Innovation Law Center Office Hours for LaunchPad Startups Fall 23′

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights?  Join the Innovation Law Center Office Hours this fall at Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library.

The Innovation Law Center at SU’s College of Law is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Meet with student law student experts (SRA’s) to provide information on intellectual property, regulatory compliance, and commercialization research resources. Ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

Office hours this fall semester in-person on these days, hosted by the ILC team:

  • Thursday, September 28 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Anna Melo
  • Friday, October 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. with Shriya Ghosh
  • Wednesday, October 11 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Michael Ortizo
  • Thursday, October 19 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Patrick Mullery
  • Thursday, October 26 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Matthew Patrizio
  • Friday, November 3 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Emily D’Agostino
  • Thursday, November 9 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. with Kalen Sullivan

While the SU Innovation Law Center does not file for or prosecute patents, and does not provide legal advice or opinions, the LaunchPad and the ILC can help refer inventors and entrepreneurs to IP law firms to implement patent, trademark, copyright filings, licensing agreements and other legal work.

Ask questions — don’t let confusion or uncertainty about the legal aspects of startups stop you from pursuing your idea.

If you’d like to schedule a particular time or private conversation during a scheduled session, please e-mail us at

Innovation Law Center Office Hours for LaunchPad Startups Spring 23′

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights?  Join the Innovation Law Center Office Hours for LaunchPad Office Hours this spring at this Zoom link.

The Innovation Law Center at SU’s College of Law is partnering with the Blackstone LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Meet with student law student experts (SRA’s) to provide information on intellectual property, regulatory compliance, and commercialization research resources. Ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

Office hours this spring semester will be 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. virtually on these days, hosted by the ILC team:

  • Friday, January 27: Claire
  • Friday, February 10: Marc
  • Friday, February 24: Autumn
  • Friday, March 10: Brian
  • Friday, March 24: Hailey
  • Friday, April 14: Brian
  • Friday, April 28: Cecily

While the SU Innovation Law Center does not file for or prosecute patents, and does not provide legal advice or opinions, the LaunchPad and the ILC can help refer inventors and entrepreneurs to IP law firms to implement patent, trademark, copyright filings, licensing agreements and other legal work.

Ask questions — don’t let confusion or uncertainty about the legal aspects of startups stop you from pursuing your idea.

If you’d like to schedule a particular time or private conversation during a scheduled session, please e-mail us at

Katy Arons ’24 is developing two award-winning venture platforms

Dedicated to improving the communities around her, Katy Arons is currently working on two startups that facilitate safer connections between people.

Katy is majoring in Information Management and Technology with a minor in Information Technology, Design, and Startups (IDS) through Syracuse University’s iSchool.

Katy is working on her first startup with team members Jada Knight, Ben Simpson, and Souurabh Gavhane. CommUnity is a peer-to-peer platform for on-campus reselling of goods and services by students, and the app idea placed first in its category for SU’s Blackstone LaunchPad x Deloitte Digital’s Innovation Sprint. The idea behind CommUnity is like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, but safer for students since it requires people to verify enrollment at their university.

Katy was inspired to pursue the idea her first year, when the semester was ending and she noticed the trash rooms were filled to the brim with gently used items students discarded, such as headboards, bean bags, and even a flat screen TV.

“It was a lot of waste from products that students didn’t need any more or have space to keep for next year,” Katy lamented.

With CommUnity, students can sell these items to their peers, building on the ease of finding items are all within walking distance on campus. The app will also provide an opportunity for students to advertise services of their own, such as cutting hair or doing nails, which can be a more affordable alternative for students who cannot drive off-campus to receive such services.

Currently, the team is receiving mentorship from Deloitte to develop target market analytics, generate interest for an initial baseline of SU users, and plan for the next stages of their product development. The team recently created a profile on Instagram, @mysucommunity, and will be posting more actively in coming weeks.

Aside from this, Katy is also working on Continual, a relationship health and safety platform focused on innovating conversation around consent and intimacy. The app would be centered around a user profile, where identity and health information are verified within the platform, which provides privacy for an individual’s personal information. For example, users can receive a check mark on their profile if they are on birth control or they might indicate the last date they received an STI test without disclosing the particulars of the confidential medical information. Users can connect to each other to send their profile but customize at their discretion what is displayed depending on the context and the level of anonymity they want to maintain.

