In 1978, Cliff Ensley ’69, ’70, G’71 had an idea to start his own business and just $2,500 to do it. He was used to taking on challenges—there was no stopping him. Growing up, he struggled with a learning disability—at…
Orange Tree Fund gives out $60k to support eight SU student start-ups
Eight Syracuse University student start-ups have won a combined $60,000 in seed funding through the inaugural Orange Tree Fund awards.
The products of the selected companies range from online gaming to date-rape prevention straws to the renovation of old storefronts. The companies comprise an interdisciplinary mix of student talent, representing a diverse range of majors, including architecture, biology, information management, music industry, advertising design, accounting and public relations.
The Orange Tree Fund was initiated last summer as part of the Syracuse Student Start-Up Accelerator to provide seed funding to help SU student entrepreneurs launch their ventures.
“The judges were impressed with the quality of business ideas and talent in this first pool of Orange Tree Fund recipients,” says SU Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Bruce Kingma. “One of the most exciting aspects of these awards is that they directly support student entrepreneurs in Central New York. Our hope is that these companies remain in the area after the students graduate to help build a thriving community that is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Funding is awarded to student companies to cover start-up expenses incurred in the summer, typically while student teams are working at the Syracuse Technology Garden. Student expenses may include salaries of company owners and employees, space rental, marketing, legal advice, website development and proof-of-concept development.
The winning companies are:
• Campus Mosaic, a two-fold venture including the satirical SU website ’Cuse my Campus and the niche comedic design apparel company Squeeze My Tees, run by Alex Piliouras ’10 (Newhouse School), Brian Weinreich ’10 (The College of Arts and Sciences) and Tory Gentes ’10 (Whitman School), $12,000;
• Capesquared, a Web services company, run by Justin Breese ’09, G’10, Shay Colson G’10 and Andrew Farah G’11, all from the School of Information Studies, $4,000;
• DreamFetcher, a connection service for job seekers and employers, run by Austin Curtis ’10 (Newhouse School), Gerald Decelian ’10 (iSchool) and Kyle McShane ’10 (Whitman School), $4,000;
• Grafight, an online fighting game that brings sketches to life, run by Eric Cleckner ’10 (College of Visual and Performing Arts), Dave Chenell ’10 (iSchool) and David Benman, $12,000;
• JamLynx by Manticore Music, an online subscription game/social networking site that allows instrumentalists to play together or in competition with each other, run by Brian Goetsch ’10 (The College of Arts and Sciences), Jerrell Perry ’10 (iSchool), Joe Gennaro ’11 (iSchool), Justin Perry ’10 (iSchool) and Kinyatta King ’02, G’09 (College of Visual and Performing Arts, Whitman School), $12,000;
• Safe Sip Tech, a date rape prevention straw that changes color when exposed to drugs, run by Colby Morgan ’10 (iSchool), Meocha M. Belle ’10 (The College of Arts and Sciences) and Putnam David ’10 (iSchool), $4,000;
• Skill Addiction, an online gaming site that offers tournament-style skill gaming, run by Ray Williams ’10 and Taylor Louie ’10, both from the Whitman School, $8,000; and
• The Front, a service for renovating abandoned storefronts into prime real estate and securing long-term tenants, run by Christopher DePalma ’10, Elizabeth Mikula ’11, Molly Poes ’11 and Stephen Klimek ’10, all from the School of Architecture, $4,000.
Winning teams will be required to meet with SU Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Liddy to outline the deliverables, company calendar and business plan, after which they will receive the first half of their funds. They earn the remaining half of the Orange Tree Funds in six to 12 weeks, based on their work in implementing the plans discussed with Liddy.
Farah, says he is grateful for the support and looks forward to investing it in his Web services company. “Now we just need a bit of time, and we’ll turn this into something of merit and then return the favor,” he says. “Thank you, Syracuse.”
The Orange Tree Fund recipients were recognized recently during Emerging Talk, an event that pulled together more than 130 student entrepreneurs from universities and colleges across Central New York as well as business members and others interested in entrepreneurship.
The Orange Tree Fund is supported by SU alumni and donors, SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor and the Kauffman Foundation via Enitiative, a collaborative partnership that provides contacts, resources and funding support for entrepreneurial projects while uniting faculty and students of Central New York academic institutions and members of the community.