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Make something meaningful. Enter the Impact Prize competition.

Impact Prize logo

Are you someone who wants to make an impact?  If so, join us this Friday for a conversation with Todd Rubin ’04 about creating a meaningful life, and then submit your own meaningful idea to the Impact Prize, Syracuse University’s competition for social entrepreneurship.  Online applications are still open for the virtual competition on November 13.  This year’s event will feature $15,000 in prizes thanks to donors to SU Libraries, Carl and Marcy Armani in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse, and Dr. Gisela von Dran. We’ll be taking applications through November 1 and hosting a pitch workshop on Thursday November 5 to help with your idea.  Participate in the 3 p.m. Impact Prize workshop on the LaunchPad Discord platform here.  Read more about this year’s Impact Prize competition here.  For more information e-mail: launchpad@syr.edu. Get more personal impact by becoming a LaunchPad member here and requesting a LaunchPad mentor here.

Calling all LaunchPad alumni for a reunion this Orange Central

It’s Orange Central Weekend and we miss you. Wear your orange and bring your favorite pumpkin to our first ever LaunchPad alumni reunion.  See your old friends from across the country and around the world. BYOBO (bring your favorite own orange beverage) for a quick hello Friday, October 30 from 7:30 to 8 p.m. ‘Cuse time (that’s eastern time).  For folks who want to stay on, we’ll open breakout rooms for the OG (Old Guard ’16, ’17 and ’18) and NG (NextGen ’19 and ’20) to keep chatting if you want to hang out.  Why are LaunchPad alumni so successful in life and careers?  Because they never run out of juice.  Orange you glad you’re part of our LaunchPad family?  Here’s the reunion link:  http://bit.ly/LaunchPadOrangeReunion

two student entrepreneurs
LaunchPad alumni Amanda Chou and Audrey Miller
LaunchPad alumni Jose Garcia-Rovira and Quentin Rosso
LaunchPad alum Erin Miller
LaunchPad alumnus AJ Damiano
LaunchPad alum Lawrence Lin
LaunchPad alumni Alec Gillinder and Quinn King
LaunchPad alumni Kennedy Patlan and Justina Hnatowicz
The LaunchPad gang

Find fall innovation events all in one place

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Want to take advantage of great innovation and entrepreneurship events taking place this semester but finding it hard to keep them all organized?  We’ve done your hard work and have a simple solution.  Find great campus, community and LaunchPad network events in one easy to navigate calendar:  https://launchpad.syr.edu/events/  From Fireside chats with leading thinkers, to Toolkit Workshops to help build your skills, idea competitions with prize packages, free office hours with experts, networking opportunities and more, bookmark our events page and get inspired and connected this fall. Check it weekly … updated in real time!

Join the LaunchPad November 20 for a Fireside Chat with prominent real estate developer Neil Rubler

The Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars is pleased to invite you to join us for a Fireside Chat, Friday, November 20 at 3 p.m. with Neil Rubler via Zoom chat http://bit.ly/launchpad-fall-fireside-chat. The event is open to all. Rubler is a prominent figure in the real estate development community and will discuss trends in the market and social impact challenges such as affordable housing.  He will particularly focus on developing a 21st century building technology-driven new housing economy that will reshape antiquated models. Rubler founded Vessel Technologies, Inc. in 2017 and serves as the company’s President and CEO. In addition, he also serves as the President and CEO of Candlebrook Properties, LLC (and its various affiliates), which he founded in 2005, and which operates businesses in real estate development, management and construction. Since its founding, Candlebrook has managed a portfolio valued at over $2 billion which spans tens of thousands of apartment units in seven states.

Prior to founding Candlebrook, Rubler was the Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Vice President and of The Olnick Organization, Inc., a, privately held, New York-based real estate development company.  In this capacity he oversaw all aspects of the Olnick Organization’s operations, development and investment activities. Prior to joining The Olnick Organization, Rubler was an Associate at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, and prior to that was a Vice President of Republic National Bank of New York.