“College students can sometimes drink too much, and there is nothing to facilitate important conversations around consent. And imagine you meet someone in a bar — it’s tricky to have conversations around sexual health and boundaries when you meet someone for the first time. We need tools like this to provide a less awkward way to check in with a potential sexual partner,” Katy explained.

The application will also feature safety functions, such as emergency contacts for when you’re going on a date. “You can notify a friend of an approximate location, and if you hit a panic button, it will send the exact location,” Katy said.

Katy’s idea placed first in the Health and Life Sciences category in the on-campus qualifier for Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s IDEAS Competition. Continual also advanced to the final round of the Impact Prize competition, hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries.

Along her journey, Katy is learning about herself and business development.

“One thing I’m continuing to learn is how to narrow my ideas down by honing them down to a core value proposition. Ideas should be built up initial seeds, not developed all at once,” she reflected. She added that having people with previous experience on similar projects is extremely valuable in doing this because it can be overwhelming to narrow down immediate next steps. Likewise, structure — whether it is through mentorship or through a class with deadlines — is incredibly helpful as well.

As Katy works with different teams, she ponders the meaning of teamwork. “Teamwork is collaboration. It’s knowing people’s strengths and weakness and how they work in conjunction to produce a result we are all happy with. It is understanding that we are all human and that it’s important to make exceptions for that, so you all support each other.”

Something Katy has been grappling with is the difficulty in reinventing the wheel in the tech world. “How do you leave your mark?” she wonders when it seems like there is already an expansive amount of technology and a handful of large companies dominate the field.

When considering what it means to be an innovator, Katy offers an analogy she once heard that stuck with her: “Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb by designing candle 2.0. Innovation is about producing something entirely new and creative to improve the world. That’s what the iPhone was — it was a lightbulb, not candle 2.0. We can’t even envision what the next computer will look like because it won’t be like the one in front of us today.”

Anyone interested in Katy Arons’s startups can reach out to her at or on her LinkedIn.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied

Mauricio Luna ’24 makes attending U.S. colleges more accessible for students in León

After 12 hours of travel and three layovers, Mauricio Luna steps off his flight from León, Guanajuato to Syracuse, New York. As he boards an Uber for his dorm, a flurry of eager and nervous anticipation flutters in his stomach. Far from the colorful architecture of his warm hometown in Mexico, Mauricio is unsure what to expect from his new home at a U.S. college campus.

Since his arrival at Syracuse University, Mauricio has come a long way. Now a junior majoring in policy studies at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs with a minor in history, Mauricio is thriving as an involved member of the campus community.

“Coming here, I saw educators who genuinely care about students’ wellbeing and growth,” Mauricio said, comparing the stark differences to what he saw in many for-profit high schools in other places.

Just about 13,000 students from Mexico study at U.S. colleges each year, only a handful of which are from León. With few mentorship opportunities on U.S. college applications available in León, high school seniors have limited help with applications, making the idea of attending an American university a distant thought for most. Students know next to nothing about the foreign application process, don’t have guidance to prepare for standardized tests, and have trouble navigating the cultural differences and new lingo like “Advanced Placement” or “SAT Scores.”

Despite being a bustling business district — the shoe capital of the world— León currently has no college application preparation companies, like Mexico City does. At the same time, León’s challenged school system leaves creative, motivated students with minimal options for pursuing a robust higher education.

This is where Pathway Prep comes in.

Last summer, Mauricio connected with a student from León who expressed that she wanted to go to an American university. Unfortunately, receiving tutoring internationally seemed expensive, and most companies’ tutors seemed older and far removed from when they went through the application process themselves. Nevertheless, the hopeful high school senior needed help with the SAT and Common Application, and Mauricio was a student who recently underwent the same experience. Mauricio got to work, tutoring the girl in SAT questions, coaching her on her personal statement, and guiding her through filling out the final application.

“Her diagnostic SAT test score was very low — not because she didn’t have the capability to reach a high score, but because she had never seen an SAT before. After 2 months of working together, she took another test and saw a score increase of 430 points. Seeing the score increase made the girl’s confidence about going to college skyrocket,” Mauricio recalled. He hopes to inspire this same feeling in other students from his community.

