Syracuse University News: Blackstone LaunchPad Student Start-Ups Reach Finals of 2024 New York Business Plan Competition

Syracuse University Libraries’ LaunchPad Student Start-ups Excel in New York Business Plan Competition

Two Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad (LaunchPad) student start-up teams have made it to the finals of the New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC), hosted by Upstate Capital in Albany on April 25. The teams included Natasha Brao ’22, founder of Shooka Sauce, and Motolani Oladitan ’24, College of Arts and Sciences, both of whom received awards for their innovative ideas.

Natasha Brao’s Shooka Sauce won the 3rd place prize of $1,000 in the food and agriculture track. Inspired by the dish Shakshuka, Shooka Sauce is a Mediterranean-spiced tomato sauce that blends cultural flavors to promote creative cooking. On the other hand, Motolani Oladitan’s Tá Beautie received the Concept Stage Award of $500 in the software and services track. Tá Beautie is a virtual marketplace connecting African beauty and wellness brands with the diaspora to make it easier for consumers to access authentic African products.

In addition to these two teams, five other LaunchPad student start-up teams participated in the 2024 NYBPC, including Frank Marin ’24 (Marhold Space Systems), Adya Parida ’25 (Scale Sense), and Dylan Bardsley ’26 and Mark Leaf ’27 (Clarity). These students had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to experienced investors and engage with mentors and judges from the business community. They also benefited from valuable networking opportunities at the Entrepreneurship Expo. Cash prizes totaling up to $100,000 were awarded to help kickstart new ventures.

The NYBPC is an excellent platform for student entrepreneurs in New York state to showcase their innovative ideas and receive valuable feedback from experienced investors and mentors from the business community. It offers a unique opportunity for students to connect with like-minded individuals who share their passion for entrepreneurship while providing access to resources that can help them launch successful businesses.

Overall, this year’s NYBPC was a great success for Syracuse University Libraries’ Blackstone LaunchPad student start-up teams who demonstrated exceptional skills in creating innovative solutions that solve real-world problems. As they continue to grow their businesses, these students will undoubtedly make significant contributions to their respective industries while paving the way for future generations of entrepreneurs at Syracuse University Libraries.

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