Syracuse University teams capture awards at NY Business Plan Competition

From left, Scott Pecoriello, Elizabeth Tarangelo, Kayla Simon, Julia Haber, Kate Beckman, Serena Omo-Lamai, Charles Keppler

Once again, Syracuse University student entrepreneurship teams took home awards at the ninth annual New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC), which took place on Friday, April 27 in Albany.

The event, co-sponsored by Upstate Capital Association of New York, the New York State Economic Development Council, and FUSEHUB, brought together top teams from across the state to pitch to distinguished judges drawn from industry and the investment community.

Syracuse teams captured a first-place honor, and won a total of five awards in the five categories in which teams competed.  This follows last year’s success, when SU teams captured four top wins in six categories. No institution in the competition’s history has achieved this level of success at the competition. Each year, more than 400 student-led teams apply for the statewide competition, and approximately 100 teams compete in the finals.

The Syracuse prize winners included:

  • First Place, Service category: Kate Beckman ’17, ‘G18, Newhouse, founder of Fresh U;
  • Undergraduate Excellence Award in Entrepreneurship, Software and Information Technology category: Scott Pecoriello ’20, Arts and Sciences, founder of WeatherOptics;
  • Undergraduate Excellence Award in Entrepreneurship, Clean Energy and Sustainability category: Serena Omo-Lamai ’19 and Charles Keppler ’18, both College of Engineering a Computer Science, co-founders of FibreFree;
  • Female Founder (MWBE) Award in Advanced Technology category: Kayla Simon ’19 and Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19, both College of Engineering and Computer Science, co-founders of In-Spire;
  • Female Founder (MWBE) Award in Products category: Julia Haber ’18, Newhouse, founder of WAYV.

The NYBPC regional qualifier was organized by the Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad, whose staff also accompanied the teams to Albany last week.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad provided business planning expertise, mentorship, collaboration space, and pitch guidance to teams,” says Dean of Libraries David Seaman.  “Strong showings over two years demonstrates the impact this library service has had since it cut the ribbon two years ago in April 2016.”

Many of these students also participated in the RvD iPrize and the Panasci Business Plan competitions held this spring at Syracuse University.

‘Cuse Market in Bird Library on April 20

Come to ‘Cuse Market, Friday, April 20 from 2 – 4 p.m. on the first floor of Bird Library, where faculty, staff, students, and alumni will display their new products and creative work, whether it is a product, service, or tech. Part demo alley and part market bazaar, ‘Cuse Market is an opportunity to browse health and wellness products, artisan goods, packaged foods, fashion and apparel, jewelry, furniture, 3D printed items, industrial designs and gadgets, and the latest technology apps, and to meet makers, artists, engineers and inventors, technologists, and creatives.

This year’s event features several new twists:

  • A “Wellness Pad”, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the LaunchPad, will feature yoga and relaxation;
  • The first ever ‘Cuse Film Showcase, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the LaunchPad, featuring the best short films and animations by SU students, organized by Justina Hnatowicz ’19, a Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow;
  • A 2:30 p.m festive launch party for Necessity Apparel, a startup by another Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow.

The Blackstone LaunchPad is still looking for creative entrepreneurs and innovators to table at the event.  If you are a member of the Syracuse University or SUNY ESF community and are working on something cool, reserve a spot to bring your laptop, product demos, and some marketing materials, and get noticed.  This is also an opportunity to test a product and get customer feedback. If interested, please e-mail: LaunchPad@syr.edu

The event will also feature campus and community resource providers and Maker Spaces to help connect with the local maker movement.

The event is presented by the Blackstone LaunchPad, which is part of Syracuse University Libraries.

 

2018 RvD iPrize winners announced

40 student teams were selected to pitch at the iPrize event held in Bird Library on March 23.

Winners have been announced for the 2018 RvD iPrize competition, held March 23 at Syracuse University. The event, sponsored by the School of Information Studies (iSchool), was coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and hosted at Syracuse University Libraries. Judges included alumni, successful entrepreneurs, technologists, attorneys, and area business and civic leaders.

More than 55 teams applied to compete in this year’s event, with 40 selected to pitch at the event, which offered $40,000 in prizes through the Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the iSchool. This year, an additional $10,000 was also awarded in inaugural Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards through an additional gift to the iSchool by a private family foundation.

