Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture) Supports Innovation, Diversity, and Inclusion through Gift to LaunchPad

Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture), Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea, is making an impactful gift to Syracuse University to support innovation, diversity, and inclusion through a multi-year commitment to the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad).  Personal gifts, along with a gift through his family’s Foundation, will support 18 student entrepreneurs this coming academic year.

There are three components to the gifts:

  • A personal gift to support eleven student entrepreneurs (Orange Ambassadors) with special financial needs to help facilitate continued access to a Syracuse education, particularly in light of the economic challenges and hardships many families are facing in the current pandemic;
  • A five-year personal commitment to support two student entrepreneurs annually from diverse backgrounds (Todd B. Rubin Diversity and Inclusion Scholars). They will work with the LaunchPad to broaden diversity and inclusion outreach and programming, expand participation in entrepreneurship by underrepresented groups, and support the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion;
  • A year-two commitment from The Rubin Family Foundation to fund five peer student entrepreneurs (Rubin Family Innovation Mentors) through the 2020-2021 academic year who will provide coaching to other student startups.

Applications are now open for Orange Ambassadors for the 2020-2021 academic year.  These will include student stipends for undergraduate students from any academic major with special financial needs, and they will help with LaunchPad outreach and programming for the coming year.  Students interested in these stipends should apply here on Handshake and submit a resume and cover letter explaining their financial need. 

Applications are also now open for Todd B. Rubin Diversity and Inclusion Scholars for the 2020-2021 academic year.  These will include student stipends for graduate or undergraduate students from any academic major to work with the LaunchPad on initiatives related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice.  Students interested in these positions should apply here on Handshake and submit a resume and cover letter explaining their interest and expertise in this topic. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through July, with selections announced before August 1.  Students applying should be members of the LaunchPad and can become a member online

“I am pleased to provide these student opportunities to address equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as to help entrepreneurial students offset financial needs in light of unprecedented national challenges,” said Rubin.  “The recent economic downturn has affected many families.  Some families have seen their jobs disappear or have been furloughed.  Many students have lost summer employment opportunities that they rely on to help pay for their education.  Student debt is an increasing burden.  At the same time, public conversations across the country have raised important issues around equity and access.  As an alumnus, I was very interested in helping address these issues, while supporting Syracuse University and entrepreneurial students engaged in the LaunchPad at SU Libraries. It is my hope that more Syracuse University students, from varied backgrounds and needs, will have access through these opportunities to the incredible resources at the LaunchPad to help them grow as innovators.”

“It has been wonderful to work with Todd and to see his enthusiasm for our students and their success.  The Libraries is so grateful to Todd for his continued support for Syracuse University’s innovation hub and for encouraging diversity and inclusion,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian.  “The LaunchPad is an incubation environment for students from 116 countries around the world to grow and flourish. It provides experiential opportunities for students to interact with a variety of people from different backgrounds, with different interests, from all the academic disciplines across campus. This type of learning significantly compliments what they learn in a classroom, helping them understand how to become thoughtful and engaged citizens and change-makers.”

“We are proud that the LaunchPad reflects the rich diversity of the global world,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director.  “The LaunchPad promotes perspectives and solutions from our members who represent different national origins, languages, races, colors, disabilities, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, socioeconomic status, veteran status, and family structures.  Our core values are based on transcending differences, finding common ground, giving voice and power to all, and building a diverse and inclusive community that encourages collaboration, respect, and equity. This generous gift will enable us to expand upon that mission.”

The 2020-2021 gift from The Rubin Family Foundation, facilitated through Todd B. Rubin, will also support five students to serve as Rubin Family Innovation Mentors for the coming year.  This is the second year that The Rubin Family Foundation has supported the peer mentor program through the LaunchPad.  Applications are now open through this link to become a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor.  

Last year’s Rubin Family Innovation Mentors mentored more than 50 student teams, organized and ran Startup Weekend and Mentor Madness, prepared teams for campus, state and national competitions, and helped teams with research and discovery, team building, goal setting and achieving milestones. Along the way, Rubin Family Innovation Mentors also continued to build their own ventures, win national awards, and raise investments to take their own ideas from concept to commercialization. They will be involved in selecting this year’s Rubin Family Innovation Mentors.


New Inclusive Entrepreneurship Program Launching through Generous Gift from Intelligence++TM Foundation

Registration now open for the first interdisciplinary course this fall

An innovative, interdisciplinary program focused on inclusive entrepreneurship and design is being offered for the 2020-2021 academic year in partnership with the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars (LaunchPad) at Syracuse University Libraries, the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education (InclusiveU), and the  College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) through the generous donation from Gianfranco Zaccai and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++TM).  The program will offer new courses open for fall enrollment and will culminate in a design and entrepreneurship competition with $30,000 in prizes.

