sasha-temerte

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 fdmarin@syr.edu.

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

C!ub app connects students with clubs for more effective communication

C!ub app and Fabio Xie

How many platforms do you use for club communications? GroupMe, Teams, Slack, email, Instagram, and iMessage all at once for different organizations?  Do you find it frustrating to keep track of it all?

Or perhaps you’ve struggled to join clubs because you couldn’t find updated information about them on your university website? Couldn’t make the club fair? Received no response to an email asking if a club still exists?

C!ub is a startup that aims to fix these issues through a mobile app platform that helps students find clubs, easily organize the list of clubs they’re involved with, and helps clubs communicate with their members. C!ub also allows students and organizations to discover other clubs around the country.

C!ub was founded by Fabio Xie ’23, studying Environment, Sustainability, and Policy and Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, who began his entrepreneurial journey by engineering a practical solution to a problem that he and friends faced on a daily basis.

His team consists of 14 other talented and passionate students who are developers and designers from a myriad of North American universities, in addition to Syracuse University students working in marketing. Although the students are from five different time zones, they have still successfully met every single week for over the past 14 months, demonstrating their commitment to the team and startup.

Recently, C!ub launched its second MVP for users from more than ten student organizations at Syracuse University to collect feedback for their next prototype.

In the future, C!ub hopes to expand its reach to institutions globally, allowing high school and college students and clubs from all around the world to connect and communicate more effectively than ever before.

To learn more about the app, check out its website and other pages. You can also read more about the startup at this article.

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

Civilian Medical Response aims to educate the public on how to respond to medical emergencies

Each year 600,000 Americans suffer from cardiac arrest and 795,000 from strokes. Most of these situations occur outside of a hospital, yet programs for public education on how to handle these emergencies are underfunded or nonexistent.

Emergency preparedness can be the difference between life and death, so it’s important to be prepared. However, while family, friends and bystanders are often the first people on the scene of a medical emergency, they’re also the same people who don’t know how to react.

As a firefighter and EMT, Jared Anderson has seen first-hand the lack of knowledge the average person has on how to respond to emergency situations — a safety problem that can be easily addressed by educating the public.

A bioengineering major in Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, Jared Anderson hopes to facilitate this education in a non-disruptive and accessible way.

To do so, he founded Civilian Medical Response, a nonprofit company that will provide innovative, hands-on workshops that teach the skills necessary to respond to medical emergencies.

The issue with most emergency preparedness courses is that they are often taught in a manner that is unengaging, inconsiderate of people’s time or costs significant money. Civilian Medical Response aims to change this by meeting people where they are and offering workshops that are not only free of charge but also that maximize material retention and time efficiency.

Thus far, he has already developed a preliminary curriculum with the help of emergency response experts and is working on recruiting potential workshop hosts. In the future, he hopes to also offer certifications for people and organizations to demonstrate their preparedness in the face of medical crises.

Long-term, Jared hopes the startup will change the landscape of emergency response education, leading to a more prepared public.

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

Innovation Law Center office hours at the LaunchPad on November 17

people at a conference table

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights?  Join us for this week’s Innovation Law Center Office Hours on Wednesday, November 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at this Zoom link.

The Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + New York State Science & Technology Law Center (NYS STLC) is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Hear insights from law student Jake Goldsmith and ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

If you can’t make it this week, there will be more office hours in the spring semester from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the LaunchPad on these days, hosted by these law students:

Thurs. Jan 20: Hilda Frimpong
Wed. Feb 2: Al Michalenko
Thurs. Feb 17: Hilda Frimpong
Wed. March 2: Alyssa Christian
Thurs. March 24: Alyssa Christian
Wed. Apr 6: Chris Henley

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

Ask us your 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 during this session, please e-mail us at LaunchPad@syr.edu

Innovation Law Center office hours at the LaunchPad on November 4

people at a conference table

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights?  Join us for the next Innovation Law Center Office Hours on Thursday, November 4 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at this Zoom link.

The Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + New York State Science & Technology Law Center (NYS STLC) is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Hear insights from law student Jake Goldsmith and ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

If you can’t make it this week, there will be another office hours event this semester from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on November 17, hosted by Jake Goldsmith.

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

Ask us your 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 during this session, please e-mail us at LaunchPad@syr.edu

Patchwork launches platform for users to share and discuss content without leaving the page

two student founders in front of a light wall
Patchwork co-founders Paul Hultgren and Jackson Ensley

Have you ever read an article that you knew you had to send to a friend? If so, you probably copied and pasted the link, emailed it to yourself to open on your phone, then texted it to your friend? Or perhaps you found the perfect paragraph on medieval art for your group history project, but you had to upload the link to a shared Google Doc then struggle to explain which paragraph you were looking at? Or maybe you have read a list of “Top 10 Restaurants Near You” and had to screenshot #5 and #8 to send in your group chat?

With Patchwork, a startup venture incubating in the Syracuse University LaunchPad, content sharing is quick, easy and intuitive. Patchwork is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to share written content and hold conversations without ever needing to leave the original web page.

