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…
Syracuse University Startup Ravle Makes the Finals at Student Startup Madness
Ravle, a startup launched by Syracuse University students Tay Lotte ’19 and Kevin Rieck ’19, has been selected to compete in the finals of Student Startup Madness (SSM) at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, on March 12. Ravle is a platform that allows travelers to customize and book full trips through travel videos created by the world’s top travel filmmakers. Lotte (creative leadership, University College) and Rieck (knowledge management, University College) developed the company with support from the Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library.
Lotte and Rieck started the company in February 2017, and went on to win second place in the Whitman School’s 2017 Panasci Business Plan Competition the following May, giving them $7,500 in funding. In the past year they have assembled a strong technical team, launched their beta platform and are growing a network of top travel filmmakers across the globe.
“Being a finalist in Student Startup Madness has pushed us to make big leaps forward these past couple of months. We hope our traction gets us one step closer to being accepted into an accelerator program this summer,” says Lotte, who is both co-founder and head designer.
“We are delighted to see Syracuse University entrepreneurs going on to national competitions,” adds David Seaman, dean of libraries and University librarian, “and making full use of the business planning expertise and mentoring provided by the Libraries through the LaunchPad.”
The SSM tournament is a competition held at the annual SXSW, which celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. SSM will feature a group of “Entrepreneurial Eight” college student startups, selected from field of national applicants, pitching to a prestigious judging panel of entrepreneurs and investors. The winning team will receive a prize package of software and services, and access to an elite network of VCs and entrepreneurs.
“This is our seventh year, and this year the judging was tougher than ever,” says Sean Branagan, Newhouse professor and creator of the SSM program. “This year’s finalists include companies with innovative uses of machine learning, creative travel influencer marketing, software to optimize in-home health care staffing, sensor-based clothing, online legal services to help juvenile immigrants, and a cool new way for kids to learn code.”