Winners of the 2012 University at Buffalo’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship competition, which was created to bring about innovative ideas in order to maximize viable businesses in New York State, Woodmere resident Alex Chaplin and Atlantic Beach resident Max Ringelheim decided to extend their accomplishments beyond college.
The pair launched Vonvo, a video conversation platform that connects people around the world to discuss current events and raise awareness for human rights. “Max sent me a document that described his vision of an unbiased news station because he’s a news junkie but hated corporate news,” Chaplin, a 2008 Hewlett High School graduate, said. “We did some brainstorming and came up with the idea for unbiased news and a way to share two sides of the story; which is the best way to learn about an event or issue.”
Ringelheim, a 2007 Lawrence High School graduate, said Vonvo provides users with a new angle of news through discussions about business, entertainment, politics, sports, U.S. and world news. “Rather than listening to a news broadcast, you’re able to hear people discuss various subjects in a respectful dialogue and one that’s incredibly valuable,” he said. “We want to be a place where people can talk and learn about a topic, as well as watch individuals speak about a topic.”
Kevin Hesselbirg met Chaplin and Ringelheim three months ago through Accelerate Long Island, a firm that assists young companies in various ways, including allowing Vonvo to use a Hicksville-based office space. “In this particular case, not only did we want to give Max and Alex a place to work, but we also wanted them to engage with other entrepreneurs about their business as those networking and problem solving discussions are an important part of the process in developing a company from scratch,” he said. “[Vonvo] is a great idea for social networking and I thought the technical angle had great potential into other areas needing more conversational communication.”