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.


Student Matt Shumer Selected for Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Summer 2019 Lift Program

Headshot of Matt Shumer '22 (left) next to SU Blackstone Techstars alumnus AJ Damiano '18
Matt Shumer ’22 (left) coached by SU Blackstone Techstars alumnus AJ Damiano ’18, founder of Power-Spike

headshot of Matt Shumer
Matt Shumer, ’22, founder OptechVR/Visos

Matt Shumer ’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management), founder of OptechVR/Visos, is part of an elite cohort of seven university teams from the United States, selected for the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars LaunchPad Summer 2019 Lift program.

The LaunchPad Lift accelerator program, which kicks off this week, includes one LaunchPad team from Syracuse University (OptechVR/Visos), University of Texas Austin (Via), Cornell University (Antithesis), University of Buffalo (Aviate Audio), University of Central Florida (Ridesurf), Michigan State University (May West), and UCLA (ROSEN).  Participants were selected based a review process conducted by Blackstone and Techstars to assess the strength of each team’s business model and concept, coach-ability, and venture stage, as well as the team’s passion and ability to work with a Techstars mentor to grow.

Inaugurated this spring, LaunchPad Lift is a personalized mentorship-driven program for LaunchPad student-led ventures, designed to help student-led ventures with their next big steps, whether applying to an accelerator program, raising capital, building a team, or acquiring key customers. At the completion of the intensive 10-week program, each participating student-led venture will receive a $10,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“After seeing the tremendous impact from the inaugural Lift cohort earlier this year, we’re excited to be offering this unique and powerful startup program once again,” said Erica Lock, Vice President at the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “As the LaunchPad network grows to reaching nearly a million students, we need smaller, more focused programs like this to offer unparalleled network-building opportunities to the nation’s top operating collegiate entrepreneurs.”

Shumer founded OptechVR/Visos as a freshman and worked extensively with the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries to create a product development roadmap and business model to help position the company for strategic partnerships and investment. He was awarded 2019 Syracuse University Student Entrepreneur of the Year at the Panasci Business Plan Competition, and is an officer of SU’s student entrepreneurship club.  OptechVR/Visos is building an enterprise scale virtual reality (VR) platform that is accessible, easy-to-use, and affordable.  He is currently recruiting electrical, mechanical and software engineers to build out his team.

“I am so impressed by the LaunchPad Lift program,” said Shumer.  “It is amazing to have such personalized access to world class Techstars mentors who can help me craft milestones and refine my commercialization strategy.  This is a unique opportunity to work with global experts, and leverage the power of this incredible network, while still working with Syracuse University campus program.  This partnership will truly accelerate momentum this summer.”

Shumer was also selected by the Syracuse LaunchPad to participate in the recent Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars Startup Weekend.  He was part of a cohort of 70 student attendees representing 20 universities from six states and two countries. Upon completion of that program, he earned the title “Student Entrepreneur in Residence” and is now empowered by Techstars to lead campus Startup Weekends.  Shumer is working with SU’s LaunchPad to create the first ever Blackstone – Techstars Startup Weekend at Syracuse University, September 20 – 22 at SU Libraries.

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.


Orange Central 2019: What’s Happening at the Libraries?

A photo of the Syracuse University campus with a cursive text overlay that reads "Welcome Home"

Registration is now open for Orange Central 2019, Syracuse University’s annual homecoming and reunion weekend, September 12-15. Throughout the weekend, Syracuse University Libraries will be hosting a multitude of unique events for the Orange community to enjoy:

Friday, September 13

  • 9:30-10:00am or 4:30-5:00pm – 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University Exhibition Tour*
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Featuring a wide selection of photographs, printed materials, textiles and other memorabilia from the University archives, this exhibition showcases the traditions that unite the University, including the number 44 and the color orange. Join University archivist and exhibition curator Meg Mason for a guided tour. (*Note that as of 6/7/19, the 9:30am time slot is full. Please see other tour time slot options on Friday and Saturday.)
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:00am-noon – Innovation Breakfast of Champions
    • Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad, 1st Floor, Suite 120
    • Did you ever pitch a product or an idea in an entrepreneurship competition while an SU student? Work on an innovation or student venture? Have you launched something since graduating? Join us in SU’s Innovation Hub in Bird Library to catch up and to get a sneak preview of the next crop of SU innovators.
    • Program cost: No charge; includes buffet breakfast
  • 2:30-3:15 or 3:30-4:15pm  – Preserving Your Orange Memories: A Preservation Fair
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Wondering how to preserve your freshman beanie, old photos, videotapes or yearbooks for years to come? Learn how to care for and preserve personal collections, especially your Syracuse University-related memorabilia. Please note: Libraries staff cannot provide preservation treatment or appraisals for items brought to the fair.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 2:30-3:15 or 3:30-4:15pm  – Funding the Future
    • Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad, 1st Floor, Suite 120
    • Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, founder of SparkCharge, hosts an interactive fireside chat focused on emerging sustainable startup trends and creative funding opportunities for entrepreneurs. Co-hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad, the School of Information Studies and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 4:00-5:30pm  – Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • Join Rick Burton ’80 and Scott Pitoniak ’77, authors of Forever Orange, a book commemorating Syracuse University’s 150th anniversary, for a fascinating look at the diverse people, places and events that have helped Syracuse become an internationally renowned research university. Hear from the authors and take the opportunity to purchase the book (with a special 25% discount) and have them sign it. Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) will be provided.
    • Program cost: No charge

