Book talk and signing with Dave Knox, author of ‘Predicting the Turn’ on September 18

Dave Knox - Predicting the TurnDave Knox, Grand Prix Winner of the WPP Atticus Award for his book, Predicting The Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips will share his insights at a book talk and signing on Tuesday, September 18 from 10-11 a.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (room 114) at Bird Library.

Knox will discuss the new high-stakes game between disruptive startups and Blue Chip companies, teaching readers how to foresee the future, especially in an era of accelerated change.

While visiting the University, Knox will also speak with entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises classes and visit the campus entrepreneurship club.

Knox is considered an expert at disruption and innovation, and his book has been hailed as the rulebook on how to compete with a new breed of competitors playing the game by an entirely different set of rules.

“The Fortune 500 was first published in 1955, and since that time, 89 percent of the list has completely turned over,” Knox says. “When the S&P 500 was launched in 1958, the average company remained in the index for roughly 61 years. Today, an S&P 500 company is being replaced about once every two weeks.”

He makes the point that the game is not just for the tech giants and unicorns of the Silicon Valley. “Start in your own backyards. Innovation is happening in every pocket of the world, in cities and states and in countries across the globe, and you can’t just think that innovation is just a Silicon Valley thing. It’s happening everywhere.”

As a brand marketer, venture investor and startup advisor, Knox provides insight into the changing relationship between startups and Fortune 500 companies. He is considered a global thought leader in digital transformation, marketing innovation and how to meet inevitable disruption head-on–particularly if big companies develop startup-thinking skills.

“Incumbents have an opportunity to disrupt the disruptors. By taking inspiration from a startup or innovative competitor, big companies can use their scale, brand, and financial resources to launch a new effort,” he writes, but only if “the leaders of yesterday learn the rules of an entirely new game of business.”

A veteran of Procter & Gamble, managing director of WPP Ventures, CMO of Rockfish, cofounder of The Brandery venture accelerator, startup advisor, blogger and author, he frequently publishes in AdWeek, Forbes, iMedia, AdAge and Entrepreneur.

“Today, the largest companies in the world are finding themselves in the middle of a high stakes game of business between startup companies and the Fortune 500 where the bet is the very future of these big companies,” Knox says. “I wrote the book to drive a conversation around the changing relationship between startups and Fortune 500 companies, and to unlock an entirely new way for smaller companies to compete on a level playing field.”

The event, co-sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, is free of charge and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, or if you need an accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please contact at least one week prior to the event date.

LaunchPad expansion ribbon cutting on September 6 to feature Techstars entrepreneurs

Blackstone – Techstars The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University will host a ribbon cutting event at noon on September 6 on the first floor of Bird Library to celebrate its expansion, as well as an expanded partnership between the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars.

The LaunchPad doubled in size over summer 2018 to accommodate the growth of the popular program that provides faculty, staff, students, and alumni with a welcoming innovation hub to connect participants with Syracuse’s rich innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The expanded LaunchPad occupies a visible space on the first floor of the Learning Commons and connects to the original glass cube that opened in April 2016 that features communal space and cozy “nooks” with couches, meeting tables, and smaller, private workspaces.

Now offering new co-working space for up to 35 more entrepreneurs, the LaunchPad has the capacity to host technical workshops, guest speakers, and networking events. This summer it hosted 47 high school students from nine countries for a summer boot camp in entrepreneurship. It also hosted visiting students from five universities in the United Arab Emirates, and visiting Fulbright Scholars from around the world. This fall it will host a “Call for Code” hackathon on September 14-15, and a NSF iCorps regional course on September 28, 29, and October 12.

A new feature of the expanded space is the “Bird Nest,” a meeting room with video and audio conferencing capacity. The space will enable student ventures to have a more private setting to work with subject matter experts and investors who are in remote locations and help LaunchPad staff to stay connected and serve Syracuse University alumni who have “launched” from the program.

In addition, a new workstation will allow the program to bring in resource providers on a regular basis for “Launch Hours” to work with students on topics related to patent landscaping, industry and market research, business incorporation, accounting and finance, getting investment ready, and creating social impact.

