Victoria Lawson joins Blackstone LaunchPad as Global Media Fellow

Victoria Lawson ’20, has joined the Blackstone LaunchPad as a fall 2017 Global Fellow.  Lawson, is majoring in Industrial and Interaction Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and pursuing a minor in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises.

With strong interests in graphic design, video editing, drawing, and music production, Lawson’s goal is to use design to create products that help improve the quality of life for others around the world.

She will be designing eye-catching communications materials that will generate buzz and excitement around the LaunchPad, and also serve as a “campus ambassador” for the LaunchPad program, interacting across campus to create connections in all disciplines.

She brings skills to this role through her active engagement on campus, where she serves as a Residential Advisor and newsletter committee chair of the United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) at Syracuse University.  She is also very active in the campus chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Blackstone LaunchPad to help more startups through Ideator software platform

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is pleased to offer a free new software platform for faculty, staff, alumni and student entrepreneurs.  Ideator is a powerful startup management tool created by the Blackstone Entrepreneurship Initiative (a project of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation), working with Ideator, a software company based in San Francisco.

Ideator is now being used by the 20 universities that are part of the Blackstone LaunchPad global network.  It features simple to use tools for team building, access to collections of on-line resources, and ways to connect with mentors and investors, as well as a roadmap to manage a venture from ideation to commercialization.

Users can complete personal profiles and detail their entrepreneurial interests, skills, and pursuits. As they progress through commercialization, they can then showcase their ideas, form teams, find subject matter experts, and connect with investors who are interested in collegiate startups.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is strongly encouraging adoption of the new software platform. To spur adoption, the Foundation is hosting a campus competition through October 6, with all 20 Blackstone universities challenged to see which campus can spur the most completed entrepreneurial profiles per percentage of enrollment.  The Foundation will make cash awards to the top universities:  1st Place, $15,000; 2nd Place, $10,000; and 3rd Place, $5,000.

The Blackstone Entrepreneurship Initiative is hoping to reach up to 500,000 students globally through this new technology platform.

In 2010, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced its Entrepreneurship Initiative, a global commitment to advance entrepreneurial thought and activity in the United States and abroad. Through Blackstone LaunchPad, Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge, and Blackstone Innovation Grants, the Foundation encourages and empowers the entrepreneurs who create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University officially opened in April 2016 in Bird Library.  Since then, it has served nearly 2,000 students from 45 countries, with 50% women entrepreneurs.   The LaunchPad is an experiential entrepreneurship program open to faculty, staff, alumni, and students, offering coaching, ideation, and venture creation support.

Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow Quentin Rosso, ’18 Whitman, has been appointed Syracuse University Ideator Brand Manager.  He has developed an outreach campaign and is charged with spearheading adoption across campus.  Rosso is available for questions about the platform, as well as demos of how to use the software to help grow a venture.

There is a sign-up station in the LaunchPad for those who would like assistance, however enrollment is simple to do on line. Sign up at

Make an appointment for more information or to discuss your venture idea by e-mailing

Share on social media:  @LaunchPadSYR now connected to #BlackstoneLaunchPad campuses & communities globally powered by @ideatorinc & @BlackstoneEI


Introducing Social Entrepreneurship Impact Hour at the LaunchPad

Social Entrepreneurship Impact Hour launches each each Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the LaunchPad with Syeisha Monquesse Byrd.

Syeisha is Director of Engagement Programs of Hendricks Chapel, and has been with Syracuse University for seven years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Syracuse University. Born and raised on the west side of Syracuse, Syeisha has over 16 years of experience working with youth and youth organizations in Syracuse. Syeisha is the Director of the Office of Engagement programs where she is able to connect the students with the community that she loves. She provides students the opportunity to engage in different programs that focus of social justice issues all while building sustainable long lasting relationships.

Syeisha will hold weekly office hours in the Blackstone LaunchPad mentoring students interested in making a social impact.

