Zero Lin

Jon Templeton ‘23 launches his first application, Skosh!, on the App Store

student in a blue shirt

Python, MATLAB and Swift — For people who are not coding enthusiasts, all these programming languages may sound like something that will never be their cup of tea. For Jon Templeton, however, he is a passionate explorer and problem-solver in the field of computer science.

Templeton, a computer science sophomore at the College of Engineering and Computer Science of Syracuse University, just launched his first application, Skosh!, via App Store in April. This is the project that he has spent much of his time over the past year designing and developing. He is the type of person who eventually found his real interests after immerging in and practicing in the world.

Back in his high school time, Templeton is part of Team USA, a competitive drone racing team of the Drone Champions League. He served as a drone pilot and designer and won sixth place in several national competitions. Because of his outstanding performances, he also received sponsorships from several companies in the droning industry. This experience, more importantly, led him to his major of aerospace engineering.

“I really enjoyed the MATLAB class that I took in school, but I wanted to do more because that was kind of limited in what I can do [in class],” Templeton said. “Then, I went ahead to learn Python over the summer [of 2020] and started getting pretty interested in it.”

Because of his passion for learning more about coding, Templeton decided to switch his major to computer science, which focuses more on coding, starting in the spring of 2021. As this is the first semester in the new major, he took a few introductory classes that serve to build up his base for further engineering.

Besides normal coursework, however, Templeton is an eager learner and explorer in the field that he always wants to figure out something more by himself to develop some projects.

“I wanted to do different projects that were more mainstream, so I was just kind of motivated by what we learned in the classroom and wanting to dive deeper,” Templeton said. Skosh! is what he created during his spare time.

The idea of Skosh! came from Templeton’s thought of designing a good way for couples to talk and give one another a love note, and this note can be shown on the home screen by using widgets on an iPhone. Therefore, Templeton started in December 2020 to teach himself how to code and design an application like this.

It is not an easy process for Templeton to develop this application because he is not an experienced developer and, more importantly, knew no one to reach out to when he encountered problems except using tutorials.

“I had been working, which took me a long time, to fix all the bugs [for the application] because there’s just a lot of different test cases that it’s hard to do all of them,” Templeton said, adding that he ultimately found a couple of friends to help beta test.

Fixing bugs took Templeton plenty of time because he has been the only developer so far for the application. When he was the only one writing and designing the program, he was aware of all the “ins and outs” that he might not encounter any inconvenience during his using process. Nevertheless, as soon as he introduced the app to more new users, they provided various feedback that was not something Templeton expected during the designing process.

“I have to make sure that the application runs smoothly for every single user,” Templeton said. “Some of the issues I ran into with it were in development or the lack of documentation, especially with widgets because they’re still beta on the Apple documentation, so it was really difficult to get help from anyone.”

The documentation that Templeton referred to is that for all coding languages, whenever they implement a new feature or a language in general, they will give developers instructions and tools — documentation and exemplar cases of how a certain function should be used with a description of what it exactly does.

“A lot of the apple documentation, however, it gives you a good description of what it is, but there aren’t a lot of examples of somebody using it,” Templeton said, which caused him more problems during the developing process.

The whole developing and pre-launching process took Templeton around four months, and he finally got the approval and launched his application on the App Store in April. Right now, instead of fully focusing on polishing the application, Templeton also hopes to spread the word to more people for getting a wider user base.

Recalling back his long process of developing Skosh!, Templeton is satisfied with and proud of his achievement so far.

“I’m happy that I got it on the App Store, and that was the goal of this project,” Templeton said. “I also don’t have any bugs [so far,] so I’m really happy that people can use it smoothly.”

Download the five-star rated app and give it a try this summer:

Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Kaizhao Zero Lin ’21; Photos supplied

Samuel Chazen ’21 builds a food education venture inspired by idea lists he made as a child

student in a suit jacket

Sam Chazen was born to be inventive and energetic. When he was a child, he dreamed of jumping eight feet high in the air, as well as many other “outlandish inventions” that sound a little silly to him now as an adult.