Josh Aviv and AJ DamianoJoining Dean of the Libraries, David Seaman in cutting the ribbon will be the first three Syracuse University student entrepreneurs accepted into the prestigious Techstars program—Josh Aviv ’14, G’17, founder of SparkCharge, and Angelo (AJ) Damiano ’18 and Michael Paris ’20, co-founders of PowerSpike.

Following the ribbon cutting, Aviv, Damiano, and Paris will host a “Meet the Techstars” event to inspire new students who are interested in exploring innovation and entrepreneurship.  They will share their perspectives from the “dorm room to the boardroom,” collectively raising more than $1.5 million in equity investment, and their experiences into Techstars, a prestigious, highly-competitive program that reviews 1,000 applications for each 10 accepted into the accelerator cohort. Aviv and Damiano will be flying in from Boston and Atlanta for the event, where they have been part of Techstars accelerators in those cities. Paris is a student in the VPA program.

Executive Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad, Linda Dickerson Hartsock will also announce a new Blackstone LaunchPad-Techstars opportunity that will be open to Syracuse University students this fall.

The event is free of charge and open to all. To help plan for pizza party refreshments, please email if you plan to attend.

Blackstone LaunchPad announces 2018-2019 business plan competitions

bright ideaBuilding on last year’s successful track record when Syracuse University teams captured a first-place honor and won a total of five awards in the 2018 New York State Business Plan Competition, the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University has announced a number of business plan competitions for the 2018-2019 academic year. Open to the Syracuse University community across all disciplines, the competitions include:

  • Orange Tank: Applications due late August; competition October 19, 2018. Open to Whitman alumni entrepreneurs and undergraduate majors from the Whitman School of Management.
  • ‘Cuse Tank: Applications due October 1, 2018; competition October 26, 2018. Open to Syracuse University undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines, who are working on developing new products, services or technologies.
  • Student Startup Madness: Applications open in September and run through early December 2018; semi-finalists announced in mid-January. Open to college student teams with digital media startups (in concept, in development or in operation).
  • Impact Prize: Applications due October 29, 2018; competition November 15, 2018. Open to Syracuse University students and SUNY ESF students taking entrepreneurship courses at SU.
  • Panasci Business Plan Competition: Applications due January 2019; competition April 12-13, 2019. Open to graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Rice Business Plan Competition: Applications due February 2019; competition April 2019. Open to primarily graduate students.
  • ACC InVenture Prize: Applications due February 1, 2019; competition February 22, 2019. Open to undergraduate students or recent graduates of ACC universities within one year of graduation from their undergraduate program.
  • Hult Prize Regionals: Competition December 6, 2018; regional teams announced January 2019. Open to undergraduate students.
  • Compete CNY: Applications due March 2019; competition March 29, 2019. Open to undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Raymond von Dran iPrize: Applications due March 2019; competition March 29, 2019. Open to graduate and undergraduate students.
  • HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award: Applications due March 2019; competition March 29, 2019. Open to undergraduate and graduate students at Syracuse competing in the iPrize.
  • New York Business Plan Competition: CNY teams submitted after Compete CNY qualifier Competition in Albany, typically the last weekend in April. Open to undergraduate and graduate students.
  • EO GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneur Awards): Applications due September 30, 2018; regionals in Buffalo, November 8, 2018. Open to undergraduate and graduate students who are business owners, founders or controlling shareholders, either ‘for-profit’ or social enterprise.

Over the past two years, Syracuse University students and alumni have won nearly $750,000 in business plan competitions, providing critical early stage seed funding to help them work on customer discovery, prototypes, business incorporation and patents, as well as other product and business development needs on the road from concept to commercialization.

The LaunchPad team, mentors, and professional service providers are available to help develop investment-ready business models, create more competitive pitches, and coach teams on the art of successful pitching.  Whitman and iSchool faculty, along with Falcone Center staff, are also available to help prep teams and provide feedback.

To learn more about the competitions, get details on the schedule, or schedule coaching sessions, visit or email

Applicants sought for Blackstone LaunchPad Watson Scholar

Hunter Brooks WatsonThe Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is seeking applicants for the role of LaunchPad Watson Scholar, a paid position for students passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and venture development.

