Award winning author, VP of Mozilla, to speak at Bird Library on September 28

Experienced marketing executive, futurist and award winning author Alex Salkever will speak about his new book, Driver in the Driverless Car, Thursday evening, September 28 at 7 p.m. in the Blackstone LaunchPad, main floor Bird Library. The event is co-sponsored by the Newhouse School and the Blackstone LaunchPad.

Vice President of Marketing Communications at Mozilla, Salkever drives strategic positioning and marketing communications campaigns, overseeing global communications, social media, user support, and content marketing teams for Mozilla and Firefox products.

His new book inspires readers to evaluate the potential impact of any new technology by asking simple questions about what technology means and how we allow it to move forward. As computers beat the reigning human champion of Go, a game harder than chess, and create life-forms from synthetic DNA, what does this mean for humans? Breakthroughs such as personalized genomics, self-driving vehicles, drones, and artificial intelligence promise a future world, but do they also raise issues of a jobless economy, complete loss of privacy, and ever-worsening economic inequality? As the authors put it, “Will our future be Star Trek or Mad Max?” The decision is ours.

Salkever and his co-author Vivek Wadhwa ask three questions about emerging technology: Does it have the potential to benefit everyone equally? What are its risks and rewards? And does it promote autonomy or dependence? Their treatise is that the future is up to us to create—that even if our hands are not on the wheel. Humans must decide the driverless car’s destination.

Before joining Mozilla, Salkever was Chief Marketing Officer of, a data publishing and visualization startup, where he led efforts focused on user growth and platform partnerships, working in the fields of scientific instruments, cloud computing, telecommunications, and the Internet of Things. He was former Technology Editor for Among his many accomplishments, Alex is the co-author of The Immigrant Exodus, a book named to The Economist Book of the Year List in the Business Books category in 2012.

“I help technology companies grow by helping them communicate complex “Big Ideas” in accessible terms,” says Salkever. “I enjoy conceiving and developing products. I am equally comfortable marketing to consumers and technologists, having worked in both worlds often. I have an extensive writing background with a decade of experience as a journalist at top level publications like BusinessWeek.”

Among the projects he has worked on are Node.js, Servo/Rust, Mozilla Firefox, and the broad Open Data movement, bringing expertise in technology marketing PR/AR, product development, brand building, big data, and storytelling.

He is also fond of surfing in warm water, hiking, craft beer (partial to Belgian styles), and Japanese izakayas.

Applications open for the Global Student Entrepreneur Award

October 25, 2017 is the deadline to apply to the 2018 Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who actively run a business. Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a private peer-to-peer group, is composed of over 12,000 of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs.

EO GSEA nominees compete in qualifying competitions for the chance to advance to the Global Finals. With more than 1,700 competitors from more than 30 countries, EO GSEA is an exclusive opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.

The 2014 National Champion was Syracuse University graduate Daniel Goldberg ‘15. The 2017 USA-Western New York regional winner was Syracuse University student AJ Damiano ‘18, founder of Power-Spike, who advanced to the Nationals in Kansas City this past spring.

The winner of the upcoming regional competition will receive $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to GSEA Nationals in Dallas in February 2018.

Qualifications for the award are:

  • Entrant must be currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree (full or part-time)
  • Must be business owner, founder, or controlling shareholder, and principally responsible for its operation
  • Structured ‘for-profit’ or social enterprise
  • Generated $500 USD or received $1,000 USD in investments
  • Operating for at least the past six consecutive months

Apply online by October 25 at and be sure to select USA-Western NY.

The competition will be held November 8, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo. Finalist selection will be judged on: completeness of the application; the student’s ability to overcome obstacles; clarity of the mission and vision; leadership; and innovation.

For more information, contact David Robinson at 716.276.8707 or

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries is helping to coordinate the campus competition.

Blackstone LaunchPad partners on two-part series, the Funding Roadmap

The Blackstone LaunchPad is pleased to join The Innovation Connectors ( to present a two-part series on Startup and Growth Capital. The agenda is:

  • The Funding Roadmap – Part I: Startup Capital, Tuesday, September 26, Syracuse Technology Garden, 235 Harrison St., Syracuse, NY
  • The Funding Roadmap – Part II: Accelerate your Growth with Impact Capital, Monday, October 2, CNY Biotech Accelerator, 841 E. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY

Explore funding opportunities from startup to acceleration stages with experts who will introduce various funding resources, loan programs offered by the U.S. SBA, alternative financing such as the Excelsior Growth Fund, and state programs/tax credits available to young businesses.  A panel of equity investors will give an inside look at what’s in their mindset when it comes to impact investing. Participants will also hear from founders who have “been there and done that,” with tips on how to approach funders. There is a nominal registration fee.  Register at:

The Blackstone LaunchPad is a founding member of The Syracuse Innovation Connectors, a consortium that includes leaders from government, business, incubation, acceleration, and resource organizations across Central NY.  The group’s goal is to build alliances, collaborate on events, and understand the strength of our region’s resources to better assist our next generation entrepreneurs.  See the list of members here.

