Global Entrepreneurship Week launches with keynote by founder Carl Schramm

carl-schrammThe first-ever campuswide Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration kicks off at Syracuse University with a keynote by its founder, Carl Schramm, University Professor and former president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The opening event, “The History of Innovation,” will be Monday, Nov. 14, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons at Bird Library, followed by a networking reception in the Learning Commons.

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a celebration of innovators who launch startups and bring ideas to life. For one week each November, the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurship inspires people around the globe to explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. With activities ranging from large-scale competitions to intimate networking and meetups, lectures and panel discussions, film screenings and meetings with investors, aspiring entrepreneurs are introduced to possibilities and exciting opportunities.

Representatives from 37 countries were on hand when GEW was announced in 2007 by Jonathan Ortmans, president of GEW; Carl Schramm, former president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation; and Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. The event has now grown to 160 countries, 20,000 partners and 10 million people.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is taking the lead organizing activities on campus, which include nearly two dozen events across campus from Nov. 14-18. The schedule of activities is online at:

Schramm is recognized internationally as a leading authority on innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. The Economist has referred to Schramm as the “evangelist of entrepreneurship.” His 2010 essay in Foreign Affairs initiated the study of expeditionary economics.  He has authored, co-authored or edited several books, including “Better Capitalism,” “Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism,” “Inside Real Innovation,” “The Entrepreneurial Imperative” and “Controlling Healthcare Costs.” “Burn The Business Plan” is forthcoming in 2017.

Schramm’s academic career began at Johns Hopkins, where he founded the nation’s first research center on healthcare finance. He has founded or co-founded five companies, including HCIA and Greenspring Advisors, a merchant bank. Schramm also has served in major corporate roles, including EVP of Fortis (now Assurant) and CEO of Fortis Healthcare. He has served as a member of the Science Advisory Board of Mars Inc.; advised major corporations, including Ford, J&J and Apple; and served as a director of two public companies. He has been a member of the Singapore Prime Minister’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council. He chaired the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee and was a member of the President’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

He is a founding member of the Board of the International Intellectual Property Commercialization Council, a U.N. recognized NGO headquartered in Hong Kong; a trustee of the Templeton World Charity Foundation; and, a Council Member of the National Academies of Sciences’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable. He has served as a trustee of the Kauffman Foundation and the Milbank Memorial Fund.

Schramm is a Batten Fellow at the University of Virginia and has served as a visiting scientist at MIT. He serves on the board of the Tusher Center for Intellectual Property at UC Berkeley. He was the inaugural Arthur & Carlyse Ciocca Visiting Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UC Davis in the academic years 2013 and 2014.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin, where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow, and a New York State Regents Graduate Fellow, and earned his law degree at Georgetown University. He held two consecutive Career Scientist Awards from NIH, and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Medicine. He holds five honorary degrees and the University of Rochester’s George Eastman Medal. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Blackstone LaunchPad wins Fast Pitch Competition at Charleston Conference

fast-pitch-winnerThe Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries won the Fast Pitch Competition at the Charleston Conference on November 4. The innovation competition looks for compelling new ideas in academic library and information management. A committee of professional judges selected the winners from a national field of applicants.

Scott Warren, associate dean for research and scholarship at Syracuse University Libraries, pitched the Libraries’ idea. Warren oversees collections and subject librarian services, and recently participated in the 2016-2017 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Leadership Fellows Program.

The winning concept is a new entrepreneurial resource collection developed by librarians and staff, working with the Blackstone LaunchPad. The LaunchPad provides support for faculty, staff, students and alumni in areas related to startups, innovation, and entrepreneurship and is one of the first in the country located in a library. Supported by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, it is part of a network of 20 LaunchPads at major universities across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Warren developed the Fast Pitch proposal working with Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Blackstone LaunchPad executive director, Stephanie McReynolds, Syracuse University’s business, management and entrepreneurship librarian, and other library staff. The LaunchPad worked with Syracuse University faculty across many academic program areas to crowdsource the book collection that encompasses multi-disciplinary topics related to ideation, creativity, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and more. It is a unique collection, beyond volumes typically found in a business school collection. Making it more unique is that faculty across so many academic program areas participated in the curation process, providing stewardship and engagement with the project.

