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Get ready for the Impact Prize, Syracuse University’s annual social entrepreneurship competition

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The LaunchPad is accepting applications through November 5 for the Impact Prize, our annual social entrepreneurship competition open to Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students.  The competition on November 12, will feature $20,000 in prizes thanks to generous donors to SU Libraries Carl and Marcy Armani in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse, and Dr. Gisela von Dran.  Apply to compete here.

Impact Prize applications can be products, services, or technologies that address problems related to energy, environment, employment, education and training, health and mental health, community and social networks, social inclusion, poverty and literacy, youth empowerment, food, sustainability, access, and other important public policy challenges. 

The goal of the LaunchPad is to help prepare future civic leaders to become trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.

Join us November 4 for a virtual meetup and info session with the Watson Acclerator in Boulder, Colorado

student on a hilltop looking at a mountain vista

Learn about the hybrid Spring Watson Semester Accelerator in Boulder, Colorado. Join us on November 4 at 1 p.m. for a Syracuse University virtual info session to explore unique opportunities found at the Watson Semester Accelerator.  Joining us will be LaunchPad alumni Audrey Miller ’20, now operations coordinator at the Watson Accelerator and Watson Scholar Justin Diaz, who is currently incubating his company EcoBamboo Living in the program.  Learn more and register here.

The agenda includes:

  • Introductions to Watson staff and current student
  • Inspirational Watson alum story
  • Watson Semester Accelerator program overview, collaborations, scholarships, and application process
  • Student venture pitch
  • Q&A

The Watson Institute is a place where next generation entrepreneurial leaders can find their community, discover their calling, and accelerate their careers.  The program provides the tools, network, mindset, and courage for the next generation to solve the toughest challenges facing the world, launch successful careers, and lead impactful lives.

Marcus Webb ’19 and G’22 on building skills for a successful career in tech

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Before being interviewed for this story, Marcus Webb G’22 was in a three-hour long meeting about the Syracuse Surge Learning Community Program that Webb is putting together in his role as Economic Inclusion Fellow at CenterState CEO.  Webb is educating community members about opportunities in the tech workforce in Central Upstate New York through programs such as this and Generation Next, an initiative around equity, inclusion and racial justice. His goal is to develop collaborative ways to integrate the next generation’s ideas and talents into solving these challenges.

Webb graduated from Syracuse University in 2019 with a degree in economics and is now a graduate student at the Whitman School of Management, getting his Master of Business Administration.  After working for On Point for College, mentoring students and helping them connect for opportunities, he joined CenterState CEO which is focused on diverse talent development strategies. Webb is supporting that effort by shaping research projects and creating programming to support community engagement and economic development by underrepresented and diverse groups and individuals.  

Webb’s personal goal is to help young people from diverse backgrounds launch a career in the tech industry and succeed, working under the Tech and Culture initiative of CenterState CEO, which is sponsored by JP Morgan Chase.  He wants area college students at Syracuse University, SUNY ESF, LeMoyne, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Oswego and other regional campuses to connect to these resources to help them succeed in finding a rewarding job the tech industry. These opportunities include the Tech and Culture speaker series that Webb manages, which spotlights leaders in the tech industry while promoting diversity and inclusion in tech. The program helps students build a mental bridge between their college life and their future career.  Webb says it is meaningful for students to listen to someone who is successful in the tech industry, who also looks like them. 

Students can learn more about the events by visiting the CenterState CEO website or the Generation Next social media page.

Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Natalie Lui ‘22; photo supplied

Alexandra Santangelo ’22 on industrial and industrial design innovation

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Alexandra Santangelo ’22 is determined to excel in design. The VPA major studying Industrial design and a double minor in Information and technology and art history, would never turn down the opportunity to display her skills. Technology, history, and design are more than just degrees to Alex.  They represent a way of life and an opportunity to shine.

Originally from New Jersey, Alex wanted to find a school that could embrace her full potential and provide her with an unlimited number of opportunities. Syracuse University struck her because of its large campus population, but more importantly, the diversity it upholds for its students. She knew her ideas would flourish in a diverse background and incorporate her passion into this environment.

