Second Place Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition Winner Gains Industry Support

Onya Baby product strapped onto a mother, holding a baby.

The patent-pending integrated chair harness and support system is what sets Onya Baby apart from the competition (Aleshia Rickard photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

When Aleshia Rickard, second place winner at the 2012 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition, was asked to partner with her sister-in-law on a baby carrier business three years ago, it was an offer she could not refuse.

“I was able to utilize my background in the sports industry and my contacts to help bring the baby carrier to more of a final, market-ready, sellable product,” said Rickard, ’12 Business Administration with a Concentration in Entrepreneurship.

Onya Baby, which won the $5,000 Larry Boucher Second Prize, makes soft-structured baby carriers designed to help families with young children retain their active, social lifestyles.

According to Rickard, Onya Baby’s patent-pending integrated chair harness and support system is what sets Onya Baby apart from its competition.

“I travel a lot and it’s been really helpful to have family meals together,” said customer Osha Maloney. “I’ve also tried other carriers and the shoulder straps are just not as comfortable.”

The product is gaining momentum in the industry just nine months into launch. Onya Baby has already won two gold awards for new baby gear including a Mom’s Choice Award and a National Parenting Publication Award.

Entering the business plan competition gave Rickard a chance to fine-tune her business plan and take a look at how she’s doing.

“It gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing the proper things at the right time and that I have a good strategy,” Rickard said.

Rickard plans to use the $5,000 prize money toward trade show booths for October’s ABC Kids Expo, the largest industry trade show in the world being held in Louisville, KY.

Spartans at Work: At Ventana Medical Systems, “We Attack an Important Problem in the World”

Student standing in front of his company sign

Alex Kalogrides, '11 MBA, is an online community manager in in the Digital Pathology and Workflow Unit at Ventana Medical Systems (Christina Olivas photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

(This summer, SJSU Today hits the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job across the country and around the world. Our Spartans at Work series continues with the Class of 2011′s Alex Kalogrides.)

It’s only been eight months on the job for Alex Kalogrides, ’11 MBA, but he feels his work adds to the impact his company makes on Silicon Valley and beyond.

“We are a very innovative company; in the business unit where I work in, we develop new imaging and software solutions that are improving cancer diagnostics around the world,” Kalogrides said.

Kalogrides works at Ventana Medical Systems in the Digital Pathology and Workflow Unit, which develops instruments to turn glass pathology slides into digital images, software to manage these images, and algorithms to help analyze the images.

Ventana, a member of the Roche Group, focuses on accelerating the discovery and development of new cancer tests that allow pathologists to analyze patient biopsies at the molecular level to help determine the best course of therapy for each individual patient.

As an online community manager, Kalogrides works on web and mobile development and manages a forum-platform website. Kalogrides says his strategic thinking skills, class diversity and project management training from SJSU’s MBA One Program has prepared him for his job today.

“Being in a culturally diverse class setting was an important experience for me as I regularly collaborate with colleagues around the world in my job,” Kalorides said.

What does Kalogrides love the most about his job?

“The fact that everything is so new and talking to customers about new products,” he said.

He also loves that what he does attacks a real problem in the world.

“We are working toward making more accurate, more rapid diagnoses for cancer patients,” he explained. “That’s something you feel good about each day.”

Business Plan Competition Winner Leverages Pinterest’s Success

Business Plan Competition Winner Leverages Pinterest's Success

Judges Larry Boucher, CEO and Founder, Alacritech; Ed Oates, Co-founder, Oracle Corporation; Bill Barton, former Senior Vice President and CFO, Granite Construction, Inc.; Dan Doles, Co-Founder, Connexive, Inc.; and Dave Hadden, Co-founder, Arlo Inc. (photo courtesy of Anu Basu).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

The top-prize winner at the 2012 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition is capitalizing on the boom in social business to launch a new venture with a novel role.

Pintics, which scored the $10,000 Bill Barton First Prize, would provide the over 500 nationwide brands on Pinterest with tools to analyze and optimize traffic.

According to founder and SJSU alumnus Francisco Guerrero, Pintics is the only site tracking the best performing pins by traffic generated, sales, and viral activity.

Pintics is tracking over half a million images from Pinterest business users, up from 50,000 less than one month ago. Pinterest, an online pinboard, recently raised $100 million from investors, and is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion.

SJSU’s College of Business is exploring the possibility of the university becoming an equity partner with Pintics as it moves forward with incorporation, and continues to grow.

“San Jose State is reinventing the way publicly-funded higher education and entrepreneurs partner to commercialize ideas,” said Professor and Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship Director Anu Basu.

And the winners are…

Here is a complete list of Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition winners:

  • Bill Barton First Prize award: $10,000 to Francisco Guerrero for Pintics
  • Larry Boucher Second Prize Award: $5,000 to Aleshia Rickard for Onya Baby
  • Dan Doles 3rd Prize Award: $2,500 to Amy Cesari for Gluten Free Bakery of Santa Cruz
  • Best Written Business Plan Award (sponsored by Dave Hadden): $500 to Uriel Chavez for Cantaritos

Four more finalists each received a solid state storage drive valued at $100, provided by alumnus and sponsor Matt Ready of Sandforce/LSI.

The competition is open to everyone who has studied or works at San Jose State. For more information, contact Dr. Anu Basu at

Two Spartans Receive Emmys

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

At least two graduates of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications received Emmys at the National Academy Television Arts and Sciences 41st Annual Northern California Area Awards June 9. Mike Anderson, Photojournalism ‘10, won in the video essay (one camera only) category. His entry featured people with extraordinary jobs including a Google doodler, a crane operator, and an astronomer. Anderson’s stories air on NBC Bay Area, where he works as a web producer. Broadcast journalism alumnus and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area personality Brodie Brazil won in the on camera talent program host/moderator/reporter category. Also up for an Emmy was Brazil’s short documentary on the Spartans 1941 football team, which was in Honolulu for a game against the University of Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

View Anderson’s composite (video examples of his work).

View Brazil’s composite.

View “They Came for Football.”

Six Hundred People View Transit of Venus From Tower Lawn

Six Hundred People View Transit of Venus From Tower Lawn

The next time this event will take place is 2117, so many took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (Michael Kaufman photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Around 600 people turned out on Tower Lawn to view the Transit of Venue across the face of the sun June 5. The next time this event will take place is 2117, so many took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commune with our solar system through telescopes and other viewing apparatus provided by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The department seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge in physics and astronomy with top quality research by faculty members in collaboration with graduate and undergraduate students, and help students to become proficient in physics, especially in optical science, condensed matter, computational physics, and astrophysics. Check out more photos on SJSU’s official Facebook page.