Student venture Ravle advances to semi-final round of Student Startup Madness

Kevin Rieck (left) and Tay Lotte

Student startup Ravle, founded by Syracuse University students Tay Lotte ’19 (Creative Leadership, University College) and Kevin Rieck ’19 (Knowledge Management, University College), has been selected to advance to the semi-final round of the 2017-2018 Student Startup Madness Tournament, held at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas in March. They will compete against 31 other digital media, product, and service startups from 29 colleges across the nation for a spot in the tournament’s final round.

Ravle is a digital travel platform and filmmaking collective that engages travel filmmakers to turn beautifully filmed travelogues into mapped itineraries and personal travel guides to such destinations as the Australian Outback, Vancouver Island, Iceland, and unique places like Ladakh, India, Bangkok, and Nara, Japan.

Lotte and Rieck launched their venture in February 2017 and went on to win second prize in the Whitman School’s 2017 Panasci Business Plan Competition, securing $7,500 in funding to kick-start their venture. Since then, they have assembled a team of developers and launched the Ravle website in September 2017.

“Our goal is not just to inspire others to get out and explore, but to give travelers the tools they need to plan an adventure that will change the way they experience the world,” says Lotte, who is also Ravle’s head designer. “Our filmmakers share a common drive to travel to new destinations or seek out hidden gems. They have a sixth sense for finding cool places that others do not often see.”

“We were so excited to make it to the semi-final round because this is a prominent national competition with a massive pool of applicants. We are working on getting brand sponsorships for upcoming trips by our filmmakers, and are hopeful that our growth will help us be selected for the final round,” said Rieck.

The Ravle team developed their venture with the support from the Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library.  They received mentorship to refine their business strategy, establish themselves as a legal entity, and connect to other student entrepreneurs with the skills they need to grow their team.

Student Startup Madness (SSM) is the only nationwide collegiate tournament focused on digital media startups. Sean Branagan, founder of the Student Startup Madness Tournament, and director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Newhouse School, believes that Ravle is among a highly competitive selection of teams that “are the best college digital media startups in the country.”

Libraries’ study room bookings move online

Syracuse University and ESF-affiliated students can now book study rooms in Bird and Carnegie libraries through an online reservation system, available on the web 24/7 at

The new self-service system shows real-time room availability and can be used for immediate bookings or for future dates and times. Room bookings are confirmed via email.

Those with confirmed bookings and a current SU or ESF I.D. can sign out room keys from the first floor Check Out Desk in Bird Library and the second floor Information Desk in Carnegie.

For more information on Student Study Rooms in the Libraries, visit

Directing “Next to Normal” with Bob Hupp

Join Syracuse Stage Artistic Director Bob Hupp on Tuesday, January 30 at 5 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons in Bird Library to explore how he’s directing the current production of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical drama “Next to Normal.”

At the center of this musical is a family at once familiar and recognizable, but also coping with its own particular dysfunction. Intimately told, Next to Normal “is a hard-hitting drama with amazing rock music,” says Hupp. Often funny and always poignant, it’s a work of grace and power that goes right to the human heart. The New York Times calls Next to Normal a “brave, breathtaking musical….”

This unique lecture and reception, which is open to the public, is co-produced by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and sponsored by the Library Associates of the Syracuse University Libraries.

Prior to joining Syracuse Stage, Hupp was the producing artistic director of the Arkansas Repertory Theater in Little Rock for 16 seasons. From 1989-1999, he was artistic director of the acclaimed Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York. Hupp also served on the board of the Theatre Communications Group, a nonprofit theatrical organization in New York, and has served as a panelist and on-site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts. He graduated from Dickinson College and completed a two-year certificate program at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York.

If you need an accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Bianca Caiella Breed at by January 23.

Next to Normal runs from January 24 to February 11, 2018 at Syracuse Stage. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 315.443.3275.

Venture for America is looking for student entrepreneurs

Venture for America (VFA) is accepting applications from students who expect to graduate in May 2018 for its upcoming fellowship program. VFA is a two-year fellowship program for recent grads who want to work at a startup and create jobs in American cities. The deadline to apply for the upcoming program is January 29, 2018.

VFA Fellows learn important startup skills at a five-week summer training camp, apply for jobs within the VFA-vetted company network, and then work for two years as full-time, salaried employees in one of 18 cities. When Fellows are ready to start a company, whether two years after college or ten, VFA has the resources to help make that dream a reality, from connections to seed funding to crowdfunding competitions.

This year, VFA announced their intent to become an onramp to entrepreneurship for historically underrepresented groups, and to grow the equity and inclusion resources provided to Fellows. VFA is partnering with the 20 campuses that are part of the Blackstone LaunchPad global network to help spread the word about this special emphasis on equity and inclusion.

Former SU Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneur Dylan Kim ’16, founder of Brevite, participated in the fellowship program and successfully launched his company, which is now operating out of New York City.

VFA CEO, Amy Nelson, and members of VFA Rise, its identity-based resource group, will discuss VFA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and answer general questions about the Fellowship on January 22 at 7:30 p.m. To register, visit

An overview of the application process, as well as VFA program stats, can be found at VFA by the numbers. Learn more, and apply by January 29, 2018 at

Spring business plan competitions announced

business terms written on a chalkboard Building on last year’s successful track record, when Syracuse University teams captured the grand prize and four first place awards in the 2017 New York State Business Plan Competition, a number of 2018 business plan competitions launch this semester. Open to Syracuse University students across all disciplines, the major competitions include:

The campus competitions for the ACC InVenture Prize and Hult Prize are coordinated through the Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library. The Panasci Business Plan Competition is coordinated through the Whitman School of Management and the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship. The RvD iPrize is coordinated through the School of Information Studies.

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, please e-mail: .