His father, however, encouraged him to write all of his ideas down and keep them in a journal. This became a stimulative idea because Chazen generated the idea of founding his own business based on a short phrase he wrote down — food encyclopedia.

The idea of constructing a food encyclopedia inspired the birth of Food-E, an innovative application used to connect communities far and wide through a cross-cultural passion for food and cooking. Along the foundation of this new-born company, Chazen is also on his journey to understand food culture from an entrepreneur’s eye.

Chazen is currently a senior studying marketing management and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management of Syracuse University. Before entering college, he did not really have an idea of what to major in but knew that he wanted to study business when he was in high school.

“It was a process of elimination.  I looked on the list of all the majors at the Whitman School,” Chazen said. Accounting, finance and supply chain management sounded too far removed from his interests, but marketing, along with a dual major in entrepreneurship, felt like a perfect combination.  These interests seemed embedded in his blood.

There is a long history of entrepreneurship in his family. Chazen’s mother’s-side great-grandfather owned a steel factory and invented and held one of the original patents for the fly swatter and the metal coat hanger.  His father’s-side great-grandfather also held a patent for the first industrial microwave vending machine.  His own father started a company back in the late 2000s.

All these family stories inspired Chazen to select the field of marketing. After gaining real-world marketing experiences through internships, he opened himself to entrepreneurship and joined the Entrepreneurship LaunchPad class with Linda Hartsock, the executive director of Blackstone LaunchPad at SU who is an adjunct faculty member in the EEE program at the Whitman School of Management.

“I would not be where I am without this class.  There are so many resources that I’m able to utilize from the class,” Chazen said. In this class, Chazen is also able to further develop his idea of Food-E into a real venture as part of competitions through the LaunchPad, the iSchool and at the Whitman School.

Food-E is a two-pronged application that includes a social media platform made for sharing recipes and promoting creativity in the kitchen with a food information database to bridge the gap among food information. The two main questions that Chazen and his team want to answer through this application are what people should make, and whether it is healthy, Chazen said.

“I realized that there were a lot of ways to answer these questions, but they were all done on different platforms, and you definitely weren’t getting both of the answers to those questions on the same platform,” Chazen said. “So, my team and I created the Food-E app to connect and educate people from around the world.”

Chazen designed this application with a long-term vision of making it useful for everyone, but also realized that he needs to narrow in on first markets. For the initial audience base, Food-E wants to serve three main groups of people — high school and college athletes who need to track their nutritional intake, young professionals who are living on their own for the first time and need to learn to cook for themselves, and young parents who want guidance on healthier foods for their children. These three initial target segments will be his first path to market, but the beauty of Food-E is that it is universal and can easily appeal to broader groups, Chazen added.

To better integrate into social media, the team has conducted discovery around different food platforms, including Instagram, Twitter and Tik-Tok.

“We discovered some interesting statistics. For example, the #food tag on Instagram has 417 million posts and #nutrition has 55 million,” Chazen said.  “There is a rapidly growing forum to share food via multimedia because #food on Tik-Tok has 80.9 billion views and #nutrition has 1.4. I think it comes down to the fact that people love to eat, and one of the hardest things of being an adult is figuring out what to eat three times a day.”

Right now, Chazen and his team are working on seeking funding opportunities to further develop their business. They have just won 3rd place in the School of Information Studies Raymond von Dran iPrize for Student Entrepreneurship with a $1,000 prize and will be moving on to the statewide finals of the New York Business Plan Competition.

Chazen also wants to recognize of the contributions of his team, including Nick Julian as the director of digital content, Edwin Duke as the director of finance, Chris Wildman as the director of marketing, and Ryan Kiey as the director of IT.

He and his team have a collective goal of tackling even more business competitions and pursuing other opportunities.  “We see ourselves on the verge of success, but we’re also facing hurdles, Chazen says.  That’s the path of entrepreneurship. “We’ve done a really good job of managing both the long-term and short-term views and our goal is to stay on track.” 

As a founder, Chazen loves one entrepreneurial quote. “You have to always have your telescope with a microscope.”  He’s using both to build the ideas that started with his imaginative childhood book of lists.

