The Syracuse Student Sandbox is a unique business incubator that gives aspiring student entrepreneurs the resources to make their visions a reality. The objective of the Sandbox is to accelerate the process of ideation, development and deployment through mentoring and coaching. The twelve week experiential based program has an end-goal of producing revenue generating entities or investment ready firms.
Culminating in “Demo Day”, the program provides coaching, mentoring, educational programming, physical space, access to subject matter experts and investors. A full time entrepreneur in residence guides teams through the program and serves as a coach and conduit to the community. Each team has up to five assigned mentors who are entrepreneurs, professors, technologists, subject matter experts, attorneys and accountants.
Unlike other incubators, the Sandbox does not currently claim ownership to any part of the student companies: Students participating in the program maintain 100% equity in their companies. Some participating schools have established investment funding mechanisms for student ventures. The Sandbox continues to seek additional sources of support in form of sponsorship, in-kind contributions or direct investment.
The program is currently designed for students from Upstate NY and has included students from: Syracuse University, Cayuga Community College, Le Moyne College, Morrisville State College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Clarkson University, Cornell, UMASS, Columbia, Monroe Community College, Utica College, SUNY Oswego, Full Sail University, Binghamton University, RIT, and Onondaga Community College. Students from these schools are sourced from course work, conferences, competitions and outreach to area campuses.
Housed at and supported by The Tech Garden, a Centerstate CEO organization, the newly redone Sandbox is a 4000 square foot (with a recent addition of 1500 sq ft) collaborative facility complete with conference area, ‘hangout’ space and a ton of whiteboards.
The Sandbox was established in 2009 as a follow on to course work at Syracuse University. In 2009 the Sandbox hosted just 5 companies and has hosted 12 teams in 2010, 21 teams in 2011 and 34 teams in 2012. The entrepreneurial community has also grown with over 115 mentors involved with the student teams (compared to 4 in 2009). The Sandbox has several successful graduates (over 2 million in VC) in its short history and is looking to expand the program and further develop an entrepreneurial eco-system in Upstate NY.