If you take a second to look around Syracuse University and the City of Syracuse, you’ll notice things are changing. Not only is the weather getting warmer (or supposed to be getting warmer) day by day, but entrepreneurs are budding and ideas are blossoming.

The life of an entrepreneur is far from ordinary, and no two days are the same. That same sentiment is certainly true for an entrepreneurial ecosystem and those individuals and organizations who support the brave business leaders of tomorrow.

In the three years since my arrival in Syracuse, I’ve seen ideas come and go, student entrepreneurs graduate, and a city continually attempting to reimagine itself and define a new, post-industrial path. I’d like to think I’ve played at least a small part in this growth, however, truth be told, there are many more individuals and burgeoning organizations who have added much more than I to the ecosystem.

As busy business owners, the hustle and bustle of daily life can, at times, shelter us from some of the more exciting opportunities which have emerged around us. That’s why I hope you’ll spend just a few minutes with me exploring three organizations or events which you probably haven’t heard about.

Common Space

commonspace logo

Source: https://www.facebook.com/spaceincommon

Walk North on Warren Street from the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse and you’ll notice an increase in the pounding of jackhammers or cutting of kitchen tile. That’s because Troy Evens is quickly approaching the launch of Common Space, a revolutionary neighborhood concept, fusing co-living, co-working, and human social connection into a single building.

An example of a floor plan in commonspace

An example of a floor plan in commonspace

Troy is a passionate entrepreneur who’s been working behind the scenes in Syracuse over the past few years to create those inspiring spaces which allow us to do our best work and feel proud of our environment. As a property owner and developer, Troy approaches the needs of his customers (entrepreneurs) with an eye towards uniqueness and communal inclusion.

Some might think of Common Space as a ‘neighborhood in a box’, however, it’s so much more than that. It’s the opportunity to live, work, and socialize in an environment specifically designed for those interactions. Retail space at street level, modern co-working space on the second floor, and a mix of private and public living space on the remaining floors makes Common Space the perfect living situation for community minded entrepreneurs and residents.

I hardly do the space justice, so check out the website and reach out to Troy (he doesn’t bite) if you’re considering sticking around Syracuse and want affordable downtown living with a community twist.

Blackstone LaunchPad

Blackstone Launchpad Syracuse University

Source: http://library.syr.edu/

There’s been a tremendous amount of buzz and inquiry around campus about the Blackstone LaunchPad and continual growth of the entrepreneurial community. As of last Monday the LaunchPad, as it’s become known, opened its doors and welcomed students into its space to talk innovation, entrepreneurship, and all things startup.

Led by Linda Hartsock, a staple of the entrepreneurship community in Syracuse for over a decade, the LaunchPad connects students, alumni, faculty, and staff to a global network of entrepreneurs and industry leaders. The program is supported by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and has been designed to place entrepreneurial experimentalism at the center of academic life.

As a ‘Hello World’, the LaunchPad recently announced its “Solve a Campus Problem” Challenge, giving students the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes for proposing innovative solutions to campus problems. Participants aren’t solving these problems in local isolation though, the challenge is supported by the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network and you never know where the best solution may go…

Linda’s insights and extensive network of contacts will throttle your business into hyperspace. Check out the Challenge and signup for the LaunchPad network through their purpose built platform.


Screenshot of CompeteCNY 2016 website

Source: http://www.competecny.com/

Before diving into this next incredible opportunity, out of full transparency I must tell you that I might be biased because I’m helping organize it, along with supporters from across Syracuse University and the region. But since when is a shameless plug for free money and national exposure a bad thing for student entrepreneurs?

Let’s start with a question… could your business grow bigger, get built faster, or change the world quicker if it had an extra $100,000 on hand?

That’s what I thought!

CompeteCNY was launched the other week as the Central New York regional qualifier for the New York State Business Plan Competition (NYBPC). Through a combination of state and private money, student entrepreneurs from across New York are given the chance to win serious amounts of money, a $100k grand prize actually, for putting their best business foot forward.

Syracuse University took the competition one step further and created an additional $60,000 prize pool for the best SU student entrepreneurs who pitch on April 14. All things considered, I’d say this opportunity could change lives and careers.

If you’re interested in applying, you’d better hurry because applications close April 5 and you’re running out of time. I’m always here to help and your professors would love to spark your entrepreneurial passions. You can find more information about the competition on our website or by emailing me.

The above three highlights are only the beginning of what’s happening in and around Syracuse. If I were to go into detail about the other opportunities, we might be here all day. It’s certainly a long road ahead and we have miles to go before we sleep, but I’d recommend taking a look around and see if you can’t find your entrepreneurial niche to get involved in.

More information about CompeteCNY

Apply to CompeteCNY!
(application closes April 5, 2016)