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The Upstate Economy

More international representation at this year's Syracuse Student Sandbox


Student teams pitched their start-up companies at the Syracuse Student Sandbox demo day. The sandbox is a six-week program for aspiring entrepreneurs that teaches them how to turn an idea into an actual company. The program has been expanding their reach internationally.


Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
Mohamed Magoub (center) one of the founders of Urangle.

Mohamed Mahgoub came up with the idea for his company, Urangle, when he was group text messaging with friends in Sudan and everyone just kept sending videos. He wanted to know why there wasn't a social media platform that allows for just video. Co-founder Will Zimmerman explained how it works.


“You go in with your connections your friends and that's how you determine what videos come to you,” Zimmerman said.


Zimmerman said the goal from today's pitch at demo day is to generate interest and get feedback.


“We had a great place to work for six weeks," Zimmerman said. "We found a partner on our team. We made some really great connections. We've become part of the entrepreneurship community here in Syracuse and really that's the real prize for us.”


The Student Sandbox has helped develop companies that have gone on to raise more than 10 million dollars in investment capital and have competed on the popular TV show, “Shark Tank.”


John Liddy, the director of the Student Sandbox, said the program is growing thanks to its international representation. The Sandbox is working with groups in Indonesia and China. Liddy says international students are looking for distribution with their products while US students are more technically oriented.


“So the combination of the two is really interesting," Liddy said. "Hey, I have customers, I know how to get people. Hey, I know how to develop things. Let's work together."


Liddy said the program is educational based rather than having it be about raising venture capital. Liddy said it's ok for students to fail and learn from their experiences and not have the pressure of losing someone's money. 


"I want to have a student come out of here and be able to understand what an opportunity is, where he might make a decision for a venture of his own or in a corporation,” Liddy said.


Seasha Arsyamda is from Indonesia and her company Wips, creates handmade Indonesian shoes and sandals for women.


“I learned about marketing, I learned about financial structure," Arsyamda said. "We embower local craftmen in Indonesia. We are looking for any distribution channel in the US.”


A company called Hypeist won the $1,000 pitch prize. They're developing an app that let's users search and track free, promotional products hidden in public spaces like a scavenger hunt. 


Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
Scott Friedberg (left) of Gilded Social.

This is the second time Scott Friedberg is in the Student Sandbox. His company Gilded Social sells software that plugs into any TV screen or display and turns it into an instant social media feed which integrates networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


“The focus is to actually grow with large chains," Friedberg said. "So businesses that have multiple locations: 10, 20, 100 locations and we want to add on a few of those customers every single month. If we meet that goal, we'll have a great trajectory.”