The collection will be installed in “book nodes” adjacent to the LaunchPad in Bird Library. Library staff worked on the acquisition, cataloging, and other service aspects of the project. Usage metrics will be tracked and tied to LaunchPad metrics, providing data analysis of how the new service is augmenting LaunchPad services. The collection has already been adopted as a suggested reading list by faculty teaching entrepreneurship and related subjects. LaunchPad students are planning to start a book club around the collection, to continue the interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Charleston Conference is an annual international gathering of librarians, publishers, electronic resource managers, consultants, and vendors of library materials in Charleston, SC each November. The 2016 Theme is “Roll with the Times, or the Times Roll Over You.” The conference, which focuses on serial and book acquisition, began in 1980, and has grown from to more than 1,600 attendees annually.







E-Meetup for entrepreneurs in creative industries on October 27 in Blackstone LaunchPad

creativeThe Blackstone LaunchPad is hosting an E-Meetup for entrepreneurs in creative industries, Thursday, October 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  The event will be held in the first floor of Bird Library, starting with a sign-in reception at the LaunchPad, followed by a networking event in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons.

E-Meetups are an on-going series sponsored by the LaunchPad on topics of interest to entrepreneurs.  Events are monthly, rotate around campus, and feature different themes, topics, or trends that are of interest to many academic program areas.  The format includes:

  • Networking and refreshments
  • Student venture pitches
  • Visiting entrepreneurs and guest speakers
  • Interactive table conversations on ideation, developing your business model, building your team, marketing your venture, enabling technologies, and more.

Participants don’t need a venture to come.  They are open to anyone on the Syracuse University campus who wants to be part of a group of like-minded people interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

The E-event on October 27 explores the creative industries — the force powering the new economy and driving innovation across many high growth job sectors.  These include:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Architecture
  • Arts management
  • Broadcasting, radio and television production
  • Design: product, graphic, fashion, interior and environmental design
  • Education and on-line learning
  • Entertainment and media
  • Film, computer art and animation, video, and photography
  • Fine arts across all media
  • Food and the culinary arts
  • Game development, AR and VR and emerging technologies
  • Hospitality, tourism and events productions
  • IT, software and computer services
  • Lighting and sound design, stage design, production tech
  • Literature, writing and publishing
  • Museums, galleries and libraries
  • Music, visual and performing arts
  • Web and mobile app development

To sign up to pitch, e-mail and for information on future events follow

Blackstone LaunchPad hosts Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs program on September 8

Tameka-Montgomery-sba - 400 pixelsWomen entering the workplace have been the driving force behind economic growth, according to recent Kauffman Foundation research. Yet, they are still half as likely as men to become entrepreneurs. How can more women become entrepreneurial, and unleash their creativity and ingenuity?

The campus community is invited to join the conversation at “Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs,” set for September 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Bird Library. The event features “Living Legend” Tameka Montgomery as keynote speaker, along with a dynamic panel of student, faculty, alumni, and community entrepreneurs. Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly will offer welcoming remarks.

“I am delighted that Syracuse University is able to host this conference dedicated to promoting and supporting female entrepreneurship,” says Wheatly. “In today’s marketplace, business start-ups are one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and professional success, and yet women still lag significantly behind men in launching new business ventures. This conference is an opportunity for them to learn from one another and to build and nurture those critical connections that have been found to be so important to women’s success as aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.”

The event kicks off with a 4 p.m. networking session at the new Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, followed by a 4:30 p.m. program in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons with the keynote speaker and entrepreneur panel. It concludes with a resource fair featuring campus and community connectors. The event is free and open to the campus community. Registration is requested by e-mail to

Presidential appointee Tameka Montgomery leads the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), spearheading programs that serve more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs and small businesses nationwide. She oversees the SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Centers, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, and the Office of Entrepreneurship Education. The winner of numerous innovation awards, she was recognized as a Living Legend by the National Council of Negro Women. She was former executive director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, where she won national accolades for building an entrepreneurship ecosystem there. Montgomery was previously a Presidential Management Fellow, and launched her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving two years in West Africa.