The inclusive entrepreneurship and design course, DES 400-600, is being taught by VPA School of Design professor Don Carr, with support from School of Education inclusive education assistant professor and executive director of the Taishoff Center, Dr. Beth Myers, and adjunct faculty member at Whitman and executive director of the LaunchPad, Linda Dickerson-Hartsock. The two-semester program, taught in the LaunchPad at Bird Library, is available as an elective to both undergraduate and graduate students from any school or college at Syracuse University, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative innovation, including students with intellectual disability from InclusiveU.

“The Libraries is a central hub for the campus community, providing the environment to utilize research and create new information. Hosting this program at the LaunchPad will not only infuse innovative thinking but will provide the tools and resources to bring great ideas to fruition and market,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian.

This flagship program is made possible through the generous donation of the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence, founded by Gianfranco Zaccai. The Zaccai Foundation seeks to develop, stimulate, and leverage technological, educational, and organizational innovation to enable and empower individuals with intellectual disability, their families, and their communities to improve quality of life, enhance independence and productivity, lower cost, and benefit society. 

Renowned global innovator and designer Gianfranco Zaccai ’70 H’09 (VPA) will serve as a mentor for the course. Gianfranco was co-founder of Continuum, now EPAM Continuum, a global innovation by design consultancy with offices in Boston, Milan, Seoul, and Shanghai. He is a champion of holistic and interdisciplinary innovation research, design, and development, and his vision has resulted in highly successful category-defining products including the Reebok Pump, P&G’s Swiffer, and the Omnipod Insulin Delivery System, as well as helping Boston College redefine its Core Curriculum. For over 35 years, Continuum has been recognized for outstanding innovation and design for projects spanning medical devices to consumer products. Gianfranco was Chair of the Design Management Institute and past President of the Aspen Conference. He holds degrees in industrial design from Syracuse University and architecture from the Boston Architectural College. Zaccai also previously served on the VPA Council and was conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in Industrial and Interaction Design by Syracuse University.

Gianfranco’s wife, Carmencita Bua, was formerly head of operations at Continuum and is now Chief Executive Officer of “Tenuta Donna Gilda a Meleto” Social Farm, an organization that provides neurodivergent college students an abroad experience that enhances their educational opportunities, communications skills, curiosity, and harmony among nature and family members supported by a therapeutic team of experts. In addition, the organization also offers a Gap Year Program for high school students who need extra time before approaching college life. She is a graduate of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Law School of Pisa, Italy.

As parents of a Syracuse University student, Guglielmo Meriggi ’22 (Whitman), as well as parents of a young adult with an intellectual disability, this program is especially important to Gianfranco and Carmencita. “I am confident that this program will be revolutionary in stimulating brilliant students, educators, and researchers to deeply explore and meaningfully innovate a better future,” said Zaccai. “We have an opportunity to blend in-context research, people-centered design, and the strengths and skills of diverse people and disciplines in a way that can change the world for the better for people of all abilities and talents. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Syracuse University – we see the potential that a cross-disciplinary, multi-dimensional, innovative approach can bring to our society, and we want to propel young people to be at the forefront of developing real-world solutions.”

Concepts developed throughout the course will be presented to a panel of experts in a culminating competition in the spring 2021, with $30,000 in seed funding awarded to the most promising ideas for further development.

“By taking an inclusive design approach, we’re able to consider innovative ways to address a wide-range of challenges and in doing so unlock the potential of numerous individuals. Thanks to ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act) legislation, there exists an awareness to create public spaces, services, transportation, and telecommunications that are accessible.  However, the exploration of design ideas that address Intellectual Disability (ID) offers a new set of affordances to move beyond compliance and envision ideas that embrace an ever-wider range of opportunities,” said Don Carr.

The program was developed with the support of Quinn King ’20, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design, founder of MedUX and a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor at the LaunchPad. King had a keen interest in working on the project as a student founder with a design company that focuses on user experience and because, like many others, he has a close family member with an intellectual disability.

“To my knowledge, this is the only program that integrates students from various disciplines with students with intellectual disability into collaborative teams to problem solve design solutions,” said Beth Myers. “Incorporating perspectives from all users and participants will most certainly result in an enhanced and sustainable user-focused experience.”

For more information about the program contact Donald Carr at dwcarr@syr.edu, Beth Myers at bemeyers@syr.edu, or Linda Dickerson Hartsock at ldhart01@syr.edu.

profile of head in two shades of blue and black with swirls above and below
Intelligence++

Jeff Rich ’67 Contributes to LaunchPad Innovation Fund

Jeffrey Rich ’67, partner at Rich Michaelson Magaliff, LLP and SU Libraries Advisory Board Member, has made a multi-year pledge of $25,000 per year for five years to the Syracuse University Libraries’. The total pledge of $125,000, beginning in spring 2020, will go toward student grants to pursue business startup ventures via the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, helping students move ideas from concept through research and discovery to proof and commercialization.

