Shark Tank, Forbes 30 Under 30 and $17 million raised in equity investment — 2020 wraps on a high note at the LaunchPad

Syracuse LaunchPad ventures didn’t let a pandemic slow down their good ideas this year.  In fact, it was a banner year for startups in the program – from capturing top prizes in campus and national competitions, to raising more than $17 million in outside investment capital. LaunchPad alumni startups captured the national spotlight on the stage of Shark Tank and gained accolades from Forbes 30 Under 30.  And most importantly, we managed to keep our community connected and energized with a robust line-up of virtual competitions, chats with guest entrepreneurs and experts, technical workshops, ideafests, and Startup Weekends, along with so many great programs offered with our partners at Blackstone & Techstars.

Here’s a glimpse at the year in review, starting with some numbers.

MilestoneDecember 2020December 2019
# Cumulative program participants45504073
# Cumulative venture ideas worked on825675
# Cumulative legal business incorporations11075
$ Cumulative outside equity capital raised by LaunchPad startup ventures$37.25 million$20.1 million
$ Cumulative business plan competition winnings by LaunchPad startup ventures$3.55 million$3.4 million
*Cumulative since the grand opening in April 2016  

Bragging rights:

Josh Aviv, founder of SparkCharge, appeared on Season 12 premiere of Shark Tank and scored a $1 million deal from the Sharks.

Kelsey Davis and the CLLCTVE team were selected for the prestigious Techstars Los Angeles accelerator.  She also won one of the top prizes in the global LaunchPad Propel program sponsored by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and was selected for the LaunchPad Lift program.  She was named a top GenZEO by Adweek this week.

Syracuse University startup ventures were selected for highly competitive Blackstone & Techstars Fellowships

  • Sam Hollander, founder of FSCL
  • Dave Fox and Nick Barba, co-founders of Smarta
  • Nikita Chatterjee and Brianna Howard, co-founders of PAANI
  • Daniel McMurray, founder of CommitYouth

Four Syracuse LaunchPad alumni were named to Forbes 30 Under 30:

  • AJ Damiano, co-founder, PowerSpike (’18 Whitman School of Management)
  • Michael Paris, co-founder Power Spike, (’20 VPA School of Design)
  • Kelsey Davis, founder, CLLCTVE (’19 Newhouse and G ’20 Whitman)
  • Dylan Kim, founder, Brevitē (’16 Whitman)

The following national media featured stories on Syracuse LaunchPad ventures:

  • Newsweek
  • Forbes
  • Adweek
  • Entrepreneur
  • Wired
  • Fortune
  • TechCrunch
  • New York Times
  • Mashable
  • GeekWire
  • Business Today
  • Blackstone Charitable Foundation Medium
  • Techstars Medium

Startup ventures prize winners in 2020:

ACC InVenture Prize:

First place, Matt Shumer (Whitman), founder of Visos

RvD / iPrize:

Consumer Products category:

  • $11,000 to FSCL, founded by Sam Hollander (’23 Whitman and Newhouse), for an alternative, affordable and flexible solution to finance higher education
  • Technology and Entertainment category:
  • $7,500 to Ambassadoor, founded by Bruno Gonzalez Hauger (’21 Newhouse and Whitman), for a mobile platform that allows businesses to connect with and utilize nano-influencers efficiently and effectively
  • $4,000 to CLLCTVE, founded by Kelsey Davis (’19 Newhouse and G ’20 Whitman), for a digital platform connecting college creatives and brands
  • $2,500 to DreamVybz, founded by Daniel Green (’20 Engineering and Computer Science), for a platform connecting young Black and LatinX leaders and student organizations across campuses to develop leaders of color
  • $2,000 to Girl Power, founded by Nancy Wang (’20 Whitman and Newhouse), for a platform to connect female tech professionals with customers to increase gender diversity and empower women
  • $2,000 to Itemize, founded by Ryan Taggart (’21 iSchool), for an app to keep track of items for insurance purposes
  • Health and Well Being category:
  • $6,000 to Visos, founded by Matt Shumer (’22 Whitman), for a Virtual Reality system designed for medical applications
  • $3,500 to PAANI, founded by Nikita Chatterjee (’20 Maxwell) and Brianna Howard (’20 Falk), for a water filter system engineered in a traditional sari cloth
  • $1,500 to ViV, Nathaniel Kuhl (’20 Computer Science and Engineering), for a personalized step-down program to combat nicotine addiction

Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship:

  • $2500 to PAANI, founders Nikita Chatterjee (’20 Maxwell) and Brianna Howard (’20 Falk), for a water filter system engineered in a traditional sari cloth
  • $2500 to Code++, Claire Howard (’23 Maxwell), for computer science camps in developing nations
  • $2500 for EcoBamboo Living, Justin Diaz (’23 Engineering and Computer Science), for sustainable and affordable bamboo homes to address climate change
  • $2500 for CLLCTVE, Kelsey Davis (’19 Newhouse and G’20 Whitman), for a digital platform connecting college creatives and brands

Compete CNY (Regional Qualifier for the NYS Business Plan Competition: 

Technology and Entertainment

  • Ambassadoor, Bruno Gonzalez Hauger (’21 Whitman and Newhouse), Syracuse University
  • Girl Power, Nancy Wang (’20 Whitman), Syracuse University

Consumer Products and Services

  • FSCL, Sam Hollander (’23 Whitman), Syracuse University
  • Finger Lakes Drone Services, Luke Didion, LeMoyne College

Energy and the Environment

  • EcoBamboo Living, Justin Diaz (’23 Engineering and Computer Science), Syracuse University
  • CLOVO, Megan Martis, Colgate University

Health and Well Being

  • Visos, Matt Shumer (Whitman), Syracuse University
  • PAANI, Nikita Chatterjee (’20 Maxwell) and Brianna Howard (’20 Falk), Syracuse University

Military and First Responders:

  • Youth Government Services, Daniel McMurray (’19 and G ’20 Maxwell), Syracuse University
  • ‘Cuse Tank
  • $5,000 to Ambassadoor Technologies, founded by Bruno Andres Gonzalez Hauger (’21 Whitman and Newhouse)
  • $3,000 to EcoBamboo Living, founded by Justin Diaz (’23 Engineering and Computer Science)
  • $1,000 to Solace Vision, founded by Shawn Gaetano (’21 iSchool)
  • $1,000 to Aphinity, founded by Sardorbek Askarov
  • $500 to Jersey Boys Apparel, founded by Benjamin Ford

Impact Prize

  • $7,000 to EcoBamboo Living, founded by Justin Diaz (’23 College of Engineering and Computer Science)
  • $3,000, to FSCL, founded by Sam Hollander (’22 Whitman and Newhouse)
  • $3,000 to You’re Not Alone, founded by Dana Immerso (’20 and G ’21 Arts and Sciences)
  • $1,000 to Popcycle, founded by Jackson Ensley (’22 Whitman School of Management)
  • $500 to DoNation, founded by Ben Ford (’23 Whitman School of Management)

Intelligence ++ Inclusive Entrepreneurship pitch fest

  • $500 for an Adaptive Xbox Controller, designed by Justin Diaz (’23 College of Engineering and Computer Science)
  • $500 for an inclusive, immersive multi-sensory installation, designed by James Ruhlman (’22 VPA School of Design)

Hult Prize

  • First place–WaxPax Solutions, Erica Morrison ’21 (Whitman and Newhouse), Lidia Menbaeva ’21 (College of Arts and Sciences) and Daniel Hamrahi ’21 (Whitman), for a multi-purpose biodegradable packaging solution made from a proprietary blend of beeswax and cellulose that will help eliminate landfill waste in the food supply chain.
  • Second place–Cuapa Monde Conservation, Claire Chevalier ’24 (Whitman) and Sasha Temerte ’23 (College of Arts and Sciences), for a consulting firm that seeks to develop universal standards for sustainable packaging, similar to the organic certification standard for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products, for producers and consumers of all consumer-packaged goods in the U.S. and European Union.
  • Third place–Gather, Nolan Kagan ’23 (Whitman) for a community-building web and mobile application to bring people of various ages and cultures around the world together to cook and share favorite recipes and conversation, first in the digital space and then in real life post-pandemic, to address social isolation while building cultural and social literacy among people who not might otherwise meet.

Impressed? There’s more. LaunchPad creatives published books, released albums, produced films that won national and international film festival awards, launched new apps into the iOS and Android market, secured patents for their inventions, and introduced new products into the market.

Four years ago the LaunchPad was a startup. We’re pretty proud that we’ve achieved proof of concept, and even prouder to see our innovators succeeding as they launch and scale.

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