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Learn how to drive growth from Carter Holland on October 22 at a LaunchPad Startup Social

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Join us for a Startup Social on Friday, October 22 at 3 p.m. in the LaunchPad with a multi-talented serial entrepreneur, Carter Holland. The informal gathering over pizza will be a chance to learn from a performance-driven senior marketing executive with  25+ years of global experience leading companies through aggressive business transformation, brand reinvention, customer acquisition and retention, organic and M&A growth, and operational consolidation.

Holland has expertise with SaaS, manufacturing, and services companies spanning B2B and B2C across a range of industries, including technology, supply chain, healthcare, media and entertainment, human resources and retail. His specialty is triangulating market strategy, program execution and dynamic leadership to improve operational agility, achieve rapid scale, and accelerate revenue growth and profitability.

He has held a range of marketing leadership positions at Avid Technology, NewTek (now part of The Vizrt Group), and TraceLink.  He has served as a Strategic Marketing Advisor to Hellman & Freidman (H&F) – a leading global private equity firm; UKG – the worldwide leader HR SaaS solutions; Sprinklr – a leader in customer experience management (CXM), which executed an IPO in June 2021; and GhostRetail, a pre-Series A SaaS start-up serving the retail industry.

Select career highlights at both start-ups and large public enterprises include accelerating customer  acquisition from 102 to 1,100 with a subsequent ARR increase from $6M to $100M in 4.5 years; driving  public company growth from $450 million to just under $1B in 5 years; leading the successful consolidation of five company brands into a new corporate master-brand identity; scaling organizations from <100 to >600 employees; and closing VC fundraising rounds totaling $164.5 million

Holland has served on the Program Advisory Board for the National Association of Broadcasters.  He  has contributed articles to Billboard Magazine.  He is an active member of The CMO Club and is also a  professional recording and performing musician.

The event is open to all.

How to raise a billion dollars? Ask Burt Podbere on October 8 at the LaunchPad.

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Want to learn about financing — from scrappy startup, to more than a billion in equity and debt financing, to an IPO? The LaunchPad is thrilled to host an expert on navigating the capital continuum on Friday, October 8 at noon. Join us for an informal pizza lunch in the LaunchPad with Burt Podbere, Chief Financial Officer for CrowdStrike. Since joining the company, Podbere has been instrumental in establishing the company’s long-term financial management strategy and developing the company’s global expansion strategy.  Since joining CrowdStrike in 2015, he has helped secure approximately $1 billion in equity financing through several funding rounds, including the company’s 2019 IPO, and approximately $1.5 billion in secured and unsecured debt.

CrowdStrike is a leading cybersecurity company protecting customers from all cyber threats by leveraging its Security Cloud to stop breaches. From its inception in 2011, driven by George Kurtz’s vision, CrowdStrike was created as a different kind of cybersecurity company. Cloud-native, CrowdStrike immediately brought a threat perspective, effectiveness, scalability, and flexibility never seen before in the industry – seamlessly aligning people, technology, and processes. The CrowdStrike Falcon platform has revolutionized enterprise security for the cloud era. Its single lightweight-agent architecture leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and offers real-time protection and visibility across the enterprise, preventing attacks on endpoints and workloads on or off the network.

Before joining CrowdStrike, Podbere has worked in Canada, Europe, and the U.S., garnering extensive knowledge of domestic and international finance, SaaS businesses, and international operations.  He was previously, CFO, OpenDNS, Inc. and CFO, Net Optics, Inc.  He is a graduate of McGill University.

Podbere will also be joining us October 8 as a distinguished judge for ‘Cuse Tank as part of Family Weekend.

This session is a must for any startup who wants to learn the art and science of scaling and financing growth.

Learn how AI is powering innovation at a LaunchPad Startup Social with Karina Campos on October 1

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Want to learn more about user-driven design research and how AI is shaping product innovation? Join us for a Startup Social in the LaunchPad on Friday, October 1 at 3 p.m. with Karina Campos, Advisory Design Lead, IBM Z AI. Karina joined IBM in January 2018. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Industrial and Interaction Design and a minor in Psychology. Before joining IBM she was a Be Original Americas Design Fellow in New York City and was a contributing editor for Interior & Sources Magazine. She was researcher on Tailored Fit Pricing, which launched Enterprise Containers. Following that launch, Karina led the IBM Z AI design team, applying her human-centered design philosophies to understand users’ current experience with AI technology. In her new role as IBM Z Design Research Strategist, Karina will work to create a unified experience for Hardware and z/OS, including best practices and new innovative approaches, driving cross-team collaboration to maximize design research impact across the company’s entire portfolio. It’s also a great chance to learn how startup skills can shape a career as an innovator within a large corporation.