Saturday, September 14

  • 9:00-10:30am – 150th Campus Past and Present Walking Tour
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Learn about our past at the Special Collections Research Center exhibition, 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University; meet the University archivist; and then explore campus during a walking tour led by student guides from the Office of Admissions’ U100 group. The weather in Syracuse can be fickle, so check the forecast, dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes—the tour will go on, rain or shine! Please follow the directions in the registration form if you require golf cart transportation.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:00-10:30, 10:45-11:15, or 11:30-12:00 – 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University Exhibition Tour
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Featuring a wide selection of photographs, printed materials, textiles and other memorabilia from the University archives, this exhibition showcases the traditions that unite the University, including the number 44 and the color orange. Join University archivist and exhibition curator Meg Mason for a guided tour. (*Note that as of 6/7/19, the 9:30am time slot is full. Please see other tour time slot options on Friday and Saturday.)
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:30-11:30am – Bringing Don Waful’s POW Journal to Life
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • A look behind the scenes of a unique audio project from Sound Beat, the popular public radio program from the Syracuse University Libraries. Host Brett Barry ’98, G’13 narrates selections from the World War II POW journal of Don Waful ’37, G’39 interspersed with present-day commentary from Mr. Waful himself, nearly 80 years later! Q&A to follow.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 12:30-2:00pm – Libraries Former Employees Lunch*
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • Have you ever worked in the SU Libraries system, either professionally or while an SU student? We welcome you back to the Libraries for a celebratory lunch for an afternoon of networking and conversation!
    • Program cost: No charge; includes refreshments

Please note that registration is required for all Orange Central events. For a full list of campus-wide events or to register, please visit: cusecommunity.syr.edu.


Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by Techstars Welcomes Graduating Seniors to the Founders Circle

Group photo of 24 students and Dean David Seaman in front of screen that reads "LaunchPad for Life!"
Twenty-four of the 33 new Blackstone LaunchPad Founders Circle members from the 2019 graduating class.

Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars welcomed 33 new Founders Circle graduating Syracuse University students at a dinner and induction ceremony held on May 3 at Bird Library. The group launched 18 ventures.

The Founders Circle includes graduating seniors and recent alumni who have contributed significantly to building the Blackstone LaunchPad since its opening in April 2016.  Founders Circle members serve as role models for future student entrepreneurs and exemplify a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Founders Circle Class of 2019 and their ventures include:

  • Art Inspires You: Geena Matuson (Newhouse G’19)
  • Blackstone Global Fellow: Bridget McDonough (Engineering & Computer Science ’19)
  • Bowtie Blvd: Jake deHahn (VPA ’19)
  • Broad Brothers Productions: Kaelan and Aja Selbach-Broad (VPA ’19)
  • CLLCTVE: Kelsey Davis (Newhouse ’19), Ryan Williams
  • Creator’s Institute: Randy Ginsburg (Whitman ’19)
  • Fibre Free: Charles Keppler (Engineering & Computer Science ’18 and G’19)
  • 410 Pictures: Daniel Simoni (VPA ’19), Peter Hartsock (VPA ’19), Justina Hnatowicz (Newhouse ’19)
  • Gamercraft: Jose Garcia (Whitman ’19)
  • Globalists: Saniya More (Newhouse ’19), Divya Murthy (Newhouse ’19)
  • HALO: Jaclyn Higre (Engineering & Computer Science ’19)
  • Indulo: Attila Melegh (Engineering & Computer Science ’19)
  • In-Spire: Kayla Simon (Engineering & Computer Science ‘19), Elizabeth Tarangelo (Engineering & Computer Science ’19)
  • Justin Case: David Fox (iSchool ’19)
  • MCM: Marcus Cook (Whitman ’19)
  • Prioritage: Angelica O’Hare (Engineering & Computer Science ’19), Samantha Santoni (Engineering & Computer Science ’19), Brooke Walden (Engineering & Computer Science ’19), McKenna Murthy (Newhouse ’19)
  • Promptous: Josh Jackson (iSchool G’19), Chris Chomicki (iSchool ’19), Phil McKnight
  • RAVLE: Kevin Rieck (University College ’19), Tay Lotte (University College ’19)
  • SWIP: Daniel McMurray (Maxwell ’19)
  • TEDx Syracuse: Chris Sekerak (iSchool ’19)
  • Ambrosia LSZ: Zeus Rocancourt (Whitman ’19)