Rubler earned an MBA from The Wharton School in 1998 with degrees in Real Estate and Finance, and graduated from Cornell University, BA, magna cum laude, in 1992.  He has served as Board Member of the Real Estate Board of New York, is an Executive Committee member of the Real Estate Center at the Wharton School, and is actively engaged in various philanthropic endeavors. 

Read Rubler’s perspective on his goal to accelerate the world’s transition to a new housing economy based on 21st century technologies so that everyone can afford a home that’s the launchpad for their dreams here.

Read more about his background in this interview in Leaders Magazine.

Join the LaunchPad November 6 for a Fireside Chat with George Dawson ’08, Techstars Fund Controller

Picture of George Dawson

The Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars is pleased to invite you to join us for a Fireside Chat, Friday, November 6 at 3 p.m. with George Dawson ’08. All are welcome to join the Zoom chat at http://bit.ly/launchpad-fall-fireside-chat. Dawson will discuss startup finance topics of interest such as valuation, incorporation, term sheet economics, cap tables, convertible notes and other investment structures. He will also share best practices for startups and common pitfalls.  He will be talking about gearing up for investment and how startups can approach financing their ventures through the capital continuum.

Dawson is based at Techstars headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, where he leads the organization’s fund and investment finance team which oversees 50+ venture capital funds and internal investment vehicles and a portfolio of approximately 4,000+ investments.  He is responsible for all aspects of portfolio company valuations, accounting, investor reporting, operations and fund structuring, and plays a critical role in Techstars capital formation efforts.

Prior to Techstars, Dawson was the assistant controller at JLL Partners, a mid-market private equity firm in New York. Earlier in his career, he worked at EY and KPMG, where he served large private equity, venture capital, hedge fund, mutual fund and fund-of-fund clients. He is a licensed CPA in New York and graduated in 2008 from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management with a dual major in accounting and finance and a minor in economics.

Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, has invested in several Syracuse University startups including SparkCharge (Techstars Boston), PowerSpike (Techstars Atlanta), and CLLCTVE (Techstars Los Angeles).  Techstars consists of both an investment management business with $500+ million in assets under management, as well as an operating business that is rapidly approaching $100+ million in annual revenue. Techstars investment activity includes global accelerator programs in cities around the world, deploying $80 million+ into nearly 500 startups on an annual basis. The Techstars portfolio of 2,200 companies currently attracts an annual $2 billion+ in downstream investment from the venture capital industry.

Join the LaunchPad community on Friday, October 30 to kick off Orange Central Weekend with Todd B. Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution and President of the Republic of Tea

man drinking tea

The Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at SU Libraries is thrilled that Todd B. Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea, will be our featured speaker to kick off Orange Central Weekend.  The Zoom chat, 3 p.m. on Friday, October 30 is open for all to enjoy at http://bit.ly/launchpad-fall-fireside-chat. Rubin will be giving an inspiring TEDx style presentation on building a company and a life that is deeply rooted in a philosophy of life that is about making meaning. The insightful presentation will help you reflect on your own guiding principles and journey in a gentle but profound way.

A graduate of the Syracuse University School of Architecture, Rubin is dedicated to preserving a legacy that fosters The Republic of Tea’s “Sip by Sip Rather than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle.  He strives to delight Citizens, Ministers, Embassies and Ambassadors with a focus on innovation, education and providing the finest premium teas and herbs. 

Rubin joined The Republic of Tea in 2007 as the Minister of East Commerce and then transitioned to the Minister of Southeast Commerce in 2008. In 2011, he was appointed to Minister of Evolution (Vice President of Sales and Marketing) relocating to the company’s Larkspur, California office.  In that role, he successfully spearheaded new teas and new systems that led to significant growth, including: Beautifying Botanicals Teas, organic SuperAdapt Teas, organic SuperGreen Teas, HiCAF® Teas, Sonoma Teas, Biodynamic® Teas, Cuppa Cake® Teas, Downton Abbey™ Teas, organic SuperHerb® Teas, U-Matcha™ teas, The Crown® Teas and the organic Single Sips. Utilizing his degree in architecture, he oversaw the feng shui design of the company’s headquarters at The Exchange in Larkspur, California and the company’s production and shipping center in Nashville, Illinois. 

