Frequently Asked Questions
What is the LaunchPad?
The LaunchPad at Bird Library is an innovation hub connecting Syracuse University’s ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring innovators, inventors and creators.
What is entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is first and most importantly, a mindset. It is the creative process of exploring ideas, identifying problems and solutions, building teams, and iterating through continuous discovery. For some, this process leads to venture creation. For others, it leads to critical thinking and skills that better position them to become global leaders and citizens in an entrepreneurial world.
You do not have to want to start a company to work with the LaunchPad. You just need a curious mindset, want to meet like-minded people, and explore ideas together. Most of our student innovators do not go on to start companies. They go on to work for innovation companies, and are often the first to be hired because of the mindset and entrepreneurial skills they learn through this program.
What's the glass cube in Bird Library?
Our inviting space, the glass cube on the main floor of Bird Library, is ideal for ideation and brainstorming, meeting other like-minded innovators, co-working, team building, venture development, meetings with coaches and mentors, networking events, workshops, venture demos and product launches as well as other collaborative activities.
It is also home to several classes, including the Student Sandbox (offered by the iSchool) and the LaunchPad (offered by Whitman). It is an inviting setting for Fireside Chats, Toolkit Workshops, student entrepreneurship and innovation club meetings, and panel conversations. The “Bird’s Nest,” a private space within the cube, has video conferencing equipment for more private conversations with mentors, investors, customers, or global partners. The space is staffed by LaunchPad professionals, student mentors, and supported by a network of industry and alumni coaches and subject matter experts.
Best of all, the space is open on the same schedule as Bird Library, which means 24/5 during the academic year, and extended hours on weekends. You will find interesting people working here all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. Becoming a member entitles you to unlimited access.
How do I get started?
- Come to an event. There are numerous opportunities to connect at events we hold each month. The event calendar is on this website
- Follow us on social media. Our handles are simple: LaunchPadSYR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Consider joining our Facebook LaunchPad Entrepreneurs Group
- Follow us on LinkedIn: LaunchPad Syracuse University
- E-mail us to set up a meeting: LaunchPad@syr.edu
- Stop in the LaunchPad, on first floor of Bird Library and meet with a student Innovation Mentor or Global Fellow. Their schedules are prominently posted in the LaunchPad, and you will find business cards with their e-mails. No matter how you get started, we're here to help.
How does the LaunchPad process work?
- Complementing existing campus offerings that engage and support student entrepreneurs with addition tools, resources, etc.
- Coordinating regional or sector-based experiences and opportunities for students to gain exposure for their venture.
- Convening students at global events with world-class networking and mentorship opportunities.
How do I find a mentor or coach? How are they selected?
To learn more about our mentor network, stop in the LaunchPad, first floor of Bird Library, or e-mail LaunchPad@syr.edu.
Rubin Family Innovation Mentors, who are peer coaches, are available to help shape your idea. LaunchPad Global Fellows bring specialized skill sets in areas that are helpful to startups, such as software, data analysis, UX/UI, design, video production, and content development. Their schedules are posted in the LaunchPad.
LaunchPad staff can also help pair you with expert industry and alumni mentors and advisors whose interests, skills, expertise, and background align with what would be most helpful to you and your idea. The LaunchPad also has a professional Entrepreneur in Residence, alumni Entrepreneur in Residence, and hosts regularly scheduled expert’s days with professional service providers. Check the calendar on this website, read the weekly newsletter, or follow us on social media to see these dates.
I don’t have an idea yet, or I want to work on another startup’s team. What should I do?
Connect with LaunchPad staff, so we can learn more about your interests and goals to help clarify what you want out of an innovation experience. Many LaunchPad startups are in need of someone with your skills, and we would love to connect you. Or, we can explore topics you are interested in, and help you shape your own innovation journey.
I have an idea, but I don’t have any money to build a business. How can LaunchPad help me?
The program and mentoring are structured around the principle that “validating” an idea (i.e. figuring out if people want it, who those people are, how much they would pay for it, etc.) should be fast and inexpensive to do. There are lots of resources and tools to help build your venture at no or low cost.
What about business plan competitions?
The LaunchPad coordinates many campus business plan competitions, including ‘Cuse Tank, the Impact Prize, Hult Prize, ACC InVenture Prize, the Raymond von Dran iPrize (on behalf of the iSchool), and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. The LaunchPad promotes, helps build the pipeline, and prepares students to pitch in other campus competitions such as Orange Tank and the Panasci Business Plan Competition run by the Whitman School of Management, as well as national competitions such as Student Startup Madness.