This fall, the LaunchPad is coordinating a Social Impact Prize to grow the pipeline of students interested in social entrepreneurship and civic ventures.

Thrive Projects selected for Clinton Global Initiative “Commitment Challenge”


Help Thrive win the challenge by donating today:

Thrive Projects continues to receive global attention for its work creating sustainable solutions that empower communities around the world.  The team was accepted to the annual Clinton Global Initiative University Conference being held this year Northeastern University.  The prestigious conference brings together students, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges.

During the conference, Thrive will also be one of a select group of projects to present their work in an exchange with other students and experts.

In addition, Thrive is one of 50 teams selected to take part in the annual “Commitments Challenge” where teams go head-to-head to see who can raise the most money for their project.

The crowdfunding page can be found here: and will be open until October 12.

Justina Hnatowicz named Blackstone Global Media Fellow

Justina Hnatowicz ’19, has been named a Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow.  In that role, she will lead the development of Blackstone LaunchPad communications, including marketing strategy, visual brand identity, content development, graphic design, and production of outreach collateral materials.

Hnatowicz is pursuing a major in advertising through Newhouse and a minor in animation/VFX through VPA’s transmedia program.

Through her time at Syracuse University, she has strived to merge visual aesthetics with strategic marketing to create unique and eye-catching media campaigns. With an added interest in motion graphics and animation, she is able to work with a wide range of media and computer software. Hnatowicz enjoys thinking creatively to overcome challenges and produce new and original ideas.

Hnatowicz has been involved with an array of organizations such as Orange Shorts (Syracuse University’s First Student-Run Animation Studio), the Pride of the Orange Marching Band, and Citrus TV. She currently holds two creative marketing coordinator internship positions, and also designs personal professional websites for variety of clients.

As a Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow, Hnatowicz will combine art with technology to create and develop the visual elements of the Launchpad’s brand identity. Along with communicating ideas that inspire faculty, staff, students and alumni to explore innovation, Hnatowicz will also be working on Blackstone LaunchPad initiatives that connect the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

One of Hnatowicz’s signature projects is the creation of the branding and communications collateral tools for Syracuse University’s inaugural Impact Prize competition.  She will also be working on creating communications tools for other upcoming student competitions, as well as Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 13 through 17 at Syracuse University.

Compete for the Global Student Entrepreneur Award

October 25 is the deadline to apply to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the premier global competition for student entrepreneurs who actively run a business.

EO is composed of over 12,000 of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, and is a private peer-to-peer group transforming the lives of those who transform the world.

EO GSEA nominees compete in qualifying competitions for the chance to advance to the Global Finals. With more than 1,700 competitors from more than 30 countries, EO GSEA is an exclusive opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.

Winner of the regional competition will receive $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to GSEA Nationals in Dallas, Texas in February of 2018.  The 2014 National Champion was Syracuse University graduate Daniel Goldberg.  The 2017 WNY regional winner was Syracuse University student AJ Damiano, founder of Power-Spike, who went on to compete at the Nationals this past spring in Kansas City.  The 2017  Global Finals were held in Frankfurt, Germany this past April.  The location of the 2018 Global Finals has not yet been announced.


  • Currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree (full or part-time)
  • Must be business owner, founder or controlling shareholder and principally responsible for its operation
  • Structured ‘for-profit’ or social enterprise
  • Generated $500 USD or received $1,000 USD in investments
  • Operating for at least the past six consecutive months

Apply on line by October 25 to and be sure to select USA-Western NY. 

The WNY regional competition will be held November 8, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, New York.  Finalist selection will be based on: completeness of the application; the student’s ability to overcome obstacles; clarity of the mission and vision; leadership; and innovation.

For more information, contact David Robinson at 716.276.8707 or

Photo caption:  Power-Spike founder AJ Damiano was last year’s WNY champion and advanced to the 2017 Kansas City finals.