Read a recent feature story describing Rubin’s feng shui design of the new Republic of Tea headquarters in Marin Couny, just outside of San Francisco, in this North Bay Area publication.

In 2016, Rubin was elected to the Specialty Food Association Board of Directors and was distinguished as one of San Francisco Business Times’ 40 Under 40. He was appointed to the Advisory Board for the Specialty Tea Institute and became a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization SF Bay Area Chapter in 2015. The year prior, Rubin was the recipient of Syracuse’s Generation Orange Award for philanthropy and was also honored as one of North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Rubin was elected to the Board for the Ethical Tea Partnership, a nonprofit organization that convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers and the environment in which they live and work.

He is a generous support of SU Libraries and the LaunchPad, funding 18 student positions as through the Orange Ambassador program, Todd B. Rubin Innovation and Diversity Scholars, and Rubin Family Innovation Mentors (through his family foundation).  He also partners with the LaunchPad on its summer Tea Talk series and Fall Fireside Chat series.

Rubin starts his day with a cup of Lucky Irish Breakfast tea, sips Brain Boost SuperGreen tea in the afternoon and ends his evenings with Clarity and Calm herbal tea. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, photography, and reading. His favorite color is Orange.

About Orange Central Weekend:

While the ‘Cuse community will miss the excitement of being together on campus you can enjoy a full schedule of complimentary conversations, demonstrations and gatherings to bring our Orange family together virtually. Join us for our first-ever virtual Orange Central weekend! 

We hope you will join us online to celebrate what makes you proud to be Orange. Here’s a sample of some of the weekend’s exciting programs: 

  • Zoom-unions for several milestone reunion classes including 1960, 1970, 1985, 1995, 2010, 2015 and 2020! 
  • Brunch and Learn programs on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Friday, Oct. 30, covering a variety of topics including career development, nutrition, electrifying science and unnerving insects.
  • Virtual 5K that you can run (or walk) anywhere and anytime you please with your Orange family across the world.
  • Campus tours (virtually), exclusive peeks at artifacts and exhibits, a spirit celebration and other offerings will be recorded, so you can watch any time during the weekend.

View the full Orange Central schedule for Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Dylan Gans joins the LaunchPad as an Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence to help startups with growth and marketing

Dylan Gans ’18 is joining the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at SU Libraries as a new Alumni Entrepreneur in Residence.  Gans leads growth and marketing for 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, helping launch the company in its first market.  He quickly grew with the company, scaling it to a larger university network as it was recently acquired by Aramark.  

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. Dorm Room Fund is a student-run VC firm backed by First Round Capital that invests into student startups. As a student, he co-founded VISION, a student entrepreneurship group. He is a member of the LaunchPad’s Founder Circle as one of the first hires at Good Uncle.  

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

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

Gans joins four other LaunchPad Alumni Entrepreneurs in Residence who are experts in product development, marketing and sales, new venture development and structuring for financing and investment.  They are:

Steven VonDeak is a 2008 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law. He is co-founder and chief of staff at Density, a high-tech company that uses powerful sensors, combined with state-of-the-art depth data, computer vision and deep learning to measure space density in real time. Founded in 2014 in The Tech Garden, Density now has offices in San Francisco, New York City, and Syracuse, employing more than 50 people. The venture has closed on more than $90 million in external funding. VonDeak became an entrepreneur in the Tech Garden shortly after graduating from SU Law School.  Along with partners, he created App Fury, which launched early iOS apps that were noticed by Apple.  He then joined forces with another team to create Rounded, a digital product team that went on to create Density. VonDeak will be holding virtual office hours to mentor students on product development and business model creation. He is also available by e-mail and phone consultation.