“I wanted to contribute in a way that directly supports student new ventures and removes any obstacles to startup development,” said Jeffrey Rich. Students interested in applying for grant funding to progress their business ventures can email e-mail LaunchPad@syr.edu.Grants up to $5,000 will be reviewed monthly after students complete a Request for Funding application. Grants can be used for prototypes, research, patent applications, incorporation, marketing or legal counsel, or other tangible out-of-pocket expenses.

“This is a significant funding opportunity to grow entrepreneurship and innovation broadly across campus,” said David Seaman, University Librarian and Dean of the Syracuse University Libraries. “In fact, I believe this is the first campus-wide, non-equity, funding opportunity available to all students at Syracuse. These grants remove the barriers to growth for student ventures, while allowing students to maintain complete ownership of their business.”

Jeffrey Rich ’67 graduated from the Maxwell School and obtained his JD from New York University School of Law in 1970. He specializes in commercial law and financial restructuring at the firm Rich Michaelson Magaliff LLP. In addition to being active in various legal and charitable organizations, he is an active mentor with the LaunchPad and was recently appointed to represent the Libraries on the University’s National Campaign Council.

The LaunchPad will coordinate the program on behalf of SU Libraries.  An online application will include requirements for students to specify a detailed project over a clear timeframe with identified outcomes that will help move their idea closer to proof of concept. All Syracuse University students in good academic standing are eligible to apply. Awards are limited to one per team per semester.

There are several opportunities to support innovation at Syracuse University through SU Libraries. To learn more, please contact:  Ronald Thiele, Assistant Dean for Advancement, SU Libraries, T 315.443.2537   M 315.560.9419. rlthiele@syr.edu.


SU startup, CLLCTVE, selected by LaunchPad Lift Cohort Program

Kelsey Davis ’19 (Newhouse) G’20 (Whitman) and CLLCTVE, a team of student entrepreneurs from Syracuse University, havebeen selected to participate in the spring 2020 cohort of LaunchPad Lift.  The program takes ten college student business ventures from the U.S. and Ireland to the next level by providing a $10,000 grant, dedicated mentoring, peer networking, and critical education on advanced startup topics like fundraising, growing sales, hiring executives, and formalizing their supply chain. CLLCTVE, a student startup founded by Davis, is part of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU libraries and is a digital platform connecting college creatives with brands targeting Gen-Z.

“The Lift program provides a unique opportunity for some of our most successful LaunchPad student entrepreneurs to gain access to unparalleled mentorship from the Blackstone and Techstars networks, which really sets our student founders up for future success,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“We’re primarily looking forward to having access to specific guidance pertaining to creating sales leads, managing customer relationships, and developing automated workflow systems that enable us to scale effectively on the product side. Our team is honored to be working with Techstars’ mentor network and we’re super excited to participate in this program,” said Davis, who is a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor at the Syracuse University LaunchPad.

Companies participating in the LaunchPad Lift program this spring operate in a wide range of industries, including financial services, transportation, manufacturing, biotech, professional services, and information technology. Participants were nominated by entrepreneurship center campus directors from 24 LaunchPad network schools. In addition to Syracuse University, students selected study at schools including Montana State University, Texas A&M, the University of Texas, Austin and Dallas, the University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, the University of Southern California, Trinity College Dublin, and the University College Cork.

This is the second Syracuse University student startup to be selected for the LaunchPad Lift program.  Matt Shumer ’22 (Whitman), founder of Visos, completed the summer 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort.  That experience propelled him to be selected as one of six student ventures from the global LaunchPad network to be sponsored to pitch at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in early January in Las Vegas.  Shumer is now working with Babak Kia, his Techstars mentor, who is a senior lecturer at Boston University’s college of engineering and a board member and advisor to some of the nation’s innovative technology companies.

“The LaunchPad Lift program enabled Visos to grow faster than we thought possible, and connect with world-class partners, customers, and industry leaders,” said Shumer.  The program led to the opportunity to speak at CES 2020 which was pivotal to the company, leading to the next phase of our growth.”

“Our partnership with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Techstars and our generous donors has enabled us to not only support our student and campus startups, like CLLCTVE and Visos, to advance their ideas within the greater University community, but it’s given them access to world-class resources,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries.

Instructors in the spring 2020 cohort of LaunchPad Lift include Zach Nies, Managing Director, Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and Amos Schwartzfarb, Managing Director, Techstars Austin, and author of Sell More Faster.

In addition to this programming, once a year, participants from both the spring and summer LaunchPad Lift cohorts come together at a culminating showcase event, where the top collegiate entrepreneurs compete in front of potential investors and Techstars accelerator managing directors for up to $50,000, provided by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Davis won $10,000 second place in a pitch event at LaunchPad Propel, a network-wide gathering this past November in New York City.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.


