LaunchPad Announces 2021 ’Cuse Tank Winners

Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad (LaunchPad) hosted  its annual ’Cuse Tank entrepreneurial competition on Friday, October 8 at Bird Library. Twenty-four student teams from various 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. This year’s winning teams were:

  • 1st Place winner, $15,000: Ambassadoor Technologies, led  by Bruno Gonzalez Hauger G’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management). The  company connects small brick-and-mortar businesses to nano-influencers, enabling anyone on Instagram with engagement to be a paid influencer, while automating the influencer search, compensation, and management processes.
  • 2nd Place winner, $10,000: Munch Jerky, led by Selim Dangoor ’23 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management). The company provides a gluten-free, artisanal flank steak jerky using all- natural ingredients
  • 3rd Place winners, each receiving $2,500:  BusPoint, led by Justin Gluska ’23 (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Sice-Me, led by Alexander Peter Rolinski ’24 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management). BusPoint is a web-based application allowing students to monitor where their designated school bus is at all times, provide parents with real time monitoring and alerts, and provide teachers and administrators with real time data. Sice-Me is a mobile application which creates insular marketplaces for college and high school students, enabling users to create an account with their student email address in order to  buy or sell products to students at their school.
  • Wild Card Winners, each receiving $1,250: Holy Egg! Shakshuka Truck, led by Natasha Brao ’22 (College of Visual and Performing Arts) and Shop All Yours, led by Julia Gomez ’25 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management).

“After more than a year of virtual competitions, the energy and creativity that the student teams brought to ’CuseTank this year was so welcome,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian. “Parents and guests were equally excited to witness first-hand the creativity, business acumen and professionalism of the student teams. We started the day with $22,500 for the judges to award as they saw fit, raised from generous SU Libraries supporters; however, the judges were so impressed with our student entrepreneurs that they added an additional $10,000 to the prize money during their deliberations!  We are so grateful for their investment in our students.”

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

  • Sweatration, led by Paul Franco ’22 (College of Arts and Sciences), Zach Stahl ’23 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), and Anthony Mazzacane ’24 (College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Fundwurx, led by Ben Ford ’23 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management)
  • Phantom Tea, led by Christine Wu ’22 (College of Arts and Sciences)     
  • Fitted, led by Damaris Koi Munyua G’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management)
  • LunaX, led by Diego Luna ’22 (College of Arts and Sciences)                       
  • SENSE-A, led by Gabriela Angel G’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), Simran Lakhani ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Hong Yan Chen ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science)
  • YOKA, led by Isabella Perkins ’25 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), Daren Wang ’23 (College of Visual and Performing Arts) and Matthew Swanson ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science)
  • Out2Win Sports, led by Jack Adler ’23 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management) and Sam Holland ’23 (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Martin J. Whitman School of Management))
  • Patchwork, led by Jackson Ensley ’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management) and Paul Hultgren, LaunchPad Innovator in Residence
  • Civilian Medical Response, Jared Anderson ’23 (College of Engineering and Computer Science)
  • Glisten, led by Justin Monaco G’22 (College of Arts and Sciences), Bianca Andrada ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), and Anh Dao ’23 (College of Visual and Performing Arts)                                 
  • Wo-manly, Kelly Davis ’23 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management)
  • Candid, led by Mia Hinz ’23 (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications)
  • Urban Coders, led by Mohammed Ali ’22 (School of Information Studies)
  • TEAGO, led by Noah Mechnig-Giordano G’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management)
  • Athletify, led by Season Chowdhury ’23 (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Raul Chakraborty ’23 (School of Information Studies)
  • Lateral Assist, led by Xinyao Zhao ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), Andrea Merloiu ’22 (College of Engineering and Computer Science), and Cheyenne Kersavage ’21 (College of Engineering and Computer Science)

This year’s judges included the following Syracuse University parents and alumni:

  • David Martirano
  • Jeffrey Gates
  • Burt Podbere
  • Kristina Campos
  • Andrew Neuberger
  • Douglas Canfield
  • Corey Lieblein ’93
  • Andrew Schwartz
  • Carter Holland
  • Marlowe Sidney Bamberger
  • Linda Schwartz
  • Jim Armstrong
  • Matt Shumer
  • Steve Shumer
  • Phil McKnight
  • Patrick Prioletti ’21
man in business suit at podium while woman in business suit stands to side waiting
Dean David Seaman announcing ‘Cuse Tank prize winners, including Wild Card winner Julia Gomez, founder of Shop All Yours

LaunchPad Accepting Applications for 2021-2022 Competitions

Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad is now accepting online applications for 2021-2022 school year competitions. The universal application for the competitions, with nearly $100,000 in prizes, are for innovative or creative solutions to address problems or opportunities. Competitions are open to all undergraduate and graduate students from any academic program at Syracuse University as well as  SUNY-ESF student taking innovation and entrepreneurship courses at Syracuse University. In addition to the online application, registrants must provide a one-page business statement. All applications close ten days prior to the competition date.

This year’s LaunchPad competitions are:

  • ‘Cuse Tank:  Scheduled to take place on October 8.
  • Founder’s Cup: Scheduled to take place on October 29.
  • Impact Prize: Scheduled to take place on November 12.
  • ACC InVenture Prize: Scheduled to take place on February 11.
  • RvD iPrize and Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards – Scheduled to take place on March 25.

Over the past five years, Syracuse University students have won $3.65 million in campus, state, and national competitions and raised more than $54 million in equity funding for their ventures. Out of nearly 1,000 ideas, SU students have incorporated more than 140 businesses and have used their experience to build skills and their resumes and find their dream jobs at top innovation companies around the world.


