Each morning, NYU-Poly senior Joe Landolina wakes up around 6 a.m. and checks his Android smartphone for his schedule. Every day is another balancing act, as every second is booked — from team meetings to investor conferences to class time. As a full-time student and a CEO, life can become a little complicated, but Landolina rarely shows any sign of stress.
As a 17-year-old, Landolina invented a product called Veti-Gel. Simply put, his invention stops bleeding when applied to a wound by activating the body’s clotting process. To market the product, Landolina and Stern alumnus Isaac Miller created Suneris Inc.
“Creating the product was a long process that involved a lot of luck and naivete,” Landolina said. “When I first got started, I had no idea that it would turn out this way, or even that it would get this far, but I’m extremely excited that it did.”
Luck and naivete have gotten him far — all the way to Madrid, Spain. While in Spain, Landolina present a TEDx talk on science and entrepreneurship. He was also recently interviewed by the Madrid newspaper La Razón regarding his aspirations for the product and his company. Landolina has seen a steady uptick in those interested in the product and with no shortage of funding. In fact, he says “money is no object” to Suneris at this juncture — the company can essentially pick and choose between various investors.
When not working on his own products, Landolina helps the next generation of inventors with theirs. Every Monday, Landolina teaches a section of Freshman Innovation and Technology Forum, which focuses on turning student innovations into plausible business models — a topic Landolina knows well.
Landolina tells his students the most important thing to remember is “figuring out what resources are around you and not being afraid to share your ideas … you never know when someone will give you lab space or cut you a check.”
Landolina’s inspiring message derives from experience — Landolina first presented Veti-Gel during an entrepreneurship competition in the Stern School of Business during his freshman year. Not only did Stern provide a platform to showcase his product, but he cites the university’s Entrepreneurial Institute Team executive director Frank Rimalovski and investment professional Marisa Tricarico as mentors in the growth of the firm and the marketing of his product.
“Frank and Marisa have acted as our gateway from NYU into the outside entrepreneurial community,” Landolina said. “I can always count on them for support, which is hard to find when you’re just starting out.”
As a role model for budding inventors, Landolina has referred entrepreneuring students to the vast amount of resources he took advantage of himself, including the Stern competition that helped him find his start.
“I hope that I’ve left a mark on the entrepreneurship community,” Landolina said.
While scientific innovation is the crux of success for inventors, Landolina recognizes the need for scientists to market their discoveries to the world so they can take root and endure for years to come.
Miller touted Landolina’s ability to balance these two skills — marketability and inventiveness.
“I admire Joe for being a really creative scientist and a particularly savvy businessman,” Miller said. “It’s impressive to find an individual who excels at one or the other. Joe excels at both.”
In addition to his innovative success, Landolina was also named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, an award recognizing him for his research in biomaterials.
“I wasn’t sure if I was a good candidate because I do industrial research rather than academic research,” Landolina said. Still, he said “it’s an awesome honor.”
Although Landolina has received accolades for his work, the path there is not always an easy one. Veti-Gel currently faces day-to-day issues, including several FDA hurdles, and Landolina cites his reserved personality as one of his biggest challenges.
In spite of his shyness, he actually exudes a quiet confidence through the manner in which he communicated during our interview, especially when talking about his product. Veti-Gel’s success has forced him to overcome what he sees as a personal obstacle, and he has stepped up to become a voice for both his product and budding entrepreneurs. While he may be reserved, Landolina works against this nature each day to succeed as a CEO.
If Suneris and Veti-Gel pan out according to Landolina’s plans, he and his team will be able to live out their dream and be at the center of the world of biomaterials.
“I’ve always wanted to influence the world by creating life-changing technologies,” he said. “I really wouldn’t change this for anything.”
— Chris Marcotrigiano
Studio photography by Alexis Bynum, other images by Joon Lee/WSN