By Elizabeth Doran
SYRACUSE, NY - Euphony, a Syracuse-based startup company, has won $100,000 in the Germinator business competition program sponsored by CenterState CEO.
Euphony, based in the Syracuse Tech Garden; and Life Source Health, pitched for the top prize before a panel of judges earlier this week.
Euphony's text-to-speech software solutions allow people with speech communication disorders to express emotions through speech.
"We are excited to award them this prize as we know this company will return our investment through its contribution to the region's economy," said Robert M. Simpson, president of CenterState CEO.
Simpson said the $100,000 prize is a significant investment in an emerging company, especially when combined with the $150,000 investments its has received over the past 18 months of the program.
Fuz Eller, founder and chief executive officer of Euphony, said he's thrilled to win the $100,000.
"We are absolutely excited,'' he said. "We get to keep going with this money and grow. It's been a dream, and now we're able to finish that dream."
Euphony's software allows text to convert to speech and express emotion. Software would be used by people who are nonverbal or have communication disorders.
A person could text a message to someone and communicate anger, happiness or sadness with this software, Fuller said.
The company, which has about $80,000 in revenue so far, sells its product everywhere English is spoken.
Eller, who started the company from his Canastota home in late 2013 and then moved to the Syracuse Tech Garden, has another employee and six interns.
A native of England, Eller, 51, is a retired Air Force cryptologic linguist who helped monitor enemy locations all over the world. When he retired and was living in Omaha, NE he was asked by Syracuse-based SRC Inc. to join the company. He worked for SRC for 10 years before forming his own company.
With the $100,000, Eller said he'll be able to roll out the newest version of his software in January.
Elller said he's grateful to the Tech Center and Germinator program for the mentorship, training, support and funding.
"It would have been near impossible without that help,'' he said.
Eller said the company is seeking investors, and once that happens expects to create more high tech jobs in Central New York.
The Germinator startup competition began with six teams in early 2015. As companies go through the competition, they also receive access to the marketing, intellectual property, sales, financing, fundraising support and more.
Germinator is made possible through lead sponsors National Grid and M&T Bank.
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