LaunchPad Hosting International Startup Workshop

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries is hosting a free “International Startup Workshop” for the international and innovation community on January 22, 2020 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons in Bird Library. The workshop is being led by Anna V. Putintseva, Esq., and Rebecca Cohen, Esq., attorneys at Bousquet Holstein PLLC. Participants will learn how to:

  • Help international students, as well as faculty and staff who work with them, understand the landscape and regulations around starting a venture in the United States.
  • Help startup ventures understand guidelines around how to build teams with international students, and campus resources available to support.
  • Help startups and local companies recruit top talent among Syracuse University students from around the world.
  • Help students on visas and new graduates on visas navigate a future path to starting a venture or working in the United States.

One out of every five students at Syracuse University is international, and students from 112 countries are among the nearly 4,000 members of the LaunchPad.  Many are interested in pursuing venture development and charting a path to launch a life or business in the United States.  In fact, 51% of America’s billion dollar startups were founded by immigrants. And diverse cultural perspectives and insights make for better informed and more engaged global citizens, one of Syracuse University’s core values.

Unfortunately, the process of pursuing a venture in the U.S. is complicated, particularly for international students and new Americans. This workshop will help SU international students better understand venture planning, and assist mentors, faculty members, and service providers in offering better guidance to international students.  It will help all startups and established ventures understand how to build a team with international talent and how to work with international students, particularly those here on F-1 or J-1 status. The workshop will feature experts who can help participants understand both the guidelines and options available.

For more information or to RSVP, email LaunchPad@syr.edu.

About the Presenters:

Anna Putintseva focuses on Business Transactions, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Immigration Law. Anna’s international business experience provides support and guidance for clients with international presence and those seeking to expand their business overseas. In addition to transactional work, Anna also advises clients on a large spectrum of immigration law issues, including navigating investors and developers through various aspects of the EB-5 program, helping employers and foreign nationals with preparation of employment-based petitions, advising faculty members, researchers, medical and other professionals on applying for immigrant and non-immigrant work status in the U.S., and dealing with other immigration law issues.

Rebecca Cohen practices in the Employment, Labor & Discrimination and Immigration Practice Groups. With expertise in labor and employment law and employment based immigration, she is able to provide representation to both employers and employees on issues that span a broad range of workplace concerns. As a certified mediator, she brings a collaborative, solution-focused approach to her law practice. Rebecca works with clients to help minimize potential liabilities by anticipating and addressing employment issues and helping to set policies that ensure compliance with relevant federal and state laws and regulations. She provides assistance with employment contracts, employee handbook and policy development, unemployment claims and severance and release procedures and agreements. Rebecca focuses her immigration practice on employment based visas. With a lifelong appreciation for the unique talents that foreign citizens contribute to American culture and to our economy, she is passionate about helping her clients successfully navigate the visa process. She also assists clients with dual citizenship matters.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.

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LaunchPad Student Teams Sweep Award Competitions, Winning Nearly $80,000 in Fall 2019

Numerous student startup teams from the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library (LaunchPad) have won business competitions and prizes totaling $79,500 this past fall 2019. The LaunchPad is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global net­work that provides support for aspiring innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators. “The LaunchPad remains a library service supporting all aspects of entrepreneurship, innovation, and invention, but it has also evolved into a community of innovators who have found their campus home in the SU Libraries,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries, University Librarian, and interim Dean of the School of Information Studies (iSchool).  “It has been a delight to watch teams of students learn a range of skills as they develop business ideas and support each other in their endeavors, even when they are competing.”

A recap of the fall 2019 competitions and top winners included:

