Nick Barba ’20 and David Fox ‘19 have been selected by the Blackstone LaunchPad as Syracuse University’s Dorm Room Fund campus ambassadors for the Spring 2019 semester.
The Dorm Room Fund provides mentoring to the most promising student startups launched at Syracuse University, and will also consider investment ready student ventures for seed funding. This year, Dorm Room Fund made Syracuse investments in Power-Spike, co-founded by AJ Damiano ’18 (Whitman) and Michael Paris ’20 (VPA Communications Design), Indulo, founded by Attila Melegh ’19 (College of Engineeering), and WAYV, founded by Julia Haber ’18 (Newhouse).
The Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad was accepted last year into the Dorm Room Fund Campus Organization Network (DRFCON), backed by First Round Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that provided seed-stage funding to technology companies such as Uber, Square and Warby Parker.
First Round provides seed-stage funding and focuses on portfolio companies’ growth during their first 18 months. It has offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York. Fortune Magazine dubbed it the most connected venture network in the Silicon Valley. In 2012, the firm launched and funded Dorm Room Fund for college startups. Since launching, DRF has invested in 150 startups where at least one person on the founding team is a student (undergraduate or graduate). Those ventures have gone to raise $300 million from partner funds.
As DRF campus ambassador at Syracuse, David and Nick will work with Blackstone LaunchPad student startups on methods to test their concepts through customer discovery, and build go-to market strategies, and coordinate DRF conversations with founders.
David, from New Jersey, is a senior in the iSchool majoring in Information Management and Technology. A detailed yet innovative thinker, David has worked with startup companies in almost every industry, creating marketing plans and determining campaign feasibility in order to maximize efficiency of innovation. Having started his own company, David understands what it takes to grow from nothing, and the challenges that come along with starting ambitious projects to meet organizational goals. David brings a keen interest in entrepreneurship, as well as engagement in the entrepreneurship community at Syracuse University. He has been a Blackstone Global Fellow at Syracuse for two years, and helps produce its weekly newsletter, “Startup Thinking,” as well as the “Startup Spotlight” entrepreneur profile series.
Nick, from Long Island, is a junior in Whitman majoring in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises and Finance. Nick is a natural leader in every community he is part of. Back home in Long Island, he is an Eagle Scout who dedicated more than seven years to community service and remains an adult leader of the program to this day. A firm believer in serving those in society that are more vulnerable, underrepresented and unsupported, Nick is a champion of organizing events that not only fundraise for important causes but also arms community members with the information they need to continue helping those in need. Nick was also named a Blackstone Global Fellow this spring semester, as serves as the Blackstone LaunchPad’s events manager.
The synergies created through David and Nick’s teamwork will help find student startups exhibiting qualities valued by DRF. Syracuse University student startups are described by many as “bootstrapping, scrappy and very, very smart.”
DRF will work with the Blackstone LaunchPad to offer DRF-hosted sessions for Syracuse startups, with a schedule established in conjunction with the Blackstone LaunchPad, Nick, and David. The format will be 20-minute calls with a DRF partner to provide feedback. Mentorship will be provided through the LaunchPad and the DRF campus ambassador.
To learn more or make an appointment, e-mail LaunchPad@syr.edu
Photo: Nick Barba (left) and David Fox (right)