F&A Spotlight: RIT Venture Fund

RIT Venture Fund is a multi-million dollar investment fund that has supported the growth of numerous entrepreneurial ventures over the past three years. Many students and alumni aren’t yet aware of the RIT Venture fund, but its impact is growing.   

Here are five facts that help explain exactly who they are and what they do. The RIT Venture Fund:

  1. Provides investment capital and guidance to innovative start-up companies that have strong ties to RIT. The fund can provide some seed capital to help get your business off the ground or help steer you in the right direction.
  2. Requires strong ties with RIT. Eligibility for funding is restricted to companies that have some affiliation with RIT. Companies that are founded by alumni, faculty, staff, students, and RIT Venture Creation client companies are all eligible to apply for funding.
  3. Invests in a wide variety entrepreneurial ventures, including companies that operate in the financial technology (fin-tech), telecommunications (telecomm), and additive manufacturing industries. All of the fund’s portfolio companies have really unique stories that reflect the depth and breadth of knowledge of RIT’s student and alumni populations. The fund primarily invest in companies that are focused on the creation of new intellectual property in areas that complement RIT’s core academic competencies, such as; imaging, design, sustainability, and technology.
  4. Hopes to enhance Rochester’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The fund made its first investment just 3 years ago and since that time has invested $2.3 million in support of 12 different companies.
  5. Makes investments in companies in various stages of its life cycle, but primarily focuses on companies that are still in the “startup” stage. Other investment criteria include: having an established leadership team, having a product or service that demonstrates a clear market opportunity, having a sustainable competitive advantage, and the ability to provide investors an attractive return.

I sat down with Gregory Van Laeken, the Business Manager and Analyst for Global Programs and an investment manager for the RIT Venture Fund to ask some essential questions:

Will this fund eventually run out of money?

This specific fund is actually named RIT Venture Fund I, anticipating the need to launch additional funds in the future. RIT Venture Fund I was initially funded several years ago from the operating budget of the university. Once all of the money from this fund has been allocated to the various start-up companies in the portfolio we will look for ways to raise additional money and likely start a new fund. That said, our hope is that RIT Venture Fund I will continue into perpetuity as an “evergreen” fund. Returns on our investments will be put back into the fund and used to support new companies and new ideas long into the future. However, on average, it takes nearly 7 years for investments in start-up companies to start paying dividends and our first investments were made just 3 years ago.

How much do you typically invest in a company?

We currently have 12 companies in our portfolio and the average amount invested in each company is roughly $185,000. The maximum amount that we would invest in any given company is restricted to 10% of the overall fund, or $350,000.  We will oftentimes make multiple investments in a company at different stages or once certain milestones have been achieved. The initial investment into any given company is typically in the range of $100,000 to $150,000.  

Why do you think the RIT Venture Fund is important?

“I just think that it is great for the community, in general, to have thriving small businesses. Supporting these start-up companies will create employment opportunities and contribute to the overall health of the local economy. In this region we’re all too familiar with the tremendous success and then the eventual decline of our area’s largest manufacturing employers. But new jobs in innovative areas of the economy are constantly being created by these start-up companies. We hope that the RIT Venture Fund can play an important, albeit relatively small, role in fostering an environment that values entrepreneurship and creativity.”


The RIT Venture Fund is a truly interesting aspect to RIT. Check out some of the companies that RIT Venture Fund has supported:


4 Essential Tips to be Prepared to Come Back to School

With winter break coming to an end, most RIT students are ready to come back from their month off. Some may believe it went by too fast, but ready or not the new semester is here! Whether it’s the second semester of your first year at RIT or possibly your last, preparing for another semester of college can still be a little taxing and time consuming. Here are a few tips on how to best prepare for coming back to campus!

