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This week is the deadline to apply for fall competitions and a chance for up to $65,000 for your big idea

This is the week to apply for more than $65,000 in prize funding offered through campus idea competitions this fall. Apply here for three competitions sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University: ‘Cuse Tank on October 16, The Impact Prize on November 13 and The Hult Prize on December 4. Students may compete in all three, or select which ones they are most interested in. The first deadline, October 4 for ‘Cuse Tank, is coming fast. 

Here are some basics on the competitions:

  • October 16, 2020 – ‘Cuse Tank (Applications close October 4 at 11:59 p.m.). Cuse Tank is sponsored by the LaunchPad as part of Family Weekend. It features parent entrepreneurs and “LaunchPad family” as judges in a “shark-Tank” style idea pitch fest with $10,000 in prizes.
  • November 13, 2020 — Impact Prize Competition (Applications close November 1 at 11:59 p.m.). The Impact Prize Competition is a social impact entrepreneurship event showcasing ideas that solve pressing societal issues, with change-maker entrepreneurs as judges, and $15,000 in prizes for the best ideas.
  • December 4, 2020 — Syracuse University Hult Prize Competition (Applications open on October 1 here and close November 22 at 11:59 p.m. for the Syracuse campus competition). Considered the “Nobel Prize of social entrepreneurship,” the global finals offer a $1 million grant prize. This year’s theme has been announced, “Food for Good.” Learn more here and register here:

Work with us on your one-page executive summary and we’ll assign you mentors to help you.  Many great ideas come for classes that require group projects, so consider taking your class idea and turning into a competition pitch.  Ideas that started in Syracuse University dorm rooms or classrooms are now successful companies. 

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management is also accepting applications by October 2 for the Orange Tank business pitch competition October 22, 2020, at 6 p.m., open to Whitman students and alumni.  Apply here to Whitman for the Orange Tank competition.

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Dr. Louise Manfredi receives prestigious industry award for innovation in design education

Congratulations to Dr. Louise Manfredi, assistant professor of industrial and interaction design in the VPA School of Design who received the 2020 Young Educator Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America at its international conference in September. The award recognizes recognizes junior faculty, non-tenured, or tenure-track educators who have made a noteworthy impact on industrial design education within the early years of their academic career.  Dr. Manfredi is assistant professor of Industrial and Interaction Design. She is a close collaborator of the LaunchPad and actively mentors student teams. She also serves as the program lead for the Invent@SU program offered through the College of Engineering and Computer Science and VPA and as a Syracuse University Center of Excellence Faculty Fellow.

This is the first time that a Syracuse faculty member has received this honor. She was nominated by Carmel Nocoletti, Don Carr and VPA Industrial and Interaction Design students.

Professor Don Carr joins the LaunchPad as a Faculty Entrepreneur in Residence

The LaunchPad is pleased to announce that Professor Don Carr will be joining us as our inaugural Faculty Entrepreneur in Residence this fall.  Professor Carr, is an internationally known designer and design educator. He is also the program coordinator for the MFA in Design as well as the Industrial and Interaction Design Program. As an industrial designer, he has multiple research interests including Biomimicry, Inclusive Design, and Design Thinking.

Since joining the VPA faculty in 1995, Don has contributed to numerous interdisciplinary efforts throughout our campus. He is currently a CoE faculty fellow, a member of Aging Studies Institute, the Autonomous Systems Policy Institute, the Alliance of Disability and Social Work Advisory Board and Arise Adaptive Design.

Prior to teaching, he worked for companies such as AT&T, NCR and Savin Corporation. He also consults for companies such as Motorola Solutions, K2, and RAM ID. Don holds numerous patents, and his work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He’s also currently building a tiny house in the Adirondacks out of reclaimed materials.

He is currently collaborating with the LaunchPad and Inclusive U on a new Intelligence ++ initiative, and is also teaching DES400/DES600 in the LaunchPad this academic year. Intelligence ++ is an innovative, interdisciplinary program focused on inclusive entrepreneurship and design that is a partnership of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars (LaunchPad) at Syracuse University Libraries, the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education (InclusiveU) and the  College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) through a generous donation by Gianfranco Zaccai ’70 H’09 and the Zaccai Foundation for Augmented Intelligence (Intelligence++). The program offers new courses culminates in a design and entrepreneurship competition with $30,000 in prizes in spring 2020.

