EO GSEA would like to thank all applicants and our 2018-2019 regional finalists for participating in the NYC Regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) Competition held on November 9, 2018.
Congratulations to our 2018-2019 Regional Winner, Daniela Blanco!
Follow Daniela’s journey to Nationals and receive updates on the 2018-2019 National and Global Competitions at gsea.org.
WHEN & WHERE
Location: TD Bank Building, 444 Madison Avenue in New York City
This Year’s Winner
2018-19 New York Student Entrepreneur of the Year
New York University Tandon School of Engineering
MEET EO'S NY REGIONAL GLOBAL STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS WINNER FOR 2018-19:
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), a global competition of students running revenue-generating businesses while carrying full academic course loads, has announced Daniela Blanco as the 2018-19 New York City Student Entrepreneur of the Year.
Blanco, now a second-year Ph.D. student in chemical engineering at New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering, shared her story as a Venezuelan immigrant and her current venture, Sunthetics, at the New York City Regional GSEA event held November 9, 2018.
Sunthetics is a startup that offers companies a chemical path to manufacture Nylon's key component using renewable energy sources in a way that is more efficient and less expensive. “Sunthetics has developed a more efficient and cleaner manufacturing process for a nylon intermediate”, Daniela says. “As nylon production is one of the most polluting in the fiber and plastic industry, we have set out to redesign the manufacturing process by using electricity instead of heat as a source of power…thereby reducing raw material use and energy use by 50%, halving waste production, and reducing manufacturing costs by 30%.”
Blanco leads technology and business development for Sunthetics, building and optimizing the chemical reactor for commercial use. She has two other co-founders, Miguel Modestino, technology advisor and Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (named Top Innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review) and Myriam Sbeiti, a chemical engineer co-leading business development alongside Blanco. The team has won several awards and grants, including the 2018 University Startup World Cup (GreenTech track) held in Denmark, the NYU Stern Entrepreneurship Challenge, NYU InnoVention Challenge, and Stage I and II of VentureWell grant.
Daniela’s motivation to become an entrepreneur evolved out of her desire to make an impact and be part of meaningful research. Prior to Sunthetics, Daniela led Solar Textiles, a research project funded by the H&M Global Change Award to use solar energy on the chemical production of Nylon 6,6. After developing the proof-of-concept device to produce the first Nylon component, she saw the impact that the technology could have in the chemical industry and co-founded Sunthetics to commercialize the technology.
But even before Daniela’s time at NYU, she embodied fierce resilience and determination to create change – both at home and abroad. Born and raised by her single mother in Caracas, Venezuela, Daniela showed strong potential as a BS candidate in chemical engineering at Universidad Simon Bolivar. When she had the opportunity to travel overseas, she left the life she knew – in the wake of political turmoil and unrest – to pursue her Ph.D. at NYU.
She credits her mother as her inspiration to create meaningful change. In her words, “My mom is a single mom and my true best friend. She taught me that as women we can be independent and successful, while also showing kindness and love to everyone around us. My mom has always encouraged me to follow my dreams in science, and she is my inspiration as I dedicate my research and innovation to help others and our planet.”
Daniela adds, “Entrepreneurship has been full of unexpected and crazy turns, but I am only grateful for all I have learnt and for knowing that no matter the obstacle, we will keep moving forward as we love and believe in our idea. Day after day we keep learning, we keep adapting, we keep building... knowing that every step counts towards our goal.”
Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Love your idea enough to fight for it, but always know that adapting and pivoting is necessary to build a better product and succeed.”