Since then, Mauricio had been approached by more high schoolers, so he decided to develop a tutoring and college consulting company that will assist León students with SAT preparation and U.S. university applications. Pathway Prep would be a more affordable solution for students in León, offering both 1:1 coaching and less expensive group tutoring sessions, which most other companies lack.

“Most people only know the name Harvard,” Mauricio lamented. “I want to introduce students to other amazing schools they can apply to because they don’t know what’s accredited and reputable and what’s not.”

Besides introducing students to the limitless possibilities of universities they can apply to, Pathway Prep will also acclimate students to the lengthy and confusing U.S. college application process. From defining terms in the application to consulting students on their persona statement essays, Pathway Prep will equip students from León — and eventually, all of Guanajuato — to submit strong applications that highlight their potential for success.

Mauricio plans to build a pipeline for students to attend American universities by partnering directly with high schools in León. To do so, he is contacting principals, who welcome Mauricio to share his experiences at the schools and can connect interested students with Pathway Prep.

Mauricio reflects on the importance of having a support system, both in his education and in building his startup. He has been receiving mentorship from professors, SU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, and advisors back home, who have encouraged him to take his idea seriously and received a better understanding of how to structure the business. He has already created a business model, competed in the recent Blackstone LaunchPad Impact Prize competition, received valuable feedback, and plans to continue working on his venture with help from the Syracuse University innovation ecosystem.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for help,” Mauricio recommended to other budding entrepreneurs nervous about starting their idea.

Mauricio finds a lot of value in leveraging collaboration to grow and improve. In building a team, he seeks equally motivated individuals with complementary skillsets that can fill in his own gaps of knowledge and provide innovative ideas of their own. Recently, he recruited another student, Sasha Temerte, as a business partner, and he hopes to continue expanding his team.

Pathway Prep is currently hiring paid English and math tutors to develop a comprehensive SAT preparation curriculum and be able to offer services to more students. If you adept at tutoring English or math for the SAT, please contact Mauricio at

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied

Samadhi Aviv ’14 on democratizing energy for underrepresented communities

headshot of a woman

“We are democratizing energy,” says Sama Aviv, an alum of Syracuse University’s Falk College, where she majored in public health. She also received her master’s degree in healthcare policy and management at Boston University, and is now the Program Manager for SparkCharge, the world’s first mobile EV charging network.

At the push of an app button, users can request a charge to be delivered to them. Sama said, “Underrepresented communities are usually left out of the EV charging deployment, so we remove that barrier by bringing the charge to the consumer.”

Sama’s Puerto Rican heritage and compassionate soul is what inspires her to build a better, more inclusive world.

As SparkCharge’s first official employee, Sama has adopted a leadership role within the company since day one. She began working with SparkCharge in college, where she and founder Joshua Aviv would stay up all night 3D printing models, making t-shirts on the kitchen table, and managing the company in Google Sheets. The mentorship of Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad was an instrumental part of SparkCharge’s success and recently, of Sama’s decision to finally join the company full-time.

“Because it is such a fast-paced environment, I learned a lot very quickly,” Sama explained. Despite coming from a healthcare background, Sama rapidly learned how to collaborate in leading company operations; work as the human resources, marketing, and finance departments; develop policies for potential situations and learn about engineering, supply chains and unit economics from her knowledgeable team members.

Sama knows that there is always a better, more efficient way of doing things, especially as a startup, and she is always seeking to identify innovative approaches to improve.

Sama described SparkCharge as a testament of grit and a labor of love. It is also about never giving up. She poses the question, “When one door closes, how do we open another door?”

Sama noted that things in the startup world don’t always go according to plan, which is why resilience is so important. She recalled a time when the company had just rented a space for an event, but there was no power, so she had to think quickly to devise a creative solution. There was also a time when SparkCharge was ready to move into their new office, but it was flooded. Rather than throwing their hands in the air, the team searched for a new place to work.

Challenges aside, Sama noticed that this is the kind of job where there can be a big deadline the next day, like a product launch, and all hands are on deck.

“Everyone is willing to help you out, unlike other traditional jobs,” she said.

Sama knows that by building a team that believes in your mission, you will be more successful. She has been part of building that culture at SparkCharge, as she leads by example.

Recently, the company hosted SparkDay in-person for the first time. Over 200 people came to their new headquarter offices on Assembly Row in Somerville MA to experience their latest product launch. SparkCharge launched a new V3 battery and V3 hybrid battery in preparation for an expansion into three new cities—Boston, Sacramento, and San Diego. SparkCharge has already taken root in 12 cities, mostly in California.