The LaunchPad also prepares applicants to compete in state and national competitions such as the New York State Business Plan Competition, the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards, LaunchPad-Techstars Propel, 43North, GENIUS-NY AND 76West, as well as prestigious competitions such as the MassChallenge and Clean Tech Open. The LaunchPad tracks major national competitions by other universities that are open to all college students. Our teams have built an impressive track record at these competitions because they are so well prepared.
Do you help nonprofit startups?
Yes, we are committed to advising and resourcing all ideas and ventures through the program. We have many mentors, resources, tools, connections, or workshops specifically geared towards nonprofit organizations. Impact entrepreneurship is a major commitment for the LaunchPad at Syracuse University.
Are LaunchPad services free?
Yes, all LaunchPad services are free, including the one-on-one mentoring sessions, events and online resources, and negotiated resource deals.
Does Blackstone, Techstars, or my University take a stake in my idea or venture?
Blackstone, Techstars or Syracuse University do not take any stake or claim to any student, staff, alumni or community idea or venture in the LaunchPad program. The program guides and empowers students, staff and alumni to make their own decisions about their venture and to do the work themselves.
All student, staff, alumni or community intellectual property is retained by the entrepreneur. However, Faculty intellectual property is governed by the university’s policies. Faculty interested in the program are advised to start first with the Syracuse University Office of Technology Transfer to understand university guidelines on faculty commercialization.
Will the LaunchPad, Blackstone, or Techstars fund my idea?
The program provides free, confidential one-on-one mentoring and resources, tools, and networks that can enable venture creation. The network does not provide capital, however it can provides direction on how to seek external investment and funding. If seeking capital, the LaunchPad network can help innovators explore the option of outside investment, participation into an Accelerator, as well as other capital options.
The LaunchPad can provide support and assistance putting together a pitch deck for investors, help refine and practice pitches, create and compile the appropriate reports, documents, and summaries, and advise where and how to find investors.
Who sees my idea and information?
LaunchPad personnel (staff and student mentors) who you share your ideas with, as well as participants and judges at business plan competitions where you choose to pitch, will see what you voluntarily share. This sharing is for the sole goal of providing support, mentorship and resources. You choose what you elect to share, with whom, and when.
The LaunchPad collaborates with the Syracuse University Innovation Law Center and patent attorneys, and suggests you start by getting advice from these resource providers on how to best protect your idea as you share it to build a team, seek mentors and advisors, pitch it at business plan competitions, and approach investors. The LaunchPad team does not sign NDAs because participation is voluntary.
What is entrepreneurship?
The LaunchPad is the central hub in the Syracuse University innovation ecosystem, and works closely with our partners across campus. We work closely with academic and curricular programs offered by colleges and schools across campus.
These partnerships include the IDS program at the Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises program at the Whitman School of Management, iSchool, invention accelerator programs such as Invent@SU offered by the College of Engineering and Computer Science and VPA’s School of Design, the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Newhouse School, the Falcone Center at Whitman including the WISE Women’s Business Center and Couri Center, The College of Law’s Innovation Law Center + New York State Science and Law Technology Center, the SyracuseCoE, the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, as well as programs through IVMF for veterans and their families.
We also coordinate a campus-wide Stewardship Council, comprised of the leaders of these academic and service programs, which meets semi-annually to share ideas and engage in collaborative activities. We can be the one-stop shop to help connect these resources across campus to support your ideas.
What programs does the LaunchPad partner with in the community?
We are part of a regional ecosystem that includes The Tech Garden and Clean Tech Center, the CNY Biotech Accelerator, MedTech, Syracuse Coworks, Commonspace, Upstate Venture Connect, Startfast, Upstate Venture Association, Kauffman Million Cups, Central New York Technology Development Organization, Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York, Technology Alliance of Central New York, NYS Small Business Development Center at SUNY OCC and SUNY Oswego, SCORE, U.S. Small Business Administration Upstate District Office, and the SBA Emerging Leaders Program.
What is Blackstone, and what is the connection?
Blackstone is the global leader in alternative asset management headquartered in New York, New York. Blackstone LaunchPad is funded by Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Blackstone. The Foundation’s focus is dedicated to building and supporting sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world.
As a catalytic funder for a set period of time, the Foundation provides mentoring and resources to students, staff and alumni to empower venture creation to yield lasting results for the entrepreneur, campus and regional community. The program focuses on developing the entrepreneur, rather than the idea. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation provided initial seed funding to start the program at Syracuse, and nearly two dozen other universities around the world. Together, these colleges are part of a global network supporting entrepreneurs.
What is Techstars, and what is the connection?
Techstars provides powerful tools and training to the LaunchPad network. A premier program supporting innovators on a global scale, Techstars enables entrepreneurs, large companies, and city governments to access proven resources to innovate faster and accelerate their business success. Techstars proven programs include Techstars Startup Weekend, Techstars Startup Week, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerators, and more.