Funded through a generous gift to Syracuse University Libraries from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund, the LaunchPad Watson Scholar will honor the life, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson.

Syracuse University student, Hunter Watson passed away in 2016 from injuries suffered in a tragic car accident. He was a rising junior majoring in Information Management and Technology at the iSchool. A passionate entrepreneur, Hunter was interested in music, (playing multiple instruments, performing, recording and producing music videos), sports, and technology. He was especially interested in the emerging field of big data and had been working on new ventures related to predictive data.

The successful applicant will learn about Hunter Brooks Watson (through an archive collection housed at Syracuse University Libraries) and work with the Blackstone LaunchPad throughout the 2018-2019 academic year to articulate Hunter’s spirit, passions, and accomplishments. Specifically, the Watson Scholar will help develop a pipeline of student applicants for the annual HBW Foundation Awards, implement the HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award program—an annual competition held in conjunction with the RvD iPrize—and peer mentor students who are HBW award recipients at Syracuse University.

Syracuse University students who are interested in pursuing creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship are encouraged to apply. The deadline for application is September 20. Finalists will be interviewed by the selection committee during late September, with one student selected and announced on October 1.

For more information on role requirements and how to apply, visit

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff, and faculty offering ideation, coaching, and venture creation support. Funded through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Syracuse University, it is located in the “glass cube” on the main level of Bird Library. The Blackstone LaunchPad collaborates with Syracuse University’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives and resource providers, and connects them to a national network providing support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

SU startup PowerSpike raises $500K in seed funding, joins Techstars Atlanta

PowerSpike Founder and CEO, Angelo DamianoPowerSpike, the leading influencer marketing and analytics platform for live streaming, announced this week a combined investment of $500,000 by The Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, Techstars Atlanta—in partnership with Cox Enterprises, Dorm Room Fund, and other outside investors.

The Syracuse University startup, founded by Angelo Damiano ’18, Whitman School of Management (Marketing Management / Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises) and Michael Paris ’20, VPA (Communications Design), also won a spot in the prestigious Techstars Atlanta startup accelerator. Joining them at the Techstars Atlanta program is James Ransom ’17, (who graduated with a degree in finance from the Whitman School of Management and information management and technology from the School of Information Studies), PowerSpike’s head of business development.

The seed funding, and mentorship through Techstars, will allow the company to quickly scale and hire a few additional developer job positions.

“The barrier of entry for live streaming influencer marketing has remained high for years,” says Damiano, PowerSpike’s CEO. “PowerSpike’s platform makes live streaming sponsorships measurable and verifiable. With the help of our new investors, we’re able to continue developing the technology that opens an entirely new growth channel for marketers and allows live streamers to make a living doing what they love.”

PowerSpike utilizes innovative marketplace and AI technology to help livestreaming influencers find and develop relationships with potential sponsors and allow brands to sponsor streamers to accelerate business growth with live streaming influencer marketing. The platform allows streamers to apply to sponsorships from their favorite brands and provides them with a secure method of receiving payment for their work. For brands and marketers, the platform serves as a tool they can use to discover and hire new influencers and save time when communicating and managing existing talent.

“We’re excited to invest in AJ Damiano and his talented management team. As former streamers, they’re acutely aware of the challenges PowerSpike aims to solve, and they are already on the right path,” said Seth Berger, managing director at Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball. “Streaming is a rapidly growing space we believe will continue to explode.”

“PowerSpike sits at the intersection between two massive trends—the rise of influencer marketing as a key component of a brand’s marketing mix and the explosive growth of video game live streaming. We invested in PowerSpike because we believe AJ and Michael have the grit and tenacity to take full advantage of this unique opportunity,” said Michael Cohn, managing director of Techstars Atlanta.

Damiano launched PowerSpike as an undergraduate student at Syracuse University working with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and the Couri Hatchery at the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship. As a student, he advanced to the nationals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) and won the top prize in the software/information technology division of the New York State Business Plan Competition. He won several Syracuse University competitions, including the Panasci Business Plan Competition, Orange Tank Business Competition, the RvD iPrize, and CompeteCNY, and participated in national events such as TwitchCon and BlizzCon, two of gaming’s biggest venues, growing his status as an industry influencer.