  1. Make sure you’re getting yourself as organized as you possibly can. That doesn’t mean start color coding everything and creating an intensely documented planner, but more so making sure you have everything you need and in order for the next few months of school. When you get back, clean out your room and take inventory on what you still need. Being organized can help lower stress, which affects a large majority of college students. If you happen to get your syllabus before class has started (some professors may post theirs on MyCourses), try to go over what you will need from the class. Barnes and Noble @ RIT has a good way of keeping track of what books may cost, what materials you need, and so on. Many students put off buying or renting books before the first day of class, but by reading the syllabus, you may figure out quicker which textbooks will be utilized.
  2. Start marking your calendar. Also in the syllabus, to stay organized be sure to mark dates of importance to see what projects, exams, or papers may overlap since those are the times when college can be at its most stressful – when you have three papers due on the same day and a midterm the next.  Being able to plan beforehand may help you figure out how to keep track of your work and keep you from getting too stressed.
  3. Adjust to a new schedule and have a plan to stick to. Your classes last semester may be completely different this time around. You may have to suffer from eight o’clock classes or be stuck in a lab until late at night because there was no other way to schedule your courses. This may be a little overwhelming at first, but time management is something all students learn to get better at. Don’t stay up studying all night or drink loads of caffeine to try and balance out your work – rather take time to adjust to the new schedule and try and establish a good routine for juggling your workload and social life. Set some goals for yourself to try to accomplish this semester to help keep yourself focused.
  4. Research ways to get involved. Lastly, whether it’s your first year or last, coming back to RIT is always fun because our campus is full of activities, clubs, events, and so on. There’s always something happening here and it’s never too late to get involved! Whether it’s a club, a sport, something local, and so on – college is your time to do what you want to do! Look into opportunities on campus to be involved at the campus events calendar, check out The Link to find all of RIT’s amazing clubs and organizations, and try to remember that these are your college years – don’t be afraid to get involved and try something new!

Enjoy your last few days of break, you’ll definitely miss it in a couple weeks. However, also start to get excited to come back to school, because spring semester, we are ready for you!

How to Set Realistic Goals for a College Lifestyle

It’s finally 2018! With the turn of a New Year, just about everyone is thinking it might be time for a change in their life. Unfortunately, New Years resolutions can be tricky. Although it is good to be ambitious, many people set their goals too high. Setting realistic goals can be particularly hard for college students; we already have a hefty academic workload and many of us participate in extracurricular activities as well. But don’t let your new aspirations fail: here is how to set realistic goals for a college lifestyle.

Take a Step Back and Define Your Goal

Before you set a goal, take a step back and evaluate what you’re satisfied and dissatisfied with in your life. Although this may sound silly, actually write down what you hope to change: define it. Without writing it down, your goal may not be as clear and defined, therefore, making it harder to achieve.

Don’t Be in Such a Rush

You won’t be able to achieve your goal overnight. Come to terms with the fact that your goal is going to take effort, time, and attention. If you truly are committed, you won’t want to rush.

Don’t Procrastinate

On the other hand, none of your goals will be reached if you don’t take action. Don’t waste any time! Set a goal and stick to it. If you’re not ready to work for it, you won’t reach it.

Ask a Professional for Advice

Whatever your goal may be, there is an expert willing to help. They may be able to help you set a realistic time frame for your goal, and talk about what roadblocks you may have to overcome along the way.

Decide on How Much You Want to Do Each Day

Organization is key. Evaluate how much you have on your plate already, and see how much free time you have to squeeze something else in. Then, set a realistic amount time to commit to your goal each day.

Mark it on the Calendar, but Be Generous

Set a timeframe for achieving your goal based on what you want to get done each day. However, it is important to give yourself a generous amount of time. Life can be tough. If anything sets you back from your goal, you will have some leeway.

Find a Goal Buddy

Everything is always easier if you have someone to motivate you. If you are able, try to find someone else that will work towards this journey with you and can celebrate with you at the end.

Take Advantage of Helpful RIT Resources

If your goal is to lose weight, RIT has great recreational facilities such as the Gordon Field House. If your goal is to get better grades, we have a great Academic Support Center and amazing professors. RIT has an infinite number of different resources. You find almost anything you need to help you with whatever goal you are trying to achieve.

Don’t be afraid to set goals. With the proper planning and attention, anything is possible. Happy New Year, Tigers! Let’s make 2018 a great one.