The RvD iPrize also served as the regional qualifier for the 2018 New York State Business Plan Competition, and 12 student teams were selected to advance to that prestigious event in Albany on April 27.

The RvD Fund was established to honor the memory of the former iSchool dean, who helped students bring their ideas to life through the spirit of entrepreneurship. Gisela von Dran, his widow, helped award iPrizes with iSchool Dean Liz Liddy at this year’s event.

“We are grateful to Gisela von Dran for her continued support of the entrepreneurial spirit at Syracuse University through the RvD fund,” said iSchool Dean Liz Liddy. “I was delighted to watch our students compete at the event, and the RvD iPrize funds will help ensure that they can keep their ventures moving forward.”

“It is wonderful to see so many innovative student teams from across our schools and colleges and from ESF coming together in a thriving entrepreneurship community in the SU Libraries, and benefiting from the services of the Blackstone LaunchPad,” said Dean of Libraries David Seaman. “I know these prizes will make a significant difference to these young innovators and inventors, and I was impressed with the creativity, professionalism, and collegiality they displayed in this competition.”

Winners included:

Sustainable and social entrepreneurship

Drop Top, founded by Jason Kuperberg ’18, College of Arts and Sciences, Serena DeSeta ’18, Whitman School of Management and Matthew Goodman ’19, College of Visual and Performing Arts; an ingenious design, made entirely of REVLAR that increases agricultural output while conserving water through drip irrigation; won $3,000.

FibreFree, founded by Serena Omo-Lamai ’19 and Charles Keppler ’19, both College of Engineering a Computer Science; a laundry ball that traps microfibers, preventing them from entering aquifers and the atmosphere; won $3,000.

Farm to Flame, founded by Lee Mendes McKnight ’18, Maxwell School, with team members Kwaku Jyamfi ’18, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Sayje Lasenberry ’19, SUNY ESF; a smokeless, odorless biomass generator system that leverages locally grown crops to harness the power of energy and build more sustainable rural economies; won $3,000.

Rematriation Magazine, founded Michelle Schenandoah G‘18, Newhouse School, with operations manager Janet Flores ’18, Maxwell School; a digital storytelling platform powered by a sisterhood of Haudenosaunee women, where indigenous women gather for collective healing from historical and current traumas; won $500.

Food for Community, founded by Samantha Guillaume ’18 and Patrick Carleton ’18, both SUNY ESF; a not-for-profit that transports unused food from local schools to local pantries; won $500.

Services

Starfruit, founded by Nathan Elequin G 18, School of Education; a consulting service that offers workshops, online content, and support services for schools and districts in Austin, Texas that want to integrate Google Classroom in their instruction; won $6,000.

Fresh U, founded by Kate Beckman, G18, Newhouse School; a national online publication for college students with a focus on the freshman year, with 100,000 unique monthly visitors and 400 nationally distributed content creators; won $4,000.

Products

In-Spire, founded by Kayla Simon’19 and Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19, both College of Engineering and Computer Science; a wearable Albuterol inhaler for asthma patients who suffer from asthma attacks while on the go; won $6,000..

Anything But Beer, co-founded by Logan Bonney G’17, Whitman and Brittany Berry ’18, College of Visual and Performing Arts; brews alcohol beverages to meet the needs of niche consumer markets that are not served by the craft brewery business, including those who are gluten-free; won $3,500.

Bonfire in a Bin, co-founded by Will DeVito ’20, Newhouse and Nick Gold ’18, Falk; an all-in-one bonfire starter kit that is collapsible for easy storage and transport; won $500.

Software/IT

Weather Optics, founded by Scott Pecoriello ’20, Arts and Sciences; a disruptive weather and data analytics company; won $5,000.

Ravle, founded by Tay Lotte ’19, Creative Leadership, University College, and Kevin Rieck ’19, Knowledge Management, University College; platform that allows travelers to customize and book full trips through travel videos created by the world’s top travel filmmakers; won $3,000.

ModoScript, founded by David Zuleta ’18, College of Arts and Sciences; a pill-safe system that is a device and software platform for physicians, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare facilities, government agencies, and law enforcement organizations aimed at combating and reducing costs associated with prescription drug abuse and patient non-adherence; won $2,000.

