Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs)
An EIR is an accomplished executive who helps provides insight to promising portfolio ventures, bringing both subject matter expertise and functional skills to help commercialize an idea. An EIR helps guide a startup through discovery, market research, value proposition, and investment thesis. An EIR typically has had a founding role as part of a high-growth company and has experience with new-product development, raising capital, building and managing a team and scaling a company. EIRs graciously volunteer their time on a regular basis to the LaunchPad to help coach startups and make connections.
LaunchPad members have free access to our Entrepreneurs in Residence. If you are not a LaunchPad member, join here.
Student startups who would like to meet with an EIR can make an appointment by e-mailing LaunchPad@syr.edu
Alumni Entrepreneurs in Residence
Steven VonDeak, Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, is a 2008 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law. He is co-founder and chief of staff at Density, a high-tech company that uses powerful sensors, combined with state-of-the-art depth data, computer vision and deep learning to measure space density in real time. Founded in 2014 in The Tech Garden, Density now has offices in San Francisco, New York City, and Syracuse, employing more than 50 people. The venture has closed on more than $90 million in external funding.
VonDeak became an entrepreneur in the Tech Garden shortly after graduating from SU Law School. Along with partners, he created App Fury, which launched early iOS apps that were noticed by Apple. He then joined forces with another team to create Rounded, a digital product team that went on to create Density. VonDeak holds weekly office hours (typically late Friday afternoons) to mentor students on product development and business model creation. He is also available by e-mail and phone consultation.
Corey Lieblein, Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, is a 1993 graduate of the Syracuse University School of Human Development (now Falk College). He is founder and CEO of CP8 Capital, a dynamic, extreme value-add private equity firm that focuses on acquiring and growing early-stage consumer products companies. Through its vast resources, CP8 helps its portfolio companies scale rapidly.
He founded Innovative Technology/Victrola in 2004 and served as CEO for 16 years, overseeing Victrola’s growth from concept to the worldwide market leader in record players and nostalgic electronics. During that time, Corey built Innovative Technology/Victrola into a nationally recognized brand whose products have found their way into tens of millions of homes throughout North America.
His mission is to help founders of early stage consumer products companies realize their personal and financial dreams by scaling sales and profits exponentially. He has a deep passion for entrepreneurship, product development and sales and loves working with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them scale from obscurity to national recognition. He will be available for virtual mentoring and coaching for high-value fast-growth ventures, and will also participate in-person sessions and workshops.
Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, is founder and CEO of SparkCharge, a venture he founded as a student working with the LaunchPad. A certified data scientist, with a bachelors degree in economics and a masters degree in information management and data science from Syracuse University, he has gone on to become a dynamic figure in the cleantech community. SparkCharge is revolutionizing the electric vehicle industry with its portable, ultrafast EV charging units that have been featured in major technology and clean energy publications.
As a student, he won top honors in campus, statewide and national business competitions and then captured the top $1 million prize at 43North, as well as the California Climate Cup, Startup Fest’s global pitch competition, and Plug and Play’s clean energy innovation award. He has been featured at the Consumer Electronics Show and TechCrunch most recently named Spark Charge as a top tech disruptor. A graduate of the Techstars accelerator program in Boston, he has held residencies at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts, the world’s largest clean-tech incubator, and the Plug and Play Tech Center in the Silicon Valley. SparkCharge recently closed on several million dollars in seed funding and is now based in the Boston area with a manufacturing operation in Buffalo, NY. He is available by appointment for virtual coaching and mentoring.
Michael Gursha ’10, Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, is chairman and CEO of Rookie Road, Inc., a one of a kind digital destination that provides the rules, lingo, and gameplay for a variety of sports in an easy to understand way. He became CEO in 2016 after serving as a special advisor to the founder. He has a dual degree from both the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. Before Joining Rookie Road, Inc., he was inaugural entrepreneur-in-residence at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where he also co-taught a course called New Ventures in Media. Prior to Newhouse, he was the vice president of strategic initiatives at Curemark, LLC, a New York-based biotechnology company focused on the treatment of neurological disorders. Earlier in his career, his interest in technology led him to Google, where, at age 18, he spent two summers working in the new business development group at the Mountain View, California headquarters. During his time there, he assisted the team responsible for improving the Google Search Index and supported the director of business development on early-stage partnerships for Google Health. He serves on the board of directors for America On Tech a non-profit focused on technology education. Gursha is a member of the advisory board for Oregon Public Broadcasting, the primary television and radio public broadcasting network for the state of Oregon and southern Washington. In addition, he serves on the board of directors for PowerSpike, a private venture backed company started by Syracuse University alumni when they were students. Gursha is an active advisor to early stage technology / media companies and has been actively engaged in the Syracuse University student startup scene as a mentor and also as a judge for numerous business plan competitions.