Embracing Winter: Winter Activities to Check Out Around ROC

Winter is upon us. Whether you’re a Rochester native, sitting around knowing it’s only going to get colder and snowier, or whether this is your first time seeing snow, the winter can be a time where going outside feels like the most daunting task in the world. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark – bleh – we get it, not exactly shorts and tshirt weather.

However, cabin fever can be a real thing, so if you’re feeling cooped up or you actually love being outside, winter snow sports and activities are your answer. Rather than trying to hide away from the winter (it’s not going anywhere anytime soon) – embrace it. What better way to do so, than to take advantage of the cold and snow and participate in activities that require those conditions.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is probably your quintessential winter sport, the first thing that comes to your mind. It’s a great option for most people because even if you have never ice skated before, it’s not too expensive to try and you can usually figure it out before too long.

Your easiest option, if you don’t want to leave campus, is our very own Frank Ritter Ice Arena. You can visit their website for public skate hours as they change weekly. If you decide to go – the arena is only $2 for students and $3 for rental if you need them – what a steal! Make sure you also keep your eyes peeled because they sometimes offer free skate during the year. If, however, you are feeling more adventurous, you can go downtown to skate at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park outdoor ice rink. It’s located in the East End District of Downtown Rochester and adjacent to the Strong Museum. You can get there by bus 24 that runs from RIT, so you can get there even if you don’t have a car. An ice skating pass is $5 and skate rental is only $3, so the trip won’t break your bank and it’s a great opportunity to get to know the city better. Bonus points if you get to ice skate while it’s snowing outside – it really starts to then look like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie. The park also does special events like free skate on NYE with live music.

Snow Tubing

Finding this activity was such a great surprise! Glacier Ridge Sports Park in Spencerport offers Glacier Hill Snow Tubing. It’s only about 20 minutes away from RIT and you can get 1 hour passes starting at $12. The hill is open mostly on the weekends only, but it seems like a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon with some friends, gliding down snow-covered hills. It’s also a great option if you’re not feeling particularly sporty that day but still want to experience some great winter snow fun. You can visit their website to book your adventure.

Downhill Skiing

This list would not be complete if we didn’t mention skiing. Would winter even be complete without skiing? Whether you’re a seasoned skiier or you’re just looking to dip your toes in for the first time, Bristol Mountain is probably your best bet for skiing close to Rochester. It is only about a 50 minute drive from RIT. They currently even have a Friends & Family Night special where a group of 3 can ski or ride for $75 from 4pm-close on Saturday & Sunday nights ($25/person). That also includes discounted rentals and an advertised free 5pm lesson which is based on terrain and instructor availability – so while we cannot vouch that they are always available, it still seems like a very good deal. 

Cross Country Skiing

If the thought of downhill skiing terrifies you or if you’re simply looking for a more low-key outing, you could consider cross country skiing. It’s way less intimidating and the boots are way more comfortable. Cross country skiing is also a lot easier and faster to pick up. This sport can be tricky, however, because not all places have ski rentals.

Mendon Pond trails are highly regarded because they get groomed for the Pittsford-Mendon high school team. However, they don’t provide any rentals. The Genesee Country Village & Museum also has cross country skiing on Sunday afternoons and although they encourage to bring one’s own equipment, they usually have some on hand. For a full list of places to cross country ski in ROC visit this website.

Winter Running

Winter is often the time when even those of us who love to run tend to fall off the bandwagon because it’s just so cold and dark. On top of it, the gym is stuffy; there are numerous excuses. So if you’re looking for some mid-winter running motivation, you should check out Yellow Jacket Racking. This year, they have organized the Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series, a series of short mid-week races that happen through January and beginning of February. Each trail race is 2-4 miles each,  and locations alternate between Seneca and Webster Park. The races occur in the dark (headlamp required), snow or no snow, so come prepared. You can sign up for all the races at once or just a few individual ones on their website.

Mendon Ponds Winterfest

Now if the thought of winter sports just makes you shudder and you can’t think of anything worse than winter running, fear not – we have an activity for you too! On January 14th, Mendon Ponds Park is holding their annual Mendon Ponds Winterfest. The event is FREE – always great for college students and you can go to learn about and try out winter activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing and ice boating. You can always just go for the nice winter walk too.