Michael Gursha is a 2010 graduate with a dual degree from both the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.  He is chairman and CEO of Rookie Road, Inc., a one of a kind digital destination that provides the rules, lingo, and gameplay for a variety of sports in an easy to understand way. He became CEO in 2016 after serving as a special advisor to the founder. Before Joining Rookie Road, Inc., he was inaugural entrepreneur-in-residence at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where he also co-taught a course called New Ventures in Media.  Prior to Newhouse, he was the vice president of strategic initiatives at Curemark, LLC, a New York-based biotechnology company focused on the treatment of neurological disorders. Earlier in his career, his interest in technology led him to Google, where, at age 18, he spent two summers working in the new business development group at the Mountain View, California headquarters. During his time there, he assisted the team responsible for improving the Google Search Index and supported the director of business development on early-stage partnerships for Google Health. He serves on the board of directors for America On Tech a non-profit focused on technology education. Gursha is a member of the advisory board for Oregon Public Broadcasting, the primary television and radio public broadcasting network for the state of Oregon and southern Washington. In addition, he serves on the board of directors for PowerSpike, a private venture backed company started by Syracuse University alumni when they were students.  Gursha is an active advisor to early stage technology / media companies and has been actively engaged in the Syracuse University student startup scene as a mentor and also as a judge for numerous business plan competitions.  He is available by appointment for virtual coaching and mentoring.

Josh Aviv is a 2015 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics and 2017 graduate with a master’s degree in information management and data science.  He is founder and CEO of SparkCharge, a venture he founded as a student working with the LaunchPad. A certified data scientist, he is a dynamic figure in the cleantech community.  SparkCharge is revolutionizing the electric vehicle industry with its portable, ultrafast EV charging units that have been featured in major technology and clean energy publications.  As a student, he won top honors in campus, statewide and national business competitions and then captured the top $1 million prize at 43North, as well as the California Climate Cup, Startup Fest’s global pitch competition, and Plug and Play’s clean energy innovation award. He has been featured at the Consumer Electronics Show and TechCrunch most recently named Spark Charge as a top tech disruptor. A graduate of the Techstars accelerator program in Boston, he has held residencies at Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts, the world’s largest clean-tech incubator, and the Plug and Play Tech Center in the Silicon Valley. SparkCharge recently closed on several million dollars in seed funding and is now based in the Boston area with a manufacturing operation in Buffalo, NY.  He is available by appointment for virtual coaching and mentoring.

Corey Lieblein is a 1993 graduate of the Syracuse University School of Human Development (now Falk College). He is founder and CEO of CP8 Capital, a dynamic, extreme value-add private equity firm that focuses on acquiring and growing early-stage consumer products companies. Through its vast resources, CP8 helps its portfolio companies scale rapidly. He founded Innovative Technology/Victrola in 2004 and served as CEO for 16 years, overseeing Victrola’s growth from concept to the worldwide market leader in record players and nostalgic electronics. During that time, Corey built Innovative Technology/Victrola into a nationally recognized brand whose products have found their way into tens of millions of homes throughout North America. His mission is to help founders of early stage consumer products companies realize their personal and financial dreams by scaling sales and profits exponentially. He has a deep passion for entrepreneurship, product development and sales and loves working with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them scale from obscurity to national recognition. He will be available for virtual mentoring and coaching for high-value fast-growth ventures and will also participate in-person sessions and workshops when visiting campus.

To schedule appointments with our LaunchPad Alumni Entrepreneurs in Residence, please e-mail the LaunchPad, LaunchPad@syr.edu

Ryan Ondocin ’21 on building meaningful connections and powerful team dynamics

young man and his dog sitting on a front porch

“People are hungry for more,” says Ryan Ondocin, peering over his computer. “And people will respond to this.” On his screen lies the beta design for Satellite, a unique social media platform that allows users to connect like never before.

Unlike most social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, whose models are based on keeping users on the apps for prolonged periods of time by leveraging follower counts and addicting content, Satellite offers a different approach.

“We maximize quality of user engagement, not quantity,” Ryan says.

Satellite encourages users to create smaller circles of friends with which they can share weekly updates with writing and photos, similar to a newsletter. This limit forces people to engage in reflective introspection rather than blindly posting meaningless updates, thus allowing users to maintain their relationships in a more genuine way.

“We spend hours of screen time on social media each week. What if we can use that time in the most productive way possible?”

