Blackstone LaunchPad – Techstars Startup Weekend, September 20-21

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The hardest part of starting up is starting out.

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries can help with that.  We are collaborating with Techstars on a Blackstone LaunchPad Startup Weekend in partnership with Google for Startups on September 20-21 at Syracuse University.  This first-ever, fast-paced, food-fueled event is open to all Syracuse student entrepreneurs.  It is an opportunity to learn more about innovation and entrepreneurship, test some ideas, meet new people, and engage with an amazing campus and global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Register here on Eventbrite.

Whether you want to take the first steps towards learning how to launch a startup, or would just love to be part of an amazing experiential learning experience, you are invited to network, compete for $1,000 in cash prizes provided by our event co-sponsor, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, and meet other prize-winning SU student entrepreneurs who have founded successful student startups.

In two action-packed days, participants will experience the highs, lows, and thrilling roller-coaster ride that is the life of a startup. Friday evening you’ll network over delicious food, kick around ideas, and form teams.  Throughout the day on Saturday, you’ll work in teams to create a solution, and meet with great mentors who are ready to give you the ultimate entrepreneurial experience. Saturday evening, teams will pitch to student entrepreneur judges who will award $1,000 in cash prizes for the best ideas.

Blackstone LaunchPad Startup Weekend is geared towards students who want to gain entrepreneurial experience, even if they have little to no previous background in starting a company.

The event schedule is:

Friday, September 20, 2019

Martin J. Whitman School of Management, University Avenue

4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Registration and networking, Flaum Grand Hall (lobby atrium)

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Refreshments and Startup Village, Flaum Grand Hall

5:45 p.m., Welcome, Auditorium, Room 007

6:15 p.m., Rockstar launch, Auditorium, Room 007

6:45 p.m., Pitches start, Auditorium, Room 007

7:45 p.m. Vote for best ideas and team formation, Auditorium, Room 007

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, workspaces and Peter Graham Scholarly Commons at Bird Library, Waverly Avenue

10 a.m., Light breakfast and check in, LaunchPad, Room 120

10:30 a.m. Morning momentum, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114

11 a.m., Teamwork makes the dream work, workspaces, Bird Library

1 p.m., Lunch, LaunchPad

2 p.m., Mentor magic, workspaces, Bird Library

3:45 p.m., Challenger, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

4:20 p.m., Team mania, workspaces, Bird Library

6 p.m., Dinner, LaunchPad

7 p.m., Mentor check-in, workspaces, Bird Library

7:30 p.m., Pitch practice, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

8:00 p.m., Compete, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

9:00 p.m., Judges deliberate, secret location, Bird Library

9:30 p.m., Closing ceremony, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

Featured speaker:

Jackie Ros

Jackie Ros will kick off the event with inspiration.  She is the dynamic Techstars Regional Director of the Americas, from Alaska all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, including Brazil. Ros has seen the world of entrepreneurship close up.  She was born in Miami, and has lived in Mexico City, Boulder, and Switzerland. An alum of the Techstars accelerator program where she led her company, Revolar, as CEO, she raised over $5 million from investors such as Foundry Group.  Now based in NYC, she is well known entrepreneur, mentor and author.  Revolar is the personal safety device industry leader, with alerts that can provide user status updates based on GPS location via both text and email.

Rockstar MC:

AJ Damiano

AJ Damiano, LaunchPad and Techstars alumnus, founder of PowerSpike, will event MC, and infuse it with energy, motivation, momentum and wit. AJ is a 2018 SU grad, and has raised about $1.3 million from investors such as The Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, Techstars Atlanta – in partnership with Cox Enterprises, Dorm Room Fund, and other outside investors. PowerSpike utilizes innovative marketplace and AI technology to help livestreaming influencers find and develop relationships with potential sponsors and allow brands to sponsor streamers to accelerate business growth with live streaming influencer marketing.  The platform allows streamers to apply to sponsorships from their favorite brands and provides them with a secure method of receiving payment for their work. For brands and marketers, the platform serves as a tool they can use to discover and hire new influencers and save time when communicating and managing existing talent.

Fast facts about Startup Weekend:

What exactly does taking part in Startup Weekend entail?

On day one, participants will have the opportunity to meet other attendees and pitch their idea, solution, problem or product (if you have one) to the other attendees. Following that, the participants vote on the ideas they liked best based on this pitch event, resulting in teams being formed organically by picking which idea each individual student wants to work on.

The rest of the weekend is devoted to working on your startup idea; including marketing research, building a basic presentation, and creating an authentic pitch. On Saturday evening, teams will have the opportunity to pitch in front of judges, and the winning team will receive a cash prize.

Do I need a business idea to participate?