Its founders — Jackson Ensley, a marketing management major at the Whitman School of Management, and developer Paul Hultgren who is the LaunchPad’s inaugural Innovator in Residence — came up with the idea after realizing there is no streamlined way to discuss content online while viewing it.

As the founders explain, we live in a time where the internet is focused on integration and engagement, making it more important than ever before to have a platform that allows people to share content quickly and collaborate more efficiently. Patchwork does just this by letting users open a chat panel on the side of their screen and refer directly to specific quotes on a page.

Until now, this form of discussion has been reserved to platforms dedicated to serving academic scholars, but Patchwork makes discourse about digital information more social, fun and accessible to anyone.

In future years, Patchwork also hopes to encompass additional integrations that would allow users to share content to platforms such as Slack or Twitter.

By creating a more engaged and connected web of internet readers, Patchwork will transform the way we view information, one shared link and quote at a time.

Story by Sasha Temerte ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Next Innovation Law Center office hours at the LaunchPad on October 20

people at a conference table

Need help understanding how to protect ideas or creative works? Confused about patents, trademarks and copyrights? Join us for the next Innovation Law Center Office Hours on Wednesday, October 20 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at this Zoom link.

The Syracuse University Innovation Law Center + New York State Science & Technology Law Center (NYS STLC) is partnering with the LaunchPad to host office hours for innovators and inventors interested in commercializing their ideas. Hear insights from law student Cierra Thomas and ask questions on anything related to the technical, legal, and business aspects involved in bringing new technologies to market.

If you can’t make it this week, other upcoming office hours this semester will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the LaunchPad on these days, hosted by these law students:

Thurs. Nov 4: Jake Goldsmith
Wed. Nov 17: Jake Goldsmith

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

Ask us your 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 during this session, please e-mail us: LaunchPad@syr.edu

Carlos Magdaleno ’23 on his growth as a video creator

Lost in the crowd, Carlos clicks his camera into manual mode. He raises his arms above the herd, turning in circles to capture a 360-view of the dancing bodies and smiling faces. As he films, the camera swallows up the bellowing roar of the singing and cheering.

Later that same night, Carlos’s eyes dart between monitors to edit the concert footage. The computer is one he built himself — one that can handle the magnitude of the processing speed his video editing demands.

On Carlos’s wall are five photographs: a drone shot of the beach, city streets, the setting sun, a dreamy waterfall, and a beloved image of Syracuse University’s Crouse Hall. Although the five images are very different, they echo a unifying theme: Carlos’s love for capturing the moment, whether that moment is peaceful nature or the hustle and bustle of people living life.

Carlos Magdaleno, an advertising major in the Newhouse School of Public Communications, picked up a camera for the first time his senior year of high school and never put it down.

“Once I got behind the camera, I fell in love with it,” he said.

Now, he is a 2021 – 2022 Zaccai Foundation Fellow for Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad, where he films content to promote entrepreneurship on campus. Outside of Blackstone LaunchPad, Carlos is also involved with the University Union production team, where he can capture the energy of student life.

But Carlos’s knack for videography didn’t come naturally nor was he taught the basics in school. His passion fueled his initiative to teach himself how to film and edit by watching hours of instructional videos and putting the craft into practice.

“It wasn’t easy to do. There are hours behind the scenes, hours I put in that nobody notices,” he said.

Carlos also experienced difficulties as a first-generation college student coming from a background where traditional education is taken more seriously than a career path as a creative in the digital sphere. He initially began as a computer science major before realizing the work left him drained and unfulfilled. Quickly, he turned back to his creative calling.

Carlos explained that creativity is not something that can be taught, and that’s what shapes someone into an innovator.

“You can teach someone the fundamentals of a skill or equipment, but what they create after that is up to them,” Carlos noted. “You have to stand out, especially in a digital world full of content that repeats and imitates. When you take inspiration from something, you need to add your own spin on it to make the content your own.”

As he improved, Carlos began to reach out to people to get involved with moments he was hoping to capture, but his focus is still on perfecting the craft, creating things he finds beautiful and putting his work out for the world to see.

The previous summer was Carlos’s first major project: filming two festivals in California and a concert for Snoop Dogg. The opportunity was monumental because it was the first time someone had reached out to and put faith in Carlos to work on the video production for such a popular event.

Carlos especially loves filming for concerts because of the potential to capture the energy of an audience: “While shooting, I try to soak in all the energy, then do my best to bring that to life through the edits of both the visuals and sound.”

Down the road, Carlos hopes to either work for a production company or run one of his own. For the time being, he is working on developing reliable connections with people and building a brand for himself as a creator.

“I want to create things and build something for myself that I can be proud of,” Carlos said as he reflected on how far he’s already come.

Looking back, Carlos regrets how much time he spent worrying about what people would think of him, so he advises other creative entrepreneurs to refrain from this same concern: “Honestly, people don’t care that much, so just do what you love.”

“Put yourself out there and keep going,” he added with a smile.

Carlos’s latest photo and video projects can be found on his Instagram, @cjmagdal.

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