Kennedy Patlan named first LaunchPad Engagement Scholar

Kennedy Patlan (‘18), a triple major in Advertising, Citizenship and Civic Engagement, and Women’s and Gender Studies, has been named the first Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar at Syracuse University. The Engagement Scholar position was created as a part of the LaunchPad’s goal to grow social enterprise ventures across the campus.

Through her time at Syracuse University, Patlan has looked for ways to merge public and private sectors for impact. After conducting research on the relationship between nonprofits, technical fields, and sustainability, she is interested in building programs that serve as a campus-community collaborative. Kennedy has been involved with an array of organizations such as Hill Communications, the POSSE Foundation, and the Syracuse Philanthropy Council. She is a Resident Advisor and a current Remembrance Scholar. Kennedy will develop the outreach, branding, marketing, recruiting, and organizational aspects for the first annual Impact Program.

As the first Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar, Patlan will provide peer mentoring of student ventures, with a special focus on social enterprise and civic ventures.  The goal is to encourage more students to think about developing for-good, not-for-profit and for-profit enterprise as part of entrepreneurial landscape.  As an Engagement Scholar, Patlan is helping develop a special business plan competition for entrepreneurs who are developing ventures that serve a broader social purpose.  She will be helping coordinate the upcoming Impact Prize and Hult Prize Competitions across the Syracuse University campus.  She will be helping develop special “Impact Workshops” on campus to explore topics related to social entrepreneurship, and assisting with events for Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 13-17.

Idea Jam with David Edelstein, September 14

Looking for a good idea?  Want to brainstorm and get your creative juices flowing?

Come to an “Idea Jam” on Thursday, September 14 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Bird Library with David Edelstein ’78, Vice Chair of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees.  The event will be held in Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114, Bird Library.

Edelstein is an entrepreneur and corporate innovator whose career included positions in information management at IBM, Bristol–Myers Squibb and Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics (formerly Dade Behring).

He is interested in meeting students to share his experiences and help jumpstart some innovative thinking.  Edelstein will be pitching a few problems he’s identified, and hoping some students will be interested in devising creative solutions.  Students will also be invited to make flash pitches and get feedback on their ideas.  The fun, informal session will explore the “art of the start” through brainstorming and idea generation.  It will be an opportunity to see how the process of ideation can lead to problem solving and creative solutions.

Before retiring, Edelstein served as the vice president of supply chain management project management at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics where he led the development of advanced information and e-business systems to support the company’s worldwide organization. Previously, he was senior vice president of regulatory affairs, quality systems, health, safety and environment, and CIO for Dade Behring. Prior to joining Dade Behring, Edelstein was vice president of information management and productivity, responsible for financial and supply chain systems at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He also held various positions in information technology for IBM.

For Syracuse University, Edelstein is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Trustees Academic Affairs Committee. He has served as a member of the Dean’s Council and Campaign Leadership Council for the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. He has also served as an affiliate Professor at L.C. Smith College and guest lectures on the topics of complex integration projects and health care and information technology.

The event is sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University with the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Whitman School of Management, the iSchool and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication.

Learn more at the Facebook event page:

To reserve a spot, please e-mail




The Impact Prize: Win $5,000 for an idea that can change the world


Syracuse University’s first student prize competition for social entrepreneurship debuts this fall.

The Impact Prize will support student entrepreneurs who are engaged in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems through innovation and human-centered design. The Impact Prize initiative, coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, is supported through a gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran.

The Impact Prize will consist of two components. The first is an Impact Generator workshop series, and the second is an Impact Prize Competition, open to both graduate and undergraduate Syracuse University students from all academic areas. All events will be held in Bird Library.

The Impact Prize initiative will officially kick off on September 22, which will also mark the start of the application process, which will be open until October 27.  Twelve teams from across campus will be selected to pitch at the November 14 prize competition.  Teams will vie for $5000 in awards to be allocated across the most promising solutions to societal issues.

