalo is moving in! 

Of course Dan Magnuszewski of Z80 Labs was a huge part in getting the word out, connecting programmers and developers to the contest and even working on giving advice and help to contestants. He also was the one who asked AT&T to get InfoTech involved in being a community partner! Thank you Dan!!!

Martin Casstevens of SUNY at Buffalo(along with several others from different parts of the School) spoke highly of the quality of the apps presented. Martin served as a judge as well! Thank you Martin!

President and CEO of United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Michael Weiner spoke on how the challenge fit the United Way's vision for Buffalo and WNY and that there are many great apps still out there that could help WNY. Thank you Michael for your support and for being a judge!

Marnie LaVigne of LaunchNY another great judge and committed individual to Startups and the community. Marnie spoke about the quality of apps and how difficult it was to choose the best as the submissions were very good. She also spoke highly of the collaboration that happened through the challenge and she gave kudos to all that made it happen! Thank you Marnie!!!

Our very own Pat Finucane Treasurer of InfoTech spoke on how grateful ITN was to be chosen as a community partner.  

And now to the winners! 

3rd place and $3000 went to Rentegrity!  I have linked to their project page on Hacker League's page for more details.

2nd place and $5000 went to WNY Thruway Guide!!

And our winner of the competition and $10,000 went to WNY Family Connection!!

Again, I feel privileged and honored to be a part of InfoTech and to represent the Technology community and I think this time we did something great for our WNY Community and cemented partnerships for a long time to come! 

Partners Included the following great groups!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

3D Printer Workshop - The Foundry Buffalo

Monday night was a cool night to be at the Foundry! Why? Because Buffalo Lab held their 3rd Monday 3D Printing Lab!! This was a great as the Lab brought some pretty powerful printers along with the people who design and build items using the 3D Technology. The group of Peter Montgomery, Tom DiLaura and Adam Simons were asked by Scott Vadar to give us demonstrations using the best AutoCAD software called SOLIDWORKS  and Printers from Stratasys and MakerBot.

First take a look at just a few things they brought as examples! Engine parts chains, boat propeller's and nuts and bolts.

The overview of SOLIDWORKS shows how powerful the software is and Tom made it look so easy as he explained how he would make a replication of a "Knuckle" that would connect a pneumatic arm to a vehicle that will help miners underground by drilling then putting up reinforced mesh to keep walls from crumbling. 

 So he went to work creating the object using known specs that would make it connect the arm to the vehicle. In under about 10 minutes he had the item created and connected and then he explained how he would send to the 3D Printer to create a mock up so the engineers could look and make any changes needed. 

Then Peter did another presentation on 3D Printers and all of the types of filament used and what their applications would be. I was so impressed and learned a great deal.

The guys were from caDimensions Inc. a New York company based out of Syracuse but has offices in every part of NY. There was a crowd of about 30 people for the event and many stayed past 9 p.m. to ask questions and to learn more! 

Thank you Buffalo Lab, the Foundry and Scott Vadar for this great opportunity!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Foundry 2nd Saturday - November 2014

The Foundry

Let me tell you about my day here and at the end of this blog, it doesn't inspire you to check it out, then you and I should get a cup of coffee and we can talk about it, because you know I will! HAHA!

The Foundry holds a 2nd Saturday open house / marketplace for small business owners. On this day you can meet some of the residents business owners, work on a small projects that are fun and the residents can show how things are made. You can also get all of the info on upcoming events like meetups, classes and demonstrations. Also, anyone can rent out the space based on availability. Amazing!

So, I bring my Emma and Nick (10 and 12) and we get there around 12:15. I know its busy because I had to park almost at Jefferson on Northhampton. As we approached the door we were greeted almost immediately by 2 residents, Kevin Hayes and Sarah Fonzi. Kevin is the main guy that runs the location and Sarah runs the metal working shop. Two wonderful people who are making an impact with their small business. Kevin also runs a nice coffee roasting business, and let me tell you its my favorite coffee ever. I crave it actually! So I get a cup of coffee and turn around and this is what I see!