Following her remarks, an entrepreneur panel will be moderated by Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University. Panelists include:

  • Student venture – Melux, LLC, Co-founders Kristina Taylor ’17 and Kyla Brown ‘16
  • Alumni venture – EB Active, Founder and SSIC Entrepreneur in Residence Gabriela Escalante ’16
  • Faculty venture – Brainview Technologies, Founder Dr. Leanne Hirshfield
  • Community venture – The Sweet Praxis, Co-founders Natalie Hansen and Jennifer Walls
  • SBIR-backed venture – TextWise Founder Liz Liddy, Dean of the iSchool
  • SBA-backed venture – Sky Armory/the Events Company, CSEP, President and Creative Director Nicole T. Samolis

Following the program, participants can explore resource tables in the Bird Library Learning Commons, and meet invited providers, which include:

  • The WISE Women’s Business Center
  • The South Side Innovation Center
  • Falcone Center and Couri Hatchery
  • Whitman EClub and Whitman Women in Business
  • Blackstone LaunchPad
  • VISION Entrepreneurship Club
  • It Girls Alumnae, SWEEP (Society for Women’s Empowerment and Engagement Partners), WIT-G (Women in Technology-Graduate) and WIT-U (Women in Technology-Undergraduate)
  • Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Newhouse
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • New York State Small Business Development Center
  • New York Business Development Corporation
  • The Excelsior Growth Fund
  • LaunchNY Venture Development Organization
  • Upstate Venture Connect and Start Fast Accelerator
  • The Syracuse Technology Garden and Syracuse Student Sandbox

The event is designed to provide a framework for aspiring women entrepreneurs who want to explore how to launch an idea. It is being coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library, a new cross-campus entrepreneurship resource center funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, the program provides support for ideation and venture development, connects entrepreneurs to Syracuse University’s robust innovation ecosystem, and offers access to national and global resources through the Blackstone network.

Co-sponsors include the New York Business Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, WISE Women’s Business Center, and The Syracuse Technology Garden. WISE (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) was launched in 2003 by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. It is also supported through the U.S. SBA as part of a national network of Women’s Business Centers that help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and compete in the global marketplace.







Braden Croy named Program Manager, Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University

Braden_CroyBraden Croy will join the Blackstone LaunchPad team on July 18 as Program Manager, supporting the expansion of the new experiential entrepreneurship program located in Bird Library.

In this new role, Croy will work with Executive Director Linda Dickerson Hartsock on project implementation milestones, particularly in regard to faculty and student outreach, to develop an entrepreneurial pipeline. Among his responsibilities will be to expand the number of ventures enrolled in the Blackstone LaunchPad platform, to assist with student coaching, and to develop events and activities that foster connections and team building across Syracuse University’s innovation ecosystem.

A graduate of Virginia Tech, Croy has been an active member of the campus and community entrepreneurship network. He served as a program manager for the StartFast Venture Accelerator, a facilitator for the New Explorations in Information and Science (NEXIS) program and the Syracuse Student Sandbox, and was part of a Syracuse enterprise startup based at the Tech Garden. He was a student entrepreneur at Virginia Tech, as founder and CEO of Cloud Conservatory. He has been a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops on building entrepreneurial networks, including a number of international workshops. He enjoys telling the story of how he started his path as an entrepreneur at age five, picking vegetables out of his parents’ garden and selling them back at a significant markup.

An as active member of entrepreneur communities at both Virginia Tech and Syracuse University, Croy has participated in Spring Break in Silicon Valley, Entretech, TEDx, and Startup Weekends in Syracuse and in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he won prizes. He was student president of the Virginia Tech Entrepreneurship Club, and also the recipient of the prestigious K50 Award from the Kairos Society, which recognizes the most innovative student startups in the world.