Don will be available Thursday and Friday from 9:00 until 11:00 virtually over Zoom to work with students on innovation, strategy, usability, sustainability, prototyping, future forecasting and product positioning. 

Place Your Bets

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

🏈Betting on Barstool

On January 29th, 2020, regional gaming operator Penn National Gaming purchased a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. Penn National operates 43 properties across 19 states and Canada, primarily servicing customers in their 50s. With the impending legalization of sports betting in most states, this was a strategic move designed to tap into Barstool’s massive audience of loyal millennial and Gen Z supporters.

When the Penn/Barstool deal officially went live, Penn CEO Jay Snowden outwardly raved about the customer acquisition value that the partnership brings.

“…With 66 million monthly unique visitors, we believe the significant reach of Barstool Sports and loyalty of its audience will lead to meaningful reductions in customer acquisition and promotional costs for our sports betting and online products, significantly enhancing profitability and driving value for our shareholders.”

If there’s one thing that Barstool founder Dave Portnoy knows how to do, it’s capture attention. Even better, he’s an expert at retaining this attention and monetizing it. As the attention economy continues to flourish, this is a very valuable skillset. Over the last 20 years, Barstool has amassed a raving audience of 66 million “Stoolies,” many of whom live and die by Barstool’s content and values. Partnering with a massive casino operator was the perfect move for Barstool to take its business to the next level. Stoolies already love watching sports and watching the Barstool employees bet on them, so why not create a platform where the Stoolies can bet themselves via a Barstool branded sportsbook?

This was the idea from the start and after a three-day test period the Barstool Sportsbook app officially launched in Pennsylvania on September 18th.

The Numbers

Quickly after launching, the app became the number one sports app on the Apple App Store. On September 24th, Penn announced that the app had already been downloaded over 180,000 times nationwide. As expected, Barstool built and the Stoolies came, smashing the single day and weekend launch numbers of competitors like FanDuel and DraftKings.

It’s important to note that although this number is mind-blowing, not all of these downloads are monetizable…yet. Only 35,000 downloads (between soft and hard launch) took place in Pennsylvania. Of those 35,000, over 12,000 were first-time depositors (FTDs) who helped the app to rake in over $11 million in bets in the first four days.

The Barstool Difference

Like many other sportsbooks and the nine other online competitors in Pennsylvania, Barstool Sportsbook offers standard and live wagering options such as multi-sport and team parlays, spreads, moneylines, futures, round robins, teasers and prop bets. But in typical Barstool fashion there are a few additions that make it stand out:

  • Barstool Personality Picks and Parlays: Daily opportunities to bet with or against the Barstool team.Aside from its audience, Barstool’s most valuable asset is its talent. These bets are a great way to continue to build brand affinity with its employees and Barstool in general. Barstool has always lived by the motto “For the Common Man, By the Common Man” No matter how big Dave, Big Cat, PFT, Marty Mush or any of the Barstool talent gets, they will always remain as “common men.” This feature illustrates exactly that.
  • Quick Pick 6: A random, system-generated, 6-leg parlay of multiple sports and bet types, where bettors can control the legs and the wager.
  • Daily Odds Boosts: Select bets will be offered at tilted odds to entice bettors. This certainly does not mean they’ll always win, but it’s a nice and attractive gesture.

Lastly, the app has a Move the Line scroller that allows users to buy and sell points on the spread by using a scroller button.

The Competitive Landscape

Since the announcement of the Penn deal, digital sportsbook operators have taken notice of Barstool’s playbook. Acknowledging the value behind having a media icon as the face of your brand, competitors like FanDuel, DraftKings, and MGMBet have raced to ink partnership deals or relationships with notable names. Within the last month, FanDuel has announced a partnership with ex-Colts punter, ex-Barstool employee and current media star Pat McAfee, DraftKings announced that well-known gambler Michael Jordan would be a special advisor to the board, and BetMGM hired Jamie Foxx as the face of the “King of Sportsbooks” campaign.