The goal is to offer SparkCharge services all over the U.S.—eventually the world—and to increase EV adoption in underrepresented communities by doing so.

When SparkCharge opens in new markets, Sama ensures that they are hiring people from the underrepresented communities they serve. The employees can increase their knowledge and skills relating to EV batteries through a job that transforms their life. They can better support their families and even afford to go on vacations, which would have been more difficult with a typical hourly job.

Sama advised aspiring entrepreneurs to be patient: “Sometimes you think you can accomplish a goal in 12 months. In reality, it could take you 2-3 years. But when you see a vision, stick with it, and bring it to life.”

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied

Applications now open for the 2022-2023 Hult Prize campus competition, and a chance at a $1 million global award

group of prize winners

Applications are open for the Syracuse University Hult Prize, the campus qualifier for a $1 million global competition considered “The Nobel Prize” of student impact entrepreneurship. Sponsored through the Hult Foundation with the United Nations, The Hult Prize focuses on sustainable solutions to pressing global problems with a selected topic of focus each year.

The Blackstone LaunchPad at SU Libraries coordinates the Syracuse campus competition. Applications are due by February 1, 2023 for the campus competition which will be held on Friday, February 17, 2023 from 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. The sooner applications are submitted, the better the LaunchPad can help teams prepare.

Winners of the OnCampus Competition will move on to the next rounds of the Hult Prize competition, getting one step closer to being invited to the Global Accelerator and pitching their ideas in Paris at the Hult Prize Global Finals for a chance at the $1 million grand prize.

Past LaunchPad Syracuse teams have gone on to global regionals in Boston, Toronto and San Francisco.

This year’s challenge is Redesigning Fashion, inviting students to launch an innovative social venture in the clothing and fashion industry to make it more sustainable.

To pitch an idea, students should complete the following steps:

This year’s Syracuse’s campus competition judges will be experts and innovative business professionals in the fashion industry, offering participating teams valuable networking opportunities. 

The LaunchPad can help match teams with mentors who can assist with taking ideas from concept to implementation and crafting an effective pitch presentation. Join the LaunchPad here to take advantage of these free services.

To apply to SU’s Hult Prize campus competition, students are required to fill out both of the following forms:

If students are interested in competing but don’t have a team, please fill out this interest form by November 15, 2023 to be potentially matched with a team.

After applying, students will hear back from Syracuse University’s Hult Prize campus director Sasha Temerte ’23 with competition details and logistics once they are available. 

Please reach out to with additional questions.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Maxim Glagolev ’20 builds B2B marketplace for lab-grown diamonds with his co-founder Dmitry Semchenko

Maxim Glagolev

It is nearly 2 a.m., and Maxim Glagolev is lost, deep in focus. He and his partner, Dmitry Semchenko, persevere through time zone differences as they aim to start their U.S.-based startup while living abroad. Although both founders were born in Moscow, Maxim is temporarily working from Turkey, while Dmitry does the same from Armenia.

Maxim is a beloved alum of Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad. He participated in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship to study International Leadership and Technology Management at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 2019 when he first started working with the LaunchPad. Armed with newfound hope, Maxim joined the LaunchPad to work on his dreams and break the glass ceiling in his career. There, he fell in love with the world of possibilities that entrepreneurship unlocked.

Working with the LaunchPad, Maxim overcame his mental limitations about starting a business and founded GeekLama which helps children around the world receive an IT education that empowers them to pursue better jobs and a better future. Since its founding, GeekLama has launched in the U.S., Russia, Israel, Ghana, and Qatar. Maxim remains engaged with the LaunchPad as a mentor to current student startups working in software development, ed tech and impact entrepreneurship.

Dimitry Semchenko

Maxim’s best friend Dmitry was inspired by this entrepreneurial journey. As someone who adores innovation and appreciates a challenge ripe to be solved, Dmitry looked for a way to partner with Maxim to start another venture. With Dmitry’s expert knowledge of the diamond industry and Maxim’s entrepreneurial prowess, the duo kickstarted LGDeal, the first B2B marketplace that connects lab-grown diamond producers with jewelry stores.