Stories containing additional information can be found online as follows:

Book talk and signing with Carl Schramm, University Professor and author of “Burn the Business Plan” on April 4

The Syracuse University Libraries, the Blackstone LaunchPad, and the School of Information Studies are hosting an author’s talk and book signing with Carl Schramm, author of Burn the Business Plan, University Professor at Syracuse University, and former president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The event will be Wednesday, April 4, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library. A networking reception follows at 4 p.m. in the Blackstone LaunchPad. The event is open to the community.

Published in early 2018 by Simon & Schuster, Schramm’s book turns conventional wisdom on its head. He dispels the “myth of the software kid genius,” noting that the average entrepreneur is 39 years old and has worked in corporate America for at least a decade. He discusses the perils of creating a business plan for an entrepreneurial venture, noting that Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Google launched without one. Based on stories of successful entrepreneurs in a variety of fields, he suggests that knowledge, passion, determination, and a willingness to experiment and innovate are vastly more important than financial skill. Along the way, he also offers great practical tips, such as how to “Build Your Company as Your Life.”

The book has received positive acclaim, and was named to Inc. Magazine’s “Need to Read” list for 2018.  It received five-star reviews on Amazon, and praise from Publishers Weekly, Google Books, and Goodreads, as well as from many successful founders and entrepreneurs.

“New businesses are about great ideas, not great plans. Schramm tells it as it really happens,” says Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix and CEO of MoviePass.

“While encouraging aspirants toward launch, the book is mercifully free of Silicon Valley fairy tales,” writes Leigh Buchanan, editor-at-large of Inc. Magazine. “Schramm is interested in real people starting real companies. Readers will find most of his cases gratifyingly unfamiliar and generally relatable. Burn is a solid roundup of the current best thinking on startups, guiding new entrepreneurs in both introspection and execution.”

Once dubbed the “evangelist of entrepreneurship” by The Economist, Schramm was appointed Syracuse University Professor at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) in 2012 after serving for nearly a decade as president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the world’s premier organization dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship and understanding the role innovation and new firm formation play in economic growth. A $2 billion endowment, Kauffman is the world’s largest philanthropy dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship.

At Syracuse, Schramm has taught courses in entrepreneurship and innovation, and the decline and future of U.S. cities. His research work focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth. He has advised major corporations as well as city, state, and national governments around the world on accelerating innovation, expanding entrepreneurial activity and achieving economic growth.

One of the co-founders of Global Entrepreneurship Week, now observed in 170 countries, he is recognized internationally as a leading authority on innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. His academic career began at Johns Hopkins, where he founded the nation’s first research center on healthcare finance. He has founded or co-founded five companies, including HCIA and Greenspring Advisors, a merchant bank. Schramm also has served in major corporate roles including EVP of Fortis (now Assurant) and CEO of Fortis Healthcare. He has advised major corporations including Ford, Johnson & Johnson, and Apple. He chaired the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee during the Bush Administration and was a member of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

He has authored, coauthored, or edited several books including Better Capitalism; Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism; Inside Real Innovation; The Entrepreneurial Imperative, and Controlling Healthcare Costs.

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be available. If you need an accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Linda Dickerson Hartsock at launchpad@syr.edu.

SparkCharge raises capital and joins Techstars

SparkCharge has officially “launched” from the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University to acceleration stage with Techstars in Boston.  The startup has achieved a significant milestone, growing from a college student’s idea, to an award-winning company that has won several awards and raised institutional funding, and is now part of an accelerator program internationally known for rapidly scaling great companies. The latest investment round closed in February and the clean tech hardware startup expects to raise another round later this year.

Joshua Aviv, founder and CEO of SparkCharge, developed a portable, ultrafast charging unit for electric vehicles that fits in the trunk of a car and charges at level 3 speed, giving users one mile every 60 seconds.

Winning a spot in the Techstars Boston startup accelerator gives a competitive boost for the growing company. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion.  Fewer than 1% of all companies that apply to a Techstars program are accepted into the worldwide network that inspires, educates and connects entrepreneurs, accelerating innovation and startup activity.

Aviv, a graduate of Syracuse University, conceived his idea as an undergraduate student, working with the campus-wide innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“The Techstars accelerator program builds on the solid startup foundation we received through Syracuse University’s amazing innovation ecosystem,” says Aviv. “Having a well-connected and collaborative support network at SU helped us move from idea to venture, and positioned us to now scale to the next stage. We intend to stay engaged with SU as we grow.”