Alex has many talents academically but also athletically. For the past three years she has been a member of the Syracuse University Women’s Soccer Team, playing hard and cheering on her teammates. Not only is she able to exercise her leadership on campus, but she also displays it on the field with her friendly and outgoing personality, which led her to become team captain last year.

One of Alex’s greatest traits is her eagerness and determination to assist others in need. Because of her talent in design and graphics, she has been able to work with a variety of people. She enjoys assisting students who need support with graphic design, logos, and presentations. She goes above and beyond by teaching them how to brand and express themselves, and helps bring their concepts to life with 3D-models. .

Furthermore, she is actively participating in a digital fabrication workshop, helping students with projects. As a result of her knowledge and experience, she was chosen by professors to sit on the search committee for new VPA School of Design faculty.

As a student representative on the search committee she learned about the LaunchPad. After a few conversations, she was excited to join the LaunchPad team as a Launch Star. Without hesitation, Alex dove right into her position headfirst, working with a group of students to prepare them for Cuse Tank. They are collaboratively creating logos and designs to enhance their digital storytelling.  Alex says, “I absolutely love it, working with a team and creating graphics is what I enjoy doing.”

This is not her first time working in an environment similar to what she’s doing now. This past summer, Alex spent countless hours working in the IT department, enhancing her technological skills. She was assigned to a task using interactional design and interface at UI UX.

After exploring and engaging into her passions, she has concluded what she loves most. Her passion for hands-on work has motivated her to be an empathic designer. Every day she strives to be a better designer for herself, her teammates, and the people that surround her. Her never-ending drive to continuously improve her creativity makes her an exceptional candidate for any future endeavor.

Her goal is to work in the public sector, where she can exercise her passion for the greater good and help people in any way she can. Hopefully she can work for the government to “solve problems every day and make a long-lasting impact.”

She believes she can utilize her characteristics of being driven to spark new conversations within LaunchPad. She hopes to contribute to the culture and dynamic because she says, “It’s such a unique place on campus.” Alex is ready to be a part of the “powerhouse of entrepreneurship” to bring her own experience and learn about others. Nonetheless, the best part of LaunchPad is that, “Students are coming from all over, bringing their experiences and contributing with so much potential.”

Overall, there is nothing Alex can’t do and isn’t willing to accomplish. She gives more than just her ideas, she gives her heart and herself to everyone around her.

Story by Sydney Grosso ‘23

Join eClub and the LaunchPad for a Pitch Workshop on November 8

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Sam Hollander (left) and Bruno Gonzalez Hauger

Join Syracuse University’s top two entrepreneurship organizations and top two founders for a Pitch Workshop in Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library at 8 p.m. on Monday, November 8. The event, co-sponsored by eClub and the Blackstone LaunchPad features Bruno Gonzalez Hauger ’21 and G ’22, founder of Ambassadoor Technologies and Sam Hollander ’21, founder of FSCL.

Bruno is a graduate student and entrepreneur at Syracuse where he has won eight pitch competitions in addition to the Whitman Capstone Competition, in which he also took first place with his team. His winnings have totaled over $50,000 in funding for his startup, Ambassador Technologies. He also captured top place in his division in the 2021 New York Business Plan Competition.  In addition, he was the past president of the Entrepreneurship Club and is currently a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor at the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU.

Sam, recently named Program Manager at LaunchPad, has won the Syracuse University Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, first prize in the 2021 Panasci Business Plan Competition, and top place at the RvD iPrize, moving on to the New York Business Plan Competition. He was the recipient of two LaunchPad Innovation Awards, and has served as a LaunchPad Global Fellow, Rubin Family Innovation Mentor and Orange Ambassador for the LaunchPad. He founded FSCL, a social impact venture, to address the student debt crisis, winning over $60,000 for his idea. He is graduating this semester with a dual degree in Whitman and Newhouse.

The two will be leading a pitching workshop allowing students to come and practice pitching their business and developing networking skills in a stress-free environment.

If you don’t have a business- do not fret.  Come hang out, grab a slice of pizza, meet new people and learn from the pros.

NEXIS brings tech research to life

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On any given day of the week, a lab room in Hinds Hall brings to life technological dreams and ideas of innovation.  The NEXIS lab, a technological and innovation makerspace in the School of Information Studies, provides a space for savvy students to prototype their many inventions and ideas. With projects in fields from virtual reality to cybersecurity to medical tech, NEXIS gives students the place and resources to dream of a better world through technology.