He emphasizes that Satellite also differs from apps like GroupMe, where conversations are moved by day-to-day news like sports, sometimes leaving disinterested members detached and out of the loop. He says that whereas group messaging functions like an open mic, Satellite will act as an emcee by passing the mic from person to person.

“Satellite harnesses the power of oration – friends are great storytellers.” And it is stories that build meaningful interactions.

He explains that at their most fundamental level, humans crave connection. Yet it seems that current social media only breeds division, between the rapid spread of misinformation and the lack of regulation of people’s data and privacy.

“I don’t care if you have 50,000 friends on Facebook. If you have 5 real friends, that’s what matters,” Ryan notes.

Ryan is studying for a Master’s in Applied Data Science at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. Until now, Ryan had been mainly interested in applications of data science and machine learning to medicine. He had previously worked with PlantVillage, a research lab recognized by Google AI that helps farmers diagnose plant diseases. He also currently works with WiTech which is collaborating with the Department of Defense to model and implement early detection strategies for COVID-19 — a position that will soon place him in Maui. 

Ryan’s tenacity and equanimity allow him to stick with a problem as he stumbles through the dark until uncovering a lightbulb moment — approaches he often employs in projects such as these.

He was introduced to Satellite by a friend of Nick Barba ‘20, the LaunchPad’s independent project manager and a long-time LaunchPad Global Fellow.  Barba is the team co-founder. For the first six months, Ryan adopted a devil’s advocate approach to balance out Nick’s optimism and flesh out the kinks in his plan.  This month, he led the team’s pitch at ‘Cuse Tank 2020, sponsored by the LaunchPad.

Over time, the project pushed him to reframe his perspective of social media, identifying all that is wrong and noticing his own susceptibility to the Pavlovian effect of social media. Now, he views this project as an opportunity to fine-tune his skills in a consulting or management position — something he hopes to pursue following graduation.

As Ryan reflects on the building of the Satellite team, he describes the importance of understanding team dynamics and bringing various entities together to achieve a goal. He also explains that a team can only build something worthwhile if the members are passionate about their projects.

“I want to be a competent leader,” he says. In doing so, Ryan stresses the importance of humility and brutal honesty with yourself. “If you don’t know the answer, you can’t be afraid to ask questions.”

This powerful dynamic makes their global team function like a well-oiled machine, even with interns spanning from the coast of California to the country of Ghana.

Ryan speaks to the empowerment of their team: “These interns are driving the rocket with us.”

In developing their product, the team needs to grapple with their growth and revenue model to avoid falling into the same pitfalls of hierarchy that other platforms have. Nevertheless, they are not concerned about competing with companies like Facebook.

“You measure success not by comparing yourself to others but to who you were yesterday.”

Hence, as they think to expand to subscription-based upgrades that offer classroom discussion boards or larger circles of friends, they ensure that they are keeping their original mission at the forefront of development.

“We are holding ourselves accountable. There is no discrepancy between our interests and our users’ interests.”

Looking forward, Ryan predicts that the world will enter a “design renaissance,” where social media platforms will have to revert their design to adhere to its original purpose as a tool, rather than an enabler that encourages people to create virtual facades.

“I want to create something much bigger than myself,” Ryan says. “The legacy I want to leave behind should be evident in what I document and create.”

He is uncertain what his future has in store for him, but he is confident in Satellite and in his own passion for whichever path he pursues.

“We’re fresh out of the water and nervous but young enough to make it happen.”

Visit Satellite’s website to sign up for the pre-release beta and read more about Ryan’s projects on his LinkedIn resume.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Orange Ambassador; photo supplied

Behind the scenes with SU alumnus Josh Aviv on his journey to Shark Tank

A team in blue SparkCharge shirts charging an EV

From the classroom, to the dorm room, to the biggest board room of all — the Sharks — this great Daily Orange story captures the behind the scenes journey of Josh Aviv ’15 G ’17 on his way to the biggest pitch of his life. How did Syracuse University help Josh get ready for Shark Tank? How is is he inspiring other young SU student startups? Read it here: http://dailyorange.com/2020/10/su-alumnus-lands-million-dollar-deal-shark-tank/

Join us for the LaunchPad’s fall Fireside Chat series

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Join us for a fall Fireside Chat series featuring Syracuse University alumni, student and parents who are successful entrepreneurs and innovation leaders. Zoom chats are each Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and all are welcome to join at http://bit.ly/launchpad-fall-fireside-chat. Here is the fall 2020 line-up:

Friday, October 23 at 3 p.m. – Kenneth Williams ’87, Product Marketing and Senior Manager, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Matt Shumer, Co-founder of Otherside AI.

