35 SU graduates join the LaunchPad’s 2020 Founders Circle

group of students
Founders Circle 2020 members with current LaunchPad students and alumni

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars welcomed 35 graduates as new members of the Founders Circle.  They were selected in recognition of launching or leading ventures at Syracuse University while students, as well as significantly contributing to building the Blackstone LaunchPad since it opened in April 2016.  Founders Circle members serve as alumni role models and mentors for future student entrepreneurs who also exemplify a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Founders Circle Class of 2020 and their ventures include:

  • Aakash Parekh, social entrepreneur, MBA, Whitman
  • Adam Johnson, Materialize, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • Alec Gillinder, MedUX, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • Alden Morris, food entrepreneur, MPS, SUNY ESF
  • Amos Cohen, QAD, Whitman and iSchool
  • Annabelle Lincoln, Invent@SU, Engineering and Computer Science
  • Anthony Obas, Guided by Obas, Whitman
  • Audrey Miller, Hult Campus Ambassador, Maxwell
  • Brendan O’Keeffe, CLLCTVE, iSchool
  • Brianna Howard, PAANI, Falk College
  • Caleb Obiagwu, AttendPro, Engineering and Computer Science
  • Courtney Jiggets, Inkdustrial, VPA, Environmental and Interior Design
  • Daniel Zimmerman, Verse Gaming, Falk College
  • Elizabeth Diaz, Little Cape Boutique, Whitman
  • James Carver, Visos, Whitman
  • Jane Lee, SU Globalists, Newhouse
  • Jiaman (Maggie) Peng, SU Globalists, Newhouse
  • Kelsey Davis G’20, CLLCTVE, Whitman
  • Maxwell Boise, Porta-splint, iSchool
  • Nick Barba, Satellite and Smarta, Whitman
  • Nicole D’Souza, Indieflo, VPA Film
  • Nikita Chatterjee, PAANI, Maxwell
  • Nikita Kuckian, E-club and Visos, Whitman
  • Oladeji Awe, NervTech, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • Peter Mignacca, TowelVAC, Whitman
  • Quinn King, MedUX, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • Russell Fearon, SugEx, Engineering and Computer Science
  • Ryan Taggart, Itemize, iSchool
  • Sammy Steiner, Eyes and Ears, Bandier Program, Newhouse
  • Sharif King, SD King Media, Masters degree, Newhouse
  • Sophia Jaberi, Halo, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • Victoria Lawson, Weird and Woke Design, VPA Industrial and Interaction Design
  • William DeVito, WD40 Productions, Newhouse
  • Wilson Hunsinger, Panda’s Best, iSchool
  • Zain Elwakil, ZULUECHO Initiative, Architecture

Founders Circle Class of 2019 members who stayed on at Syracuse University this past year to pursue graduate degrees include:

  • Daniel McMurray, Youth Government Services, MPA Maxwell
  • Kelsey Davis, CLLCTVE, MS EEE Whitman

The Founders Circle was started by Quentin Rosso ‘18 (Whitman), who continues to chair the group, which now has chapters in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. After graduation, Rosso became director of Innovation and Transformational Initiatives, North America, for Credit Agricole CIB, the world’s largest cooperative financial institution, and then went on to co-found Gamercraft with Jose Javier S. Garcia-Rovira ’19 (Whitman).  Rosso 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.

See all alumni members of the Founders Circle here.

“Beyond pursuing an academic path, these innovators worked incredibly hard to build a venture as part of our community at Bird Library,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the LaunchPad.  “They had a special experience together, and want to stay connected through a circle of big thinkers and innovators that will grow each year with the addition of some of the best and brightest on the SU campus. The Founders Circle recognizes those who created our special community, and who will continue to inspire those who follow.”

“Being inducted into the Founders Circle gave Promptous access to a wide support network of entrepreneurs across different industries,” said its founder 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 went on to work full-time on Promptous full-time after graduation, and has built a diverse team of Syracuse University students who helped  launch his innovative self-funding dental benefits platform powered by blockchain technology. The company has recently closed on its first round of funding and is entering a beta project with a major customer.

“Through my nearly four years at the LaunchPad, I’ve had the opportunity to grow into anything I want to be,” said David Fox, founder of Smarta, who is winding up his tenure as a Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow and Rubin Family Innovation Mentor.  “I walked into the LaunchPad to learn more about entrepreneurship, but I’ve come out learning more about myself.  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 is now incubating his venture at The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, working with other LaunchPad alumni, students and community mentors.