Impact Generator workshops are scheduled for September 28-29 and October 5-6. These interactive sessions will be led by local nonprofit leaders and catalysts who are change-makers in:

  • Energy, the Environment and Sustainable Solutions
  • Arts, Culture and Education
  • Community Revitalization, Poverty and Empowerment
  • Healthcare, Nutrition and Human Services

The goal of the workshops is to inspire students to think about big challenges in these areas, understand emerging issues and trends, and begin to brainstorm ideas for solutions.  All Syracuse University students are encouraged to attend these sessions, not just those interested in competing for the Impact Prize.

The Impact Prize is not limited to the categories covered in the workshop, but is an open call for products, services or technologies that can become practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to economic and social problems.  Proposals should cut across sectors and disciplines, be grounded principles of social entrepreneurship, and address human needs, whether as non-profit or for-profit entities.

Student teams interested in competing for Impact Prize cash awards can apply on-line through the LaunchPad until October 27. An initial judging round, led by prominent campus faculty and staff with expertise in civic engagement or social entrepreneurship, will select the final 12 teams to pitch. Those student teams will then pitch their social enterprise ideas to a distinguished panel of nonprofit leaders and innovators on November 14. Prize winners will be announced that day at an award ceremony and reception. The Impact Prize Competition will be a highlight of Syracuse University’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 13 -17, 2017.

The Impact Prize is funded through a personal gift from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program, who has a special interest in entrepreneurship. As a member of the iSchool faculty, she taught organization management courses at the graduate level as well as the iSchool’s first-year gateway course. Before joining the iSchool, Dr. von Dran served as an assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management. She holds a Ph.D. in public administration and is the wife of Raymond von Dran, who was dean of the iSchool from 1995 until his death in 2007.  Von Dran was a longtime academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. Shortly after his death in 2007, Gisela von Dran established the Raymond F. von Dran Fund, and directed that fund to support the RvD initiative which funds the iPrize.

The Impact Prize competition will also serve as a gateway to the annual iPrize competition, as well as global competitions such as the Hult Prize.

The Impact Prize will be managed by the first Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar, Kennedy Patlan (‘18), a triple major in Advertising, Citizenship and Civic Engagement, and Women’s and Gender Studies. The Engagement Scholar position was created as a part of the LaunchPad’s goal to grow social enterprise ventures across the campus innovation ecosystem.

Through her time at Syracuse University, Patlan has looked for ways to merge public and private sectors for impact. After conducting research on the relationship between nonprofits, technical fields, and sustainability, she is interested in building programs that serve as a campus-community collaborative. Kennedy has been involved with an array of organizations such as Hill Communications, the POSSE Foundation, and the Syracuse Philanthropy Council. She is a Resident Advisor and a current Remembrance Scholar. Kennedy will develop the outreach, branding, marketing, recruiting, and organizational aspects for the first annual Impact Program.

Impact Prize Key Dates:

  • September 22, program announcement and applications open on-line
  • September 28, Impact Generator Workshop #1
  • September 29, Impact Generator Workshop #2
  • October 5, Impact Generator Workshop #3
  • October 6, Impact Generator Workshop #4
  • October 27, Impact Prize Applications Due
  • October 30, campus judges review applications
  • November 7, announcement of the top 12 teams
  • November 10 and 11, pitch workshops
  • November 14, Impact Prize pitches at prize competition, award ceremony and reception


The Funding Roadmap

The Blackstone LaunchPad is pleased to join The Innovation Connectors ( to present a two part series on Startup and Growth Capital. Explore funding opportunities from startup to acceleration stages with experts who can introduce you to various funding resources, loan programs offered by the U.S. SBA, alternative financing such as the Excelsior Growth Fund, state programs/tax credits available to young businesses.  A panel of equity investors will give an inside look at what’s in their mindset when it comes to impact investing.  Participants will also hear from founders who have “been there and done that,” with tips on how to approach funders.  There is a nominal registration fee.  Register at:

The Blackstone LaunchPad is a founding member of The Syracuse Innovation Connectors, a consortium that includes leaders within government, business, incubation, acceleration and resource organizations across Central NY.  The group’s goal is to build alliances, collaborate on events and understand the strength of our region’s resources to better assist our next generation entrepreneurs.  See the list of members here.