I found this last one confusing considering most people wouldn’t traditionally associate Jamie Foxx with sports gambling. This could be a play to appeal to the African American demographic, as Dave Portnoy’s and Pat McAfee’s audiences have historically skewed predominantly white. I can’t confirm that this logic is behind the partnership, but if so, it would make a lot of sense.

What’s Next?

At the time of the Penn/Barstool partnership announcement, Penn’s stock sat at around $25 per share. Prodded by Dave Portnoy aka Davey Day Trader’s obsessive promotion of the stock, it jumped to $38.28 in February, only to plummet to $4 during the peak of the coronavirus downturn.

This is the part where I start to tear up for foolishly not investing despite writing about how incredible of a company Barstool is.

Since its March low, Penn stock has skyrocketed to a 52-week high of over $76 per share. Since that high, it’s settled to slightly under $70. Play your cards right and you can retire off of a trade like that.

With the bulk of its downloads coming outside of Pennsylvania, Barstool is successfully expanding its market, while also building market share in the state of Pennsylvania. Early reports indicate that it’s already snapped up low double digital market share which is expected to grow with time. With its first full month of earnings coming in October, it will be exciting to see how Barstool fares with its competitors. I’m much more of a bettor than a stock advisor, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to not bet against Dave Portnoy. Year after year he promises and delivers in grand fashion.

My prediction(s) by 2030: Dave and Barstool will lead Penn to become the go-to market share leader in both online and in-person sports betting. It will be impossible to go to a casino or stadium without seeing Barstool’s logo plastered somewhere. There will be a Barstool branded stadium.

Let’s see how well this ages.

📈 Investing in Public

Ever wondered how much money you could have made if you invested in Penn when it was at four dollars? No? Only me? What about Google or Apple when they IPO’d?

Chances are that if it’s not any of these, there’s another stock opportunity that you wish you could go back in time and capitalize on. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but this is always something I’ve had fun looking at.

A few weeks ago, I came across the Ticker Time Machine.

Plug in any stock, date, and investment amount and you can see how much your investment would be worth today. Did you know that if you invested $10,000 in Google a decade ago, you would have more than $300,000 today?

This tool was put together by Public, an awesome app designed to make stock investing more social. Like Robinhood, users can invest in fractional (or full) shares of stocks and ETFs, but with Public you can follow investors and friends, see their portfolios, and learn from community group chats with fellow investors. Here’s a video that breaks down Public’s mission a bit further:

For a full list of features and uses, click here.

What’s one investment you wish you’ve made? What stock are you most bullish on? Which do you think is overvalued? Let me know by replying to this email or leaving a comment below.

Leave a comment

🎙️Friday Features

Over the last few months (and based on popular demand), I’ve hinted at incorporating guest interviews into the newsletters. Now it’s finally happening. I’m excited to announce a new segment of the newsletter called Friday Features.

Over the course of each week, I’ll be interviewing some of the smartest, most innovative minds I can find and will share our conversations with you every Friday. The audio will be embedded in a podcast format as part of your weekly Friday Fuel and in addition, a full write-up will be available on my site (

This is something I’ve been planning out for a while and I can’t wait to get the ball rolling. I’ve already lined up some great guests, some of whom I’ve written about in past newsletters, who are excited to share their insights and experiences with all of you.

Here’s where you can help: If there’s someone you’d like to hear from or you think would be a good fit for the segment, please let me know. Reply to this email, shoot me a DM, or leave a comment on this thread. Whatever and whoever it is, I will try my best to make it a reality.

If you’ve been enjoying what you’ve been reading, I’d love if you shared this with your smartest and most insightful friends, family, and co-workers. Crashing Up has been growing rapidly over the last few months and I want to keep the momentum going.

Share Crashing Up

If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: Cash is King and Live From the Bubble.You can also follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and see you on Friday,


Friday Fuel – September 25th, 2020

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Hi friends,

Here’s your weekly shot of Friday Fuel, a collection of things that I’ve been learning from or enjoying recently.

