Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Platform Wins UB Entrepreneurship Competition

From left, Sonya A. Tareke, Malkijah Griffiths and Janelle Fore of Team Real Talk, which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within institutions through guided social discussions. (Photo illustration: Douglas Levere/image courtesy of University at Buffalo)

Fri, April 22, 2022 10:00 a.m.

Over $65,000 in start-up financing and services awarded to Panasci TEC

By University at Buffalo

A platform that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts within institutions by empowering instructors and participants through guided social discussions took place April 20 at the Entrepreneurship Competition Technology Henry A. Panasci Jr. of the University at Buffalo (Panasci TEC).

The founders of Team Real Talk Inc. will receive $25,000 in start-up capital and in-kind services worth $30,000 for their business. The startup is led by Malkijah Griffiths, BS ’19, currently an MPH/MBA student; and two School of Management alumni: Sonya A. Tareke, BS ’17, MBA ’20, Program Manager, EforAll; and Janelle Fore, BS ’20, MBA ’21, analyst, Goldman Sachs.

Team Real Talk is a Certified B Company, and the Real Talk platform provides the online community with access to curated information and features inclusive conversation topics related to many cultures, backgrounds and career fields.

“The Panasci competition has helped us solidify how we will contribute to the economic development of the region, providing new jobs and opportunities for future professionals,” says Griffiths, a Western New York Prosperity Fellow who will graduate in May with a double master’s degree in public health and an MBA. . “We plan to continue validating our framework by hosting more DEI sessions with companies and showcasing DEI metrics that affect their operational and financial efficiency.”

Of the three co-founders, Griffiths is the company’s sales manager, Fore is the finance manager, and Tareke is the operations manager.

In-kind awards include business advice from Atlas Alignment Growth Partners, legal services from Colligan Law LLP, marketing and publicity services from Fifteen, accounting services from Lumsden & McCormick LLP, design and product manufacturing from Tresca and a co-working space from the UB Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.

Courtney Burris, a UB doctoral candidate in industrial systems engineering and Western New York Prosperity Fellow, was in second place; and Brandon Davis, PhD candidate at the University of Rochester in biochemistry and molecular biology. The team will raise $10,000 for their company, RHM Innovations, a company that creates solutions to help individuals with activities of daily living, with a focus on the bathing process.

Viewers voted for a $1,000 People’s Choice Award, which went to Seth Blum, a BS/MBA student at the School of Management, for his company, NetWorthy, an education technology company that gives students the confidence to make smart financial decisions that align with their life goals.

Panasci TEC provided coaching and mentoring to attendees to prepare them for their presentations.

Narrowed down from 30 first-round pitches and 13 semi-finalists, five teams of finalists made detailed presentations to judges and spectators on April 19. In the final event, they delivered two-minute, 43North-style pitches to a panel of judges and other viewers, and were evaluated on how they portrayed the feasibility and marketability of their business, proved the need for their product or service and presented potential sources of capital.

Other new business ideas included a platform for digital content creators who create videos, podcasts or blogs and want to ensure their audience sees all of their content in an engaging way, and a production tool collaborative music that allows artists to work remotely on projects. in real time.

LaTanya White, expert and educator in racial equity and entrepreneurship, delivered a keynote titled “Funding Generational Excellence: What Dynastic Wealth Means for Startup Entrepreneurs of Color.”

White also served as a judge for the final presentations, along with Michael Canzoneri, head of technology operations, Torch; Mark Glasgow, vice president, Citi; Michael John, Chief Information Officer, Circuit Clinical; and Rebecca M. Stadler, Patent and Trademark Attorney, Stadler IP Law PLLC.

In addition to the Panasci winners, 10 individuals received the Luminary Award, which honors friends of UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad who provided support and guidance to students on their entrepreneurial journey and helped develop the Entrepreneurship Center on the campus.

They are: Brandon Biéron, M&T Bank, New Ventures Group; Dan Buckmaster, Tresca; Kat Carter, ShearShare Inc.; Esther Clabeaux, Uniland Development Co.; Phylicia Dove, Black Monarchy; Scott Falbo, Lender Logix; Charu Kalluri, Aiming Machine; Kelly Martin, M&T Bank; Jack McGowan, Insyte Consulting and Western New York Venture Association/Buffalo Angels; and Derrick Parson, The Parson Group.

Now in its 22nd year, Panasci TEC was created by the UB School of Management and the UB Office of Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships, and is funded by a $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci Jr. to facilitate and promote the commercialization of UB Generated Technologies.

Hosted by UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad, the event brings together UB students from science, technology, business, and other disciplines to maximize their potential and build viable businesses in Western New York .

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students, and alumni. The school has also been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, and US News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it offers its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit management.buffalo.edu.

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