The group was inducted by Quentin Rosso (Whitman ’18), chair of the Founders Circle, several alumni who started the Founders Circle in 2018, and Dean of Libraries David Seaman.   Rosso is director of Innovation and Transformational Initiatives, North America, for Credit Agricole CIB, the world’s largest cooperative financial institution, and he was named Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 by the Whitman School of Management.  He founded four ventures as a Syracuse University student and also created the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellows program.

“Syracuse University has every right to be proud of these innovative, industrious, and successful young women and men as they go out into the world,” said Dean David Seaman.  “The library has provided them a space in which to work, staff expertise, and a rigorous set of programming to help develop their ideas, and they have created a community of innovation that continues to grow.  We look forward to having them come back to campus as young alumni and staying in touch with us – and each other – through the Founders Circle.”

“Being inducted into the Founders Circle gives Promptous access to a wide support network of entrepreneurs across different industries,” said the organization’s founder and recent inductee, Josh Jackson.  “Likewise, the LaunchPad does a fantastic job accelerating startups through mentorship and incubation space, both of which enable student-run ventures to build a strong team, acquire financing, and connect with strategic partners and customers.”  Jackson will be working on his start-up full-time after graduation and has built a diverse team to launch his innovative self-funding dental benefits solution for employers.

“Through my nearly three years at the LaunchPad, I’ve had the opportunity to grow into anything I want to be,” said David Fox, founder of Justin Case and a Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow.  “I walked into the LaunchPad to learn more about entrepreneurship, but I’ve come out learning more about myself.  I could not have imagined the impact the LaunchPad would have on my life, and it’s my favorite memory of my undergraduate career.  The LaunchPad made me a better entrepreneur, landed me opportunities, and got me into Law School.  I am beyond grateful for all of the people I’ve met through this experience, and all the places I will go because of what I’ve accomplished here.”  Fox will start classes in fall 2019 at Syracuse University’s College of Law, where he plans to specialize in innovation law.

“Working here, I grew as a person, student and entrepreneur,” added Kayla Simon, co-founder of In-Spire, LaunchPad Global Media Fellow, and LaunchPad Watson Scholar.  “Creating In-Spire has not only been a highlight, but it led me to the Blackstone LaunchPad, which became one of the best parts of my college experience.  I became empowered here and confident and made friends I’ll have forever.”  Simon’s experiences are helping her launch a career with innovation leader Virgin Orbit.

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.

 


Syracuse University Students Participate in Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Startup Weekend

Four Syracuse University students were selected to participate in the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars Startup Weekend in Los Angeles April 26 – 28.  They were part of a cohort of 70 student attendees representing 20 universities from six states and two countries. Throughout the weekend event, the students worked in teams to “create ventures in a weekend” and pitch to 12 Techstars mentors and judges in a competition. Out of thousands of Startup Weekends catalyzed by the Techstars Startup Weekend network, this was the first multi-campus event in the history of the program.

Four students holding sign that reads Blackstone LaunchPad Startup Weekend, Techstarts, in Partnership with Google for Startups
Matt Shumer, Sam Hollander, Alexandra Cianfarani and Emma Rothman. All four are members of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University.

Alexandra Cianfarani (Whitman ’22), Sam Hollander (Newhouse ’22), Emma Rothman (Falk ’21), and Matt Shumer (Whitman ’22), members of the LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries, were selected through a competitive campus application process to represent Syracuse University at the event.  Student participants at the event were named “Student Entrepreneurs in Residence” and are now empowered by Techstars to return to their universities and lead campus Startup Weekends.  Cianfarani, Hollander, Rothman and Shumer will work with SU’s LaunchPad staff to create a Techstars Startup Weekend at Syracuse University this fall.

The event in Los Angeles was a great experience, according to Shumer.  “We had the opportunity to meet students from other LaunchPads, and quickly formed a team with Cornell, University of Montana, and UC Irvine participants.  Over the course of the weekend, we did rapid ideation, customer discovery, product development and a full pitch.  We walked from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica pier, and interviewed store owners to glean input to create Last Mile, a platform that could enable customers to order anything on-line from local merchants and have it delivered door-side within two hours.  Over the course of the intensive weekend, we developed an app mockup, prototype code, a website, a full pitch deck, and presented it to industry experts and investors. It was an incredible experience.”

