Congratulations to LaunchPad teams Illumenar, Happy Loose Leaf Tea and Bus Point for winning the Grand Prize and second and third places in the campus-wide Panasci Business Plan Competition.
A $1 million endowment from the late Henry A. Panasci, founder of Fay’s Drugs, funds the Whitman School of Management university-wide entrepreneurial competition, which is open to Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF students.
The winners of this year’s $20,000 first-place award were Illumenar co-founders Justin Monaco ’21 G ’22 (Arts and Sciences) and Bruno Gonzalez-Hauger ’21 and G’22 (Whitman and Newhouse). They also won the Gilded Social Rising Entrepreneur Award of $5,000.
Second place went to Noah Mechnig-Giordano ’22 Engineering and Computer Science G’23 Whitman, founder of Happy Loose Leaf Tea.
Third place went to Bus Point founder Justin Gluska ’23 Engineering and Computer Science.
The Whitman Young Alumni Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award went to Jason Kuperberg, ’18, co-founder of Otherside AI, who won the Hult Prize, Impact Prize, and Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award as an undergraduate.
Kuperberg was nominated for the Young Alumni Excellence Award by the LaunchPad where he was an active member as a student and remains engaged as a LaunchPad mentor. He frequently judges campus competitions, hosts Fireside Chats, has hired Whitman students as contract employees, and regularly hosts alumni events for the LaunchPad in the San Francisco and Los Angeles area where he is based.
Otherside AI was created during a LaunchPad summer accelerator program, combining the superpowers of former Whitman students Matt Shumer and Miles Feldstein, with Kuperberg mentoring and then joining the team. Together they have recently raised close to $3 million to grow the venture.
Also receiving a special recognition Dedication to Entrepreneurship Award was LaunchPad Program Manager Sam Hollander ’21 (Whitman) who was one of the top campus business plan competition winners in recent years. A successful serial entrepreneur, Hollander is founder of ShareClub. Hollander was last year’s winner of the Panasci competition and the recipient of the Gilded Social Rising Entrepreneur Award.
For more information about the event, visit the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship webpage.