📕What I’ve Been Reading – On Sunday, golfer Bryson DeChambeau shot six under par to win his first major, the U.S. Open. Dubbed “The Mad Scientist of Golf,” Bryson is known for his untraditional approach to the game, utilizing a rare combination of deep analytics and gut instinct.

This article breaks down Bryson’s methods behind the madness, illustrating how and why Bryson is making a name for himself as one of the most innovative athletes in the world. Many of these attitudes and processes can be directly applied to a wide range of industries, especially business.

If you have a goal of being the best you can be in your respective field (or you just like reading interesting things), I’d highly recommend giving this article a look.

🎧What I’ve Been Listening To – Harry Stebbings is wise beyond his years. At age 18, he launched The Twenty Minute VC podcast in order to help pay for his mother’s medical bills. Fast forward five years later and Twenty Minute VC is the world’s largest independently run venture capital podcast with hundreds of thousands of listeners per episode.

In this episode he sits down with Austen Allred, the founder and CEO of Lambda School, the startup that (now remotely) trains people to become web developers or data scientists at no cost. Once the students land a job, a fraction of their salary goes towards their tuition. This is called an Income Share Agreement (ISA).

Over the course of thirty minutes, they cover a wide variety of topics including how to assess your attitude towards risk, Lambda School’s growing pains, and the effect of COVID on the serendipity of the Bay Area.

If you want to read more about how Harry built himself up as one of the youngest forces in venture capital, check out this feature in TechCrunch.

🤯What’s Blown My Mind  –

A few weeks back, I shared an exchange between early Airbnb investor Paul Graham and co-founder Brian Chesky. Now, I’m showing you the email that started it all.

To think that this one half-seriously written email could morph into a company valued at $26 billion is wild. Talk about a eureka moment…

🧵A Thread that Inspired Me –

If you’re an NBA fan, you’ve probably taken notice of how dominant Jimmy Butler has been in these playoffs. A notoriously fierce competitor, Jimmy’s now one game away from his first ever NBA finals. To say it’s unlikely that he’d ever be in this position is an understatement. It wasn’t until reading this thread that I realized how much adversity and pain he endured to turn his dreams into reality. Even if you’ve never watched a quarter of basketball in your life, you should read this thread.

Against all odds, very few things can beat hard work and ruthless determination. Truly amazing.

🧠An Idea I Enjoyed –

The best business ideas are ones that solve common problems. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to identify a problem, communicate with target users, and start building a business. Social media and other tech platforms are the most valuable market research tools we have at our disposal.

This illustration depicts this perfectly.

First identify a common problem, next use technology to speak with potential customers who share the same issue. If you find they are willing to pay to resolve it, then you know that you’re onto something. From there, you build.

That’s all he wrote. If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: An Epic Showdown and Fast and Curious.

Like what you’ve been reading? I’d love if you shared this with someone special who you think would enjoy it.

Share Crashing Up

You can also follow me on Twitter or check out my website for more content.

Thanks for reading,


Join the Syracuse eClub to connect with a community that shares your entrepreneurial spirit

group of students in a meeting
Students at the fall 2019 eClub kickoff meeting

If you are a Syracuse University student who has an inherent entrepreneurial spirit, there is an organization on campus that speaks to your passion. Fostering a community of ambitious and hard-working young entrepreneurs, the SU eClub (WebsiteInstagramFacebook) grooms undergraduate students to become future business leaders. Bruno Andres Gonzalez Hauger, senior and president of the student-run organization based out of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, says that the organization’s ultimate mission is to “inspire, educate and connect prospective entrepreneurs and current entrepreneurship students at Syracuse University.”

When it comes to members that the eClub is seeking, he says that “We don’t want just Whitman students or entrepreneurship majors, or even just entrepreneurs. We want anyone who is interested in this and has something to learn.”