The leader behind this network of inventors and idea production? Javier Canela Veiga ’22, studying information management in the School of Information Studies, serves as the current director of the NEXIS lab after being a dedicated researcher in the lab his previous three years of undergraduate study.

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Javier Canela Veiga

Veiga joined the lab his freshman year, starting out in the SMART lab project, which developed new processes for lab and student support. The first project that he plunged himself into was a density prototype which kept constant track of how many people were in the lab at any given time, giving them valuable density data. From there he involved himself with a variety of projects over the course of the coming years, all fueling his love for ideation. “I’ve always had passion for technology and innovation, and passion to research,” spoke Veiga in reference to his love for the work of NEXIS lab. 

NEXIS’ greatest barrier over the past year, according to Veiga, has been the difficulty of working through COVID. As a collaborative working space, NEXIS relies heavily on teams of students working together to shape their ideas, test their theories, and continually bounce thoughts off each other. Without full ownership of a physical space, the students of NEXIS struggled to create in the same way that they always had. “It’s a space that heavily grows based on research, and with COVID we couldn’t really do that as we could have only four researchers in the lab. We couldn’t get hands on collaboration and couldn’t access the technology of the lab,” said Veiga about the difficulty of working through a pandemic lifestyle.

Even today, like many campuses and workspaces across the world, NEXIS is still adapting to a post-pandemic world. “In transitioning back to in person there has been a disconnect,” said Veiga. Many underclassmen members are unused to navigating an in-person NEXIS and the leadership transitional process has been slower due to changed procedures and continual adjustment. For Veiga, the key to successfully overcoming these challenges is the quality that NEXIS is built on: teamwork and community. “That’s when collaboration comes in,” said Veiga of his desire to restore NEXIS’ shared productive space.

The Blackstone LaunchPad has been thrilled to work with teams of student inventors from NEXIS over the past few years.  Previous NEXIS leader Shawn Gaetano went on to win prizes in campus competitions and in the Global Student Entrepreneurship Award and become the recipient of a prestigious Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship.

While NEXIS provides the space, equipment, and skilled team members needed to fashion technology and create complex solutions to modern problems, the LaunchPad provides the necessary funding and mentorship to push those technologies to market. The collaborative spaces and brilliant team members in both NEXIS and the LaunchPad are the powers that can create impactful innovation.

For Veiga, whose lifelong passion has always been innovation through technological development, NEXIS is the Syracuse space that provides that to himself and students. As this year’s director, he hopes to cultivate that space for technological dreams to turn into capable innovations. The scientifically complex and societally impactful technologies that come out of NEXIS only reaffirms the talent and passion at heart in the Syracuse community and the power of harnessing that in collaborative workspaces.

Story by Claire Howard ’23, Global Fellow.

Patchwork launches platform for users to share and discuss content without leaving the page

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Patchwork co-founders Paul Hultgren and Jackson Ensley

Have you ever read an article that you knew you had to send to a friend? If so, you probably copied and pasted the link, emailed it to yourself to open on your phone, then texted it to your friend? Or perhaps you found the perfect paragraph on medieval art for your group history project, but you had to upload the link to a shared Google Doc then struggle to explain which paragraph you were looking at? Or maybe you have read a list of “Top 10 Restaurants Near You” and had to screenshot #5 and #8 to send in your group chat?

With Patchwork, a startup venture incubating in the Syracuse University LaunchPad, content sharing is quick, easy and intuitive. Patchwork is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to share written content and hold conversations without ever needing to leave the original web page.

Its founders — Jackson Ensley, a marketing management major at the Whitman School of Management, and developer Paul Hultgren who is the LaunchPad’s inaugural Innovator in Residence — came up with the idea after realizing there is no streamlined way to discuss content online while viewing it.

As the founders explain, we live in a time where the internet is focused on integration and engagement, making it more important than ever before to have a platform that allows people to share content quickly and collaborate more efficiently. Patchwork does just this by letting users open a chat panel on the side of their screen and refer directly to specific quotes on a page.

Until now, this form of discussion has been reserved to platforms dedicated to serving academic scholars, but Patchwork makes discourse about digital information more social, fun and accessible to anyone.

