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Published: Tuesday, 12/9/2008

Data start-up roots itself at University of Toledo incubator

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Imagine gathering up your computer's virtual desktop and all your electronic documents and using them on any PC you encounter - the one in the college science lab, a friend's laptop, the machine at the Internet cafe, that old Dell in your parents' house.

Two entrepreneurs from New York City are developing a way to do just that, and they've set up their fledging company at a University of Toledo business incubator.

Sdudi LLC, which is developing a computer operating system that fits on a Universal Serial Bus flash drive, is the brainchild of Joe Iacono and Carl Bentley.

The two have developed a prototype and plan to test it in early January on focus groups of UT students.

"College students have a problem. They work on multiple computers and they store data on multiple computers," said Mr. Iacono, a New York resident who plans to move to Toledo within three months.

"Many forget which computer their data was stored on, or they have their data file but they don't have a certain application software on the computer they find themselves working on," he said.

With Sdudi - a Cherokee word meaning doorway - a computer operating system and several commonly used applications, like word processors or spreadsheets, are stored on a two-gigabyte USB flash drive.

The user plugs it into a computer's USB port and starts the machine.

Sdudi's operating system, based on Linux operating software, runs the machine and gives the user the same desktop look on any PC. All data and documents also are stored on the USB flash drive.

Mr. Iacono said other products on the market can do the same thing, but Sdudi's advantage is that when used on a computer connected to the Internet, it can access Sdudi's Internet data servers - something competitors don't do.

That allows a Sdudi user to store vast amount of data - movie files, music files, images, complex drawings or designs - on a remote site and gain access to those files from any computer that the Sdudi USB flash drive is plugged into.

"With others, if you lose their [USB] stick, you would lose everything. They don't have a server back up their data," said Mr. Bentley, who moved to Toledo this year.

"Technically, Sdudi doesn't even need a computer's hard drive to work," he said. The product has been in development for three years and it works, for now, only on PC-based machines.

Megan Reichert-Kral, director of the university's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator, said the product has a lot of potential for universities and high schools. College students are the target audience for Sdudi.

"With Sdudi, a university wouldn't have to provide all that server space for students," she said.

Ms. Reichert-Kral said many inventors or start-ups come to Toledo looking for investors, but if they can't get them, they move on. Mr. Iacono and Mr. Bentley looked at Toledo as a good area to start up and moved their operations here from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., after initial development work in Coney Island, N.Y.

Sdudi LLC has been working with local companies, consultants, and the Regional Growth Partnership, she said. The university is rounding up 10 students initially as a focus group for three months of testing before the product launches.

Meanwhile, Mr. Iacono and Mr. Bentley have been traveling the country trying to entice investors.

They have spent $175,000 of their own money developing their product.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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