The idea was born when Dmitry was sitting in a sales office at work, observing how long it took to receive information about diamonds. He learned that diamonds would switch hands from three to five intermediaries, increasing their cost by 200-300% along the way. LGDeal solves this by creating a thorough database that enables producers and buyers to connect directly. Jewelers can filter for parameters such as shape, price, carat, cut, color, clarity, production location, and seller rating.

Although lab-grown diamonds are a young, emerging and rapidly growing market, the diamond industry overall remains conservative. A marketplace model like this one plays by different rules than what players in the field are used to, revolutionizing the industry in a way comparable to what Amazon did for consumers. LGDeal offers greater transparency and lower costs than the market had ever seen before.

Maxim and Dmitry built their MVP in less than a year, an incredible accomplishment for the scale of the platform they were aiming for. How did they create a team that was able to do this so efficiently? Maxim and Dmitry leaned on each other’s best talents — while Maxim built a team of his best IT developers, Dmitry could recruit growing companies to join and salespeople who were familiar with jewelers worldwide.

Dmitry also added, “It is important to hire people who are smarter than you, who do better than you. When hiring, spend a lot of time choosing the right candidates because it is better to spend more time now to find the right fit than it is to spend time fixing a problem later.”

Maxim nodded, saying, “Time is a crucial resource for startups.”

Aside from the skillset of the team, Maxim noted the importance of team camaraderie: “There would not be a company without Dmitry. He drives all of us when we are down and lifts our spirits. We did this all together.”

Dmitry echoed similar wisdom: “We try to make the company feel like it is not just me and Maxim’s baby. It is everyone’s baby. We always receive other people’s input because in many cases, our initial assumptions are wrong or made better by the team. Don’t give your team a solution — give them a problem to solve. Then listen.”

The founders explain that they never vote on decisions. Instead, they continue discussions until they discover the single best solution that everyone agrees with. Their favorite decision was the naming of the company.

“That was when the company was born — when we created the name,” Maxim said, smiling.

As with all startups, the process was not without its challenges.

Maxim particularly recalls learning a valuable lesson in being realistic in his time commitments: “I promised to give a lot to the company, and sometimes I could not. I had to evaluate the work on my plate and be honest with myself from the beginning about what I can take on.”

Maxim calls this his illusion theory. Filled with ambition and vision, entrepreneurs often come up with more ideas than they can realistically pursue within 24 hours of a day. Outside of his startup work, Maxim is also a Chief Business Development Officer at Yandex Practicum and has a family to tend to. Dmitry also works full-time and cares for a family of his own. Balancing these has helped Maxim develop a greater self-awareness of what is realistic and what is an illusion.

Despite the challenges of time and distance, the founders have built a successful venture. They now have a collection of over 150,000 stones on their platform that is updated weekly, and LGDeal is even listed as a member in the Jewelers Board of Trade (ID #02738458) and the Jewelers of America (ID #1013659).

By the end of the year, Maxim and Dmitry are planning to open an office in New York City, where they can expand to honor certain clients’ requests for quality control, checking and storing diamond stones before they are shipped to customers. Their goal to be an ecosystem and a one-stop shop for jewelers is well underway.

Both founders offer aspiring entrepreneurs words of advice as they begin their own journeys.

Dmitry advises entrepreneurs to build a strong support network first. “Make sure to have support from friends and family before you start because the process will be challenging, so you need this support from people you love to be sustainable.”

Finally, Maxim encourages all potential entrepreneurs to take a shot at their idea: “In the worst-case scenario, you might fail. But you can tell yourself, ‘At least I tried, and then move on, building on lessons learned along the way.’”

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photos supplied

Elizabeth Gruskin ’22 is a forensic scientist focused on mental health

headshot of a woman

The year is 2020 and the world has spun to a halt in the face of a global pandemic. People are locked indoors, isolation is a pervasive reality, and loved ones are falling ill. As a result of it all, mental health around the world is at an all-time low. Yet at the same time, mental health awareness has grown in priority, and resources for help are more available than ever before.The question is, will it stay that way?

Elizabeth Gruskin, a forensic science and psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, is glad that the pandemic brought discussion about mental health to the forefront of public conversation and hopes that this discourse doesn’t end when the pandemic does.