In future years, Patchwork also hopes to encompass additional integrations that would allow users to share content to platforms such as Slack or Twitter.

By creating a more engaged and connected web of internet readers, Patchwork will transform the way we view information, one shared link and quote at a time.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Next Innovation Law Center office hours at the LaunchPad on October 20

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Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights? Join us for the next Innovation Law Center Office Hours on Wednesday, October 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at this Zoom link.

The Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + New York State Science & Technology Law Center (NYS STLC) is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Hear insights from law student Cierra Thomas and ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

If you can’t make it this week, other upcoming office hours this semester will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the LaunchPad on these days, hosted by these law students:

Thurs. Nov 4: Jake Goldsmith
Wed. Nov 17: Jake Goldsmith

While the SU Innovation Law Center does not file for or prosecute patents, and does not provide legal advice or opinions, the LaunchPad can refer inventors and entrepreneurs to IP law firms to implement patent, trademark, copyright filings, licensing agreements and other legal work.

Ask us your questions — don’t let confusion or uncertainty about the legal aspects of startups stop you from pursuing your idea!

If you’d like to schedule a particular time during this session, please e-mail us:

Apply for the Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA)

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Quinn King ’20 and Nikita Chatterjee ’20, award winners at last year’s GSEA.

Applications are open through October 20 for The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the premier global competition for students who own and operate a business while attending college or university. Nominees compete against their peers from around the world in a series of local and/or national competitions in hopes to qualify for GSEA Finals. Syracuse University LaunchPad students AJ Damiano ’18, founder of PowerSpike, Kayla Simon ’19, co-founder of In-Spire, Quinn King ’20, co-founder of MedUX and Nikita Chatterjee ’20, co-founder of PAANI, and Shawn Gaetano ’21 were all GSEA winners of significant cash prizes. When applying, be sure to specify the Western New York Competition.

This year’s U.S. — Western NY regional competition will be held in person November 11 in Buffalo. Winner goes on the national competition.

The LaunchPad team can help you prepare for the competition, which works like this:   

Step One: You must be an undergraduate or graduate college/university student with a company that has been operating for at least 6 months with at least $500 in generated revenue.

Step Two: Apply and compete in a regional competition. Syracuse University participates in the U.S. — Western NY region, so be sure to select that as your region.

Step Three: Win a regional competition and advance to the national competition.

Step Four: Win a national competition and advance to the GSEA Finals with 50 of the world’s best student entrepreneurs

Step Five: Win the global award, become the EO GSEA Student Champion and receive recognition and accolades.

With more than 1,700 competitors from over 30 countries each year, GSEA is an exclusive opportunity for student entrepreneurs to make connections, find resources, and grow their businesses.  It is sponsored by The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a global business network of 13,000+ leading entrepreneurs in 160 global chapters.  EO offers resources in the form of global events, leadership-development programs, peer-to-peer learning, an online entrepreneur forum, executive education opportunities, and connections to experts.

This week’s Commute to Class podcast talks intrapreneurship with Good Uncle’s Dylan Gans ’18

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The next episode in “The Commute to Class” podcast series features a conversation between LaunchPad Global Fellow, Jack Lyons ’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications), and Dylan Gans ’18, a LaunchPad alum who parlayed his student entrepreneurship skills into an innovation career as lead for growth and marketing at Good Uncle 

Lyons sat down this week with Gans to chat about intrapreneurship, why he joined Good Uncle after a “traditional” finance internship, and how the definition of “success” changes as you age. 

Gans is leading 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 and became one of Good Uncle’s first hires when it originally launched in the Syracuse market.  He quickly grew with the company, scaling it to a larger university network as it was recently acquired by Aramark.

As a student, 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. He also co-founded VISION, a student entrepreneurship group.  

In addition to working full time at Good Uncle, he is a board advisor / named CEO successor to a $17 million Alzheimer’s non-profit and is a strategic advisor to TowerHunt.

Gans is a LaunchPad Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence and continues to “pay it forward” as a mentor to many current LaunchPad student founders.

His passion is bringing people and resources together to improve communities.  Gans 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.

The entire “Commute to Class” podcast series is available on, Apple, or wherever podcasts are distributed.