Local Startup Wins Big
A SUNY Polytechnic Institute graduate’s idea for a bicyclist water bottle with a bottom drinking valve is now on its way to reality, as well as a place on consumer shelves, after winning a startup business competition in the City of Rome.
Stacey Smith, Business Administration ’15, of Westmoreland was one of the two $25,000 winners at the finale of the 2015 Commercialization Academy, featuring entrepreneurs using Air Force Research Laboratory technologies and applying them to the commercial marketplace.
This fall, five teams pitched their ideas to audience members at the Griffiss Institute and a panel of judges, explaining why their products and services (based on Rome Lab tech) were the most deserving of funding.
Throughout the course of ten months, the Commercialization Academy, which is run by Wasabi Ventures and The Alva Group, saw 24 individuals trying to take Air Force Research Laboratory tech and transform it into new startups. Of those 24, five teams, with the help of Wasabi Ventures’ mentoring and education, were able to create a legal entity, license their piece of intellectual property, prepare specifications and designs for their product, learn how to properly make a pitch for their product, and develop marketing strategies, all leading up the final pitch, of which Smith was one of the two winners.
Co-Founder of Lilo Hydration, Smith and her colleagues have been licensed to use the Air Force patent for a bicyclists’ water bottle with a bottom drinking valve and create a version for the civilian market. The unique water bottle requires no head tilt to work when taking a drink of water, as the liquid inside is dispensed via gravity, meaning no need to repeatedly squeeze the bottle to get water.
“I’m from here and I really wanted to be able to stay here, and make this into a success for this area,” Smith told the Rome Sentinel after winning the competition. “So to win, definitely reassures me that it’s going to happen.”
Smith’s goal is for Lilo to be recognized in events like the Boilermaker, Ride for Missing Children, and other wellness occasions.
“We also want to see Lilo recognized in the cycling community and with helmet sports,” she said. “Lilo wants to make a positive impact on its customers and the community and has plans for other products following successful launch of the first bottle.”
It’s reported that her product may be the first inverted reusable water bottle ever, causing an entire mind-shift on how people drink from water bottles. Smith says that her business is committed to creating hydration and supporting organizations that inspire and motivate people to live healthier lifestyles, drink more water, and strive to be the best version of themselves.
Smith received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY Poly in May 2015 and had been actively involved in both campus life and community betterment through the fresh ideas of students, taking a leading hand in events like the Innovation Challenge.
“Learning how to successfully manage a diversified course load as a student in the SUNY Poly business program while participating in extracurricular activities and constantly seeking new opportunities helped prepare me for balancing an ever-changing lifestyle that requires self-motivation, self-learning, and flexibility.”