2024 ACC InVenture iPrize Winner

Katy Arrons-winner of ACC Inventor
Katy Arrons ’24 first runner up in the ACC InVenture

Syracuse University’s entrepreneurial spirit shone brightly as Katy Arons won top honors at the 2024 ACC InVenture Prize Campus Qualifier, hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries.

Arons delivered an engaging and persuasive pitch, highlighting the critical role of her venture in revolutionizing conversations about consent and intimacy. She impressed a distinguished panel of judges, including Russ Fearon, Yvonne Hyland, Dr. Yunpeng Li, Aidan Mickleburgh, Ryan Pleskach, Phahsa Ras, Dana Scherzi, and Noah Mechnig-Giordano. Moreover, their diverse backgrounds in innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology added depth to the evaluation process, providing Katy with invaluable insights and validation of her impactful work.

Katy embarked on her journey to develop Continual Consent—a platform aimed at educating and empowering young adults about sexual consent and domestic violence—with a vision to address a glaring gap in sexual education in public and private school systems around the country. Her tenure as an Analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. solidified her work ethic and honed her market research skills, further contributing to her entrepreneurial journey.

As Katy prepares to represent Syracuse University on the national stage at the ACC InVenture Finals in Florida this March, the LaunchPad community firmly supports her, inspired by her innovation, determination, and pursuit of making a meaningful difference in the sexual health and safety of young adults.

Congratulations, Katy, on your well-deserved victory. In conclusion, we eagerly anticipate your continued success as you take Continual Consent to new heights and leave your mark on a national platform.

Applications are now open for ‘Cuse Tank 2023

Dean David Seaman hands a prize check to Selim Dangoor, founder of MUNCH Jerky, at ’Cuse Tank 2021.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University is pleased to present ‘Cuse Tank as a featured event during Family Weekend. Join us Friday, November 3 at 12:00 p.m.

What: Cuse Tank student startup prize competition sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries as part of Family Weekend. The event features top student ventures pitching to parent judges who are innovators and entrepreneurs. An impressive prize package from parent donors will be awarded to the winners.

Where: Peter Graham (Room 114) at Bird Library, with pitches occurring in various rooms. Judges will be in person.

When: Friday, November 3, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Who: The competition is open to all SU students across all academic majors who are creating innovative new products, services and technologies in exciting industry sectors. Apply here before Friday, October 27 at 11:59 p.m.

Event description: ‘Cuse Tank is a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition open to all SU students across all academic majors who are creating innovative new products, services and technologies in exciting industry sectors. Prize funding helps take the most promising ideas through next steps from concept to commercialization. How successful is ‘Cuse Tank? In the past five years, Syracuse University LaunchPad students have gone on to raise $50 million in competition follow-up funding to start and scale their business ventures. In fact, a 2017 LaunchPad alum scored a $1 million deal from the Sharks this past season. Others have gone on to become leading innovators at companies like Virgin Galactic and more. Catch a rising rock star at this year’s ‘Cuse Tank!

It is being organized by LaunchPad Innovation Mentor, Sai Bolla G’24, School of Information Studies, Information Systems.

About Family Weekend 2021: Family Weekend will be held Nov. 3-5 and registration information will be shared this summer on the Parent and Family Services website. Loved ones are encouraged to participate in a host of programs that showcase daily life for Syracuse University students.

Are you a parent who would love to mentor or be judge? We’d love to hear from you. Here’s a simple way to let us know: e-mail us at:

Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Freelance and Small Business Challenge Returns on Friday, October 13

The Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Freelance and Small Business Competition returns on Friday, October 13 from 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. with $2,000 in prize funding. Open to all designers, creators, producers, artisans, and small business owners to apply here before Friday, October 6.

This competition is specifically designed for students who are building a career or side hustle providing services or creating products. The competition will be judged in two different categories: Freelancing and Small Business. Freelancing includes individuals specializing in services such as graphic design, web development, videography, photography, software development, writing, and any other professional service. Small Business focuses on artisans hoping to sell their artwork, craft, and creations of all forms. 

The application asks students to submit a link to their portfolio or photo examples of their work.

The competition asks students to present a 4-minute pitch of their business, focusing on their previous work and the unique value they bring to their product or service market. While competitors are not required to have an established business before entering in the competition, they are expected to show previous work. Competitors will be asked to present a plan for the awarded funds in the case of winning the competition.

Judges will pick winners based on categories of professionalism, targeted market focus, portfolio, creative ability, and unique market value. There will be a total of four winners: first place prize of $1,000, second place prize of $500, third place prize of $400, and a fan favorite prize of $250.