For more information including the full agenda, see The Funding Roadmap event webpage at

Blackstone LaunchPad to help more startups through new software platform, Ideator

Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow David Fox ’19 (left) with Syracuse University Ideator Brand Manager Quentin Rosso ’18 (right)

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is pleased to offer a free new software platform for faculty, staff, student, and alumni entrepreneurs.  Ideator is a startup management tool created by the Blackstone Entrepreneurship Initiative (a project of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation), working with Ideator, a software company based in San Francisco.

Ideator is now being used by the 20 universities that are part of the Blackstone LaunchPad global network.  It features easy to use tools for team building, access to collections of on-line resources, and ways to connect with mentors and investors, as well as a roadmap for managing a venture from ideation to commercialization. Users can complete personal profiles and detail their entrepreneurial interests, skills, and pursuits. As they progress through commercialization, they can then showcase their ideas, form teams, find subject matter experts, and connect with investors who are interested in collegiate startups.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is strongly encouraging adoption of the new software platform. To spur adoption, the Foundation is hosting a campus competition through October 6, challenging LaunchPad programs to complete the largest number of profiles. The top three institutions will receive cash awards of $15,000 for 1st place, $10,000 for 2nd place, and $5,000 for 3rd place.

In 2010, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced its Entrepreneurship Initiative, a global commitment to advance entrepreneurial thought and activity in the United States and abroad. Through Blackstone LaunchPad, Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge, and Blackstone Innovation Grants, the Foundation encourages and empowers the entrepreneurs who create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad opened in April 2016 in Bird Library.  Since then, it has served nearly 2,000 students from 45 countries, with 50% women entrepreneurs.  The LaunchPad is an experiential entrepreneurship program open to faculty, staff, alumni, and students, offering coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.

Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow Quentin Rosso, ’18 Whitman, is Syracuse University’s Ideator brand manager. He has developed an outreach campaign and is charged with spearheading adoption across campus.  Rosso is available for questions about the platform, as well as demos of how to use the software to help grow a venture. Sign up in the LaunchPad or online at To make an appointment for more information or to discuss your venture idea, email

$5,000 Impact Prize for social entrepreneurship debuts this fall

Gisela von Dran

A new Impact Prize initiative launches this week at Syracuse University. The program will support student entrepreneur teams that devise innovative and implementable solutions to economic or social problems, or civic challenges.  Coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, the Impact Prize is supported through a gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program.

The Impact Prize consists of two components:  an Impact Generator workshop series, and an Impact Prize Competition.  The challenge is open to graduate and undergraduate Syracuse University students from all academic areas.

The Impact Prize kicks off with an event at 3 p.m. on September 22 in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library.  The event will feature an overview of the program and remarks by Dr. von Dran.  It will also open the on-line application process, which runs through October 27.  Twelve teams from across campus will be selected to pitch at a November 14 competition as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, and vie for $5,000 in awards to be allocated to the most promising, feasible solutions.

To jumpstart creative thinking about pressing social entrepreneurship challenges, Impact Generator workshops will be held on September 28-29 and October 5-6 at Bird Library. The goal of the workshops is to inspire students to think about big challenges in these areas, understand emerging issues and trends, and begin to brainstorm ideas for solutions. These interactive sessions will be led by local nonprofit leaders who are change-makers in:

  • Energy, the environment, and sustainable solutions
  • Arts, culture and education
  • Community revitalization, poverty, and empowerment
  • Healthcare, nutrition, and human services

The competition is not limited to the categories covered in the workshops, but is an open call for products, services, or technologies that can become practical and sustainable solutions to pressing global or local societal challenges.

The Impact Prize is funded through a personal gift from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program, who has a special interest in entrepreneurship. Before joining the iSchool, Dr. von Dran served as an assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management. She is the wife of Raymond von Dran, who was dean of the iSchool from 1995 until his death in 2007.  Shortly after, Gisela established the Raymond F. von Dran Fund at Syracuse University, and directed that fund to support the RvD initiative which funds the iPrize student entrepreneurship competition each spring.  The new Impact Prize competition will serve as a gateway to the annual iPrize competition, as well as other global social entrepreneurship competitions on the Syracuse University campus, such as the Hult Prize.

Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar, Kennedy Patlan ‘18, a triple major in Advertising, Citizenship and Civic Engagement, and Women’s and Gender Studies,, is managing the project. The Engagement Scholar position was created as a part of the LaunchPad’s goal to grow social enterprise ventures across the campus innovation ecosystem.

For more information, see