Friday, October 16 is Shark Day at Syracuse. The annual ‘Cuse Tank competition features 20 teams pitching to successful entrepreneur judges as a warm up for the season premiere of Shark Tank. “Sweet Sixteen” semi-finalists and four “Wild Card” teams will compete in the Syracuse style “Shark Tank” competition over Zoom on Friday afternoon, October 16. The event is sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries. Judges will award $10,000 in prize funding through a gift to SU Libraries from Todd Dagres, co-founder and General Partner of Spark Capital. It is also a kick-off event for Family Weekend at SU.
A distinguished panel of judges who are members of the “LaunchPad family” will narrow down the “Sweet Sixteen” field to the “Final Four” who will pitch for the prize package. A celebrity judge for the “Final Four” round will be Josh Aviv ’15 G’17 who is appearing that same evening at 8 p.m. on the season premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank. Aviv will be pitching SparkCharge that night to Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner and a celebrity guest entrepreneur. Aviv developed and launched SparkCharge as a Syracuse student working closely with the LaunchPad. He built his first prototype at the SU MakerSpace in Kimmel Hall and set up his first engineering lab at the Syracuse Center for Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. He is the first Syracuse student to accelerate from the LaunchPad to Techstars to the stage of Shark Tank.
“I’m excited to bring it back to where it all started for SparkCharge,” said Josh Aviv. “I want to inspire a new crop of student startups to aim for the stars. Pitching on the stage of Shark Tank was my goal, from my very first competition in the LaunchPad. So, stay true to your dreams.” Aviv continues to work closely with the Syracuse LaunchPad. He is also now a LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence, mentoring young Syracuse University startups as he scales SparkCharge from his corporate headquarters in Boston and manufacturing facility in Buffalo.
Other judges include key members of the LaunchPad innovation ecosystem: AJ Damiano ’18, co-founder and CEO of PowerSpike; Mike Gursha ’10, chairman and CEO of Rookie Road and LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence; Corey Lieblein ’93, Founder/CEO of CP8 Capital and LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence; Kathi Durdon, executive director of the CNY Biotech Accelerator at Upstate Medical University; Amy Fazackerley, founder and CEO of Lay-n-Go: Victoria Lawson ’20, founder and CEO of Weird & Woke Design; James Bason, president and CEO of TruFund Financial Services; Mike Smith ’12 G’13, founder of Scrappy Capital and consultant at Venture Fuel; Alec Gillinder ’20 and Quinn King ’20, co-founders of MedUX.
“Sweet Sixteen” “Cuse Tank contestants come from across campus and are working on diverse ideas. The schedule and teams are:
|Hammerhead Shark Room|
|2:45||Bruno Gonzalez Hauger||Ambassadoor Technologies|
|Great Reef Shark Room|
|2:15||Shawn Gaetano||Solace Vision|
|2:25||Claire Chevalier||Cuapa Monde Conservation|
|2:45||Patrick Prioletti||Your Perfect Dose|
|Tiger Shark Room|
|2:25||Justin Diaz||EcoBamboo Living|
|2:35||Selim Dangoor||MUNCH Beef Jerky|
|Sharp Tooth Shark Room|
|2:35||Raul Hernandez Guardans||Sonder Films|
In addition to the Sweet Sixteen, there is a Wild Card room of teams who are competing for a $500 prize. These teams are just starting their entrepreneurial journey at the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars at Syracuse University
|Wild Card Room|
|2:25||Mengxuan Tang||Speed 55|
|2:35||Ben Ford||Jersey Boys Apparel|
|2:45||Murray Lebovitz||Keep Coffee Casual|
Interested in watching the Zoom event? E-mail LaunchPad@syr.edu