Applications close for the competition on Friday, October 6. The application can be submitted here, and further competition information will be forwarded to all applicants. Please visit the LaunchPad on the first floor of Bird Library if you would like mentorship while preparing your executive summary or pitch. 

For any additional information or questions please contact competition organizer, Christy Ying Liu ’24 (Maxwell) at

The LaunchPad is the university’s resource center and accelerator for students looking to pursue owning their own business or building a side hustle. We warmly welcome all student freelancers and artisans to enter the Freelance & Small Business Competition for a chance to showcase their talent and receive funding for their future. 

Sarah Schreiber ’26 named Syracuse University Hult Prize campus ambassador and competition director for 2023-2024

The Hult Prize.

It’s an amazing business plan competition that challenges an international community of young innovators to solve the world’s most pressing issues through social entrepreneurship. Every year, one team walks away with $1 million in funding to make their idea a reality. And this year, Sarah Schreiber ’26 will be filling the role of campus ambassador and competition director at Syracuse University as she supports our own student innovators in preparation for the campus qualifier held concurrent with the Impact Prize on November 15, 2023.

Sarah, a LaunchPad Global Fellow and a student of International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, possesses a passion for international culture that far surpasses the routine studies of her degree program. This interest sprouted in high school when she had the opportunity to take her first Spanish class, and she’s been enamored with learning about people and places across the globe ever since.

Sarah’s first international adventure came about when she seized an opportunity to take an expenses-paid gap year in Germany through a prestigious scholarship program. There, she was able to pause and reflect on her nail-biting, all-or-nothing approach that she’d previously maintained in regard to her academics.

“What people describe as slow living in America is just life in Germany,” Sarah says. “The people there work hard, but it’s not as money-driven as it is here. They take plenty of time to enjoy their families, friends, and hobbies too.”

Through conversations with locals and numerous other experiences abroad, Sarah also started to realize how much larger the world was than Virginia Beach—her home, which she humorously describes as “almost the South, but not quite the South”—and this excited her. It excited her so much, in fact, that she began her freshman fall semester in Florence, Italy through the SU Discovery Program, an opportunity which provides an international foundation to students looking to expand their academic and professional options, foreign language proficiency, and comprehension of global politics and issues.

Between her studies, her international experience, and her role as a virtual SAT tutor for students in Mexico, Sarah couldn’t be a better fit for this honor. After all, there are few U.S. teenagers who are able to say that they gave a full-length presentation in German whilst in Dresden. One of her favorite credos is, “if I can do it in German, then I can do it in English.”

Sarah first found out about the Hult Prize when she returned from Florence in the spring of 2023. At first, she felt that she’d missed the bus on involvement opportunities, but that was until she befriended a LaunchPad alumna, Sasha Temerte ‘23—the Hult Prize ambassador and director for 2022-2023—who visited one of her classes that semester and encouraged her to stop by. It was at the LaunchPad where Sarah also met Claire Howard ‘23—the Hult Prize ambassador and director for 2020-2021—and the two of them quickly bonded over their interests in international relations and German.

That same semester, Sarah followed in the mentorship of her two new friends and was able to accompany Tree-Spun, the winning team of the Hult Prize qualifier, to the quarterfinals in Boston. While she was there, she watched as many pitches as she could and found herself deeply engaged in the rich, academic conversations being held between the judges and the competitors talking about their businesses.

“This is an incredible community to be a part of,” Sarah says. “The people drawn to it are international, so you will definitely learn about new cultures. They have ideas and plans to do good in this world, and they are such kind and genuine people. It also provides you with so many valuable connections. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s really incredible.”

Sarah hopes to feel just as inspired by the competition this time around, and it’s a really good year for inspiration.

In the past, the Hult Prize has limited its competitors to create social enterprises that address specific topics, such as clean energy, early childhood education, or sustainable food production. But in celebration of the Hult Prize’s 15th anniversary, this year’s theme is “UNLIMITED!” Meaning, you can pitch any idea you want, as long as it’s world-changing and aligns with at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

If you’re interested in applying to this year’s Hult Prize, learning more about the specific rules and regulations, or learning more about the SDGs, you can visit the website here.

Syracuse University on-campus applications will open later this Fall.

Story by Jack Rose ’24, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Innovation Law Center Office Hours for LaunchPad Startups Fall 23′

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights?  Join the Innovation Law Center Office Hours this fall at Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library.

