April 15, 2013

Cornell Startup, Rosie, Wins $200,000 in Competition

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Rosie, a tech startup founded by Cornell graduate students, won a $200,000 grand prize at New York State’s largest business competition last week, according to Matt Ford ’13, head of business development for Rosie.

Rosie, which was created in September, is developing a web and mobile shopping platform that learns and predicts a shopper’s purchasing behavior for household goods and groceries. The team beat out the other four finalists in the Startup Labs’ Syracuse competition to win the prize, according to Ford.

“Over 100 teams applied to the [Syracuse] program, which the top five teams were named finalists,” he said. “We then competed over 22 days in Syracuse for a $150,000 investment, as well as $50,000 in marketing and branding services from Eric Mower + Associates.”

According to Jonathan Ambrose grad, co-founder and chief operating officer for Rosie, the $200,000 will be used to accelerate the company’s growth, develop its technology and marketing team and engage additional retail partners.

“The win really motivates everyone to work that much harder to build a great product,” Ambrose said. “The funding enables us to invest in our team and bring on our first employees, as well as to invest in our technology and build the next generation of our software platform.”

Ford said the funding will help improve Rosie’s marketing tactics, allow Rosie to hire its first two employees and bring the app to a larger part of New York State.

“As we scale upwards, we want to be recognized nationally,”  Ford said. “So, we want to make our branding really crisp and strong so people will recognize [Rosie]. … We want Rosie to be the face of predictive shopping as we begin to scale nationally. ”

Ford said that Rosie stood apart from its competitors because it appealed to a larger number of customers than the other proposals.

“The grocery industry in the United States is over 500 billion dollars a year. So, we were going after a chunk of that, and the other companies in the finals were vying for much smaller markets,” Ford said. “I think the judges found that appealing.”

Ambrose said that through its support services, Student Agencies eLab — Cornell’s business accelerator for entrepreneurs — has helped Rosie continue to grow and develop as a company.

“From advice on strategic decisions to providing office space and introductions to other networking … and entrepreneurial events, [Cornell] has been a terrific resource,” Ambrose said.

The competition’s host, Startup Labs, is an international investment fund which aims to reinvent the traditional incubation process by co-investing with local investors early on in new startup companies, according to the company’s website.

According to Ford, Startup Labs organizes various programs across the globe to provide early investments, mentorship and technical support to entrepreneurs to help validate their team and business model to later stage investors.

In addition to Rosie, two of the competition’s finalists also developed tech software: one was a mobile app allowing consumers to order food and drinks at live events without leaving their seats and the other was a platform that automates the processing of applications from tenants for apartments, according to a press release from Startup Labs.

Original Author: Jonathan Swartz