Vendors everywhere!!!! So we walk through and Emma got earrings, and I got a neat set of drink coasters with comic book excerpts emblazoned on each, so cool. There is a wonderful cook, who makes a beef and cheese pod that is so delicious that I usually get two! I wandered into the Buffalo Lab, which is a Maker Space, a community workshop and social/educational venue. 3D Printers and circuit boards and more. The lab actually was holding a board meeting at the time. Great organizing going on here. Emma and I met Matt and Mike Dawidowicz two of the organizers of the Lab and there is a bunch of great stuff going on. 

So we get to the back side of the building where the wood and metal shops are. Every tool for cutting metal and wood possible for any project, from fixing to creating something new. The ladies that run them are amazing.  Sarah who we mentioned earlier and Megan McNally. Both very welcoming and helpful and Sarah let us create our own ornaments which you can see below! Thank you Sarah!

Meanwhile my son Nick met 2 neighborhood boys Jay and Mike and they played indoor soccer all over the place. Nick said he had so much fun and when we had to get going, he was bummed to have to leave this fun place, and so was I. Both Emma and Nick said this was a very nice place and that they felt at home here. That warmed my heart, deeply. 

Plain and simple is so well done here, it feels like luxury. That's why I love this place.

NOW! If you read this far, then I hope you go and check it out, and if you do, tell Kevin, I sent you!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Startup Weekend Buffalo - Judging and FinalsOctober 2014 - Part 2

Startup Weekend Buffalo - October 2014

Well in my first blog post I covered the initial pitches and how the actual first night goes. I couldn't be there on Saturday due to my son being in his last Volleyball Tournament of the year which his team made it to the finals but lost. But I did make it back for the finals which include 5 minute pitch's and Q&A from the judges, with the conclusion and announcement of the Winners!

So a quick recap of what has transpired so far - 43 teams pitched an idea on Friday and 18 teams formed from those 43 ideas! So lets go see what happened!

So the stage was set, this picture below shows Dan Miner from the Buffalo Business First as well as we had WGRZ covering some of the finals as well. The winning team also made it on WingingIt TV too! What great exposure!

Pat Whalen, COO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus was also here, and I am glad he supports this kind of event taking place here in WNY.

So Jon Spitz got it started and the format is very simple, 5 minutes to explain your ideas with props and presentations and then 5 minutes of Q&A from the judges so they can get an understanding of the idea and then they score each one based on Business Model/Customer Validation, User Experience, Product Execution, and then bring those totals together. 

The 5 judges are people you would want to help evaluate your business idea and they were great. We had Marnie Lavigne of Launch NY, Mitchell Patterson founder of HackUpstate, Dan Penberthy of Rand Capital Corp, Michael Weisman founder of Campus Labs and Dr. Bob Genco Professor at SUNY Buffalo. I was impressed to see these distinguished guests as judges.  

 Jessica Edwards the Curator of DIG Buffalo made sure everything was perfect and this venue made the event so much better! Thank you Jessica and DIG!

It was "Standing Room Only" for this event!

Dan Magnuszewski laid the ground rules for the pitches and he was one of the time keepers along with Steve Poland.

 And with that the judges were ready to hear the 18 business ideas!

I am not going to cover each idea pitched but here are the company names -, Tender App, Givengi, iFlourish, BAG – Buffalo Automation Group, three square meals, Skills Repo,        Buy BLOCAL, BEST Channel, Community Canvas, Med$, SheMay..,‘Betes Buster, Beautiful Brains,LLC, Pawraiser, Zealotic, Go Go Local. Some were better than others, but my personal favorite was Med$ an App that can help you find a medical procedure based on cost. I also liked the Sol Warrior Bag too. 

The organizers were strict to give each team only 5 minutes and they made it fair for all participants. So not only would the contestants who have worked for 54 hours have to lay it on the line in front of a live audience and explain their business plan for 5 minutes and then face a Q&A for 5 minutes from the judges. What a competition!! 

Neil Carroll of Nickel City Graphics does such a great job, I can't wait till he gets the videos done!

Finally the pitches and Q&A are done and now the judges need to deliberate and come up with the winners!

And the winners - 3rd place Buffalo Automation Group

2nd prize Pawraiser

1st place Three Square Meals!

And the 4th Buffalo Startup Weekend comes to a great end! Get involved, get motivated, build something, grow your community and amazing things will happen this weekend sure did prove that to me.

Here is the article from the BUFFALO NEWS about the winning teams for a little more details.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!