Empowering the Startup Dream: September 8

Join us for “Empowering the Startup Dream,” a workshop for international students and others interested global entrepreneurship, Friday, September 8, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library.

Immigrants launch more than a quarter of all U.S. based businesses and are twice as likely to launch a successful business.  In fact, immigrants started 20% of companies on the INC 500 list and immigrants founded 51% of U.S. billion dollar startups.  However, the process of pursuing a venture in the United States is still very challenging, particularly for international students and New Americans. It requires a very sophisticated understanding of the complex issues associated with the visa landscape and regulatory environment in the United States.

Students from more than 45 countries are engaged in innovation and ideation activities at Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad.  As they engage in venture planning, what do they need to know?  What do mentors, faculty members, professional service providers, and investors need to know as they offer guidance to international students?  What do startup ventures need to know about building an international team?  What do employers need to know about working with international students or New Americans?  How can U.S. ventures hire international students?  What are the “do’s and don’ts” related to a developing a startup venture in the United States for those here on F-1 or J-1 status?

This workshop will feature experts on these topics and help make it easier to understand both the guidelines and options available.  The immigration and visa landscape is rapidly changing, so it is especially important to learn more about options for international students to launch ventures, be part of venture teams, or be employed by ventures.

There are many reasons to form a team with international students, especially in the connected global economy.  Diverse cultural perspectives and insights also makes for better informed and more engaged global citizens – a core value of Syracuse University.

The program is presented by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, and campus and community partners.


8:30 a.m. — Check in and Continental Breakfast, Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library

9:00 a.m. — Keynote Speaker, Minhao Chen, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library

SU alumnus Minhao Chen, founder of Shi Quan She Mei, was recently selected as one of the 2015 Top Ten Outstanding Innovation Figures of China for his disruptive food startup. We are delighted that such a high-profile entrepreneur will be flying in from Shanghai to share his insights on how to pursue a dream and his entrepreneurial journey.

After graduating from Syracuse in 2012 with a graduate degree in civil engineering, Minhao worked for UrbanTech Consulting Engineering, P.C., a leading engineering firm based in New York City. He translated his expertise in design and construction engineering into the food and beverage sector, launching one of the most highly regarded food startups in China.  He won accolades from both the food, design and construction industries, working with a team of architects of Harvard and Yale to build the first food industrial tourism destination in Shanghai, China, with the aim to teach children where our food comes from. As an execution-focused entrepreneur, he managed all aspects of launching the venture, from building a multidisciplinary team, to raising funds, shaping the business strategy, executing marketing plans, launching the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and building partnerships to drive business development.  He is also a passionate social entrepreneur and his venture offers displaced workers and veteran’s opportunities to lead a decent life they never thought.  His venture is ranked first in terms of scale and growth in China, based on his core values to turn the impossible into possible, as he develops new products from concept to launch.  Come learn and be inspired by this young, dynamic, successful global entrepreneur.

Morning Panel Discussions, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library

9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. — Session 1: What you need to know about immigration law, work and visa status if you are interested in being a student entrepreneur or working with international students.  Patricia Burak (moderator), Caterina Ranieri, Jennifer Gavilondo and Andrea Godfread-Brown

10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Session 2:  What you need to know about business law, from incorporation to working with investors if you are interested in being a student entrepreneur, or you are working with international students.  David Reed (moderator), Anna Putintseva, David J. Wilks and Michael Stanczyk

11 a.m. to noon — Session 3: Expanding global horizons, building an international team and transitioning to the workforce. Daniel Rickman (moderator), David DiMaggio, Josh Aviv, and Tom Garden

Noon to 1:00 p.m. – Light Luncheon Buffet and Speed Networking

Bird Library Learning Commons and the Blackstone LaunchPad
Speed networking with speakers to “ask the experts” more in-depth follow-up questions.


  • David DiMaggio – Program Manager, CASE, Center for Science & Technology, Syracuse University
  • David Reed – President, Reed Business Law
  • Andrea Godfread-Brown – Immigration Attorney, Brown and Palumbo
  • Anna Putintseva – Immigration and Business Attorney, Bousquet Holstein PLLC
  • David J. Wilks – Immigration Attorney, Miller Mayer
  • Caterina Ranieri – Immigration Attorney, Bousquet Holstein PLLC
  • Patricia Burak – Slutzker Center for International Services, Syracuse University
  • Jennifer Gavilondo – Associate General Counsel , Syracuse University
  • Michael Stanczyk, Corporate Attorney, Lynn, D’Elia, Temes and Stanczyk
  • Josh Aviv, Founder and CEO, SparkCharge
  • Tom Garden, President and Owner, Syrasoft
  • Daniel Rickman, Branch Manager/District International Trade Office, U.S. Small Business Administration

Photo caption above:  Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud with Blackstone Global Fellows Lawrence Lin and Quentin Rosso at the 2016 Welcome Reception for International Students.