“Entrepreneurship embodies Braden’s leadership style,” said Hartsock. “He’s an innovative thinker with a track record as both a student and community entrepreneur, and has a keen understanding of technologies, products, markets and teams that lead to successful startup companies.”

“Syracuse University has contributed significantly to the growing field of entrepreneurship,” said Croy. “This position represents an opportunity to grow an inclusive, results-driven, cross-campus entrepreneurship ecosystem as a member of Blackstone’s international network. I’ve never come across a more dedicated and energetic group of entrepreneurship educators and community members than here at Syracuse University.”

Croy will be based at the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library and can be reached via Twitter @pbcroy or via e-mail:


Blackstone LaunchPad is an experiential, campus-based program open to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It is designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, ideation, and venture creation support. Based on a successful model started at the University of Miami, and further developed by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the program is available to more than 500,000 students at campuses globally. For more information:

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is located on the main level of Bird Library, placing entrepreneurship at the center of academic life and incorporating it into the resource network of Syracuse University Libraries. The Blackstone LaunchPad complements Syracuse University’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives, and connects them to a national network providing support for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Follow the LaunchPad at or learn more by e-mailing:


Blackstone LaunchPad concludes Finance Forum series on July 21

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is collaborating with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) to present a Finance Forum for startups and small business owners on July 21 at Bird Library.  The workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the LaunchPad and the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons and features speakers are from EGF.  A not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution, EGF promotes economic development and job creation in New York State by providing access to alternative sources of capital, small business loans, and business advisory services.

The event concludes a Small Business Financial Seminar Series presented by EGF finance experts in partnership with the LaunchPad. Previous workshops focused on Financial Management and Access to Capital.  Attendees learned how to make informed financial decisions, analyze business financials, and utilize tangible tools for evaluating the financial health of the company.  They also explored how to secure funding at the best terms possible, how lenders evaluate their business, and about personal and business credit, and credit repair.

“Financial management and access to capital are two critical issues facing small businesses, and this series is designed to provide critical tools, resources, and strategies that can be implemented in the business the very next day,” said Steve Cohen, president of Excelsior Growth Fund. “It’s a very practical crash course to help business owners succeed in accessing capital and managing the firm’s finances.” Cohen was previously Executive Vice President and Deputy Commissioner at Empire State Development, where he headed the Department of Small Business Services and Community Economic Development.

The program agenda is:

8:30 a.m.          Networking and light breakfast refreshments in the LaunchPad, Room 120, Bird Library

9:00 a.m.          Program in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114, Bird Library

Exploring The Capital Continuum:  What types of capital are available, and what’s right for you?

Experts will discuss sources of capital for new businesses, capital for growing businesses, alternate sources of capital, and capital comparison sources.  They discuss the “true cost” of capital and other critical considerations when seeking funding.

9:30 a.m.        “The Art of the Pitch”

Applications are being accepted to be one of the “Three Most Promising Pitches” to pitch to a funder’s panel. A panel scorecard will be provided in advance to help refine pitches.  Funders will critique and provide feedback loop that all participants can learn from.  Ideal presenters will have at least one year in business, have positive cash flow or be close to break-even, and have opportunities to grow their business and secure additional capital.

10:30 a.m.       Funder Feedback

Attendees can meet one-on-one with a financing expert who will create a personalized action plan, connect with funders and capital providers on specific product recommendations, and learn how to build the strongest possible application. There will also be an opportunity to visit with the resource panel and meet with representatives from the SBA, SBDC, Tech Garden, WISE Women’s Center and the Blackstone LaunchPad.

The program is free, but pre-registration is required. Register on-line:

Events partners include The U.S. Small Business Administration, SBDC, Tech Garden, WISE Women’s Business Center and Whitman School of Management, and the Central New York Technology Development Organization.