The Innovation Law Center at SU’s College of Law is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Meet with student law student experts (SRA’s) to provide information on intellectual property, regulatory compliance, and commercialization research resources. Ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

Office hours this fall semester in-person on these days, hosted by the ILC team:

  • Thursday, September 28 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Anna Melo
  • Friday, October 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. with Shriya Ghosh
  • Wednesday, October 11 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Michael Ortizo
  • Thursday, October 19 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Patrick Mullery
  • Thursday, October 26 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Matthew Patrizio
  • Friday, November 3 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Emily D’Agostino
  • Thursday, November 9 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Kalen Sullivan

While the SU Innovation Law Center does not file for or prosecute patents, and does not provide legal advice or opinions, the LaunchPad and the ILC can help refer inventors and entrepreneurs to IP law firms to implement patent, trademark, copyright filings, licensing agreements and other legal work.

Ask questions — don’t let confusion or uncertainty about the legal aspects of startups stop you from pursuing your idea.

If you’d like to schedule a particular time or private conversation during a scheduled session, please e-mail us at

The power of ideas at Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Festival

Adya Parida ’25 (ECS) and Ryan Brouchoud ’25 (Maxwell), Josephine Jenifer Fernando ’24 (iSchool), Thomas O’Brien ’25 (VPA), and Emma Platten ’24 (ECS).

Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad alumni Kelsey Davis ’19 G ’20, Founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, opened the Ideas Festival in Bird Library recently and shared her entrepreneurial journey of taking a vision of connecting creators to their next opportunity to a tech platform of over 3,000+ creators who are matched to brands based on their interests and experience. The thoughtful and inspiring advice provided innovative students who are just testing out first ideas insight.

Following the welcome remarks, more than 80 students presented ideas to solve challenges. Four winners were selected to receive cash prizes up to $1500. The winners will then have the opportunity to progress to a subsequent national round of the Blackstone Ideas Competition for a chance to win $10,000.

Syracuse University winners were:

“Deciding to pitch my idea, HydroSaver, was a combination of both determination and a belief in the impact it could make. The leap came when I recognized that a 60-second pitch could be the perfect platform to share this vision with a wider audience,” says Josephine Fernando. “When they announced the winner, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, not just for myself but for the potential impact the idea could have on sustainability and water conservation.”

The competition was open to all Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students.

Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Festival organizer Andrew Kim ’24 (Whitman) and alum Kelsey Davis ’19 G ’20, Founder and CEO of CLLCTVE

Techstars global accelerators now accepting applications for spring

Six Syracuse University student startups and one alum team have gone through Techstars accelerators to build impressive success stories.  Could you be next?  If you are a disciplined and driven startup, chat with the Syracuse LaunchPad about Techstars and explore accelerators now accepting applications.

Techstars accelerators have one goal: To help entrepreneurs succeed. During the immersive three-month accelerator programs, Techstars surrounds companies with the best mentors and an unrivaled network investors, corporate partners and alumni founders. It provides early stage startups with:

  • Bespoke accelerators with niche-specific education
  • Access to capital and unmatched fundraising opportunities
  • Small class sizes and tailored 1:1 mentorship
  • Our global network

Techstars is a proven model that’s helped build thousands of successful companies, all over the world. 

Interested? Applications are now open for the first Spring Term of this new schedule. The opportunities for dynamic entrepreneurs this term are immense: 

  • 20 programs in 15 cities across four countries. Three programs are fully remote so founders can participate virtually, from any location around the world. 
  • Six programs will be powered by Techstars corporate partners including Equitech, The Ohio State UniversityBuild in Tulsa, and several others, who bring industry-specific expertise to founders.
  • Six programs will run in partnership with J.P. Morgan through their Advancing Cities fund, focused on giving underrepresented entrepreneurs greater access to capital and opportunities. 

After applications close, Techstars will review applications for about seven weeks, and spend time getting to know even more about your team, market, progress and idea. The goal is to notify the final group of companies being accepted within eight weeks from the application closing date.

Check out Techstars accelerators accepting applications. 

Learn more about Techstars here.

Before you apply, be sure to chat with the LaunchPad team in Bird Library for advice on what makes for a successful Techstars candidate and for assistance with an application.

Syracuse student students who have gone through a Techstars program include:

  • Josh Aviv, Techstars Boston
  • AJ Damiano and Michael Paris, Techstars Atlanta
  • Kelsey Davis and Brendan O’Keeffe, Techstars LA
  • Shawn Gaetano, Techstars LA Music
  • and one more to be announced next week!

Syracuse alum Sandra Appiah Babu-Boateng recently completed Techstars Boston

Jack Rose ’24 named 2023-2024 LaunchPad Watson Scholar

Jack Rose ‘24, a business analytics major in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, will be the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Watson Scholar for the 2023-24 academic year.

