Mentoring & Resources

We understand the importance of mentorship for students who are developing new ventures and have established a number of programs in partnership with successful serial entrepreneurs and professionals from multiple industries to assist our students during this process.

The following spaces are for start-up teams to meet, access resources, and use office equipment to advance their business venture.

Student Sandbox
Pittsburgh Building, Room 4106
Hours:
M-F 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Resources: Mirrorless digital camera with a 24-105mm f4 lens and a remote commander, livestream switcher, wireless lav mic, RodeCaster Podcast Production Studio, multiple extra monitors, lighting kit, movable whiteboard tables, business resource library.

Student Sandbox studio Student Sandbox studio Student Sandbox studio

J-Building (3rd floor)
located on Peoples Ave next to the Alumni House
Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM unless reserved in advance
Resources: Large multi-purpose space with a whiteboard wall, flat-screen with projection technology, movable tables.
Plus a smaller multipurpose space with a lounge-like feel, movable tables, cushioned seating, flat screen with projection technology.

Looking for Maker Spaces on campus? Here's a summary of what's available.

Each year, SCTE hosts Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) — serial entrepreneurs and business executives with extensive experience in developing new businesses.

EIRs participate in Severino programs like Business Plan Competitions and Student Advising Sessions. They will also make themselves available to the Student E*ship Club and Foundry-RPI. EIRs meet informally with students both individually and in their teams. They are available to any class across campus.

 

Dr. Clint Ballinger
Dr. Clint Ballinger is the CEO and CoFounder of SelfArray, a startup developing tools to manufacture fine pitch micro-LED displays cost-effectively. He was the founder and CEO of Evident Technologies, a nanotech company focused on multiple market verticals from LEDs to biotech to the military to energy. He is well-skilled at translating advanced material science into new products to solve problems, meet needs, and create new markets. He brings a wealth of experience in raising capital, technology development, market strategy, sales development, personnel recruitment, and the creation of creative corporate culture.

Specialties: From scant resources, creating a fault-tolerant organization focused on attracting and retaining customers.

 

Christine Tate 95
Christine is the COO of Vara Safety, bringing state-of-the-art safety and accessibility to gun owners. She has a diverse, entrepreneurial career with operations and finance experience, both domestically and internationally. She is passionate about helping build the startup ecosystem throughout Upstate New York as well as investing in promising early-stage tech companies. She co-founded GrandSlam Alley, a business accelerator based in Troy, N.Y. as well as Start-Up Weekend Tech Valley. She is a judge and mentor to many entrepreneurial endeavors throughout Upstate. She works with Funding Post, FP Angels, Early Stage East, and FashInvest on the East Coast.

Christine holds an MBA from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer and a BS in Accounting and International Finance from Plattsburgh State. She is also a Certified Internal Auditor.

 

Jim Giordano 09
Jim is currently the Vice President of Information Technology at Protective Industrial Products. He has spent the last 30 years in various Information Technology roles. He started his career as a software developer for IBM, and then as a database administrator for a small consulting start-up. He worked for General Electric in Schenectady for ten years, starting as a team leader, and worked his way up to Chief Technology Officer for GE’s Power & Water division. Jim was CIO at Latham Pools where he ran both application development and infrastructure support for North America’s largest pool manufacturer.

Jim holds an executive MBA from the Lally School at Rensselaer, a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from SUNY’s College of Technology, and an associate’s degree from Hudson Valley Community College in data processing.

 

Selcuk Atli 09
Selcuk is a former Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups. He’s a serial entrepreneur with multiple exits, an alumnus of YCombinator, an Endeavor Entrepreneur, and a Fulbright Scholar.

Selcuk most recently founded Bunch, which allows users to interact with friends over video chat while live gaming. His last company, Boostable, was an advertising technology company funded by YCombinator, 500 Startups, SVAngel, and others which helped e-commerce businesses offer advertising services to their sellers. Prior to that, he founded SocialWire that helps some of the largest online retailers in the United States automate their product ads on Facebook and Twitter. SocialWire was funded by First Round Capital, 500 Startups, and others - and was a recipient of Facebook’s Innovation Awards in 2013.

Areas of expertise: Early-stage tech startups, advertising technology, e-commerce, online marketplaces, mobile, fundraising, marketing, product design, business development.

 

John Cococcia 94, MBA 99
John has spent the last 15 years working with early and growth-stage companies as an investor, board member, trusted advisor, and advocate. Most recently John was COO at DHA Energy, a growth stage specialty manufacturer of precision components for the global energy industry. Prior to DHA, he was a Co-Founder and Partner at FA Technology Ventures. He is a trusted advisor to his companies and has extensive Board-level experience spanning several high-tech industry categories, with active participation in compensation, audit, recruitment, and M&A Board Committees. John is also an Adjunct Professor at Union Graduate College of Business, a position he previously held at the University at Albany and Rensselaer.