Elizabeth’s passion for mental health led her to develop an idea for a dispensary café and lounge with an emphasis on community and mental wellbeing. The cannabis industry has been developing rapidly over the past 5-10 years, and Elizabeth wants to use this as an opportunity to redefine the way cannabis is used socially. With café Green Leaf, Elizabeth hopes to emulate an environment similar to bars, where people can meet and converse freely.

This would also allow her to incorporate her love for baking since she will have to develop recipes for infused foods and beverages at the café.

However, Green Leaf would be much more than a place where the cannabis community can gather. It would also be a place of education and safety. Elizabeth wants to educate people about mental health, cannabis, and the intersection of the two. In her hiring process, she would recruit employees who are compassionate, understanding, inclusive, and respectful of people’s boundaries. Employees would be trained on how to create a safe and supportive environment for customers and how to communicate to customers that they can turn to the employees if they need help.

Elizabeth envisions Green Leaf as also having a separate “safe room,” where people can go if they begin feeling anxious in the lounge environment and want to escape to a quieter place.

This semester, Elizabeth is taking IDS 302, a class that has equipped her with a stronger background in business, allowing her to write a business plan and begin developing a minimum viable product (in this case, the recipes she will use).

When reflecting on the value of the collaborative classroom environment, Elizabeth finds that it helped transform Green Leaf from just an idea floating around in her head to something more tangible — an idea that would be ready to take to market.

Elizabeth found the process of learning to build a business to be challenging but equally rewarding.

“I’ve learned the full extent of what it actually takes to start a business,” she said. “I’ve already done so much work, but it’s just the beginning, and there’s still so much to go.”

She also emphasized the importance of asking questions in the startup process: “There is a very high likelihood you don’t know what’s going on, so seek out the people who do, and get their mentorship!”

Elizabeth is looking to get more involved with Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad before she graduates to learn from the LaunchPad’s myriad of resources. She is currently focused on identifying post-graduation job opportunities and hopes to launch Green Leaf into action in the years to come.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied

Frank Marin ’23 (MBA ’24) on innovation in the space industry and bringing ideas to life

As he lies in bed trying to sleep, a thousand thoughts run through Frank’s mind: What would happen if we don’t fix the space debris issue? How can we fix it? A satellite? What would it do? How would it work?

Frank Marin, an aerospace engineering major in the H. John Riley Dual Engineering/MBA Degree Program, is passionate about making a difference in the future of space technology.

In high school, Frank began researching the Kessler Syndrome, a phenomenon where the amount of space debris orbiting around Earth reaches a point where collisions continue to exponentially create more and more space debris. This threat of more space debris could destroy existing satellites, which could interfere with international space station operations and impact our own technology (such as Wi-Fi) on Earth.

“We wouldn’t be on a Zoom call like we are now if space debris takes out our satellites,” Frank said.

While conducting his research under the guidance of his high school science teacher, Frank gained the confidence to actually apply his knowledge to solving the problem.

“I don’t know what my science teacher saw in me, but she pushed me enough to where I could do something truly amazing,” Frank noted. He added that he wouldn’t be where he is today had it not been for the figures in his life who encouraged him to make his ideas a reality.

After understanding the magnitude of the problem, Frank designed and patented his idea for a new satellite: one whose purpose is the removal of space debris using an original design that combines electromagnets, robotic arms, and a strong adhesive that can latch onto debris tumbling through space. By removing even just 5-10 debris per year, this satellite could mitigate the Kessler Syndrome.

To put a face to the company, Frank, and his co-founder, Elliott Holdosh, began MarHold. Although the idea for the company had been alive and brewing in their minds long before they had made it official, finally putting a name to the idea helped bring it to life.

Throughout the startup process, Frank found it valuable to be working with a co-founder that had the same passion he did.

“Having someone by your side that is willing to risk a lot — just as much as you — for something that isn’t even tangible yet is so unique.”

He also explained that having a co-founder is important in that it both provides you with someone who can build you up while at the same time someone who can play devil’s advocate to potentially bad ideas. Frank admitted that he doesn’t know everything, so team members who fill in gaps in his knowledge are necessary to make the vision a reality.

“When we propose an idea, we talk about it until we either crush it to a pulp or put it on a shelf to come back to,” Frank said.

Because Frank views criticism as an opportunity to grow, he takes feedback he receives to heart, especially when it comes to slowing down on his ideas and taking a process one step at a time instead of three. He reminds other aspiring entrepreneurs to also be open to criticism and to be realistic in their pursuits.