Rose is a dedicated student and passionate storyteller. When he is not writing for the LaunchPad, he writes fiction and short-form content. You can read his latest work, “Flowers of Eden,” on his Wattpad account (@jackroseauthor). You will likely run into Rose working in the LaunchPad on his entrepreneurial projects, or mentoring other student innovators with specific copywriting and presentation skills. Rose is a great teacher as he is patient and diligent when working with students.

Throughout his time as an entrepreneur and creative on campus, Rose knew he wanted to help others make an impact in the writing community. His latest project explores some “… incredibly topical yet taboo issues that I care deeply about…Now, I hope to use my knowledge to tell a story that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking for readers.” Rose’s work has helped his mentees overcome “imposter syndrome” and find confidence within themselves to persevere through challenges, which led him to apply for the Watson Scholar Position.

Inspired by Syracuse University’s Remembrance Scholar program to honor the spirit and lives of those lost in the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, the Watson Scholar program is a way to honor the life and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson, a Syracuse University student who passed away after injuries suffered in a tragic 2016 car accident. Watson was a rising junior majoring in Information Management and Technology at the iSchool. He was a passionate entrepreneur interested in music, (playing multiple instruments, performing, recording, and producing music videos), sports, and technology. He was especially interested in the emerging field of big data and had been working on new ventures related to predictive data.

This Honorary scholarship is gifted annually to a student at the Blackstone LaunchPad who upholds the memory of Hunter Brooks Watson. It is funded through a generous gift to Syracuse University Libraries from the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund with the intention for the Scholar to honor the life, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of Hunter Brooks Watson.

As Rose puts it, “I’ve decided for myself that living inauthentically is pretty lame, and I don’t want to waste another second of my life being too afraid to chase literally the one and only thing I’ve ever wanted to do since I was little, all because it’s “impractical,” or because I’m worried that other people might think my ideas are dumb.” The LaunchPad is constantly impressed by Rose’s disciplined approach to goal setting and accountability, and we are so excited to see what ideas will come about from his spectacular mind throughout the rest of the academic year.

Story by Renee Giselle Kurie, Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied  

Applications are now open for SOURCE grants and Honors Program Awards

Photo of a glass office

Application for faculty-mentored independent project funding is now available through SOURCE grants and Honors Program Awards.  An intent to apply by September 28, 2023, with complete applications due October 19, 2023.

Syracuse University undergraduate students can apply for SOURCE funding to support their research and creative projects.  Participants in the Renée Crown University Honors Program are also eligible to apply for Honors program awards to cover the cost of their thesis research and creative projects, as well as pre-thesis research related activities. Learn more here.

Timeline and budget may include:

  • Summer 2024 only (up to $3000)
  • Academic Year 2024-25 (up to $5000)
  • Summer 2024 + Academic Year 2024-25 (up to $4500 for Academic Year + up to $3000 for Summer)

*Graduating Seniors are not eligible to apply for funding in the spring cycle.

Program details and eligibility requirements, along the application, are here.

Kelsey Davis ’19 G’20, takes the stage at Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Festival on Sept 15

Photograph of Kelsey Davis by @jdthecombo for @hellobeautiful x @madamenoire.

Syracuse University LaunchPad alumni Kelsey Davis ’19 G ’20, Founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, is visiting from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will give welcome remarks to kick off the Ideas Festival, a 60-second fast pitch fest designed for innovative students who are just testing out first ideas. Join the live event on Friday, September 15 at 12:00 p.m. in Peter Graham (Room 114), or register to pitch here.

Davis studied television, radio, and film at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and earned an M.S. in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. She is the founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, a portfolio platform connecting creators, and was involved with Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries. Her impressive startup experiences got her featured as a GenZ leader in Forbes 30 Under 30, Adweek, and The New York Times. and more. She was also named one of 2022’s Influential Leaders by AACSB International, the accrediting body of business schools.

It is being organized by Innovation Mentor Andrew Kim ’24 (Whitman). “Kelsey has always been a celebrity name in the LaunchPad ever since I stepped foot in the glass box. I am very excited to have her speak at the Ideas Festival, especially in front of new and aspiring entrepreneurs potentially taking on their first competition ever. Kelsey has years of experience in the start-up space and her knowledge is truly valuable. Even if students don’t compete, coming to the event to see and learn from Kelsey is well worth the time,” says Kim.

Kim has dedicated his time at the LaunchPad to engage students from across campus, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to feel welcome taking the first step and exploring the realm of innovation, ideation, and team-building.

Participating teams will have the opportunity to win $500 in cash prizes. Winners of the on-campus competition with have the opportunity to participate in the national round of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s IDEAS Competition with a grand prize of $10,000.

All are welcome to attend and hear from Kelsey Davis or support the student teams.