Dylan Gans '18, Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, leads growth and marketing for Good Uncle as the company doubles the size of its business every few months. He joined Good Uncle as a Syracuse University student majoring in finance in the Whitman School of Management, helping launch the company in its first market. He quickly grew with the company, scaling it to a larger university network as it was recently acquired by Aramark. He was one of the original members of the LaunchPad, helping bring the Dorm Room Fund (DRF) to campus and serving as its first Syracuse University DRF Campus Organization Network partner. Dorm Room Fund is a student-run VC firm backed by First Round Capital that invests into student startups. As a student, he co-founded VISION, a student entrepreneurship group. He is a member of the LaunchPad’s Founder Circle as one of the first hires at Good Uncle. In addition to working full time at Good Uncle, Dylan is a board advisor / named CEO successor to a $17 million Alzheimer's non-profit and is a strategic advisor to TowerHunt.
His passion is bringing people and resources together to improve communities. He is interested in how tech can make people's lives better, specifically through E-commerce, smart cities, real estate tech, the future of work, AI, AR, food tech, fintech, and the Internet of Things (Iot). He loves meeting fellow entrepreneurs, builders, operators and investors, and is accessible for conversations and coaching. His strengths include go-to market strategy, communication, marketing automation, data analytics, research and getting stuff done.
Kelsey Davis ’19 G ’20, Alumni Entrepreneur is Residence, is the Founder and CEO of CLLCTVE, a platform connecting college creators and brands targeting Gen-Z consumers. She was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30, as well as Adweek’s 2020 list of Young Influentials Who Are Shaping Media, Marketing and Tech. Davis graduated from Techstars Los Angeles where she is now scaling her company after incubating at the LaunchPad while completing her undergraduate degree in the Newhouse School of Public Communications and her master’s degree in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at the Whitman School of Management. Davis peer mentored other student startups as a LaunchPad Rubin Family Innovation Mentor while also participating in the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars Propel program and the LaunchPad Lift program. Under her leadership, the CLLCTVE team won numerous Syracuse University competitions and is now raising significant seed funding to scale in Los Angeles.
Prior to forming CLLCTVE, Kelsey produced digital content for brands like Coca Cola, Puma and Land Rover, as well as agencies such as Conde Nast Entertainment and Uniworld Group. Hailing from Atlanta, Davis is often featured as a next-gen leader in Forbes, the New York Times and Adweek who calls her a leading Gen ZEO.
She is available by appointment for virtual coaching and mentoring.
Faculty Entrepreneurs in Residence
Dr. John Torrens, Faculty Entrepreneur in Residence, is a healthcare and education entrepreneur with 25 years leading high growth companies with experience in developing high-performing teams, raising capital, and both buy/sell side M&A. He is currently acting COO of Saluber MD, a global telemedicine company in which he is also an investor. Previously, Dr. Torrens joined the management team of Vertical Companies, a vertically integrated cannabis company, for a year in order to take on special projects.
Dr. Torrens has a Ph.D. in healthcare administration and did his dissertation on reimbursement and utilization of telehealth services. His last company, Liberty Post, was a 2018 and 2019 Inc. 5000 honoree. Dr. Torrens also holds a faculty position in the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises as an award winning Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice. His research interests include Founder/CEO Exits and the link between ADHD and Entrepreneurship. He is a frequent guest speaker and executive education instructor in the areas of entrepreneurship, strategy, and corporate innovation and is a TEDx speaker. Dr. Torrens is quoted frequently in print media, has written several articles, and has delivered multiple presentations on the business of healthcare. He is an active member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and served in multiple volunteer leadership positions including a term on the International Board of Directors (2013-2015).
He will be available Mondays and Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. virtually over Zoom to work with students on busines model strategy and financial forecasting, including crafting income and cash flow statements, understanding costs of goods or services and cost of sales, margins and break-even analyses that required for investors and funders. He can also help provide strategic insight into structuring for investment including understanding valuation, building a cap table, and thinking strategically about financing and equity infusion. His EIR services are through a partnership between the LaunchPad and the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises. Appointments can be easily scheduled at this link: https://calendly.com/jtorrens/30min
Professor Don Carr, Faculty Entrepreneur in Residence, is an internationally known designer and design educator. He is also the program coordinator for the MFA in Design as well as the Industrial and Interaction Design Program. As an industrial designer, he has multiple research interests including Biomimicry, Inclusive Design, and Design Thinking.
Since joining the VPA faculty in 1995, Don has contributed to numerous interdisciplinary efforts throughout our campus. He is currently a CoE faculty fellow, a member of Aging Studies Institute, the Autonomous Systems Policy Institute, the Alliance of Disability and Social Work Advisory Board and Arise Adaptive Design.
Prior to teaching, he worked for companies such as AT&T, NCR and Savin Corporation. He also consults for companies such as Motorola Solutions, K2, and RAM ID. Don holds numerous patents, and his work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He’s also currently building a tiny house in the Adirondacks out of reclaimed materials.
Don will be available Thursday and Friday from 9:00 until 11:00 virtually over Zoom to work with students on innovation, strategy, usability, sustainability, prototyping, future forecasting and product positioning.