No, but it is helpful to come with a passion for problems worth solving, and an interest in meeting like-minded innovators.  Come because you want to meet new people, grow your network, learn some more about the exciting world of student startups, and be part of a dynamic creative community.

What does it cost?

The entire weekend is free, including all meals.  Plus, you’ll have the chance to compete for $1,000 in cash prizes.  The first 100 registrants will also get free t-shirts and swag.  All in attendance will also receive a free meal loaded right into their Good Uncle accounts. “The LaunchPad was a major part of Good Uncle’s original launch, and the partnership has continued as Good Uncle returns for its fourth year,” said Dylan Gans ’18 (Whitman), director of Business Development at Good Uncle, and former Dorm Room Fund campus ambassador at the LaunchPad. “We’re excited to partner on this event to fuel new startups at Syracuse University.”

To register for the event, visit:

What do I need to bring to Startup Weekend?

Your brain, your energy and appetite (for food, ideas, and meeting new people).

Also helpful to bring:

  • Laptop and power cord
  • Phone and charger (taking photos and videos, and sharing on social media encouraged!)
  • Camera, for even better photos and videos to capture the event
  • Any other technology that makes you happy and productive

How do I prepare?

Spread the word to friends.  It’s is fun to come in a group. Use the hashtags to promote it. Get familiar how a weekend works.  Head over to

What will teams be judged on?

While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by the competition, it’s a good idea to plan execution around what you’ll be judged on.

  • Validation (did you test your problem and solution?)
  • Execution and Design (does your plan to solve it make sense?)
  • Business Model (can you pull this off, with support from the Syracuse innovation ecosystem?)

As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):

  • Wireframes or mock ups for a technology idea
  • Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
  • Short video
  • Live demo
  • Skit

Why is it a competition for prize?

While competition is not a central theme of Techstars Startup Weekend, friendly competition can help develop a positive atmosphere to get things done.  It also accurately reflects the realities of startup life. Also, we are hoping winners will be motivated to use their prize awards to help move their ideas forward with the help of the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University, and compete for even bigger prizes during the academic year.  These are the “warm-up pitches” for the competition season ahead

Who is organizing Startup Weekend at Syracuse University?

Syracuse students

This past April, Emma Rothman ’21, Matt Shumer, ’22, Sam Hollander ’22, and Alexandra Cianfarani ’22, who are all SU LaunchPad members, attended the exclusive first-ever multi-campus startup experience for LaunchPad students, in Los Angeles. The goal was to take that experience, and the knowledge gained from that weekend and bring it to the Syracuse community, allowing other students to experience it as well. Rothman, Shumer, Hollander and Cianfarani are the dynamic team leading this weekend.

According to Shumer, “We’re so excited to take our LA Startup Weekend experience and bring it back to Syracuse, so that other students can have the same experience we had in California.” With the help of the LaunchPad innovation team, Startup Weekend will be a once-in-a-lifetime entrepreneurial experience, as well as being the first time in Syracuse history a Startup Weekend Powered by Techstars will be hosted at the University.

Who are the mentors?

LaunchPad student entrepreneurs who are growing their own ventures, and are experts on what it takes to go from idea to launch, will be serving as mentors all weekend.  They will coach teams through problem solving, and creating solutions, and will work with teams to develop knock-out pitches for the final competition.  All of these mentors have built their own student startups, and have learned the art of the pitch. Many have raised funds and won competitions for their own ventures.

Who are the judges?

Judges are truly the rock stars of the Syracuse startup world.  They are student founders who have been in the national spotlight, have competed in state and national competitions, launched companies, and collectively won just about every single major Syracuse University business plan competition, including ‘Cuse Tank, the Impact Prize, Hult Prize, ACC InVenture Prize, Panasci Business Plan Competition, RvD/iPrize, and the HBW Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. Their student startups are award-winners, and they are world-class innovators.

Who are the event volunteers?

We’re delighted that the Syracuse University Entrepreneurship Club is partnering on this event, and will serve as event volunteers. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the club’s terrific programming, and join the club to take advantage of programming throughout the academic year.

Who are the program sponsors?

The Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the university’s resource-rich ecosystem environment with an extensive global network that gives support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators who have an interest in venture creation.

The Whitman School of Management, with one of the top Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises academic programs in the country, is the prize package sponsor, generously providing $1,000 in cash prizes for the top student ideas.

The Syracuse University Entrepreneurship Club (E-Club), a registered student organization, is the marketing partner for this event.  Follow them on Instagram @eclubsu

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 with substantial commitments from the firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas nationwide and globally. Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It is modeled on a successful program originated at the University of Miami and was further developed and expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. For more information, see

Techstars helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the Techstars Worldwide Entrepreneur Network, founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates four divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships, and the Techstars Venture Capital Fund.  For more information, see