Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars Award Prize Funding To Student Entrepreneurs’ Ventures at Training Camp Demo Day

Josh Tech stars

Recent Syracuse University Graduate Josh Aviv of SparkCharge Wins First-place Award

Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars today announced that they have completed their first joint Training Camp to support top college entrepreneurs from around the globe, concluding the event with a Demo Day, where seven student finalists pitched their companies and products for prize money and continued mentorship to help develop their businesses.

At the Demo Day competition, Josh Aviv of SparkCharge, which provides portable charging stations for electric vehicles, received the first-place award of $15,000. Josh just graduated from Syracuse University.

Fiona Edwards Murphy of Apis Protect, a software solution that uses in-hive IoT enabled sensors, as well as machine learning and big data to monitor beehives, was the second-place winner. Fiona attends University College Cork in Ireland.

Brothers, Artyom Zorin and Kyrell Zorin of Zorin OS, a Linux-based computer operating system, received third-place. Artyom and Kyrell are from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder, who delivered keynote remarks at event, said, “Since our founding as a small, two-person firm more than 30 years ago, entrepreneurialism has been a part of Blackstone’s DNA. This is why it’s been so important to us to have supported so many student entrepreneurs across the Blackstone LaunchPad Network. I am amazed by what these young people have already accomplished and look forward to seeing where their ambitions will lead them in the years ahead.”

Hosted at Galvanize in New York City, Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp brought together the top performing Blackstone LaunchPad ventures from across its global network. Over the course of two days, students heard from experts on specific topics related to entrepreneurship, and received mentoring sessions from members of the Techstars global mentor network

Funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based program, accessible by over 500,000 students globally on 20 campuses to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path.

“Over the course of the Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp, I had the opportunity to meet with ventures from over twenty Universities, hear their pitches, and get to know the entrepreneurs. I was incredibly impressed by these student ventures – the diversity of ideas, the commitment to entrepreneurship, and the potential for scalable impact, was exceptional,” said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “A special congratulations to our demo day winner, SparkCharge from Syracuse University. Through the work of Blackstone LaunchPad on campuses, we are proud to be a part of these ventures’ development and continued growth.”

“The student entrepreneurs who participated in the Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp are inspiring,” said David Cohen, founder and co-CEO of Techstars. “It’s great to see the incredible learning that took place during the two days. These young adults are pursuing entrepreneurship as a life choice – an opportunity that wasn’t available when I was their age. We at Techstars are proud to join forces with Blackstone LaunchPad to support student entrepreneurs from across the globe.”

“The Blackstone LaunchPad Techstars Training Camp experience was extremely valuable for high growth student startups like SparkCharge. I believe that all of the teams from the 20 Blackstone LaunchPad campuses benefitted so much from the excellent program and incredible mentors we met,” said Joshua Aviv, CEO of SparkCharge and Demo Day winner. “For SparkCharge, it was an unforgettable opportunity to be able to work with and learn from the amazing people at Blackstone and Techstars. This event has been a game-changer for us. We will take everything we learned to grow and scale, and pay it forward to other student entrepreneurs who are also working on their big ideas.”

The Demo Day’s finalists also included:

  • UCLA alumni Jenny Leung, founder of Bella Nove, an e-commerce platform that rents maternity clothing for the modern career woman.
  • Cornell University students Andrés E. Gutiérrez and Adler Faulkner, who founded Comake, a program that improves accessibility and communication in a modern file browser.
  • University of Montana alumni George Gaines, who founded Chilton Skis, a manufacturer that creates skis from locally salvaged Montana wood.
  • University of Central Florida student Joe Sleppy, founder of Capacitech, a new type of capacitor that aims to reduce costs for electronic manufacturing companies.

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities. For more information, see

About Techstars

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.