The event is open to all. It will be a casual conversation and pizza will be served. Come share a slice of innovation with an innovation strategist with a history of working in the design and information technology services industry who is certified in enterprise design thinking and virtual collaboration, and is now helping pioneer the future through AI.

Join us for a LaunchPad Startup Social 9/24 with Jeff Fuchsberg L’10

Join us Friday, September 24 at 3 p.m. for our next Startup Social in the LaunchPad with Jeff Fuchsberg L’10 , Vice President of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at CenterState CEO, the regional engine for business leadership and economic development.  The in-person conversation over pizza will include info on The Tech Garden incubator in Downtown Syracuse, a NYS-designated Innovation Hot Spot, and home to many of our area’s leading support programs for entrepreneurs, including GENIUS NY, the CleanTech Center, and Grants for Growth.  Jeff manages the Tech Garden and its signature funding programs for startups in the greater Syracuse region. He is very interested particularly interested in connecting Syracuse University student startups with the regional innovation ecosystem.

Jeff got his start at the SU Innovation Law Center and a CASE center law school intern working for Blue Highway, a spinout of Welch Allyn located on campus at CASE, worked his way to intellectual property manager, then was recruited to the founding team of a medtech incubator on the border in El Paso, TX, before returning to Central New York to serve as Director of GENIUS NY. 

He is looking forward to sharing his experiences as a student interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, programs available through the Tech Garden, and some learning acquired along his journey.   

The event is open to all. For more information:

Sam Sanders launches some big ideas

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The most powerful tool for success lies in the idea machine that is our minds. Unfortunately, our minds can also be our greatest obstacle to success. To unlock that potential, Sam Sanders, author of Your Next Big Idea, joined the Blackstone LaunchPad on September 17 for an Idea Jam to kick off a series of weekly Startup Socials. Behind the glass doors of the LaunchPad, the event featured mingling over slices of afternoon pizza with old friends, long-time LaunchPad members, and new faces as they shared excitement and connected over ideas.

Sanders, Syracuse alum and successful entrepreneur many times over, spoke on his specialty: crafting ingenious ideas to solve problems, societal or every day, large or small. Sanders, whose recently published book guides readers through exercises on how to overcome barriers in thinking and dream up ideas to do anything from start your own business to make your every-day workflow more efficient, hoped to give back to the LaunchPad entrepreneurship community in helping our own entrepreneurs and problem solvers ideate effectively.

Sanders opened the event with a hands-on mind game. As he passed around pieces of paper and pencils, the room was filled with brainstorming and scheming chatter. The two mind games, simple math exercises, proved to be nearly impossible to solve. The problem? One of the largest barriers in our thought processes: stigmas. These can vary from social stigmas, where certain actions are deemed conventionally appropriate, to habitual stigmas, where we might unconsciously perform behaviors though they are irrational, simply because they’re habits.

Sanders then offered three key strategies to overcome the challenge of stigmas in mental patterns. The first, Blank Paper, involves starting from ground zero and challenging all assumptions surrounding the problem. In the second, Wild Imagination, one thinks of the absolute craziest solution to a problem, and then works their way backwards to a feasible answer. The last that Sanders offered is called the Alien Invasion Strategy, where one assumes they have no knowledge of human conventions or common behaviors, in the hopes to find a solution outside the box of traditional answers.

To test these stigmas and theories, Sanders encouraged the crowd of students gathered to apply these to their own ideas. Those in the room actively working on a business he asked to focus on a particular problem in their current business and use one of the problem-solving tactics to brainstorm solutions. The others in the room he grouped and asked to identify life passions and potential barriers and solutions surrounding pursuing those passions.  Participants began overflowing with ideas on topics from how to erase barriers to travel to how to publish the works of disabled authors.

After the Startup Social hour drew its close, participants left with sharpened senses of their own mind’s blind spots and energized by tactics to solve challenging problems. 

