A new study away opportunity for student-athletes will be offered this year as a Maymester course in Los Angeles. The course, Networking and the Art of the Pitch, was developed by Rachel Dubrofsky, chair of communication and rhetorical studies (CRS)…
Graduate Students Find Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Success Across Campus
Graduate students who are interested in exploring an entrepreneurial path will find abundant opportunities at Syracuse University.
Blackstone LaunchPad serves as the University’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub, partnering with academic programs and entrepreneurial centers across campus and beyond to connect students to local, regional and national networks of alumni entrepreneurs, company founders, subject matter experts and venture partners.
Administered by Syracuse University Libraries and located in Bird Library, the LaunchPad hosts classes, speaking events and workshops and offers a mentoring program. In addition, LaunchPad hosts multiple business plan prize competitions each year.
Three businesses developed by graduate students recently claimed the top prizes in the ’Cuse Tank competition, one of the University’s premier business plan competitions. Here, the winners offer advice for other graduate-level students who have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Natasha Brao developed Shooka Sauce, inspired by the Mediterranean dish Shakshuka. The MBA student says she plans to run the business full time after she graduates this spring. Brao recently began production runs and is forming relationships with small local retailers. She will expand the business by hiring staff and ramping up marketing and sales and hopes it will soon be investor ready.
“Creating a food product and brand has been something I have dreamed of doing since I was a kid, and now I owe it to myself to give it all I’ve got,” she says. She encourages others to pursue their startups while still in school. “If you have an idea you want to explore or that is ready and has a place in the market, this is the best time for that. Starting a business while being in grad school has made me more passionate and driven me to absorb as much as I can from my classes. They provide invaluable tools to learn as I go and I can immediately apply those lessons to the real world.”
Waqar Hussain founded Icon Pro Solutions, a cloud-hosting platform engineered with proprietary software that offers streamlined cloud server management solutions. He is on track to earn an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship and marketing next year. Now, he’ll use his ’Cuse Tank prize to fund product development, improved technology, automation, marketing and the infrastructure and operations teams, he says. He encourages graduate students to take on startup ventures.
“[The experience] allows grad students to start building while they’re studying. These programs help you think more holistically when you’re competing—from writing to pitching to financing. You find there’s a whole world of things you can put into practice to build your real-world skills.”
Frank Marin heads Marhold Space Systems, which uses engineering analysis software to design systems for active space debris removal, on-orbit satellite servicing and in-space manufacturing missions. He is in his final year of the H. John Riley dual engineering/MBA program.
Marin’s interest in creating a space company began in high school after a military representative at a science fair thought his passion could become something more. He credits a first-year entrepreneurship course with helping him better understand how to solve problems and seek opportunities. “Explore the connection between your passion and problem-solving while there’s time for it,” he suggests. “If you find something worth doing, do it.” He says he will enter his company in additional competitions this semester, then look for longer-term sources of funding.
Students can also find entrepreneurship opportunities in their home school or college.
School of Information Studies: The NEXIS (New Explorations in Information and Science) Lab is a research lab where student innovators initiate IT projects, work with peers and explore emerging technologies. Students work on independent projects that advance the fields of information science, engineering and technology. The school also hosts workshops and hackathons.
College of Law: The Innovation Law Center provides information about patents, trademarks and copyrights. Student entrepreneurs can meet with law student experts regarding questions on intellectual property, regulatory compliance and commercialization resources as well as the technical, legal and business aspects of bringing new technologies to market. The center also hires graduate students from a wide range of disciplines to assess and analyze proposals submitted by real-world clients.
Newhouse School: The Newhouse Startup Garage is an entrepreneurial workspace that partners with new media startups and offers tailored services to help students’ companies grow and succeed. The Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship coordinates co-op internships that allow students to work with some of the world’s fastest-growing media startups.
Whitman School: The graduate degree program in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises offers specialized tracks in four areas: new venture, social, corporate and family entrepreneurship. The school presents several competitions each year, including Orange Tank, the Panasci Business Plan Competition and Student Case Competitions. Whitman is also home to the Couri Hatchery, a student-centered co-working space and mentorship program, and the WISE Women’s Business Center.
D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF): Veteran or military-connected students will find many entrepreneurial opportunities at IVMF. Multiple startup programs help students get their ideas off the ground. The annual Veteran EDGE Conference focuses on the opportunities and challenges faced by growth-stage businesses that are actively scaling or ready to scale. IGNITE is a one-day entrepreneurship training event, offered in cities across the U.S., for veterans, active-duty military and military spouses or life partners who are just beginning to explore the opportunity of small business ownership as a post-service career path.