  • Techstars LaunchPad Startup Weekend (sponsored by the LaunchPad and SU Libraries in September):
    • Qingkun Zhu G’20 (iSchool) and Gokul Beed ’21 (VPA) from HAUS won 1st place ($750) for their Internet of Things smart humidifier de­vice;
    • Justin Diaz ’23 (Engineering and Computer Science) from EcoBamboo Living won 2nd place ($250) for their energy-efficient, sustainable bamboo buildings.
  • ’Cuse Tank (sponsored by the LaunchPad and SU Libraries in October):
    • Brianna Howard ’20 (Falk College) and Nikita Chatterjee ’20 (Arts & Sciences) from PAANI won 1st place ($7,000), for their clean water filtration system;
    • Justin Diaz ’23 (Engineering and Computer Science) from EcoBamboo Living won 2nd place ($3,000) for their energy-efficient, sustainable bamboo buildings;
    • Patrick Prioletti ’21 (iSchool) of Thinc-Hub, a platform to connect startup ventures with innovations ecosystems, and Clinton Garrahan ’21 (Engineering and Computer Science)  and Davis Mutware (Engineering and Computer Science – Science and Technology Entrance Program STEP) from FreeSwing Power Source, a portable device to produce electricity, each won $500 in a wild card round.
  • Orange Tank (sponsored by Whitman School of Manage­ment in November):
    • Kelsey Davis ’19 (Newhouse) G’20 (Whitman) and Brendan O’Keeffe ’21 (iSchool) from CLLCTVE won the grand prize ($25,000) for their digital platform connect­ing college creatives and brands;
    • Other top cash prizes went to Matt Shumer ’22 (Whitman) from Visos, 1st place ($4,000) for their enterprise virtual reality system;
    • Nicholas Barba ’20 (Whitman) and David Fox ’22 (College of Law) from Modern Systems won 2nd place ($2,500) for their smart home network. 
    • Top alumni cash prizes went to LaunchPad alumni Jose Javier Garcia Rovira ’19 (Whitman) and Quentin Rosso ’18 (Whitman), who won 1st prize ($4,000) for Gamercraft, their performance training ecosystem for collegiate and professional eSports;
    • Alumni Daniel Fridliand ’18 (Whitman) and Dylan Sen from Awning won 2nd place ($2,500) for their app that uses biometric data to administer stress relief through the form of guided meditation and breathing exercises.
  • Regional Qualifier for Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (held in Buffalo, NY in November):
    • Quinn King ’20 (VPA) from MedUX won 1st place ($7,500) with their innovative medical products through user-centered design. Quinn King will be advancing to the national competition for Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in the Silicon Valley February 10-12, 2020.
    • Nikita Chatterjee ’20 (Arts & Sciences) from PAANI won 2nd place ($2,000) for their clean water filtration systems.
  • Impact Prize Pitch Competition (sponsored by Syracuse University Libraries in November):
    • Brianna Howard ’20 (Falk College) and Nikita Chatterjee ’20 (Arts & Sciences), co-founders of PAANI, won 1st place ($5,000) for their clean water filtration system;
    • Caleb Obiagwu ’20 (Engineering and Computer Science) and Zachariah Reid ’21 (Engineering and Computer Science) from AttendPro, a device that improves maintenance work-flow, won 2nd place ($2,500);
    • Daniel Green ’21(Information Studies) from DreamConnect, a platform that optimizes the college experience for underrepresented students of color by facilitating culture, collaboration, and connectivity for student organizations across campuses; and Clinton Garrahan ’21 (Engineering and Computer Science)   and Davis Mutware (Engineering and Computer Science – Science and Technology Entrance Program STEP) from FreeSwing Power Source, a portable device to produce electricity, tied for 3rd place, each winning $1,250.
  • Hult Prize (sponsored by the LaunchPad and Syracuse University Libraries in November): 
    • Justin Diaz ’23 (Engineering and Computer Science) from EcoBamboo Living won 1st place and a trip to the global regionals for their energy-efficient, sustainable bamboo buildings;
    • Clinton Garrahan ’21 (Engineering and Computer Science) and Davis Mutware (Engineering and Computer Science – Science and Technology Entrance Program STEP) from FreeSwing Power Source won 2nd place and an alternate trip to the global regionals for their portable device to produce electricity.
  • Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars PROPEL (global competition held in New York City in November):
    • Kelsey Davis ’19 (Newhouse) G’20 (Whitman) and Brendan O’Keeffe ’21 (iSchool) from CLLCTVE won 2nd place ($10,000) for their digital platform connect­ing college creatives and brands.
Caucasian male in shirt and jacket and African male in embroidered shirt next to sign that reads "Hult Prize"
Clinton Garrahan and Davis Mutware of FreeSwing Power Source, 2nd place winners
Latinx male student in shirt and jacket next to sign that reads "Hult Prize"
Justin Diaz of EcoBamboo Living, 1st place winner
three students wearing white t-shirts with word PAANI next to Dean Seaman, standing in front of sandwich board sign that says "The Impact Prize"
PAANI team members Nikita Chatterjee, Jacob Sardino (SUNY ESF), and Brianna Howard with David Seaman, Dean of the SU Libraries
Caucasian male and Indian female students both holding giant checks
Quinn King of MedUX and Nikita Chatterjee of PAANI, winners of the Regional Qualifier for Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards held in Buffalo, NY
African American female and Caucasian male students both wearing navy blue t-shirts with word CLLCTVE in orange letter. Students are holding giant check for $10,000
Kelsey Davis and Brendan O’Keefe of CLLCTVE at Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars PROPEL global competition in New York City

Todd B. Rubin ’04 to Kick-Off “The Republic of Innovation” Global Entrepreneurship Week

Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture), Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea, is sponsoring Syracuse University’s 2019 celebration of “The Republic of Innovation” Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 11 – 15, 2019.  Through the Rubin Family Foundation, Todd B. Rubin established a grant for the 2019-2020 academic year for five Rubin Family Innovation Mentors at Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad), as well as funds for the Impact Prize Competition, and other campus events taking place that week.