Those are our recommendations for winter activities – have you visited any of these places? What are your favorite winter activities? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page! 

Ways to be Productive During Winter Break

Somehow, it’s the end of the semester and just like that, four months just passed us by. Whether it’s your first year as a freshman at RIT or you’re one semester away from graduating, you’re going to wonder where all that time went. But right now, you’re looking at a month of time away from brick city and even though many of us feel like sleeping for the next few weeks, it’s good to be as productive as possible! Use your time wisely while you still have it because being in college is something you’ll definitely look back on one day and think about everything you used to do or could have done. It’s important to be productive over break and to use your time off to be as constructive as you can!

Now, you may just want to take a break and relax – and that’s perfectly fine! Everyone needs a break and having just taken a plethora of final exams, presented a ton of projects, and written countless pages of papers, you definitely deserve a few days to sleep in and put the stress behind you. However, the more productive over break you are, the more prepared you will be for the next semester.

Something most students are beginning to focus on is their resume. Whether you’re trying to find a co-op/internship for a semester or the summer or are just looking to find a part time job, a good way to use your time over break is to focus on your resume! Begin to build it, start to find examples of how to make it stand out, email your advisor for their advice because they want to help and watch you succeed! RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperation Education has amazing information on how to help as well!

College students are known to (stereotypically, of course) live off of ramen and load up on caffeine. A good way to use your month off would be to find a part-time or seasonal job where you can save up some money for your own funds during the new semester! Like time management, managing your money can be hard when you’re an undergraduate and learning how to save up over break can do you wonders when you return in the spring.

Another option for how to be productive over spring break is to look into travel options. Maybe you already have a vacation planned with your family, but that may not be enough. After college, it’s unlikely you will ever have a break as long as you do now and so you should take this winter to go out into the world, or at least research how to do it! If travelling is something you really want to do, you can start looking into study abroad or work abroad – RIT provides a lot of information to students on how to either study or work in different countries around the world and encourages students to go! This break may be a good opportunity to start looking at that information and take some time to go over it with your family to see if there’s something that is right for you!

Winter break may be a bit shorter this year, but you still have a month to take some time off. Though a good number of students will most likely just want to get rid of all of their alarms and stay in bed for a few days, it’s not a bad thing to get a head start on what’s coming next. It’s almost 2018 and time doesn’t seem to be slowing down! So, be as productive as possible, make sure to relax, and have an amazing, well-deserved time off, Tigers!

Quick College Recipes | BTB Foodie

It’s officially finals week, which means your free time is slim. If you don’t have much time to sit down at Gracie’s or any of the other dining halls, then you’re best option is to pop something in the microwave. But making a quick meal for yourself doesn’t mean the food has to lack in quality; there are a lot of great different food options that you can make quickly in your microwave. If you don’t have a car, there is an RIT bus that will take you to Wegmans. Also, a lot of ingredients you need for the recipes are available on campus in The Market at Global Village, Crossroads Market, The Corner Store or Sol’s Underground. Check out these delicious microwavable recipes, because you deserve something delicious during this stressful week. 

Be sure to check out our video below!

Mug Recipes:

Pancakes in a Mug

No need to get out the griddle. Try this Pancake Mug Cake courtesy of Kirbie Cravings. Check out the recipe below:

    • 1/4 cup Bisquick
    • 1 oz milk (1/8 cup)
    • “In a microwave safe mug or ramekin, whisk Bisquick and milk with a small whisk for a few seconds. It’s okay if small lumps remain. Heat in microwave for about 1 minute. Let pancake cool slightly before scooping out of mug and serving with syrup.”

Scrambled Eggs in a Mug

Pari some scrambled eggs with your pancakes with this Scrambled Eggs Mug recipe devised by our very own staff. It is super easy to make:


    • Eggs (however many you want to eat)
    • Milk
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    • Scramble your egg (or eggs) in a mug. Add a splash of milk and sprinkle on a pinch of salt and pepper. Put it in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds and you’re done!