Kenneth Williams holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and BA in Economics from Syracuse University, class of ’87.  He also holds a MS in Electrical Engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.  He has been the Business Development & Product Marketing Manager for Qualcomm Inc.  since 2017 where is responsible for wireless technology product sales for North America focusing on cellular IoT, cellular Infrastructure, small cells, macro base stations and mobile computing platforms.  Before that, he was Product Marketing Manager at TDK Inc. for eight years and Product Marketing Manager for EPCOS Inc. for eight years.  He was previously a Systems Engineer for Bell Communications Research for eight years.  Williams is an “Orange Family.”  His wife is also an SU alum, and he is the parent of two Syracuse University students.

Picture of Matt Shumer

Matt Shumer is a Syracuse University student and co-founder of Otherside AI, which started in the LaunchPad.  Shumer started his first business at the age of twelve and soon realized his interest was not only creating new products and technologies, but also marketing and selling his ideas. He began working with the LaunchPad when he started as a Syracuse University student in the Whitman School of Management as a freshman in 2018.  He quickly became a Rubin Family Innovation Mentor at the LaunchPad and he launched Visos, a company that integrated virtual reality into healthcare.  As he was networking to build and launch his venture, communicating constantly with investors, mentors, industry experts and others in the field, Matt noticed that the task of writing dozens of emails a day was bogging down his productivity. To address this problem, he started working with artificial intelligence (AI) software that could use key words and phrases to construct full, well-written emails. What started as a tool to improve networking for one venture became a dynamic new venture of its own.

Matt realized the potential of an AI-powered email service and built a team to launch OthersideAI. The software is built on the principle of redefining the way we communicate digitally.

When OthersideAI demo launched on Twitter, it spread like wildfire, getting mentions in the New York Times, to Fortune, and the OthersideAI team recently closed on a major investment.

Together, Williams and Shumer will be talking about technology trends that are driving innovation, how to drive market value, and what it takes to be a successful tech innovator and entrepreneur in a global marketplace.

man drinking tea

Friday, October 30 at 3 p.m. – Todd B. Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution and President of the Republic of Tea as featured speaker for Orange Central Weekend

Todd B. Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution (President) for The Republic of Tea, will be our featured speaker for Orange Central Weekend.  A graduate of the Syracuse University School of Architecture, Rubin is dedicated to preserving a legacy that fosters The Republic of Tea’s “Sip by Sip Rather than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle, He strives to delight Citizens, Ministers, Embassies and Ambassadors with a focus on innovation, education and providing the finest premium teas and herbs.

Rubin joined The Republic of Tea in 2007 as the Minister of East Commerce and then transitioned to the Minister of Southeast Commerce in 2008. In 2011, he was appointed to Minister of Evolution (Vice President of Sales and Marketing) relocating to the company’s Larkspur, California office.  In that role, he successfully spearheaded new teas and new systems that led to significant growth, including: Beautifying Botanicals Teas, organic SuperAdapt Teas, organic SuperGreen Teas, HiCAF® Teas, Sonoma Teas, Biodynamic® Teas, Cuppa Cake® Teas, Downton Abbey™ Teas, organic SuperHerb® Teas, U-Matcha™ teas, The Crown® Teas and the organic Single Sips. Utilizing his degree in architecture, he oversaw the feng shui design of the company’s headquarters at The Exchange in Larkspur, California and the company’s production and shipping center in Nashville, Illinois. 

Read a recent feature story describing Rubin’s feng shui design of the new Republic of Tea headquarters in Marin Couny, just outside of San Francisco, in this North Bay Area publication.