Acting as an intersection between students, faculty and local businesses, the eClub provides professional guidance to entrepreneurially ambitious students in hopes of turning ideas into successful college businesses that can launch post-graduation. However, starting a business is just one of the various paths that members follow. When discussing the different resources available to eClub members, Gonzalez Hauger notes that the organization’s members enjoy listening to dynamic speakers, participating in workshops and getting a job, all of which offer unique perspectives on business and networking that “you can’t always find in traditional academic lectures,” he says.

Amidst the plentiful opportunities available for eClub members, Gonzalez Hauger is not shy about personally advocating for starting a venture in college. “I think college itself is a safety net, and there are so many people who want you to succeed and will help you do just that.” In fact, Gonzalez Hauger, a dual entrepreneurship and advertising major in Whitman and Newhouse, founded ad-tech startup Ambassador Technologies with his brother, and he has relied upon the university’s hub of resources to help them grow the business during the typical stages of venture development. It’s been a great learning experience that you can’t otherwise replicate as a student.  

“The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t launch, and then you can still tell an employer that you started a business in college. That is not the worst thing to fail, pause or not launch,” says Gonzalez Hauger. In fact, can be a great conversation starter. Employers are looking for the soft skills that come with being an entrepreneur.  And they particularly admire both drive and resiliency.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic impacting the ways students and organizations typically interact on-campus, Gonzalez Hauger says the eClub’s turnout for meetings since the start of the Fall 2020 semester has been a creative challenge. “While it’s not the same initial turnout that we have seen in the past semesters, it is an enthusiastic and committed group that is growing.”  And there is no better time to learn the art of entrepreneurship, especially in a world that is demanding innovative thinking and solutions to big problems.

Because of the challenges of the pandemic, Gonzalez Hauger shares how the eClub’s partnership with the Launchpad is even more important than ever: “The LaunchPad is, in a way, the hub of entrepreneurs on campus. The people who go to the LaunchPad actively run businesses, participate in competitions and try to get funding for their ideas. Having this partnership is an excellent resource for members of our community who are doing exactly this.” From cross promoting the eClub’s events to providing of financial support for initiatives like Entrepalooza, the LaunchPad is the organization’s valued collaborator during such unprecedented times.

The eClub hosts Zoom meetings with interesting guests on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. and spreads awareness and interest in inspiring and educating those who are interested in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. “We welcome everyone with open arms. We want to be a resource for all students,” says Gonzalez Hauger.

To learn more and join the eClub, a dynamic and passionate group that brings students, faculty, and local businesses together to spread entrepreneurship around the SU campus and throughout the Syracuse community, follow them on social media.

eClub Website

eClub Instagram

eClub Facebook

Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Christopher Appello ’21

Whitman announces Orange Tank pitch competition on October 22. Application deadline is October 2.

student team with a prize check
Orange Tank 2019 winner, CLLCTVE, which incubated in the LaunchPad while working with the Whitman EEE program. Founder Kelsey Davis ’19 ‘G20 is a grad of the M.S. EEE program. CLLCTVE is now in the Techstars Los Angeles accelerator program.

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management’s sixth annual Orange Tank business pitch competition will be held virtually on October 22, 2020, at 6 p.m. Thanks to the generosity of Whitman Advisory Council member and lifetime SU Trustee John Couri ’63 (A&S), current students and alumni entrepreneurs from the Whitman School can apply for a chance to pitch their business venture to a panel of accomplished judges and vie for part of the $40,000 in cash prizes. A grand prize of $25,000 will be awarded to the competition’s top finisher. Monetary awards will be given to the ventures finishing in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in both the student and alumni category.  Apply here.

Five alumni and five student ventures will be selected from the applicants to pitch at the competition. Candidates must apply online by Friday, October 2 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Those selected to pitch will be notified by Friday, October 9.