“SparkCharge is joining a vibrant group of entrepreneurs,” said Clement Cazalot, managing director for the Techstars Boston Accelerator. “Our Boston program has helped launch and fund 144 startups, with north of $750 million in total funding. Josh is now part of the most connected and successful entrepreneurial network in the world, as well as Boston’s very active angel network and VC industry that is focusing more on earlier stage tech innovation, enabling access to funds at all stages of development.”

“Each year we select the most promising companies to join our three-month mentorship-driven accelerator,” said David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars. “SparkCharge will now be part of the Techstars community for life, with access to over 1,500,000 founders, investors, mentors, and industry leaders. Leveraging the combined power of Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars resources and connections, SparkCharge and other high-growth startups are surrounded and supported by a team of experts who can help them quickly start and scale.”

“We’re in Techstars to learn, grow, and network,” Aviv says. “We’re excited to bring this product to market, and working with this network will help us get to commercialize our technology faster and better.”

Through Techstars, Aviv and his team of four engineers are getting hands-on help and mentorship from experts in multiple fields, while working out of spaces such as Mass Robotics. A first-time CEO, Aviv says access to an international pool of knowledgeable and experienced mentors is already advancing SparkCharge to a new level.  “We want to keep a presence in Boston. We’ve fallen in love with the city,” Aviv says. “The startup ecosystem here is awesome.”

However, Aviv says the startup is not leaving its home in Syracuse. Personal connections and the manufacturing industry in Syracuse has strong pulls on the startup. “Our roots are in Syracuse and we want to tap into the manufacturing and industrial base there,” Aviv says. He expects to keep his research, engineering, testing and manufacturing based in the region, while focusing sales and finance operations in the Boston area where there is cluster of supportive investors. He particularly values his research collaboration with the SyracuseCoE, which is home base for his engineering team, research fellows and interns. His goal is to create regional impact. “To me, entrepreneurship means having a great social impact on every layer of our society. As entrepreneurs, we have the ability to create change in our communities faster and on a deeper level than many other people.”

In the meantime, SparkCharge is signing up electric vehicle owners to participate in testing their beta product. Answering questions and collecting feedback from users with various electric car models, the engineers are refining the product leading up to a manufacturing run later this year.

Supporting this growth is an investment by PJC, a Boston-based venture capital firm that focuses on consumer and enterprise technology investments. PJC takes an active approach to investing, striving to build collaborative relationships with portfolio company management. They have constructed the firm and their team around the strategy of building market-leading companies with innovative founders and serial entrepreneurs. The firm and its partners have backed market-leading companies across multiple industries such as Nest Labs, Yandex, Expensify and GetWellNetwork.

“We are excited to partner with Josh and the entire SparkCharge team,” said Mike Cunningham, a Principal at PJC. “They have the drive, conviction and vision necessary to solve the problems faced in this rapidly expanding market. We look forward to working with the SparkCharge team and Techstars to help bring their idea to the electric vehicle community.”

“Josh and SparkCharge is a perfect example of the transformational impact that Blackstone envisions Techstars will have on our LaunchPad program,” said Alisha Slye, global director of Blackstone LaunchPad.  “Their content, mentorship and network will provide expanded access for more LaunchPad ventures to grow and scale. Blackstone applauds Syracuse University’s leadership and commitment to entrepreneurship in our growing global LaunchPad network which we will now be able to scale to over one million student with Techstars support.”

SparkCharge’s success follows 2017 accomplishments that included:  Blackstone LaunchPad/Techstars Demo Day, First Place; FuzeHub Commercialization Competition, First Place; Innovation Fund Award, SyracuseCoE; New York State Business Plan Competition, Grand Prize; New York State Business Plan Competition, Clean Tech Winner; Raymond Von Dran iPrize, First Place Winner Clean Tech; and Panasci Business Plan Competition 2017, Winner of Product Innovation Prize and Sustainability Award.

Aviv’s plans for 2018 include final design and testing of the beta unit, manufacturing and unit sales.  SparkCharge is currently taking beta test orders: spcev.com/forms/betatest/

Read more about SparkCharge here and at spcev.com. Contact: Josh Aviv, sparkcharge@spcev.com

Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars announced this week at SXSW EDU that they are teaming up to supercharge Blackstone LaunchPad, the preeminent campus-based entrepreneurship program.  Read details here.