The LaunchPad’s Startup Socials are hosted to create a weekly space for our community to actively share ideas and grow from the advice of seasoned entrepreneurs, and we are so thankful to Sam Sanders for leaving the LaunchPad community smarter and invigorated to solve their problems. The LaunchPad is excited to welcome all in the Syracuse community to join us Fridays at 3pm to share in upcoming spaces of creativity and innovation.

Story by Claire Howard ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photos by LaunchPad Rubin Family Innovation Mentor Kelly Davis ‘23

Network at Startup Socials this September and October

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You’re invited to a fun new series this fall in the LaunchPad. Each Friday, the most interesting people on campus gather over pizza and ideas. It’s a chance to meet great people, explore ideas, meet innovators and network. Be part of it. Explore the line-up of fantastic guests here.

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Apply for a Lender Student Fellowship

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The Lender Center for Social Justice is recruiting students to apply for the Lender Student Fellowship. The 2021-2023 Lender Fellowship project will be led by Dr. Seyeon Lee (School of Design) and focus on access to wellness for women living in underserved communities.  Learn more about the project here: 

The Center is hoping to assemble an interdisciplinary team of students who can commit to this two-year project. An informational session will be held on Monday (9/27) at 4pm in Sims 123.  It will also be shared via Zoom, so if interested in attending virtually, send an e-mail to 

For more information or to connect in person, feel free to reach out to:

Kendall R. Phillips, Ph.D., Co-director, The Lender Center for Social Justice, and Professor,  Communication & Rhetorical Studies, 100 Sims Hall,

Apply to the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition

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Syracuse University undergraduate student ventures are invited to compete in this year’s Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition (QEC), offering $80,000 in prizes each year.  The New York Times calls it “one of the longest-running and best-known undergraduate business plan competitions in the world.” 

The QEC is student-run and judged by executives from companies such as Google, CIBC, and Accenture. Located in the heart of Toronto, Ontario, the competition attracts attendees from some of the largest investment firms and corporations. The competition is open to all undergraduate students with an entrepreneurial business.

Every year, the event receives applications internationally, from undergraduate students at schools such as Harvard, Yale, University of Waterloo, The University of Hong Kong, and The National University of Singapore.Over the past few years, competitors from Syracuse University were particularly impressive in the quality of their pitches, according to Eric Falzone, Competitor Coordinator

The competition runs from January 13-15, 2022, and The QEC hopes to see more competitors from Syracuse University competing on the international stage at the 34rd Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition. 

Check out our Competitors’ Package for more information.

Please visit for competition details.

Feel free reach out to:

Eric Falzone

Competitor Coordinator

The Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition

416-460-2441 /

Applications now open for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

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Applications are now 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 regional competitions in hopes to qualify for GSEA Finals. Past Syracuse University LaunchPad students were GSEA winners of significant cash prizes, and advanced to the nationals.

“GSEA was an incredible opportunity,” said previous winner Quin King ’20, Syracuse VPA, Industrial and Interaction Design, and now a LaunchPad mentor.  “The U.S. – Western NY competition organizers were incredibly helpful to us throughout the competition, and really helped get us ready for the regionals and nationals.  I can’t say enough good things about the experience of meeting seasoned entrepreneurs from the EO network, and the amazing opportunity to be part of such a prestigious global competition.”

Apply here and be sure to specify the U.S. – Western NY region:

The regional competition live finals will November 11, 2021, at 6:00 pm in Buffalo.

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 (see qualifications below)
  • 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:  Three teams will be selected to participate in a regional competition and a chance to 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 a major cash prize, worldwide 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.  The EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) are a catalyst that inspires students and young entrepreneurs to start, grow and make their entrepreneurial ventures thrive.

Competition details and eligibility here:

  • Starts regionally and ends globally – a chance to compete through our local competition to win your shot at going head-to-head against the best student entrepreneurs in the world at the GSEA Global Finals.
  • Each regional finalist will be “adopted” by a team of local successful entrepreneurs who will coach  and mentor them through the local competition.
  • Compete for $5,000 in regional prizes and the opportunity for national  prizes, and $100,000 in global prizes. Travel and lodging expenses will be paid by the EO GSEA Paid for the regional winner to compete at the US Nationals in spring of 2022 at a location to be determined (possibly virtual).
  • All travel and lodging expenses will be paid for one US  Nationals finalist to compete at the global finals in summer of 2022 at a location to be determined (possibly virtual).

