Thirty-five Syracuse residents, most of them Syracuse University students, gathered at the Syracuse Technology Garden on June 8 as part of a “This Week in Startups” (TWiST) worldwide virtual meet up.
“I see two huge nerds and a hundred nerds behind them,” host Jason Calacanis said with his typical and welcoming tongue-in-cheek sarcasm of Patrick Ambron of Brand Yourself and Dave Chenell of Grafighters. “This must be Syracuse.”
The two Syracuse University students laughed in front of the webcam as Calacinis introduced the cheering group at the Tech Garden as the first guests of the show.
This Week in Startups (TWiST) is a weekly take on the best, worst, most outrageous, and interesting stories about web companies, usually airing live on Fridays at 4 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Featuring host Calacinis, a successful entrepreneur and CEO of Mahalo.com, and a rotating group of entrepreneurial experts, the show is one channel of “This Week In,” a web television network specializing in entertainment and technology.
Calacanis announced the June 8 TWiST “Startup Meetup” on his web site on June 4, giving meet up organizers four days to gather as many people as they could to sit in front of a laptop and talk to Calacinis and his co-hosts. Approximately 180 cities all over the globe—from London, to Sydney, to Syracuse and Los Angeles—responded to Calacanis’ announcement and hosted “Startup Meetups,” with varying numbers of attendees. The meet ups were encouraged to hold mini-competitions to see which of the entrepreneurs in attendance would deliver a pitch to the Calacinis and the TWiST audience.
John Liddy, SU Entrepreneur-in-Residence and coach to the 12 start-up companies at the Syracuse Student Sandbox, organized the local meet up and contacted TWiST to express interest in being on the program. Syracuse was selected to appear first in the broadcast. Brand-Yourself, an entrepreneurial venture out of Syracuse University, also helped promote the event and was chosen to present a 45-second elevator pitch to the audience.
Ambron, chief marketing officer of Brand Yourself, presented his concise pitch, which summed up the problem his company seeks to solve: Though there is great concern about ensuring social media does not harm one’s reputation, there are few services out there that help people leverage social media to make sure they appear in appropriate Google searches. He mentioned Brand Yourself’s recent contract with Syracuse University to provide six-month subscriptions to all graduating students as well as similar upcoming contracts with other universities.
Calacinis was visibly impressed. “A lot of 50 year olds could take lessons from you,” he told Ambron, adding that Ambron impressed him more at the age of 22 with his courage to start a business, than many 50-year-old “rice pickers” who are paralyzed by fear of the economy and waiting for someone to step in and protect them.
“Thank you for not being a rice picker,” he said. “Thank you for being a samurai.”