Following are non-negotiable eligibility requirements for participation in the 2020 Orange Tank competition:

  • Student teams must have at least one Whitman School of Management student (i.e. major) on the founding team, not just as an employee, of the new venture. To be determined as a student, the individual must be a full- or part-time matriculated undergraduate or graduate student currently pursuing a degree program at the Whitman School of Management. Online Master’s students are eligible.
  • Alumni teams must have at least one Whitman School of Management alumnus (i.e. major) on the founding team, not just as an employee, of the new venture.
  • Founding team membership is determined based on timing of membership in the new venture, title in the organization, and significance of ownership stake.
  • Ideas submitted as part of a team’s new business venture must represent the original work of the team members.
  • Participants cannot previously have won the Panasci Business Plan competition grand prize or placed in the top 3 of a previous Orange Tank competition (as a student or alumnus).
  • If the new venture has already received funding from any outside sources (angel investors, other competitions, etc.), amounts, investors, and dates of funding must be disclosed in the initial entry – funding must not exceed $100,000.
  • The Orange Tank competition is primarily for early-stage ventures. Accordingly, the new venture should not have earned in excess of $100,000 in revenues by the time of entry submission.

In order to receive funding, participants must legally form their business entity (e.g. a corporation or LLC). Prize money is granted only to the business entity that the winning team forms.
A project budget will need to be submitted to receive funding.

Applicants will be notified of their selection status on or before Friday, October 9, and full details will be provided regarding the competition format and logistics. Those chosen will have six minutes to pitch, followed by five minutes of Q&A from the judges, who will be looking for:

  • Market potential
  • Differentiation and economic feasibility
  • Ability to protect intellectual property, technology
  • Sound execution strategy
  • Scalability of the business
  • Proposed use of finances
  • Expertise and abilities of the founder(s)
  • Quality of pitch

Event organizers welcome the Whitman community to view Orange Tank virtually this year. For questions about the event, please contact John Torrens, Whitman’s deputy chair of entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and professor of entrepreneurial practice, at with questions.

Previous Orange Tank judges

Claire Chevalier ’24 on creating a more sustainable world through packaging

student in a life vest on a canal in Venice

Along a Vietnamese beach walks Claire Chevalier, stepping around piles of abandoned takeout boxes and water bottles. Knowing Styrofoam does not decompose at all — and the plastic won’t for many years to come — her mind pounds with distress.

In Cambodia, she runs her hand through the water, wondering why packaging pollution is still an issue. She thinks of the time she learned about a company that packages water in thin, edible, seaweed-based film that runners can just pop into their mouths during races. We already have the innovations to fix the problem, she realizes. Why don’t major companies use them?

Once, it is 6 a.m. By the shores of Lake Michigan, Claire sits in the sand, gazing at forgotten plastic straws and beer cans. She watches a man tying up the trash bags of bins scattered along the beach, and she asks if he would help her pick up the scattered trash still lying idle in the sand.

“90% of recycling goes to landfills anyway”, she notes. “So why do we spend so much time cleaning up if we can just prevent the problem first?”

This is precisely what Claire is aiming to tackle with Cuapa Monde Conservation (CMC).

Claire’s passion for environmental sustainability has always been core to who she is, having come from a family with similar values. While traveling through Southeast Asia, Claire was spurred to transform her passion into an action plan after encountering shocking amounts of plastic and Styrofoam waste.

In fact, this background of traveling has developed the outgoing, curious, and creative personality that defines Claire. Although her home base is in the suburbs of Chicago, Claire comes from a nomadic family: Her German mother was born in India and raised in the U.S. while her father is French. Claire studied abroad in Spain, visits France every summer, volunteered in Nicaragua, spent a gap year in Southeast Asia, and took another semester in Uruguay. In total, Claire has visited over 13 countries.

This global background taught Claire to be non-judgmental and approach everything with an open-minded attitude. She spent her childhood talking more with adults than peers, and through these more mature conversations, Claire learned a healthy argumentative spirit. Growing up, her parents also taught her to play devil’s advocate just to understand another side to every belief.

“Perspectives are multifaceted,” Claire says.

In Cambodia, when Claire’s program didn’t allow cell phones, she needed to communicate with people of a different background without knowing the language. This taught Claire that most problems are merely the result of miscommunication — an important realization in our increasing globalization.