As the sponsor of this year’s “The Republic of Innovation” Global Entrepreneurship Week, Rubin will kick-off the week with a keynote address on Monday, November 11 at noon at Bird Library in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (Room 114).  Light lunch refreshments and tea will be served. A series of activities that are free and open to the community are planned throughout the week to celebrate The Republic of Innovation Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Rubin serves as the Minister of Evolution (President) for The Republic of Tea. Dedicated to preserving a legacy that fosters The Republic of Tea’s “Sip by Sip Rather than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle, he strives to delight Citizens, Ministers, Embassies and Ambassadors with a focus on innovation, education and providing the finest premium teas and herbs.

Rubin joined The Republic of Tea in 2007 as the Minister of East Commerce and then transitioned to the Minister of Southeast Commerce in 2008. In 2011, he was appointed to Minister of Evolution (Vice President of Sales and Marketing), relocating to the company’s Larkspur, California office.  In that role, he successfully spearheaded new teas and new systems that led to significant growth, including: Beautifying Botanicals Teas, organic SuperAdapt Teas, organic SuperGreen Teas, HiCAF® Teas, Sonoma Teas, Biodynamic® Teas, Cuppa Cake® Teas, Downton Abbey™ Teas, organic SuperHerb® Teas, U-Matcha™ teas, The Crown® Teas and the organic Single Sips. Utilizing his degree in architecture, he oversaw the feng shui design of the company’s headquarters at The Exchange in Larkspur, California and the company’s production and shipping center in Nashville, Illinois. 

In 2016, Rubin was elected to the Specialty Food Association Board of Directors and was distinguished as one of San Francisco Business Times’ 40 Under 40. He was appointed to the Advisory Board for the Specialty Tea Institute and became a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization SF Bay Area Chapter in 2015. The year prior, Rubin was the recipient of Syracuse’s Generation Orange Award for philanthropy and was also honored as one of North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Rubin was elected to the Board for the Ethical Tea Partnership, a nonprofit organization that convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs, and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers, and the environment in which they live and work.

He starts his day with a cup of Lucky Irish Breakfast tea, sips Brain Boost SuperGreen tea in the afternoon and ends his evenings with Clarity and Calm herbal tea. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, photography, and reading.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) started in 2007 with 37 countries committing to support it; within a year it grew to over 77 countries and 3 million people participating in 25,022 events. Now it is a collection of thousands of events, activities and competitions around the world. At the LaunchPad, over 112 countries have been represented since its inception. This year’s competition at Syracuse is scheduled the week before “Global Entrepreneurship Week” being held by GEW November 18-24 to better accommodate the academic year schedule.

About The Republic of Tea:

The Republic of Tea enriches people’s lives through its great-tasting premium teas and herbs, education and innovation, as it emphasizes a “Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle. Founded in 1992, The Republic of Tea sparked a specialty tea revolution. Today the brand delivers an unequaled selection of the highest-quality teas, herbal blends, books and nature-inspired sipware. The Republic of Tea’s collections boast over 300 all-natural premium teas and diverse offerings which include, but are not limited to: organic SuperAdapt Teas, SuperDigest Teas, Beautifying Botanicals, SuperGreen Teas, Downton Abbey™ Teas, Biodynamic® Teas, organic Superfruit™ Teas, Be Active® Teas, organic SuperHerb® Teas, U-Matcha™, Single Sips ®, teaware and a collection of unsweetened, premium glass-bottled iced teas crafted exclusively for fine restaurants and hotels. Further, The Republic of Tea is mindful of how its actions impact the greater community and actively supports organizations like The Ethical Tea Partnership, Homeward Bound of Marin, and The Women of Tea: Sri Lanka, an initiative by The Republic of Tea focused on improving nutrition, hygiene and financial literacy for the women tea workers living in Sri Lanka. Certifications include Demeter USA Certified Biodynamic, Fair Trade certification, Gluten-Free certification, Non-GMO Project verification, OU Kosher certification, and USDA Organic certification.


“The Republic of Innovation” Global Entrepreneurship Week Events

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad) is celebrating “The Republic of Innovation” Global Entrepreneurship Week November 11 – 15, 2019.  Many of the week’s activities are being sponsored by Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture), Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea, through the Rubin Family Foundation.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) started in 2007 with 37 countries committing to support it; within a year it grew to over 77 countries and 3 million people participating in 25,022 events. Now it is a collection of thousands of events, activities and competitions around the world. At the LaunchPad, over 112 countries have been represented since its inception. This year’s competition at Syracuse is scheduled the week before “Global Entrepreneurship Week” being held by GEW November 18-24 to better accommodate the academic year schedule.