Story by Kaizhao Zero Lin, LaunchPad Global Fellow

Aanya Singh ‘21 seeks representation and encourages women to create their own communities in the fashion industry

Many titles can be put in front of Aanya Singh’s name — editor-in-chief for Icing Collective, president at the Fashion and Design Society at Syracuse University and a creative leader. All of her great work led to her nomination and honor in the list of 44 New Voices: Campus Voices at SU.

Newhouse’s 44 New Voices created a student edition to identify and amplify new and diverse student voices in media news, policy, public affairs and civic commentary on campus. Singh undoubtedly deserves this recognition because she has been on the path to seek representations of women and various cultures for a long time.

Born in Wisconsin, she spent her early life in Singapore, Tokyo and New Delhi. This floating background also immersed Singh into different cultures. Growing up, she is always interested in fashion and loves dressing up. During her middle school, she was in the after-school club called Passion for Fashion, which strengthened her idea to work in the fashion industry, even under the relatively conservative culture in India.

“I went to high school in India, a country that is conservative in terms of what women can wear as women try not to draw any negative attention to themselves standing out on the street,” Singh said. “But I always felt that fashion is a way to express myself, balancing wearing what I wanted while respecting the culture around me.”

This interest in self-expression and self-determination in fashion motivated Singh to major in studio art at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and also study in the Fashion and Beauty Communications Milestone at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and in the entrepreneurship and emerging enterprise (EEE) program at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

During her freshman year, Singh had trouble finding a student organization to affiliate with because there were not too many choices for her to demonstrate her great passion for fashion. Therefore, she decided to create her own magazine, Icing Collective, with a few friends.

Designed for the artistic young-adults who are transitioning into expressive, fashion-forward contributors, this magazine aims to play a part in the public creative collective by showcasing youth fashion, beauty, art and lifestyle.

“I hope to spotlight my creative community in Syracuse,” she said. “It’s not only a way for me to experiment with photography and styling but also a way for me to collaborate with a community to create a body of work that we are very proud of.”

Aanya at work on a photo shoot

Besides founding her own publication, Singh further expanded her engagement to more creative individuals. To her, coming into the U.S. as an international student was hard, and she was struggling at first to find a place that she could fit in. She then started to create her own community by getting involved in SU’s Fashion and Design Society, aka FADS, after noticing that the club was going to be revived after a long period of silence.

Singh took on the role of vice president during her freshman year and built up the departmental structure for it along with other core members. Starting with only eight people, FADS is now growing into a club with more than 120 people from different majors that are not limited to design or studio art.

After being promoted to the president position in her sophomore year, Singh has hosted four fashion shows over the past two years with different themes, including Body & Space, The Gallery, Night Circus and Tomorrowland. This year, they set the theme for the show as Revival, deconstructing 16th century’s regality with rebellious punk subculture influences.

“I’m so lucky to be a creative director of an organization and implement my own vision and style, which rebels from traditions and norms of cultures I grew up around to create something new entirely,” Singh said. “The theme reflects the renaissance we are currently seeing take place, the dismantling of archaic structures and views- people questioning norms and the world we knew is never going to be the same again.”

Singh currently works with and wants to make shout-outs to her fabulous Vice Presidents, Jessie Zhai and Emily Goldberg, who prepare this semester’s show planned for May. Working with these outstanding girls also made Singh realize how women in the real-world fashion industry are hardworking but may still face more difficulties.

The biggest problem she observed in the real world is that women can be very objectified only based on how they look, and this is super superficial, she said. She feels like that’s not what fashion is, and fashion should be the way of how people would like to express themselves, in her opinion. Because of these challenges, Singh thus encouraged all women to create their own opportunities and community just like what she has been doing on the SU campus.

“When things aren’t handed to you, you have to create your own spaces and communities that make you feel safe, Singh said. “The most important thing is to build a good strong support system and build other women up with you. We can do anything that we set our minds to, and it’s worth it to help each other succeed.”