Since launching PowerSpike’s open beta in early 2017, over 8,000 live streaming content creators with a combined audience of 20+ million viewers have signed up to receive sponsorships, and prominent brands such as Soylent, Camp Mobile, and Creative Labs have signed up to connect with streamers and build their live streaming influencer marketing programs.

PowerSpike’s connection to Techstars was catalyzed by Damiano’s participation in the Blackstone/Techstars global venture pitch competition last fall. The competition came at the conclusion of a two-day Blackstone/Techstars Training Camp in NYC, an innovative program for collegiate entrepreneurs by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The program leverages the resources and intellectual capital of Blackstone, empowering entrepreneurs, generating job growth, and supporting local communities.

Josh Aviv, founder and CEO of SparkCharge, also attended the Blackstone/Techstars Training Camp with Damiano. Aviv won the Training Camp Demo Day competition and was accepted into the Techstars Boston, graduating from that program in spring 2018.

Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars announced earlier this year that they are teaming to supercharge Blackstone LaunchPad, the preeminent campus-based entrepreneurship program.  Beginning in 2018, Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, will provide Blackstone LaunchPad participants access to their network of over 10,000 mentors, invitations to signature events, and access to world-renowned content and startup services. In addition, Techstars will help student entrepreneurs navigate the complex landscape of fundraising, job placement, and recruitment.

PowerSpike and SparkCharge are the first two companies in the Blackstone LaunchPad global network to be accepted into Techstars. PowerSpike team members Damiano and Ransom were also selected to represent Syracuse University at the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit / Blackstone LaunchPad Showcase in Boston as guests of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“PowerSpike and SparkCharge are perfect examples of the transformational impact that Blackstone envisions Techstars will have on our LaunchPad program,” says 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 students with Techstars support.”

“The Blackstone LaunchPad was a pivotal part of our success in the early days of PowerSpike,” said Damiano. “Partnering with amazing mentors to get critical early feedback, and working alongside a community driven ecosystem of incredible student entrepreneurs was the magic that helped us to launch our company off of the ground, and eventually get accepted into Techstars. Any student who is considering starting a business, or exploring an idea, should definitely take the first steps and walk through the LaunchPad doors. Without that support, we wouldn’t be here today.”

About PowerSpike
PowerSpike is the leading influencer marketing and analytics platform for Twitch, providing influencer sponsorship and management solutions and fan insights for the eSports space. PowerSpike was founded in 2015 by a group of former livestreamers and content creators.

About the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball
The Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball supports rapidly growing, early-stage companies in the consumer product space and provides speed and flexibility, individualized, industry-leading consulting and investment opportunities to startups with potential. Selected companies receive office space in the Innovation Lab furnished by Kimball; access to industry experts, executives, and financiers; third-party branding, marketing and legal services; free meals, and housing in the Philadelphia-area. The Sixers Innovation Lab is housed in the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex Business Operations Facility. Entrepreneur Seth Berger, founder and former CEO of AND 1, an American footwear and clothing company, manages the Lab.

About Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities.

About Blackstone LaunchPad
Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It is modeled on a successful program originated at the University of Miami and was further developed and expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

About Techstars
Techstars is a leading global startup accelerator and investment program supporting over 1,500 companies with more than $5 billion in total funding. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.

About Techstars Atlanta
Techstars Atlanta is sponsored by Cox Enterprises—a leading communications, media, and automotive services company. Located in the epicenter of startup activity in the Southeast, Techstars Atlanta serves to provide entrepreneurs with resources to build meaningful enterprise technology companies and enduring consumer brands.

About Dorm Room Fund
Dorm Room Fund is a student-run venture backed by First Round. Dorm Room Fund invests in startups run by student entrepreneurs. They have invested in over 200 startups who’ve raised a total of $400 million across a variety of popular investors. For more information, visit

For more information, contact PowerSpike Co-founder and CEO, Angelo Damiano at 518.681.6791.