Extra mug recipes to check out:

  • A classic breakfast/snack choice, this recipie for a Blueberry Mug Muffin on Budget Bytes will have you making seconds
  • In need of a sweet treat? Try out this Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake thanks to Kirbie Cravings
  • If you’re looking for something healthy, fill up this Omelette in a Mug from Simply Recipes with tons of veggies
  • After you ace a final reward yourself with this Red Velvet Mug Cake from The Vice Chef Blog

Vegan Microwave/Mug Recipes:

Vegan Banana Bread in a  Mug

A perfect study snack is this Single Serving Vegan Banana Bread from PopSugar. The recipe is super simple, check it out below!


    • ½ Banana
    • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
    • 1 tablespoon organic sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon dairy-free chocolate chips
    • 1 teaspoon walnuts


    • “Mash the banana in a small bowl. Add all ingredients to bowl, except the dark chocolate chips and walnuts; mix well to form a smooth batter.”
    • “Save a few chocolate chips and walnuts for the topping, and mix the rest into the batter.”
    • “Lightly spray a ceramic ramekin with cooking spray, and pour in the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.”
    • “Microwave for 70 to 90 seconds until the batter is dry — don’t overcook or your cake will turn chewy and tough.”
    • “The dish will be hot so remove with an oven mitt. Cool for a minute, and then dive in!”

Extra vegan recipes to check out:

  • A filling lunch that is perfect for a cold, winter day. This Vegan Loaded Baked Potato on Well Vegan will be just what you need during finals week
  • If you’re adventurous with the food you eat, definitely try out this Tofu Scramble Mug courtesy of Keep Recipes
  • No one will dislike this Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe on Genius Kitchen
  • Seconds please! Try out this delicious Vegan Coffee Cake from Finding Vegan for breakfast


If you decide to try out any of these recipes during finals week, snap a pic and tag us on Instagram @ritbehindthebricks. Also stay tuned for more recipes videos on our Facebook page. Happy finals week, Tigers!

Let’s Get Ready for Winter Break

It’s that time of the year. The weather grows colder, the holiday season approaches, and the study grind for finals begins. One thing to look forward to post-finals, is winter break. From December 20 to January 15, you’ll have no obligations, and some time to relax before the spring semester craziness begins. But before you head home, on vacation, or wherever you may be spending your break, it’s important to ensure that your dorm/apartment is prepared for your time off.

Housing Closing Procedures

Residence Halls

Residence Halls close on Wednesday, December 20, and all students must leave their rooms during the entirety of the break. For students planning on staying close to campus, don’t fret, rooms at the RIT Inn and Conference Center have been reserved for
you, just ask your RA for more info. If your roommate this semester is planning on moving out (or if they already have), it is important to ensure that your room is prepared for someone new to move in. This will consist of removing your personal belongings from their side of the room. In the hustle and bustle of finals week, many students forget to empty their garbage prior to leaving for winter break. We’re sure you can imagine how lovely the room will smell upon your arrival back to campus if you forget to do so! Aside from throwing out last minute trash, it is imperative that you close, lock, and pull down the shades on all of windows in your room. This will help prevent pipes from freezing. Just like your garbage, it’s just as important to remove all leftover food in your mini fridge prior to your departure from RIT. Lastly, don’t forget to unplug all electronics, and lock your door when you leave!


Just like the residence halls, on-campus apartments also need to be prepared for your absence during winter break. Aside from preparing for a new roommate, locking windows, taking out garbage, and moving unplugging all electronics, it is important to adjust your apartment’s temperature prior to your departure. Your heater should be set to automatic, and the room temperature should be set to at least 65 degrees. While adjusting your apartment’s temperature, be sure to leave the HVAC covers in place, and do not turn off the valves to the HVAC unit. With most campus apartments having multiple roommates in one unit, it is important that you create a comfortable living space to ensure new roommates are welcome.

Dining Services

All of the dining halls will close December 20th, 2017, and will re-open at the start of spring semester 2018. For a full list of hours and operation, please visit the RIT Dining Servies website. 

Good luck on finals, and have a wonderful winter break. See you next semester!