The two-part agenda is:

The Funding Roadmap – Part I:  Startup Capital, Tuesday, September 26, Syracuse Technology Garden, 235 Harrison St., Syracuse, NY

8:00 a.m.         Registration, Sign-In, Light Refreshments, Networking, Visit IC Table Displays 8:30 a.m.   Welcome, Rick Clonan, VP of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, CenterState CEO

8:45 a.m.         Building Your Case:  “Black Box of Financing”

Lee DeAmicis, Regional Manager, Business Banking, M&T Bank

You’ve built your plan, done customer discovery, and developed your product or service. Now you are launching or ready to scale and looking for funding. What’s right the source of capital for your business? Where do you find  it? What are the essentials you need to have in place to approach a funder? What’s the capital continuum, from ideation to acceleration, and what kinds of funding are best matched for each stage?

 9:20 a.m.         How I Did It: A Case Study; A perspective from company that has gone from concept to launch to growth, through various phases of funding

  • Good Nature Brewery, Carrie Blackmore
  • Life of Reilley, Ben Reilley
  • Plowz and Mowz, Wills Mahoney
  • Rapid Cure Technologies, Tim Shaughnessy
  • Sweet Praxis, Natalie Evans and Jennifer Walls Moderator: Amy Wyant, Syracuse CoWorks & Tech Geekery

10:45 a.m.       Funding Options:  A Panel of Founders and Funders

  • Bootstrapping and Crowdfunding (Erin Miller, Out There Productions)
  • Loan Guarantee Programs (Grace Connor, Small Business Administration)
  • Online Funding Source (Paul S. Kaiser, NYBDC and Excelsior Growth Fund)
  • Specialized Programs: tax credits, state programs, etc. (Bob Herz, InSourcing and Joanne Lenweaver, WISE)

Moderator:  Kathryn Cartini, UVC & Peacock Media

Noon               Lunch + Q&A

Finding Help:  Overview of the Regional Innovation Ecosystem

Terry Brown, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, SU


The Funding Roadmap – Part II:  Accelerate your Growth with Impact Capital, Monday, October 2, CNY Biotech Accelerator, 841 E. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY

This second workshop in the Innovation Connectors Funding Roadmap series provides an overview of impact investing – capital for enterprises addressing social and environmental challenges. Attendees will also learn from seasoned investors and a successfully funded company about their experience with impact investors, as well as network with local impact entrepreneurs and a variety of investors.

4:00 p.m.        Registration, Sign-In, Networking, Appetizers 5:00 p.m.           Welcome, Dr. Robert Corona

5:15 p.m.         Impact Investing: An Overview, Jill Newbold, Director of Business Development, Investors’ Circle

Impact Investment:  A Success Story, Jon Strimling, Entrepreneur Founder, UltraCell

5:45 p.m.         Investors Panel:  Understanding the Investor Mindset

  • Michael Lasch, Managing Partner, Pine St. Capital
  • Alan Bernstein, President, Investors’ Circle New York Local Network
  • Sharon J. Weinberg, Managing Director, New York Ventures
  • Rami Katz, COO, Excell Partners
  • Kathryn Cartini, Partner, Chloe Capital

Moderator:  Nick Querques, Technology to Market Program Manager, NYSERDA

6:30 p.m.         The Pitch:  Region’s top for-profit impact ventures

  • Josh Aviv, Spark Charge
  • Richard Uhlig, Quadrant Biosciences
  • Joe Dickson, Pelitex,
  • Fuz Eller, Euphony,

Moderator: Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director, Blackstone LaunchPad, SU

7:00 p.m.    Networking, Demo Alley & Cocktail Reception