March 31, 2014

Young entrepreneurs pitch their dreams at PSU

Experts judge inventions, business plans



For Plattsburgh State students Ryan Emmons and Anthony Pena-Nunez, inspiration came more recently. The business idea that they presented, “Delivery Mart,” would offer delivery of groceries to college students. Customers would be able to order items through an app. Emmons and Pena-Nunez proposed a flat rate of $8 per order in the hopes that low prices would lead to repeat customers.

However, like the other contestants they had to face the judge’s tough questions. The profitability of “Delivery Mart” was challenged — at least at the proposed rate of $8 per grocery order.


Matthew Burke of Clarkson proposed an idea that he believes combines profitability with environmental benefits.

His proposal was called “Steam Engine Technology.” Introducing the idea to the judges, Burke said with a touch of humor, “You may have guessed by the name that we’re going to use a steam engine for something.” 

He went on to propose a method of converting sugar into ethanol — with a steam engine as part of the process. 

While many had looked to ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels, inflation of food prices has been an unwanted result of ethanol production — since it is typically made from corn.

Using sugar instead of corn, Burke explained, would “minimize the impact on food supply.”

Burke hopes to raise capital by May, and then build and test a prototype by August. In the long run, he said, “Our strategy is to reinvest profits to fund further research and development.”

Another idea with social implications was offered by Clarkson students Erik Worden, Lauren Magin, Salvatore Riniolo and Lorraine Njoki. They appeared to be going back to basics — with an invention that Worden described as “a new method of boiling water.”

But it’s a method of boiling water that does not require electricity or fuel, relying instead on a rotary motor. The teammates believes this makes it ideal for developing regions, and hopes that it would lead to the wider availability of safe drinking water.

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