Story by  Kaizhao Zero Lin, LaunchPad Global Media Fellow; photos supplied

Ethan Tyo ’17 G’21 publishes his first book on plant-based food to promote a sustainable lifestyle

A health entrepreneur, an indigenous human rights advocate and a social media planner.  These are some of the tags that Ethan Tyo received over the past few years that he has been involved in the Syracuse community. But this time, he decided to go with the title of a food storyteller.  

Tyo, with help from some friends, just published his first cookbook, “Fetagetaboutit,” in February.

This is his first project as a Food Studies graduate student at David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics of Syracuse University, which took almost two years for him to finish the adventure. Nevertheless, his interests in food and lifestyle have been with him for a long time.

During his undergraduate time at SU’s School of Information Studies, Tyo realized that he had a strong interest in food since 2015 when he was studying abroad in London. He experienced a huge weight loss there and changed to a plant-based diet as a matter of interest. Eventually, he was exposed to “a whole new world of color” and started exploring the journey with food through a different perspective toward understanding the importance of nutrition and lifestyle, he said.

Back then, Tyo was also active on social media platforms and had worked with several global entrepreneurs and food companies to create content and do content planning. Nevertheless, he was not motivated in these works but really hoped to start his own project someday.

“I spent the break between undergrad and grad time trying to think about how I (could) approach the stuff that I was interested in via social media after going through a lot of personal stuff and personal growth,” Tyo said. “And so, I dropped off social media because I really wanted to focus more on, how am I going to approach sharing my work and how I want to shape my career.”

With a strong interest in food and a willingness to promote a healthy lifestyle, Tyo decided to pursue his graduate degree. At Falk College, he said that he can really focus on food systems on a larger scale and see the implications that food has on people. Moreover, he is also eager to dig into the history of food because the food systems have developed and released in such a “fascinating way.”

“I wanted to be someone who creates content that was valuable and something that people would use to help better themselves with,” Tyo said, after working in the field of media for several years. “This cookbook is a way to kind of taking a step toward (solving the puzzle) of ‘I don’t know how to cook, what to eat or even where to start’ when people don’t want to sustain themselves on eating out all the time.”

To Tyo, he perceives this book as a foundational ground for people to be like “Hey, here are some simple recipes and ingredients for plant-based food,” so that people can know where to get them and what to look for in the kitchen.

Divided into different sections, including breakfast, entrees, snacks, and drinks, the book tells the story of Beatmaster Bobby Slay, star chef by day and master DJ by night, as well as his recipes. More notably, besides teaching people how to cook, the book also aims at educating people to eat plant-rich meals and reduce food waste, Tyo said.

And that is about sustainability, something that this cookbook hopes to highlight. It provides readers with tips and tricks not only on grocery shopping and produce storage but also on effectively using food scraps in composting or recipes, the website reads.

Tyo also wants to thank his colleagues for working on this book with him: SU alum Kyle Blaha G’17 brought him a fun, satirical twist to the traditional cookbook with short stories on Bobby’s adventures, meal plans (playlists), and the overall voice of Bobby. The book tries to cover all the essentials that a plant-based kitchen needs to get started.  Each recipe also has a song accompaniment so that people can listen when they are cooking or eating.  Laura Markley — the graphic designer and a current Ph.D. student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program — also offered minimal-waste guides and tips.

Autographing his book at the LaunchPad at Bird Library

He will be working with the LaunchPad and other campus partners on the rollout of the book.  For Tyo, this cookbook is not the end of his journey with food. It is more like the starting point for him to keep pursuing this career and discovering more about food and, more importantly, the culture and self-identification that lie behind it.

“In my next project, I really want to focus more on my cultural movements and bring them back to this aspect of how I integrate my own cultural understanding and cultural knowledge growth through the work that I do,” Tyo said. 

He has been a mentor to other LaunchPad student entrepreneurs working in the creative space and in the food sector and will be a judge for the upcoming Hult Prize with its theme, “Food for Good.”  His book will be added to the LaunchPad’s innovation and entrepreneurship collection at SU Libraries in both print and digital versions.

By Kaizhao Zero Lin ‘21, LaunchPad Global Fellow