Two SUNY Oswego students will advance to a statewide business plan competition after recent success in the CNY Competes regional event.

Senior meteorology major Daniel Maslowski placed first in the emergency and first responder category with SWTRS -- short for Severe Weather Threat Ranking System -- which also won SUNY Oswego’s Launch It competition. Jeff Evans, a master of business administration student through a partnership with his employer SRC Inc., placed second in the consumer and business products category to advance for his invention, the wiNest.

Evans thinks that having his product patented and working models available impressed the judges. The product’s creation came after a pre-pandemic neighborhood gathering where he said he was left holding the bag -- literally -- that came from packaged wine. 

Some brainstorming for a better way, then some prototyping, testing and reiterations led to a portable, self-standing and reusable nesting design for packaged wine that earned a patent in 2020 -- just before the pandemic changed the world.

But the timing came with a silver lining. "A year later I'm a little bit more knowledgeable in the world of business and I want to launch the product,” Evans said. “We are working to increase our capacity to launch on a nationwide scale."

Maslowski’s SWTRS concept continued its success from the campus virtual competition last fall into the regionals. Seeing an email about Launch It interested him in first working on some ideas rolling around in his head.

As a meteorology major and chief meteorologist for WTOP-10 TV, he had looked at severe weather statistics, and a couple of jarring figures stood out. “I noticed that, within the past three years, just in the U.S., we’ve had $460.4 billion in damages from severe weather and 3,569 deaths.” Maslowski explained. “I think the reason why they are so high is because of a lack of communication.”

His proposed solution “will get crucial information, safety precautions and tips, to people that need it so we could lower those numbers,” he said. The free app would combine several layers of data into a format that is easy to interpret and use for any consumer.

Classrooms to concept

When not working as a senior product manager for SRC Inc., Evans runs Karten Products, drawing on his 25 years of experience designing, developing and leading development teams ranging “from consumer products to complex assemblies that are now orbiting in space,” he noted in his presentation.

Evans noted more than a dozen of his MBA courses help prepare him for successfully launching wiNest, from “Operations Management” and “Financial Management” to “Legal Environment of Business” and “Management Information Systems.” These courses support such operations as workflow, finances, organizational structure, marketing, international business and more.

The prize money would help him scale up production, including possibly securing a facility so that the product, which has found a positive reception, can meet anticipated demand.

For Maslowski, who excels in the classroom as well as in his role with WTOP and in research, the success of SWTRS reflects the app's ability to help others.

I think people are excited about the product and believe in it as I do,” he noted. “The whole point of SWTRS is to reduce the deaths and billions of dollars in damages caused by severe weather and I believe people are hopeful that SWTRS will do just that.”

The success in CNY Competes, which is organized by the Upstate Capital Foundation and the Upstate Capital Association of New York, brings the project closer to fruition. 

“The format was similar to Launch It but instead of winning prize money, I won a spot in the state finals for business startups,” Maslowski said. “I was ecstatic to have secured a spot in the finals and even though this is still a stepping stone in my journey, it's a step in the right direction.”

The Capital Foundation’s New York Business Plan Competition on May 7 will include a startup showcase, a series of workshops, networking opportunities and the finals featuring financial awards.

Daniel Maslowski gives a weather forecast in front of a green screen in the Shineman Center

Meterology major Daniel Maslowski followed up his win in the college's Launch It competition for the SWTRS (Severe Weather Threat Ranking System) app by advancing to the state business plan competition.