All events are open to the community free of charge. This year’s activities include:

  • Monday, November 11, noon to 1 p.m.: Todd B. Rubin ’04 will kick-off the week with a keynote address in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons (Room 114) at Bird Library.  Light lunch refreshments and tea will be served.
  • Monday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 12 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.:  Impact Prize workshops in the LaunchPad on “wicked global problems” that lend themselves to global solutions.  The twenty-one Impact Prize final teams will have the opportunity to work with mentors to explore the social impact of their ventures and shape their solutions. 
  • Monday, November 11 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.:  The Hult Power Hour, a workshop in the LaunchPad on sustainability and global climate change, in advance of the campus Hult Prize Competition for student impact entrepreneurship.  This year’s theme is “Build a Smarter Business for a Better Planet,” focusing on addressing climate change.  Deadline to apply is Friday, November 15.
  • Tuesday, November 12 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Global Design Studio, a three-part event in the LaunchPad:
    • 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Vipul Jain, partner at Baaya Design and co-founder and president of Catalysts for Social Action, and serial entrepreneur.
    • 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Shibani Jain, founder and CEO of Baaya Design, founder of India’s frst e-commerce platform for craft products, and co-founder and trustee of Catalysts for Social Action.
    • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Women in Design Co-Work event
  • Wednesday, November 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.:  Building an immersive entrepreneurial experience with Julia Haber, Newhouse ’18, founder of WAYV.
  • Wednesday, November 13 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.:  Qualifier competition for Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who run a business.  Two teams will represent Syracuse at the competition — PAANI, the recent first place winner of the ‘Cuse Tank competition at LaunchPad; and MedUX, a team that won last year’s Impact Prize Competition and is comprised of Rubin Family Innovation Mentors.   
  • Thursday, November 14 at 8 a.m. to Friday, November 15 at 8 p.m.: the MLB Challenge by the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Hines Hall and Manley Field House.
  • Thursday, November 14 from noon to 2 p.m.: Innovation Village at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, with a resource fair of regional innovation ecosystem partners.
  • Thursday, November 14 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Impact Prize Pitch Competition, coordinated by the LaunchPad, to support student entrepreneurs who are engaged in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through innovation. The competition will be held at Syracuse University Libraries and is being funded through generous gifts from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran and Todd Rubin.
  • Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m.: University Lecture Series at Hendricks Chapel featuring “Young Alumni Entrepreneurs: Breaking the Rules, Blazing New Paths, Not Waiting Their Turn” is being co-sponsored in part by Syracuse University Libraries and the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars. The event features alumni entrepreneurs who launched their businesses as students:  Moderator, Kelsey Davis ’19 G’20, founder of CLLCVTE; Josh Aviv ’15 G’17, founder of SparkCharge; Julia Haber ’18, founder of WAYV; Erin Miller ’16, founder of Out There Productions; and Danile Folkman ’12, VP of Business Development, goPuff.
  • Friday, November 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Popcycle fun popup shop of global student entrepreneurs, makers and creatives in the LaunchPad.
  • Friday, November 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: How to pitch your idea to a global entrepreneurial world, by LaunchPad executive director Linda Hartsock at the Maxwell Citizenship and Civic Engagement program.
  • Friday, November 15 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Globalists Live Musings in the LaunchPad, a panel by international students on How to Be a Change Agent in a Global World.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.

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PAANI and EcoBamboo Living Take Prizes at ‘Cuse Tank

Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad) awarded the following teams prizes at this year’s ‘Cuse Tank entrepreneurial competition, held on Friday, October 18 at Bird Library:

four people standing in front of podium, with second person from left holding award certificate
James Bason, judge, with PAANI first place winners Brianna Howard (Falk), Nikita Chatterjee (A&S), and Jacob Sardino.
  • 1st Place winner – Nikita Chatterjee (Arts & Sciences) representing PAANI won $7,000. PAANI provides clean water solutions for global health.
  • 2nd Place winner – Justin Diaz (Engineering & Computer Science) representing EcoBamboo Living won $3,000. EcoBamboo Living is a sustainable bamboo construction company.
  • Wild-card winners: Patrick Prioletti (iSchool) representing Thinc-hub, a platform to build innovation ecosystems, and Clinton Graham (Engineering & Computer Science) representing FreeSwing Power Source, a portable mobile device to produce electricity. Both of these start-ups won $500 each.

Twenty student teams from eight schools and colleges across campus competed in a “Shark-Tank” style business pitch in front of a panel of judges consisting of Syracuse University parents and successful entrepreneurs. Families were invited to attend this event as part of Family Weekend to experience the entrepreneurial spirit of University innovators.

“It was extremely exciting winning,” said Nikita Chatterjee ’20, co-founder of PAANI. “We’ve been working really hard to develop our product and our story, so winning is great validation! We came into the LaunchPad last November and have received tremendous guidance in developing our business. Invent@SU was also instrumental in helping us refine our device, make sure it was novel, build the prototype, and take protection precautions by filing the provisional patent. Most of our funding from ‘Cuse Tank will be going towards laboratory testing and collecting samples of water directly from India. We also hope to produce full working prototype filters for testing purposes and meet and secure manufacturing partners.”