“Keep your head in the clouds but feet on the ground,” he said.

Despite emphasizing the value in staying grounded, Frank does believe in chasing the impossible.

“All we have is the name, the idea, and the dream, but that’s all you need to start.” After all, that’s how all of the world’s greatest inventions began.

Now, Frank and his team are seeking funding for the research and development of the satellite design.

Frank hopes that over time, the company will serve as a catalyst for innovations in other industries too. He believes that dabbling in different fields of science is good because it develops a more comprehensive view of the world and how it works. Frank aspires to capture that bigger picture with MarHold.

“Whatever we may do, it’s going to make an impact,” he said, smiling. “But we can’t do this just the two of us.”

Those interested in learning more about Frank, joining his team, or investing in MarHold’s research and development can find him on LinkedIn or email him at

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow Sasha Temerte ’23; photo by the LaunchPad

Tanya Mir ’22, founder of Slice Consulting

headshot of a woman in a blue blouse outdoors

Tanya Mir’s eyes quickly flitter across the screen as she scrolls through job postings, the blue light of her laptop reflecting in her eyes. It is 1 a.m., and she has spent the rest of her day hopping between classes, work, and extracurricular activities. Restless and passionate, Tanya is committed to applying to her dream consulting positions.

Because Tanya is pursuing a policy studies major though the Maxwell School of Citizenship, Tanya lacked the same opportunities available to more traditional business students to prove to consulting companies that she’s capable of success. And compared to other universities with extensive consulting club networks, Syracuse University didn’t have a student consulting club that matched her skills and interests.

Without already having relevant internship experience, Tanya felt at a disadvantage compared to students who had clubs that provided them with the necessary skills and connections that are so pertinent to the job market today.

“The job market is so competitive — not just in consulting but in general. Now, you’re expected to already have extensive experience, even for entry-level jobs,” Tanya, a senior, lamented.

After running the idea by her close friend, Bailey Klemm, Tanya began Slice Consulting to provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the field. Together, the two women built the club from the ground up, modeling it as closely as possible to what real consulting recruitment and work looks like.

“I could not have done it without Bailey,” Tanya said. “She deserves a lot of credit for keeping me in check and giving me the truth when I needed it.”

Teams are a major part of consulting, so Tanya stressed that the executive team she and Bailey had selected became the foundation for the club’s success and creative drive. The team keeps each other accountable, and Bailey helps Tanya decide what club initiatives need to be prioritized most.

Tanya also expressed how the growth of Slice allowed her to strengthen her ability to leverage a team dynamic for long-term success: “The larger we grow as a club, the more I have to learn my limits and delegate tasks to others. This is good because it also creates new leadership positions for more people.”

She added, “Teamwork makes the dream work. You have to know how to be not only a great leader but also a great team member, which can sometimes mean stepping back and letting someone else take the lead.”

When Slice launched in the fall, Tanya was blown away by the caliber of the applications. This semester, she is expecting to bring on even more members for their growing client base.

To join Slice, students must partake in an interview and case study that mirrors the application process of many well-known consulting firms. Once they are accepted as consultants, the students work on projects for clients, most of which so far have been nonprofits in the Syracuse area. For each project, one consultant is appointed as the project manager. Following this, the project team meets with the client to discuss their needs. The teams use real project management tools to meet deadlines and ultimately help their client succeed. 

One of Slice’s first clients is the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University.

Outside of Slice, Tanya also works as a teaching assistant in the political science department, where she is starting a new program to engage more political science students in civic engagement. She has also worked on grant writing for Upskill Education and fosters discourse on effective club leadership through the South Asian Student Association.

After graduating this spring, Tanya will be kickstarting her consulting career by working for Deloitte as a business technology analyst for the summer, and she is also applying to a master’s degree program in entrepreneurship through the Whitman School of Management.

Tanya’s projects can be found on her LinkedIn, and more information about Slice Consulting can be found on the club’s website and Instagram.

There will be two general interest meetings for students looking to join Slice in Spring 2022:

  • Tuesday, February 1st at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom
  • Wednesday, February 2nd at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom

Interested students should also fill out Slice’s application form, which is due February 7th.

See the below image for the general interest meeting ID’s and QR code.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow; photo supplied