Two Siena students are headed to a state business plan competition with apps they incubated in their Siena entrepreneurship classes.
Blyden Nartey ’21 and Justin Kenyon ’20 MBA ’22 will compete in the 12th annual New York State Business Plan Competition (NYSBPC) May 4-7. Nartey’s Roomie app surveys and matches people who are looking for compatible roommates to share an apartment; Kenyon’s SpiritsFinder app helps beverage fans locate craft breweries, distilleries and wineries in their area.
Nartey and Kenyon both placed at the Capital Region semi-finals earlier this week: Nartey’s app won first place ($500) in the software and services category, while Kenyon took second place ($250) in the agriculture tech and food category.
The NYSBPC is an annual competition for college students to earn recognition, mentoring and funding for their start-ups.
Nartey came up with his Roomie app idea because as an almost-college graduate he will be in the market soon for a roommate and apartment. He checked out some existing roommate-finder websites and apps, but they all seemed to be of poor quality and design.
“As a physics major, I like to solve problems,” he said.” I wanted to create something that was frictionless for users, and that would make it easy for people to find a good roommate.”
Nartey’s app asks users questions about lifestyle and habits to match up apartment renters so they don’t have issues with each other once they move in.
“The Stack Center was extremely helpful in my development of this app,” he said. “As a science major, I’m more on the analytical side, and they helped me strengthen my knowledge of business.”
Kenyon recognized that craft beverage fans needed a good place to find out about producers in their area, so they could help support local brewers, distillers, and winemakers.
His team will initially build up the app to feature Capital Region producers and will then expand elsewhere in New York.
“This is a very fast-growing field, and people want to support local producers,” said Kenyon. “They need a reliable way to explore options.”
Kenyon explained that many of these producers feature special events like tastings, cornhole contests and trivia nights, which help bring in customers. His app can list out these events so friends can plan their outings accordingly.
“The app helps producers advertise more to those who are really interested, which allows them to spend more time and funds on developing their products.”