By Malika-Budur Kalila
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Last month, Niagara University students Domenic Conroy and Megan Rogers took part in the 43 North Startup Competition, where business ideas compete for $5 million and the best project wins grand prize of $1 million in cash. Conroy and Rogers attended the competition with the team of Burner Fitness, an online fitness, nutrition and health training program marketplace, designed and operated by a team that includes Leo Schultz and Kevin Ryan, Niagara University alumni, as executives. 500 firms applied for the startup competition, but only 16 finalist firms, including Burner Fitness team, presented their five-minute pitches to a qualifying panel of judges. Among eight firms that won cash prizes, Burner team received $500,000 in cash.
Schultz is the CTO and Ryan is the Senior Developer at Burner. In 2015, they established the “Silicon Buffalo” startup mentorship that o ers NU students work shop series that allow students to explore startups, digital media and programming in business. Conroy and Megan met Shultz through this mentorship program and currently work with him at Burner Fitness.
Conroy, a senior Marketing student
at NU, is a developer at Burner Fitness. He was recruited from the class run out organized by Shultz during his freshman year. He was inspired by Shultz’s speech and decided to join the team.
“Leo likes to bring NU students,” Conroy said. “I was recruited out of this class.”
Rogers is a senior Marketing student at NU. She joined Burner Fitness last year and currently works at the company as
a producer. Being part of a competative team made Rogers gain an experience that she’s willing to share with other NU students.
“I am grateful for the opportunity,” Rogers said. “ You think competitions like Silicon Valley happens sort of there, and you do not realize of all the opportunities around the corner and 30 minutes down the road. There is all this innovation, technology, really smart people who have all these ideas. It is just cool to be part of it,” she adds.
Conroy and Rogers encourage students to get involved with this mentorship to apply their skills on particular projects, also, to learn different business techniques.
“The opportunity you see in startup is so much larger than you would see if you just got an internship,” Conroy said. “We want anybody that’s interested in it. We want more kids to come and show up, be motivated and be part of the staff.”
“You find creative ways to use the skills you learned in the classroom and apply them to what’s need to be done,” Rogers said.
Both Conroy and Rogers, advised to all NU students to try startup mentorship with Schultz and get involved in upcoming project and competitions such as 43 North. “If you have motivation, it does not matter if you’re a bio major, communications or hospitality,” Conroy said. “We want them all to come because it’s always good to have different knowledge coming in.”