Eight Syracuse University student start-ups won a combined $60,000 in seed funding in the first-ever Orange Tree Fund awards presentation on April 28 at Emerging Talk at the Syracuse Technology Garden.

The selected companies range in products from online gaming to date-rape prevention straws to the renovation of old store fronts. 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,” said Syracuse University 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, web site, and proof-of-concept development.

The winning companies are:

  • Campus Mosaic, a two-fold venture including the satirical SU web site ’Cuse my Campus and the niche comedic design apparel company Squeeze My Tees, run by Alex Piliouras ’10 (Newhouse), Brian Weinreich ’10 (Arts and Sciences), Tory Gentes ’10 (Whitman), $12,000
  • Capesquared, web services company, run by Justin Breese ’09, G’10, Shay Colson G’10, and Andrew Farah G’11, all from the iSchool, $4,000
  • DreamFetcher, connection service for job seekers and employers, run by Austin Curtis (Newhouse), Gerald Decelian (iSchool), and Kyle McShane (Whitman), $4,000
  • Grafight, online fighting game that brings your sketches to life, run by Eric Cleckner ’10 (Visual and Performing Arts), Dave Chenell ’10 (iSchool), and David Benman, $12,000
  • JamLynx by Manticore Music, online subscription game/social networking site that allows instrumentalists to play together or in competition with each other, run by Brian Goetsch ’10 (Arts and Sciences), Jerrell Perry ’10 (iSchool), Joe Gennaro ’11 (iSchool), Justin Perry ’10 (iSchool), Kinyatta King ’02, G’09 (Visual and Performing Arts, Whitman), $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 (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 Whitman, $8,000
  • 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 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, one of the grant winners, said he is very 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 said. “Thank you, Syracuse.”

The Orange Tree Fund recipients were recognized 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 alumni, donors, SU Chancellor 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.