“Made” for Success: UMass Boston PhD Student Wins Business Launch Competition with Smartphone App

May 10, 2013

Office of Communications


Designers of made it! Take Home $11,500 in Prizes

A smartphone app designed by a UMass Boston PhD student and an alumnus won the third annual Business Launch Competition on Tuesday, earning its creators $1,500 and space at the university’s Venture Development Center.

Keith Cialino, a PhD student in the School for the Environment and his business partner, UMass Boston alumnus Seth Sheldon, won the competition with their prototype for a smartphone app called made it!, which lets users send notifications that their flight has landed, they arrived home OK after a night out, or they are safe after a natural disaster.

The judges for Tuesday’s competition, which was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Center, said the chose Cialino and Sheldon’s proposal because they thought the prize package would help them “be able to take [their idea] forward.” In addition to the cash and VDC access, the pair received a legal consulting package from Gunderson Dettmer.

“The legal advising is going to be really helpful because we’re thinking about incorporating and we’re thinking about bringing on a technical person who can start to do some of the coding for the application that we want to make,” Cialino said.

The entrepreneurs hope to put made it! on the market within a year.

The second place team, marketing company Launch Sight Productions, was commended for its roster of current silkscreen printing clients, including record label Starving Artists Entertainment and the South Shore International Festival, and its storefront location in Weymouth.

Adrian “AJ” Baldeon, a senior management major from Weymouth, is the CFO of the company. His brother Eric is the COO.

“From here, we just want to expand our brand and more importantly, [our clients’ brands]. It’s all about creating ideas and evolving within the community,” AJ Baldeon said.

Analytics company Vortech Analytics came in third place. The top three finishers all earned cash and access to the Venture Development Center.

Other projects that were named finalists were Musubi, an app that stores information about networking contacts; zEditor, a web platform which gives college students the chance to have their papers edited; and Town Scribe, an experience that brings social media and audience interaction into broadcasts of town meetings on public-access television.

Benyamin Lichtenstein, research director for the Entrepreneurship Center and an associate professor in the College of Management, said the business launch competition will be restructured for next year. An entrepreneurship concentration for management students is also under consideration.

Last year’s winner, photo sharing company Dpicd, has been working with a company to develop their app since the fall. They are also working with entrepreneurship company NU IDEA to develop a business plan and get additional funding.

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.