About the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University:

An experiential, campus program that is open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, the LaunchPad is designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path, and help develop entrepreneurial skills through individualized coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.  The LaunchPad at Syracuse University is located on the main level of Bird Library, placing entrepreneurship at the center of academic life, and incorporating it into the resource network of Syracuse University Libraries.  The LaunchPad helps connect Syracuse University’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives with a national network providing support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

To sign-up and become part of the network, log on to:

Floyd and DeBorah Little receive ceremonial Carrier Dome JoJo rings on May 11

FloydDeBorahJordanSU alumnus and entrepreneur Jordan Dudden ’15 presented custom-crafted commemorative Carrier Dome rings donated by the Boeheim Foundation to Syracuse University football legend Floyd Little and his wife DeBorah Little at a ceremony in the Carrier Dome on May 11.

Floyd Little will be conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Commencement on May 15.  A three-time All-America running back at Syracuse University and College and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Little returned to Syracuse University after a long and distinguished professional AFL-NFL/AFC-NFC career to serve as special assistant to the athletic director. He retires from Syracuse University this month, and is also memorialized at Plaza 44, Ensley Athletic Center, which features his sculpture alongside other Syracuse University sports legends Jim Brown ’57 and Ernie Davis ’62, as well as national championship coach and World War II Silver Star recipient Ben Schwartzwalder.

DeBorah Little ’14, G ’16 is receiving an M.S. in Instructional Design and Development and a CAS in Educational Technology at this year’s ceremony.  She is an entrepreneur who is the founder and U.S. patent holder for an innovative cosmetic tube, LilMorStix, and also president of Touchdown Presentations.  A professional speaker, author, trainer, and coach, she is a native of Syracuse where she has been a very active civic leader. Dudden will also be presenting DeBorah a matching ring, recognizing her as a woman entrepreneur and role model.

Dudden is the founder and CEO of JoJo Rings, a company that creates and sells handcrafted rings made from recycled keys. Jordan has grown JoJo Rings to nearly 70 stores across 25 states, been featured in Vogue Magazine and Bustle, spotted on celebrities like Hailey Baldwin and Jessie James Decker, upcycled almost 2,400 pounds of scrap metal into jewelry, and donated thousands of dollars to charity.  She recently recycled the old keys to the Hotel Syracuse into keepsake rings, coinciding with the re-opening of the historic downtown hotel. Founded with the community in mind, JoJo Rings operates under three guiding principles: sustainability, individuality, and social good. Their tagline, “Keys for Change,” illustrates a commitment to philanthropy. With each sale, Jordan makes a donation to a different local nonprofit.

Jordan Dudden and DeBorah Little have both been active in the Syracuse University entrepreneurial community, working with WISE WBC, as well as many other Syracuse University mentors. They met through the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library and conceived these one-of-a-kind pieces of Syracuse University history — Carrier Dome keys provided through the Boeheim Foundation.

“My hope is that these rings will help DeBorah and Floyd remember their time at Syracuse, and serve as a constant reminder of how grateful we are for their significant contributions to our community,” said Dudden.

“Our adventure back home at Syracuse University has been one of the greatest adventures of our lives,” added DeBorah. “The blessings that have flowed into both of our lives these past five years are abundant and we are more grateful than we have words to express. Thank you to Jordan Dudden of JoJo Rings for this amazing honor and to our SU family for what is sure to be one awesome graduation weekend for us and our families!”

After graduation, Floyd and DeBorah will be moving to Las Vegas and their next chapter, but they are happy to be taking warm memories and a piece of the Dome with them.  “There has been some great things that have happened to me in my life,” said Floyd Little. “Being a Pro Football Hall of Famer is the ultimate goal of achievement.  Getting an honorary degree from Syracuse University is right up there with it!”

Entrepreneurs Wiley Cerilli and Patrick Ambron to participate in Blackstone LaunchPad grand opening on April 19

Two high-profile Syracuse University alumni entrepreneurs will be featured guests at the grand opening of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University on April 19.  The 1 p.m. event at Bird Library includes a formal ceremony, ribbon cutting, reception, and student venture demos.

wiley-cerilliAs part of the LaunchPad kick-off, Wiley Cerilli, Co-CEO and Founder at Good Uncle, and Patrick Ambron, Co-Founder and CEO of BrandYourself, will join Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy in awarding $60,000 in prizes to Syracuse University student winners of the CompeteCNY business plan competition.