In 2016, Rubin was elected to the Specialty Food Association Board of Directors and was distinguished as one of San Francisco Business Times’ 40 Under 40. He was appointed to the Advisory Board for the Specialty Tea Institute and became a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization SF Bay Area Chapter in 2015. The year prior, Rubin was the recipient of Syracuse’s Generation Orange Award for philanthropy and was also honored as one of North Bay Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Rubin was elected to the Board for the Ethical Tea Partnership, a nonprofit organization that convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers and the environment in which they live and work.

He is a generous support of SU Libraries and the LaunchPad, funding 18 student positions as through the Orange Ambassador program, Todd B. Rubin Innovation and Diversity Scholars, and Rubin Family Innovation Mentors (through his family foundation).  He also partners with the LaunchPad on its summer Tea Talk series and Fall Fireside Chat series.

Rubin starts his day with a cup of Lucky Irish Breakfast tea, sips Brain Boost SuperGreen tea in the afternoon and ends his evenings with Clarity and Calm herbal tea. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, photography, and reading.

Picture of George Dawson

Friday, November 6 at 3 p.m. – George Dawson ’08, Techstars Fund Controller

Dawson is based at Techstars headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, where he leads the organization’s fund and investment finance team which oversees 50+ venture capital funds and internal investment vehicles and a portfolio of approximately 4,000+ investments.  Dawson is responsible for all aspects of portfolio company valuations, accounting, investor reporting, operations and fund structuring, and plays a critical role in Techstars capital formation efforts.

Prior to Techstars, Dawson was the assistant controller at JLL Partners, a mid-market private equity firm in New York. Earlier in his career, he worked at EY and KPMG, where he served large private equity, venture capital, hedge fund, mutual fund and fund-of-fund clients. He is a licensed CPA in New York and graduated in 2008 from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management with a dual major in accounting and finance and a minor in economics.

At the Fireside Chat, Dawson will discuss startup finance topics of interest such as valuation, incorporation, term sheet economics, cap tables, convertible notes and other investment structures. He will also share best practices for startups and common pitfalls.  He will be talking about gearing up for investment and how startups can approach financing their ventures through the capital continuum.

Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, has invested in several Syracuse University startups including SparkCharge (Techstars Boston), PowerSpike (Techstars Atlanta), and CLLCTVE (Techstars Los Angeles).  Techstars consists of both an investment management business with $500+ million in assets under management, as well as an operating business that is rapidly approaching $100+ million in annual revenue. Techstars investment activity includes global accelerator programs in cities around the world, deploying $80 million+ into nearly 500 startups on an annual basis. The Techstars portfolio of 2,200 companies currently attracts an annual $2 billion+ in downstream investment from the venture capital industry.

Friday, November 13, join us for the Syracuse University Impact Prize

Friday, November 20 at 3 p.m. — Neil L. Rubler, Founder, President and CEO of Vessel Technologies, Inc. and Candlebrook Properties, LLC

Rubler founded Vessel Technologies, Inc. in 2017, and serves as the company’s President and CEO. In addition, he also serves as the President and CEO of Candlebrook Properties, LLC (and its various affiliates), which he founded in 2005, and which operates businesses in real estate development, management and construction. Since its founding, Candlebrook as managed a portfolio valued at over $2 billion, and which spans tens of thousands of apartment units in seven states.

Prior to founding Candlebrook, Rubler was the Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Vice President and of The Olnick Organization, Inc., a, privately held, New York-based real estate development company.  In this capacity he oversaw all aspects of the Olnick Organization’s operations, development and investment activities. Prior to joining The Olnick Organization, Rubler was an Associate at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, and prior to that was a Vice President of Republic National Bank of New York.

Rubler earned an MBA from The Wharton School in 1998 with degrees in Real Estate and Finance, and graduated from Cornell University, BA, magna cum laude, in 1992.  He has served as Board Member of the Real Estate Board of New York, is an Executive Committee member of the Real Estate Center at the Wharton School, and is actively engaged in various philanthropic endeavors.