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'Green' air conditioner wins Cornell Venture Challenge

The company SynAirCo Inc., presented by the management team of Crista Shopis '95, Adam Conderman, MBA '11, and Charles Hamilton '95, MBA '04, won the $10,000 first-place prize to push their ideas forward in the 2011 Cornell Venture Challenge (CVC), a business plan competition that focuses on Cornell affiliates and/or Cornell technology at the Johnson School.

Held annually by BR Venture Fund (the MBA student-run venture capital fund), the CVC is designed to foster entrepreneurship by combining the talents of entrepreneurs with the capital and resources of the BR Venture Fund. Five finalists, chosen from 48 applications, gave their pitch to a panel of professional investors and entrepreneurs April 14 during the Entrepreneurship@Cornell celebration. Participants also receive individual feedback from venture professionals.

The competition provides a way for burgeoning entrepreneurial ideas/teams to gain experience, exposure and financing to help launch successful ventures.

SynAirCo is an Ithaca startup whose technology replaces standard air conditioners with a highly energy efficient air conditioner that uses no harmful chemicals.

Second place -- and $2,5000 -- went to TheraCord, "a medical device venture developing a product to optimize the collection of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative therapies," said C.J. Halabi, M.Eng. '11, one of three members of the team who presented to the judges.

Third place -- and $1,000 -- went to ADispell, an Ithaca-based company that has licensed the rights to commercialize a novel technology developed in the laboratories of Professor George Hess that has promise as a potential drug product to halt, and perhaps reverse, the brain deterioration caused by Alzheimer's disease.

"The presentations were regarded by the judges as some of the best they've had the opportunity to witness in the history of the competition," said said Marlon Nichols, MBA '11, president and chief operating officer of BRV.

The other finalists were, a legal online gaming and betting website, and, which aims to do for recipes what Flickr did for photo albums and what LinkedIn and Microsoft Outlook have done for the personal planner, pitched by Vijay Nathan, MBA '11, founder and CEO of "When [Vijay] took the stage to pitch, he not only sold his idea, but he also wowed, captivated and inspired everyone in the room. His passion for entrepreneurship and his new venture were unmatched," said Nichols.

Although he did not win the competition, Nathan secured opportunities to pitch his company to some of the top venture capital firms in the country.

"Several of the judges stated that if they were going to back an entrepreneur it would be him because he has the 'goods' and is capable of championing and rapidly growing a startup," Nichols said. "The realization that [BRV] played a small part in helping Cornell entrepreneurs move one step closer to their goals gives me goose bumps."

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Joe Schwartz