Four Syracuse University student entrepreneurs are featured in the soon-to-be-published book The Student Startup Guide by Techstars Director Courtney Gras. Josh Aviv ’15 G ’17, Kelsey Davis ’19 G ’20, Sam Hollander ’21 and Matt Shumer are among the 30 expert student founders who share their real-life experiences on how student founders can overcome challenges, beat the odds and start something amazing.
Gras met her student startup co-authors through her work with Techstars and the Blackstone LaunchPad global network. In that role, she worked closely with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and met many Syracuse students who consistently impressed her.
“I met hundreds, maybe even thousands of students founders from 30+ universities across the globe. Today, over 60% of college students have an interest in starting a company. While there are countless books, websites, courses, blogs, and podcasts that can teach you how to start a company,nobody is talking about how you start a company while you’re in college. I think it’s time to change that.”
The Student Startup Guide demystifies student entrepreneurship and provides a roadmap for starting a company in college. Beyond the technical aspects of business formation and raising funds, it addresses practical questions such as how to balance classes, social life, and a startup venture.
Gras started her career as an electrical engineer but quickly discovered a passion for supporting early-stage founders. In 2014, she left her job as a Power Systems Engineer at NASA to work with the cleantech startup she founded in college. She learned firsthand how challenging it was to raise capital and find resources to move her company forward. After 8 years with her startup, she decided to follow her passion for supporting entrepreneurs and served in leadership roles in the startup community in Ohio.
She then took her founder-support work global and joined the team at Techstars as Director for the LaunchPad university entrepreneurship network. In this role, Courtney led the development and management of entrepreneurial program offerings that now serve 46 universities and reach nearly 1 million students annually.
Today, she is continuing her journey with Techstars on the ecosystem development team where she’s helping founders access capital and move their companies forward by leading Techstars Founder Catalyst programs.