Justin Monaco ’21 G’22 selected for prestigious Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship

headshot of Justin Monaco

Justin Monaco ’21 (biology) and G ’21 (biotechnology) was selected for the prestigious Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship, a 7-week immersive program designed to support student entrepreneurs across the 46-university network. Run in partnership with Future Founders, the 2022 Summer Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship will empower student startups with entrepreneurial resources, mentorship, education, and financial assistance. Student participants will benefit from a community of fellow student entrepreneurs that will motivate them to explore and build on their ideas, and further develop their skills as founders.

Participating student founders will receive a grant to support their time working on advancing their entrepreneurial ventures, as well as other resources and support, including weekly workshops, community-building activities, and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and executives in the LaunchPad network. The program also includes intensive LaunchPad campus director coaching sessions.

The LaunchPad Fellowship program has grown into a signature program of the Blackstone LaunchPad network.  It is funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and coordinated through the Blackstone LaunchPad network and Future Founders.  Helping manage the Fellowship is Syracuse LaunchPad alum Nick Barba who is Program Manager, Startup, for the Chicago-based national organization, Future Founders. Reporting to the Senior Director of Startups and working in close partnership with the President & CEO of Future Founders, Nick is responsible for supporting the Future Founders Fellowship and alumni programming for diverse 18 to 30-year-old founders from across the country. A 2020 graduate of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, Nick was previously the university’s program manager for the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad.

Monaco will be working on the started he founded as a student at Syracuse University. Illumenar is a teledentistry solution for patients, dentists, insurance companies and employers. It combines imaging, saliva pre-diagnostics and AI to produce a full oral profile right on your phone. Illumenar uses revolutionary technology to see within the internal structure of your teeth, creating 3D X-ray like images of without ionizing rays and radiation. Saliva strips offer a look at micro-organisms living within the oral microbiome to give a better picture of oral and overall health conditions. Machine learning helps Illumenar compile data and cross-reference it within a database to provide behavioral recommendations to help improve oral health.

Monaco developed the idea as part of summer accelerator program, Invent@SU, then worked with his co-founder Bruno Gonzalez-Hauger ’21 (Whitman/Newhouse) G’22 (entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises) through the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.  Together, they have created a detailed product and business development roadmap and are now actively raising pre-seed investment. There were also active peer mentors with the Syracuse LaunchPad, as well as successful student founders who won multiple business plan competitions.

With a long interest in oral health, startups, and entrepreneurship, Monaco has worked as a dental assistance and learned what it takes to deliver top quality dental care. His goal is now to integrate technology, teledentistry and trends in personalized health in a digital solution to enhance preventative care.