More than three dozen Syracuse University student ventures are pitching their business concepts at the LaunchPad on April 14 at the regional qualifier for the NYS Business Plan Competition, considered the country’s premier collegiate contest. Teams are competing in:

Information Technology/Software; Energy/Sustainability; Products/Services; and Social Entrepreneurship/Non-Profit Ventures.

Patrick-AmbronCerilli and Ambron will recognize student teams advancing to the NYS finals and award $60,000 in CompeteCNY prizes to Syracuse University student ventures to help take their innovations to the next stage.  The statewide competition, hosted by Syracuse University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and University at Albany’s School of Business, will be held April 29 in Albany, with a $100,000 grand prize.

The CompeteCNY awards are part of student demos following the LaunchPad opening ceremony and ribbon cutting. Cerilli and Ambron will be on hand to meet and mingle, and host an intimate, informal conversation in the LaunchPad with student entrepreneurs on lessons learned as they started and scaled their successful businesses.

Cerilli, who attended the iSchool, founded SinglePlatform in 2010, raising $4.5 million in two rounds, then selling the two-year old start-up to Constant Contact for $100 million. Following the sale, he became Vice President at Constant Contact, then Venture Partner for First Round Capital in New York, and was named a “Top 25 CEO” in New York, and “Top 10 People to Watch” by Crain’s.

He recently co-founded Good Uncle, which raised $2.2 million from institutional investors including First Round, Box Group, and tech law firm Gunderson Dettmer. The founders of hot NYC startups are investors, along with restaurateur Tom Colicchio of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” fame. The new venture is a food delivery service featuring items from the world’s most iconic restaurants and chefs, ordered through an immersive, content-rich mobile app.  It builds on his experience as an early employee at Seamless, a food ordering site created by Jason Finger.  As one of the original employees, Cerilli spent ten years at Seamless, helping it become one of fastest growing companies in the country before being acquired by ARAMARK.

Ambron ’09, a dual major in Advertising (Newhouse School) and Psychology (Arts and Sciences), co-founded BrandYourself with a team of Syracuse University students and went on to become a nationally recognized expert in online reputation management and search engine optimization. He was honored by the White House as one of Empact’s 100 Top CEOs under 30, named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the SBA, and selected as Inc. Magazine’s Top 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35. Entrepreneur Magazine picked BrandYourself as a Top 5 Collegiate Startup, PCWorld named the company a Top 5 Hottest Web Apps at SXSW, and the company won the SXSW Accelerator Competition as Best Bootstrapped Startup.

Most recently, Ambron represented BrandYourself on ABC’s Shark Tank, where he walked away from a $2 million offer – one of the highest in the show’s history.  He has led BrandYourself to raise several rounds of venture capital and grown it from a student start-up to more than 75 full-time employees. His ideas have been featured on ABC News, CBS News, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Mashable, TechCrunch, WSJ, the NY Times, US News & World, and many others. He helped co-develop the new media curriculum at Syracuse University’s iSchool.

The Blackstone LaunchPad opening ceremony starts at 1 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, first floor of Bird Library. It will include remarks by: Kent Syverud, Chancellor, Syracuse University; David Seaman, University Librarian and Dean of Syracuse University Libraries; Liz Liddy, Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost, Syracuse University; Erik Lisher, Managing Director in Blackstone’s Investor Relations & Business Development Group, and member of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Board of Directors; Robert Simpson, President & Chief Executive Officer, CenterState CEO; Judy Mower, Syracuse University Trustee, Chair of the Libraries Advisory Board; Erin Miller ’16, Out There Productions; and Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.

Following the 30-minute ceremony, guests are invited to stay for the ribbon cutting, reception, and student venture demos in the LaunchPad from approximately 1:30 to 3:00, with the opportunity to meet and speak with Cerilli and Ambron.