Applications Open for 2021 ACC InVenture Prize Competition

Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at SU Libraries (LaunchPad) is currently accepting applications through January 20 for the 2021 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) InVenture Prize. The ACC InVenture Prize is a televised “shark tank” competition open to student startup teams from the 15 colleges and universities in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Academic Consortium. Teams are invited to submit an online application of a venture idea to participate in Syracuse University’s campus qualifier, which will be held virtually on January 29.  The SU campus qualifier winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by M&T Bank and move on to participate virtually in a PBS-televised event in April.  The ACC InVenture finals feature a $30,000 prize package and is open to undergraduate students or students who have received their undergraduate degree within the past year and who are the original creators, inventors, or owners of the intellectual property underlying their invention.

The 2020 SU campus qualifier winner, Matt Shumer, pivoted his idea for Visos after the ACC finals were cancelled due to the pandemic.  Instead, he formed a new team called Otherside AI, working with fellow Whitman student Miles Feldstein and Syracuse alumnus Jason Kuperberg ’18 through the LaunchPad’s accelerator program.  Shumer and his teammates went on to raise $2.6 million this fall to launch Otherside AI. 

VPA School of Design alumni Quinn King ’20 and Alec Gillinder ‘20, co-founders of MedUX, won the 2019 campus qualifier competition and the $10,000 second place award in the ACC finals. They developed a medical device through Invent@SU then worked with the LaunchPad to commercialize their venture. Since graduating in May 2020, their wearable, portable intravenous delivery solution venture has taken off and will soon launch commercially. 

The 2018 campus qualifier winners, Kayla Simon ’19 and Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19, developed In-Spire, a wearable asthma bracelet which they created through Invent@SU and advanced commercially through the LaunchPad.  Simon and Tarangelo used the experience to propel their innovation career paths.  Simon, an aerospace engineering major at Syracuse, is now an integration engineer at Relativity Space, building the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket. Tarangelo, a bioengineering and biomedical engineering major with a focus on neuroscience, is now a clinical specialist with Brain Lab, which develops advanced software-driven medical technology and powers treatment in many surgical fields.

Kate Beckman ’17 and G ’18 won the 2018 campus InVenture Prize and advanced to the top five finalists in the conference finals at Georgia Tech.  She created Fresh U, a national online publication geared toward college freshmen, growing it to a staff of 300 contributing writers across more than 100 campuses, and developing media partnerships with companies like Teen Vogue.  Fresh U was acquired after Kate completed her graduate degree at Newhouse. She is now senior content manager for RippleMatch, an intelligent platform for college recruiting.

All former InVenture winners remain active LaunchPad alumni and mentor current Syracuse University student startups.

“I believe that in the modern era, anyone can start a scalable, high-growth company and every metropolitan area should have a thriving startup community,” said M&T Bank Regional President Allen Naples. “By helping Syracuse University host the InVenture Prize Challenge, we’re investing in the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of our students and doubling down on our efforts to build our entrepreneurial community into one that generates jobs and prosperity for generations to come.”


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.


Business, Management and Entrepreneurship Librarian Office Hours

UPDATED 3/17/20: IN PERSON OFFICE HOURS CANCELED

Stephanie JH McReynolds, librarian for business, management and entrepreneurship, will hold office hours spring 2020 semester through April 24, 2020 as follows (excluding the week of March 16):

  • Wednesdays, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm in Whitman School of Management, first floor near the main entrance
  • Thursdays, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, first floor of Bird Library
  • Fridays, 10:00 am to Noon in Whitman’s Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship (Room 116)

Those interested in research guidance are encouraged to drop by or schedule an appointment. #AskYourLibrarian


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.


Syracuse University Teams Continue Winning Streak at 2019 New York Business Plan Competition

Syracuse University students and alumni attending the New York Business Plan Competition in Albany on April 26, 2019.

Syracuse University teams sustain highest level of success in the history of the state competition

Syracuse University student teams competed in the 10th annual New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) organized by Upstate Capital Association of New York on April 26 in Albany and came home with five prizes. This is the most of any university at the 2019 event.  Syracuse University teams captured five awards in 2018, and in the 2017 competition S.U. teams won the top prizes in four categories, along with the grand prize.  No other university has achieved this level of sustained success in the history of the state competition.

This year’s competition featured nearly 100 student-led teams at the event on Friday, April 26. Cash prizes were awarded in six tracks, with winners selected by a panel of venture capitalists, angel investors, investment bankers, business leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Syracuse University winners included:

  • $10,000 first place in technology and entertainment category: Our Song, , a company that writes custom songs for couples who want unique wedding songs based on their story, Molly D’Agostino (College of Law ‘19);
  • $2,500 second place in ag-tech and food category: FEI Technology, an online food platform focused primarily on Asian cuisine, Chenghao Zhang (Whitman ’21), Yongqian Wen (iSchool ’22), Yijie Huang (Whitman ’21), Yangdi Jiang (Whitman ’21), and Tianni Xu (Whitman ’20);
  • $1,000 third place in technology and entertainment category: CLLCTVE, a platform that develops college creatives and delivers creative solutions to brands, Kelsey Davis (Newhouse ’19) and Ryan Williams. This team also won the $2,000 Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) excellence award;
  • $2,000, MWBE excellence award, PAANI, a clean water filtration solution for low-income communities in India, Nikita Chatterjee (Whitman ’20) and Brianna Howard (Falk ’20).

The NYBPC regional qualifier was organized by the Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad, whose staff also accompanied the teams to Albany.

“The Blackstone LaunchPad provided business planning expertise, mentorship, collaboration space and pitch guidance to teams,” said Dean of Libraries David Seaman. “Strong showings over three years demonstrates the impact this Libraries service has had since it cut the ribbon in April 2016.”

For more information about the NYBPC:  https://www.nybpc.org/