Student entrepreneurs face off this week in re-invented business competitions

Josh Aviv, founder of SparkCharge, got his start at the iPrize before going on to win the grand prize at the New York Business Plan Competition and the $1 million grand prize at 43North.

The iSchool’s RvD iPrize, the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award and the Compete CNY regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) have been retooled to online competitions this week coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries. The concurrent events were quickly reinvented by the LaunchPad team in a new virtual format, working with the steering committee for the state competition. Students have until April 3 to submit their pitch videos and slide deck before judges review and rank submissions to select winners. Top teams will receive cash prizes, and finalists in six categories will be selected to more on the state business plan competition, also being held virtually in May.

The RvD Fund is named after former iSchool dean Raymond Von Dran, who served from 1995 until his passing in 2007. Von Dran was a long-time academic entrepreneur and staunch supporter of student innovation. He started several innovative programs in higher education. To honor his memory and ensure that her husband’s infectious spirit for innovation continued, his wife Gisela generously created the RvD Fund. $40,000 in prizes will be awarded to top performing Syracuse University students across categories through the RvD Fund, and an additional $10,000 will be awarded to SU student teams through the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, funded through the Hunter Brooks Watson Foundation. All monies will be awarded as non-dilutive seed funding, so students will not give up any equity in their proposed business venture.

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars ran two virtual pitch workshops the week of March 23 to help students prepare for the online competition. In addition, the LaunchPad’s Global Media Fellow, Will DeVito, founder of WD40 Productions, produced an online video tutorial on how to successfully record a video pitch. 

The student teams moving forward in the competition are:

  • Anthony Obas, Guided by Obas
  • Bruno Gonzalez Hauger, Ambassadoor Technologies
  • Caleb Obiagwu, Attend Pro
  • Claire Howard, Code++
  • Daniel Green, Dream Vybz
  • Daniel McMurray, Youth Government Services LLC
  • David Fox, Smarta
  • Francisco Casciaro, UNMD Solutions
  • Justin Diaz, EcoBamboo Living
  • Kelsey Davis, CLLCTVE
  • Liam Keyek, Bomber Equipment
  • Matt Shumer, Visos
  • Maxton Moyle, Aegis
  • Mohammed Ali, Urban Coders
  • Nancy Wang, Girl Power
  • Nathaniel Kuhl, ViV
  • Nicole D’Souza, IndieFlo
  • Nikita Chatterjee, PAANI
  • Oladeji Awe, NervTech
  • Patrick Prioletti, Thinc-hub
  • Ryan Taggert, Itemize
  • Sam Hollander, FSCL
  • Sydney Santori, RealTea Housing
  • Xingzheng Zhao, Next Step