Cianfarani and Hollander were also part of the Last Mile team.  “I loved the opportunity to grow my personal and professional networks and represent Syracuse University in such a positive way,” added Hollander.  “We are looking forward to creating a Startup Weekend at SU. We want it to be a fun and energetic experience that will enable Syracuse students to develop and grow ideas and connect with other like-minded innovators across campus.”

Rothman joined students from Cornell, University of Montana, University at Buffalo, and Texas A&M University to create Succint, a web extension to organize web design around individual learning styles and preferences, including text and typography, visuals, color, layout and user experience. She valued the opportunity to be the lead pitch spokesperson for the team.  “It was the first time I did a pitch, and it was such a supportive space that was low risk and high reward.  I am excited to stay in touch with other student innovators from around the country and work together this summer to launch a Startup Weekend this fall at SU.”

“We were completely blown away by the presentations, work ethic, and professionalism of the students,” said Courtney Gras, community director of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars global network.  “We are thrilled to hear SU students enjoyed Startup Weekend.  It was such an exciting event and amazing to see the quality of the students and their ideas.”

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.


Syracuse University Team Captures Second Place at Prestigious ACC InVenture Prize Competition

Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad participants Quinn King and Alec Gillinder won second place at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (ACC) InVenture Prize Competition held April 16 – 18 at North Carolina State, Raleigh. King (VPA, ‘20) and Gillinder (VPA, ‘20) competed in a head-to-head, “Shark-Tank” style battle for “top inventor” in the ACC conference. As second place winners, they received a $10,000 prize. The final round of the competition was televised and broadcast by a number of Public Broadcasting stations across the Northeast region.

Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad team who competed in ACC InVenture Prize Competition. Quinn King (VPA, ‘20) and Alec Gillinder (VPA, ‘20) College of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Design students received second place and a $10,000 prize.

The two VPA School of Design students’ team, MedUX, created a wearable product that is a portable solution to traditional intravenous (IV) medical treatments. It allows patients to abandon the traditional IV pole for a more portable solution.  Their invention, L-IV, which they’ve dubbed a “liberating intravenous” product, uses both gravity-fed and pressure infusion methods to allow infusion patients to remain mobile and active while receiving treatment.

Developed at Invent@SU, a collaboration between the College of Engineering & Computer Science (ECS) and the College of Visual & Performing Arts (VPA), the product is being refined and commercialized with assistance from the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries.  The team has filed two provisional patents and is now filing a non-provisional patent to fully protect their invention, while they work with a team of expert industry advisors and strategic partners to bring their product to market.

The MedUX students built a team of professional regional advisors that included: Kathi Durdon, executive director, CNY Biotech Accelerator, SUNY Upstate Medical University; Winthrop (Win) Thurlow, executive director, MedTech Association; Kathryn Ruscitto, consultant and retired President and CEO, St, Joseph’s Health; Chris Horacek, principal, ICIP Consulting, LLC and former vice president and deputy general counsel, Welch Allyn; Cynthia Dowd Greene, retired executive, Quadrant Biosciences; and Dr. Robert A. Dracker, founder of Infusacare.

The team was also closely mentored by Blackstone LaunchPad executive director Linda Dickerson Hartsock and by ECS and VPA faculty, as well as Syracuse University innovation partners including:  SU alumnus Gianfranco Zaccai, co-founder, president and chief design officer at EPAM Continuum; LaunchPad Syracuse Entrepreneurs in Residence Dennis Taussig, CEO of Taussig + Associates, and Tom Nerviano, managing partner of Smart Vines Consulting and former HR Director of Unilever. The Blackstone LaunchPad coordinated the campus qualifier and also mentored and coached the teams that competed for the coveted title of top ACC inventor.  The Syracuse campus competition is supported by the Syracuse University Provost’s Office.

“The entire Syracuse University campus is proud of the MedUx’ team. This is an exceptional example of how Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad is partnering across campus to create innovative solutions through collaborative opportunities,” said David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian.

The ACC InVenture Prize Competition is a collaborative effort by institutional leadership from the ACC and represents an opportunity to stimulate undergraduate entrepreneurial activity and increase student-faculty engagement, celebrate and highlight the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of students, and inspire a greater sense of camaraderie across the conference. Teams representing each ACC university were given the opportunity to pitch their inventions or businesses before a live audience and panel of judges and competing for $30,000 in prizes and a chance to be the next winner. Fifteen university teams pitched during the preliminary round on April 16th, and five finalists were chosen to advance to the final round on April 17th. King and Gillinder were selected to participate in a final round against DeLive (Notre Dame), Ethos Medical (Georgia Tech), InnoHealth Diagnostics (FSU), and MIST (UVA).

In the four-year old competition, this is the second time a Syracuse University team has made it to the final five ACC InVenture Prize Competition. Kate Beckman ’17, G’18 (Newhouse), founder of FreshU, made it to the final five in 2017.

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.