Now, Claire is a freshman majoring in Marketing Management through the Martin J. Whitman School of Management with an intended double major in Environment, Sustainability, and Policy through Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She hopes that learning to sell an idea will enable her to enact her dream into reality — in this case, her dream for CMC.

Cuapa Monde Conservation will be a consulting firm that connects existing companies to innovative research labs that create sustainable, zero-waste packaging. “Cuapa” represents Jucuapa Occidental of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, the first place Claire was immersed in a culture other than her own. “Monde” then signifies “world” in French. As a result, CMC is named in honor of the global background that has deeply influenced the development of her business idea.

“We are an American consumer society — that’s never going to go away.” The question just becomes how we end the production of packaging waste. That’s where CMC comes in.

CMC will help major companies — think beer, chip, and soda producers — to realize that sustainable packaging will both benefit the environment and save the companies money. Claire notes that companies focus only on immediate sales gains without acknowledging that long-term, sustainable packaging would minimize their costs. She also expects that in the future, governments will implement more regulations to tax companies for plastic use, and CMC can help the companies project and prepare for these changes.

Claire’s long-term vision for CMC is name recognition. She hopes that someday, large-brand companies we see in grocery stores will have a label: “CMC Certified.” Each label could have a color-code to indicate whether the packaging will decompose in five years, three years, one year, or less. Perhaps “CMC Certified” will also become a token of value that inspires consumers to spend a few extra cents, just as labels like “Organic” or “Vegan” do.

In endeavors like this, it is crucial to have support, so Claire emphasizes the importance of creating meaningful relationships.

“You can’t do anything alone,” she says.

Claire has just started working closely with Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars to build her business roadmap and build the connections she needs.

Claire also stresses that to be an entrepreneur means to be “someone who not only has an idea but makes it happen.” She urges others to follow through with their ideas and pursue the passions that drive them.

“Anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it.” This mindset is precisely the driving force for Claire’s pursuit of Cuapa Monde Conservation.

She states with certainty, “This should exist, and I want it to exist.”

And therefore, it will exist.

If you are interested in contacting Claire Chevalier, she can be reached at

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

Sandhya Iyer ’20 is making it simpler to align talents and passions through Geek Girl Careers

Sandhya Iyer Portrait University Scholar Nominee 2020

When we’re five years old we’re overflowing with dreams of all the exciting things we’ll be when we grow up: astronauts, movie stars, fire-fighters, horse-trainers- fearless world adventurers.  As we grow older, however; our once-dazzling dreams turn into overwhelming anxieties. We worry about our capability to fit into a modern career, aligning our skills with our passions, understanding what our skills even are, and finding work that fulfills us. The art of choosing studies in college and jobs in careers is utterly bewildering.           

What if there were a simple tool to help us find jobs that were not only financially stable and forward-thinking, but also aligned with our talents and passions? Sandhya Iyer, a recent ’20 graduate from S.I. Newhouse School of Communications in Public Relations and from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management in Marketing, hopes to empower young women to find a career they love in a tech field.

Iyer is the CEO of Geek Girl Careers, a tool to help young women find careers in tech that align with their passions and personalities. She is also a featured speaker at an upcoming LaunchPad Fireside Chat, September 25 at 3 p.m.

The mission of Geek Girls Careers is two-fold: increasing female presence in tech industries while enabling individuals to combine their passions with their careers.

Geek Girl Careers is committed to increasing representation in tech by broadening the pathways in tech fields. Too often people assume a career in tech means a job in computer science, or a degree as an engineer; when in reality, tech encompasses a myriad of skills and needs people with skills in communications, management, finance, marketing, and so much more.

“No matter what people are passionate about, they can find careers related to that in the tech industry,” Iyer said.

The tool works simply: an individual chooses personality traits they feel describe them from a list. These traits, where an individual can list that they’re understanding, firm, or outgoing; all combine to create a report for the user of careers that fit their personality. For example, those who choose adjectives such as ‘social,’ or ‘outgoing,’ may be advised to find a career in public relations. The test is carefully designed to open possibilities in a booming field while refining an individual’s choice of career to their skills.

