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 dormroomfund.com.

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

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.