“I continue to be impressed with the quality and creativity of the University students across campus who make use of the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries, University Librarian, and interim Dean of the School of Information Studies. “We’re also grateful to the parents who gave their time to work with the Libraries on this competition.”

Other venture teams, led by idea champions, who presented during the competition included:

  • Attend Pro, Caleb Obiagwu (Engineering and Computer Science), device for improving maintenance work-flow
  • Bluerem,  Noel Chang (Maxwell), Bluetooth medical diagnostic technology
  • Brief, Nick Barba (Whitman), weekly friend news briefing
  • CLLCTVE, Kelsey Davis (Whitman/Newhouse), digital platform for brands and creatives
  • F.E.I Technology LLC, Yuhang Zhang (Whitman), Asian food lunchbox service
  • Fiat Finance, Sam Hollander (Whitman), platform solution to student debt
  • Film Junction, Nicole D’Souza (Arts and Sciences), streaming service for independent films
  • Gather, Nolan Kagan (Whitman), building community over home cooked meals
  • HAUS, Gokul Beed (VPA), Internet of Things home appliance company
  • Iced, Rachel Kaiser (Whitman), wearable technology sports apparel
  • LFG, Josh Berenson (Whitman), fan content digital media platform
  • Mobile Crapper, Spencer Krimsky (Newhouse), portable environmentally-friendly toilet
  • Modern Solutions, David Fox (College of Law), smart home technology installation service
  • Porta-Splint, Maxwell Boise (iSchool), lightweight, compact, portable splint
  • UniRide, David Kestin (Whitman), mobile transit aggregation platform
  • Visos, Matt Shumer (Whitman), enterprise-first Virtual Reality toolset

SU Student Startup MedUX Selected for Medical Device Innovation Challenge Accelerator Program

head shot of Quinn King and Alec Gillinder
Quinn King and Alec Gillinder

SU student startup MedUX was one of six teams selected for the prestigious CNY Biotech Accelerator (CNYBAC) 2019 Medical Device Innovation Challenge (MDIC), an intensive 6-month mentorship accelerator program that starts August 1, 2019.  MedUX was founded by Alec Gillinder ’20 (College of Visual and Performing Arts) and Quinn King ’20 (College of Visual and Performing Arts), both industrial and interaction design majors who conceived of the idea at last summer’s Invent@SU program. They participated in the CNYBAC bootcamp program last fall and are working closely with the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries to commercialize the device.

Upstate Medical University’s CNYBAC is a 52,300 square foot facility located in an Opportunity Zone in Syracuse, providing startups with state-of-the-art laboratory space, access to their facilities and research expertise, and a vibrant and robust innovation ecosystem. Teams selected for the program can utilize the CNYBAC’s Creation Garage, which includes use of 3D printer and other supplies and equipment, and will have access to a mentor network that includes industry experts and funders. MDIC teams also have access to the Innovation Law Center at Syracuse University College of Law for intellectual property and commercialization guidance. Additionally, teams are invited to apply to student engineering capstone programs at Syracuse University and Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.  They are supported by Upstate Medical University clinical experts, and a pitch event is held at the conclusion of the 6-month program.

The six 2019 Medical Device Innovation Challenge teams are:

  • MedUX
  • ZephyRx
  • Halamine, Inc.
  • Megan Thomas
  • CathBuddy, Inc.
  • Revitalx

MedUX is a medical product design and research firm creating innovative solutions for inpatient, at home, and mobile care.  Its first product is L-IV (Liberating Intravenous), a shoulder mounted portable IV system that allows people in hospital, infusion center, or home settings, or in military or disaster situations, to receive IV treatment comfortably and efficiently without being tethered to an IV pole.

Alec and Quinn won second place nationally in the prestigious ACC InVenture Prize competition earlier this spring at North Carolina State University.  They also won prizes at several other SU competitions, including top prize at this year’s Panasci Business Plan Competition and prizes at ‘Cuse Tank, Impact Prize, and the RvD iPrize competitions.

The team has built a prototype, raised seed funding, won $57,000 in campus competitions, assembled an advisory team of industry, medical and product development experts, filed two provisional patents, and developed strategic relationships with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consultants and commercialization partners who are ready to help take the product to market. Gillinder and King are now seeking mission-driven investors to help them through the FDA Class I approval process, usability testing, and production.

The CNYBAC has a strong connection to Syracuse University.  This is the second year an SU student startup was selected for the competitive MDIC accelerator program.  In-Spire (2018 cohort) and MedUX (2019 cohort) are both active members of the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad, won numerous campus competitions as students, and advanced to the ACC InVenture Prize finals.  Last year, In-Spire, founded by Kayla Simon ’19 (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), won the top prize at the MDIC demo day for their invention.

For more information about the CNYBAC, visit https://www.cnybac.com/.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:

The Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in venture creation and taking ideas for products, services or technologies from concept to commercialization. The program prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.