RSVP’s are requested to assist with planning:

Grand opening of Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University slated for April 19 in Bird Library

BLP studentsThe Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library is now open! To celebrate the occasion, the University community is invited to a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 19 from 1-2 p.m. on the first floor of Bird Library. Special guests include:

  • Kent Syverud, Chancellor, Syracuse University
  • David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian
  • Elizabeth D. Liddy, Syracuse University Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost
  • Erik Lisher, Managing Director, Blackstone Investor Relations & Business Development Group, and member of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Board of Directors
  • Robert Simpson, President and Chief Executive Officer, CenterState CEO
  • Judy Mower, Syracuse University Trustee
  • Patrick Ambron, ’09, CEO and Co-Founder, Brand
  • Wiley Cerilli, Venture Partner, First Round Capital; CEO and Founder, Good Uncle
  • Erin Miller ’16, Out There Productions
  • Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.

The event will also feature student demonstrations of their entrepreneurial projects, tours of the LaunchPad’s new facility, and a reception.

Well-known entrepreneur Wiley Cerilli, Co-CEO and Founder at Good Uncle and Venture Partner, First Round Capital, will help present $60,000 in prizes to Syracuse University student winners of the CompeteCNY business plan competition hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.

Housed in a highly-visible glass cube on the first floor of Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad is a cross-campus entrepreneurship program funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation that serves Syracuse University faculty, staff, students and alumni, regardless of major or experience. Through individualized coaching and support, the Blackstone LaunchPad helps students bring their ideas to life and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. The LaunchPad complements SU’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives, connecting them to a national and global network that supports aspiring entrepreneurs.

The LaunchPad’s flexible space can be used for ideation workshops, team meetings, co-working, networking events, coaching and training sessions, venture demos, product launches, as well as other collaborative activities.

The Blackstone LaunchPad program at Syracuse University features: one-one-one mentoring; a unique technology platform to facilitate exchange between academic programs, institutions, and industry partners; tools to support startups; world-class content developed by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation; national and global connections to venture leaders; and Blackstone LaunchPad events and programs to provide opportunities for students from across the global network to connect and innovate.

For more information, contact

Calling all entrepreneurs! Enter Blackstone LaunchPad’s “Solve a Campus Problem” Challenge

Blackstone-LaunchPad-SU-logoNow open in Bird Library, the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University invites faculty, staff, students, and alumni to come by and connect. The LaunchPad places entrepreneurship at the center of academic life, incorporating it into the resource network of the Syracuse University Libraries. The Blackstone LaunchPad program complements Syracuse University’s rich array of entrepreneurship initiatives, connecting them to a national and global network that supports aspiring entrepreneurs.

As one of its first projects, the LaunchPad is participating in a global “Solve a Campus Problem” Challenge, open through April 8. Sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network, the competition encourages students to form teams, identify campus challenges, and propose innovative solutions. Students from Blackstone LaunchPad programs around the world will compete for cash Prizes of $3,000, $2,000 & $1,000 provided by Blackstone.

“Solve a Campus Challenge” is an opportunity for students across disciplines to learn about entrepreneurship through a simple problem solving exercise. It is also a chance for Syracuse University students to be part of the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network and meet students from other campuses to work on ideas that promote cross-campus collaboration opportunities.

Student teams of two to four members are invited to create a one-minute video outlining a campus problem and a feasible solution. Each team is required to meet with the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad campus team to review videos before they go live. To make it even easier to enter, videos are welcome from students who are tackling a student/campus challenges as part of their academic programs, or to expand upon initiatives such as videos submitted through the Fast Forward Student Competition. The deadline for submitting videos is April 8.

There are three rounds of voting: campus public voting from April 11-15, followed by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network public voting from April 18 – 22. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will select the top three global winners in the third round, from April 25 – 29.

Interested students should visit to learn more, and schedule a coaching appointment with the Blackstone LaunchPad Syracuse University campus team in Bird Library. Appointments can be made by e-mailing