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Rev’s Networking Nights Return to Reconvene Ithaca’s Startup Community

Rev Director Ken Rother speaks is front of a seated and masked audience at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.

Rev’s Networking Nights Return to Reconvene Ithaca’s Startup Community

Last Thursday (Feb. 24), Ithaca’s entrepreneurial community gathered for [email protected]: The Power of Physical Products, which featured quick startup pitches, product demos from hardware innovators, and lively conversations.

The space came alive as guests, ranging from budding entrepreneurs to established business owners, mingled and indulged in snacks from Luna Street Food. The event was the first networking night held at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was worried I was going to well up because this is the first time we’ve done this in two years,” said Ken Rother, Director of Rev, in his opening remarks for the evening. “We are very excited to have you all here.”

Rother addressed the theme of physical products and the programs that Rev runs to support hardware entrepreneurs in developing their innovations. Rev’s Prototyping Hardware Accelerator helps startups advance their ideas from “napkin to prototype.” Aspiring entrepreneurs choose a track — AgTech, ClimateTech, or Classic — to receive specialized guidance. For startups that already have prototypes, the Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator helps them smoothly transition into production.

Three Rev affiliated startups pitched their physical products at the networking night:  

  • Conan MedTech: Founder and CTO, Bayan Alturkestani pitched a diagnostic tool for mild traumatic brain injuries that detects damage to the blood-brain barrier. “Our device can detect mild traumatic brain injury basically using only one swab of saliva,” she said. Conan MedTech is a Rev member company that is currently raising funds for product development.
  • Heat Inverse: Founder and CEO, Romy Fain presented her startup’s thin films that get cold without additional energy input. “We can reduce fuel costs, reduce power costs, and lots of other value propositions that are important for our customers,” she said. Heat Inverse participated in the 2020 cohort of the Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator and is now in its first production run of the films. This summer, the team will pilot the films with the help of $225,000 in funding from a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research award.
  • Equilibrate: Michelle Greenfield, a veterinary student at Cornell, pitched sensors that determine horses’ weight distribution, which can help horse owners and veterinarians detect potential underlying health conditions. “We really want it to be accessible to anyone in the horse industry,” said Greenfield. As a member of the current cohort of the Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator, Equilibrate is currently working on building an advising board to help with manufacturing and app development.

After the pitches, the three presenters tabled their physical products, giving attendees the chance to explore and ask questions. Other members of Rev’s hardware accelerators, such as FocusFlag, also tabled. FocusFlag is creating a tool for people in co-working spaces to indicate their availability to others.

“This is as much about learning a little bit about what’s going on as a chance to meet other members of the entrepreneurial community,” Rother said. “It’s just a way of getting all of us together.”

Members of the startup community spent the remainder of the evening sharing ideas with one another, expanding their networks, and learning about the variety of resources that Rev has to offer.

“I really want to thank Rev—the staff, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and all of the resources that we’ve taken advantage of over the years,” Fain said. “It has been super helpful, especially the Manufacturing Hardware Accelerator.”

Applications are open for the 11-week summer Prototyping Hardware Accelerator, which is free and open to the public. The program is set to begin in May. To learn more, attend the information session on March 10 at 5 p.m. EST. Rother, who directs the program, will answer questions and share details on the program’s schedule, benefits, and expectations.

Join us for our next [email protected] event, “New Year, New Faces,” on March 24 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. EST. At this exciting event, new and established entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to connect over local food and drinks and learn more about Rev’s newest member companies.