Specialties: strategy development and execution, C-level recruiting, venture and growth financings, strategic partnerships, restructurings, and turnarounds.

 

Avin Joshi 99
Avin is the COO of health precision which has pivoted to help employees monitor and manage COVID-19 exposure and symptoms with their product, the COVID-19 Medical Brain. He is the former CEO and is a current board member of LARA AR, an Augmented Reality technology company with operations and customers in the US and Europe. He has founded and/or serves on the boards of multiple for-profit and non-profit organizations; many with strong ties to RPI. Prior to that, he was the COO/CTO of Etransmedia Technology, one of the largest providers of healthcare technology solutions in the U.S., which was acquired in 2017. Through the years, Avin’s focus areas have been entrepreneurship, strategic growth, technology, M&As, strategic investments, and raising capital. Avin has a Masters’ Degree from RPI in Mechanical Engineering and Physics.

Specialties: Technology and market assessments, software/solution development, financing and fundraising, strategic planning for growth, partnerships, M&As.

 

Chris Kelly 90
Chris was the CEO of POMCO, a campus safety company offering the students, parents, and faculty Piece Of Mind, a service that makes it faster and easier to contact campus safety in an emergency. He was previously a founder and Partner at Treo Solutions, a health informatics company located in the Rensselaer Technology Park, which was acquired by 3M. Over Treo’s 11 years, Chris worked in sales, operations, software development, and IT. Chris has also worked in the sales organizations for two other fast-growth companies, MapInfo (Now Pitney Bowes) in Troy, NY, and GeoAccess in Overland Park, KS.

Specialties: Sales and marketing, hiring, strategic planning, software development.

 

Jeff Olson 83
Jeff Olson is an entrepreneur, architect, planner, and author who has been involved in greenways, open space, active living, and alternative mobility projects for more than three decades. He co-founded Alta Bicycle Share (ABS) to design, deploy, and manage bicycle share systems around the world. ABS launched five programs in the US, with additional programs in Canada and Australia. The company grew from startup to managing more than 12,000 bikes in a dozen cities in five years and was named on Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list in 2013. In 2014, ABS was acquired by a group of investors and is now called Motivate.

He currently serves as a Principal with Alta Planning + Design, which has grown from eight people when Jeff joined the company in 2004 to more than 175 people in 30 locations. Jeff has taught America’s first university course in bicycle and pedestrian planning for more than 20 years at UAlbany and is Co-Director of the UAlbany Initiative for Healthy Infrastructure. He is passionate about how infrastructure shapes our lives, and how to address the ever-increasing challenges of the future.

Areas of Expertise: Navigating public policy and hierarchy; leveraging strategic partnerships; early-stage growth strategy; sustainable urban planning and design.

 

Shreefal Mehta 02
Shreefal is the co-founder and currently the Executive Chair of Pulmokine, Inc. As a successful serial entrepreneur, he has experience in taking breakthrough technologies from the lab to market in energy storage and life sciences. His textbook on commercializing biomedical technologies has been used as a reference in industry and as a coursebook in academia.

Areas of Expertise: Biotech commercialization, technology to market pathways, financing and business strategy, business development, new market development, and corporate partnerships.

How do students find teammates for entrepreneurial ventures at Rensselaer?

  • Attend Foundry-RPI meetings where students gather weekly to help each other advance ideas and form teams.
  • Post a position on Handshake. With the Severino Center’s help, you can list a position opening just like outside companies do to reach Rensselaer students.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the paper flyer posted around campus. Students still read it (even if there are more sustainable routes). Post one in the Student Sandbox (Pitts 4106) where entrepreneurial students gather.
  • Seek out the help of professors teaching courses with the topic/skill areas that you are seeking. Then audit/visit the class to find the brightest students to approach with an offer to join your team.

Will the worker require academic compensation?

The current mechanism of independent study (IS) requires the student to locate a professor willing to oversee your study and sign off on the form. The course of study, and the deliverable requirements, are worked out between the student and professor. The nature of a study may change over the course of a semester, so be sure the professor understands the nature of a startup venture allowing for redirection accordingly. IS forms can be found on the Office of the Registrar's website.

Elevator pitch structure graphic:

Elevator Pitch sentence structure: For (target customer), who has (customer need), (product name) is a (market category) that (one key benefit). Unlike (competition), the product (unique differentiator).

Contact

Lally School of Management
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street, Pittsburgh Building, Troy, NY 12180
(518) 276-2812

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