Iyer’s father decided to start Geek Girl Careers after witnessing his own daughter’s struggle to combine her fascinating array of interests into a definable career. Iyer, who also received a certificate in Fashion and Beauty Communications and spent her time on campus writing for the Daily Orange, wasn’t sure herself where to apply her diversity of passions. Unsurprisingly, the tool encouraged her to go into public relations; a field that she had already found her niche in.

The impact of Geek Girl Careers is so clear and transformative for people’s life choices that Iyer decided to take it over as her full-time job after she graduated from Syracuse this past year. Her success in growing it over the past few months as the CEO is resulting in partnership with organizations who use it as a career guidance tool. Geek Girls’ latest partner? Syracuse University Career Services currently lists Geek Girl Careers as a resource for job search and self-discovery.

“So many people don’t have an idea of how to turn their passions into a career- they’re boded into what their parents or what their society thinks of them,’ Iyer said. “The ability to carve your own path is so important.’

A simple conversation with Iyer reveals her overflowing enthusiasm and love for the work she does. She breathes joy. To be in a fulfilling career is to be able to live each day with joy and pour one’s soul into one’s work. Creating a successful career does not require abandoning hopes of finding a job that one enjoys and is good at. Through Geek Girl Careers, Iyer has created a space for women to find jobs that fill them with joy in an ever-growing industry that urgently needs their remarkable talents.

Story by Claire Howard, ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied

Ben Goldsmith ’21 grew a company out of a dorm room idea

student in a blue POPCYCLE brand shirt

Ben Goldsmith ‘21, a VPA Communication and Rhetorical Studies (CRS) major and co-founder of POPCYCLE, remembers the feeling he had after his company’s first ever student-brand clothing popup.

“It felt like we were soldiers coming home from a battle we had just won,” he said.

The pop-up, located inside of the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars in Bird Library, featured clothes made by students at Syracuse University. Goldsmith says that more than 4,000 people came to shop around that day. By the end, Goldsmith said he and his team were in pain, tired, aching, but smiling at their fullest.

That day was proof his idea could work, an idea first concocted months earlier. Goldsmith is one of the hundreds of student entrepreneurs that have leveraged the expertise and other resources at the LaunchPad to grow his business. POPCYCLE launched their website this September with huge success.

Goldsmith has always been a project leader. Growing up in Cherry Hill, N.J., Goldsmith started a program to broadcast all of his high school’s sports games. He would bring a phone and a tripod to the games and stream it to the world, getting around 6,000 viewers in the process.

“That was my first chance to be a leader,” Goldsmith said. “I got to bring something to a whole new level with just my passion.”

When he made it to college, he decided to major in communication and rhetorical studies and creative writing. Throughout his years, he met so many students with their own clothing brands creating great clothes. But he also noticed that many of them lacked access to physical stores and were stuck in the same cycle of trying to sell on Instagram.

So, he asked himself, “How can I help?”

Sitting in his dorm room, he started to ferociously plan.

“I knew what could happen if I had this idea and took it seriously,” he said.

His first step was to begin meeting with brands. One of his first sessions was with Jackson Ensley, who he discovered shared his passion and entrepreneurial spirit. Goldsmith said the conversation quickly shifted from a client conversation to that of a partner.

The two set out to make POPCYLCE what it is today. They gathered faculty advisors, experts from the Whitman School of Management and Fashion Design department in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Goldsmith said Linda Hartsock, executive director of the LaunchPad helped connect them with people they needed to execute their concept.

“Go to someone who is smarter than you,” Goldsmith said as advice to others trying to start a business.

Since that first meeting, POPCYLCE has hosted two student clothing pop-ups, started a website, and grown a team around the vision.

Their biggest hurdle, Goldsmith said, is explaining their idea. He says he has to alter how he explains it based on who he talks to. Explaining POPCYCLE to designers looks very different than explaining it to investors, Goldsmith added.

POPCYCLE is only going to grow, Goldsmith said. They plan to expand to other colleges in the next couple of years and beyond, with a lofty goal to help student-owned clothing brands market their clothes to the world.

Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Patrick Linehan ’21; photo by the LaunchPad