Academics, Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A pair of brothers and their (real, actual) charms nabbed the top spot at Siena’s fall 2018 Spark Tank competition.

Vincent Mills ’19 and Zachary Mills ’21 of Syracuse and their business Funletz won the $1,000 first prize. 

It was younger brother Zak who initially came up with the idea. We all have aglets – the little tags at the end of zippers, shoelaces and hoodie ties. Why not put a fun charm there? 

“Why is no one doing this?” asked Zak. So he and Vincent got to work creating and marketing small charms in fun shapes and logos that can attach to aglets. The zipper charms are called Ziplets. 

Their branded tagline is “Wearable, Shareable Collectibles” and you can check them out at 

“We’ve gotten great feedback so far, and intend on moving forward with our company,” said Vincent. “It feels good to have all that hard work pay off!” 

Eighteen teams competed in this semester’s Spark Tank on October 22. 

“It was truly a spirited environment this year,” said Michael J. Hickey ’83, executive director of the Stack Center. “I was very impressed with the passion and creativity displayed so early in the academic year.  The Stack Center looks forward to spending time with the teams throughout the year making their ideas come alive.”

Spark Tank is sponsored each semester by Siena’s Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The idea contest is judged by local entrepreneurs, who award cash prizes and valuable advice for Siena students who present their product and business ideas. 

The prize money and event costs were endowed by Tim Hassett ’86, who also served as one of six judges for the competition.

Second place of $500 went to the Living Recycler by Nick Desautels ’20 and Jimmy Schaible ’20. It’s a worm-based composting system with an easy-access, sliding bottom that allows the user “to eliminate the disgusting parts of composting.” The larger size of the unit allows for a much quicker compost yield time.

Third place of $250 was a tie:

Civie by Devon Hebert ’20 is designed to “democratize the investment of durable goods to all income levels,” allowing individuals to invest in things like art or real estate without having to put in a large initial sum of money. 

“Pitching business is always a great time and having the backing of the Stack Center has been great for moving the business forward!” he said.

Keg Cooler by Tom Woods ’19, Mackenzie Kelly ’19, and Josh James ’19 is an insulated cooler with all-terrain wheels and a locking mechanism that holds the keg in place.