WANT TO COMPETE? You must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a recognized college or university, own a business that has been operational for a minimum of six consecutive months, have at least $500 in revenue or have $1,000 in investment/funding and be principally responsible for the operation of the company at the time of application.

Questions?  Email our regional EO GSEA connector:

William T. Palisano, CISSP, President, Lincoln Archives, Inc. / LACyber Application Deadline: October 20, 2021

Scroll down to Western New York Competition

National Geographic & Disney+ Documentary on this competition in 2020/2021 – Clip:

Brandon Henry ’24 on asking good questions and pushing personal limits to become a better entrepreneur

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I am three things, a student, a content creator, and an entrepreneur. I care about personal growth and scholarship. Utilizing my potential and pushing my limits means a lot to me because I learned from playing football in high school that you are either getting better or getting worse.

Being proactive and educating myself is crucial. I recently joined this international student organization known as the Light Group as an executive member. I am currently studying Economics. I speak English and Mandarin. After studying abroad in China, my eyes were opened to the vast array of opportunities abroad and the importance of globalization in the international realm. Building bridges with a culture foreign to me and navigating those spaces revealed to me the power of language as a tool to understand.

I am an avid fan of Malcolm Gladwell, and one thing I took away from his book The Tipping Point is the idea of individuals as connectors. I see myself as a connector who can operate in various social worlds and contexts to coalesce people around a shared vision. Another skill that I believe will contribute to my pursuits is the passion for being a disruptor, a game-changer that entails being creative and thinking unconventionally. My biggest ambition is to one day manage my private equity firm with a global presence.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University recently hired me as a “Launchstar” to work in its new Startup Studios. The most exciting thing about the LaunchPad is that the discovery process is continuous as I work with my peers to bring pen and paper to commercialization. Being a part of an energized, creative, and highly collaborative community is an enriching experience. Tackling problems in any sector is also rewarding because you come across students who think unconventionally, and there is a beauty in bringing that to life.

Financial technology and democratizing finance in emerging markets fascinate me, mainly as globalism contributes to growth within the international economy. Digitizing finance and Ecommerce are two significant trends that will shape the future, especially when you consider the development of online marketplaces. In the case of digitizing finance, blockchain and crypto create a medium for people worldwide to engage in financial transactions as opposed to going through banks. All people need is a device and a connection to the internet, enabling them to contribute to the global economy. These topics push me to consider the context for the future and how I can tackle these issues for the next couple of years.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are a big part of venture capital, an area of finance I am looking to work in. I used to be interested in equity research or investment banking, but it seems tedious and mundane. I find interest in ideation and creating because I grew up with an engineer who worked on projects every day. Creating brings me a sense of fulfillment and joy.

I have learned that you will have a failure, which is a part of the process, and as long as you are persistent and believe in yourself, no one can take that away from you. Some of my best friends from boarding school keep me motivated by reminding me of the vision and my mission. When I struggled in my Chinese classes full of native speakers, sometimes some of them would stay behind after class and practice character writing and speaking in Chinese.

I see the world as my classroom where I want to learn from everyone around me, which is what boarding school taught me. Mentors believed in my abilities and worked with me to enhance them. A mentor is almost a parent because they can see the potential that you cannot see. Being a part of a collaborative community will enhance your perspective because there is no dumb idea; everyone has something to share. I gain perspective because everyone has a valuable story.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, I believe that you have to let your creativity and passion curate the vision and lead you along every step of the way. If you are going to take a risk, it has to be calculated. The invention will change, and that is ok; all it means is adapting and never being afraid to back to the drawing board. Having something that catalyzes your idea is an integral part of your success. Finding a stimulus and things that spark your curiosity is crucial. For me walking through galleries and canoeing calms me down because my thoughts are always racing. Building a team around people that have like-minded ideas and passions is integral towards excellent performance. Everyone has an asset, and using each unique asset contributes to the grander idea. Innovation comes from asking others questions such as what you see as wrong or what you are doing can be improved. Asking great questions generates excellent questions. To be an innovator means to be willing to think unconventionally and ensure yourself in deep reflection on the direction you want innovation to guide you.

By Brandon Henry ‘24, Maxwell School of Citizenship of Public Affairs, hometown: Newark, NJ