Syracuse University maintains a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, with an array of programs supporting new and established business leaders. One such offering is the inaugural ’CUSE50 Alumni Entrepreneur Award, celebrating the 50 fastest-growing businesses owned or led by Syracuse alumni. The on-campus ceremony recognizes Orange visionaries worldwide while giving them an opportunity to share insights with students, faculty and fellow alumni.
Below are snapshots of some of the awardees, like Tamekia Flowers-Ball ’97, founder and CEO of Epiphany Blue, an event planning agency with offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Clifton, New Jersey. “Syracuse University fosters a spirit of innovation and determination that drives my success,” she says.
Joshua Aviv ’15, G’17
Founder and CEO
SparkCharge (Boston, Massachusetts)
SparkCharge is the creator of the world’s first mobile electric vehicle (EV) charging network as well as the Roadie mobile EV charging system.
“Syracuse University provided me with the resources to start SparkCharge, like mentorships through Blackstone LaunchPad, a state-of-the-art lab in SyracuseCoE, and materials to design and create prototypes in the ITS MakerSpace. This kind of access, combined with studies in economics, data science and information management, helped me develop a unique product for market.”
Fun Fact: Aviv introduced President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68, H’09 at the White House, before the latter signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.
Trenton (Wei-Yu) Chen G’06, G’11
Co-Founder and CEO
GoFreight (Santa Monica, California)
GoFreight is a freight management and logistics software that optimizes and digitizes the traditional freight forwarding process. The cloud-based, all-in-one software supports global air freight, ocean freight and cargo transportation.
“My mentor was Professor Roger Chen, who instilled in me the importance of becoming the foremost expert in my field. I’ve carried this mindset into my career, where I use cutting-edge technology to revolutionize the operating system for freight forwarders.”
Fun Fact: Trenton Chen, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, respectively, is a native of Taipei. His company has been recognized by Taiwan’s National Development Council as a “Next Big” startup, having raised more than $23 million in Series A funding.
Kelsey Davis ’19, G’20
Founder and CEO
CLLCTVE (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Democratizing the future of work for the creator economy, CLLCTVE is a software technology company connecting creators and brands through a portfolio matchmaking platform.
“Syracuse University was like a playground, where I could create anything that I wanted. I could hone my entrepreneurial skills through the Blackstone LaunchPad, learn about the creator economy in the Newhouse School of Public Communications, find developers in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and become proficient in business and product scaling in the Whitman School of Management.”
Fun Fact: Davis was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list in 2021, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in television, radio and film and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises, respectively.
Tamekia Flowers-Ball ’97
Founder and CEO
Epiphany Blue (Brooklyn, New York, and Clifton, New Jersey)
Epiphany Blue is an award-winning event planning and experiential services agency that curates unforgettable event experiences and activations for companies and communities nationwide.
“The marketing courses I took in the Whitman School were more than academic exercises; they sparked my passion for business. They inspired creativity and strategy that I now bring to life at Epiphany Blue. [The courses] also sharpened my skills in strategic thinking and planning, enabling me to design events and experiences that resonate deeply with our clients and their audiences.”
Fun Fact: Flowers-Ball, her husband, Maliek Ball ’98, and their son, Jaiden, are avid Philadelphia Eagles fans. She also is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.
Owen Gotimer ’15
Senior Designer and Marketing Consultant
OG Media (Leesburg, Virginia)
OG Media is a full-service marketing partner specializing in website design and development, content creation, and graphic design and print for small businesses and nonprofits.
“I spun my major in broadcast and digital journalism into my first business, LoCoSports—a hyperlocal news website that covers high school athletics and has served as a catalyst for the creation of OG Media. I loved the diverse opportunities that Syracuse University afforded me, including being a softball team manager, a mentor resident advisor, TheNewsHouse contributor, a varsity cheerleader and a radio show host.”
Fun Fact: Gotimer loves to bake and challenged himself to compete in Around the World in 80 Bakes and the United Bakes of America.
Laurie Maddalena ’96
CEO and Chief Leadership Consultant
Envision Excellence (Laytonsville, Maryland)
Envision Excellence facilitates and provides inspiring and transformative keynote speeches, leadership programs and workshops to empower leaders to create thriving teams and exceptional cultures.
“I majored in what is now communication and rhetorical studies, which has directly impacted the leadership work and speaking I do today. My classes were stimulating and relevant. They also inspired my love of learning and a passion for leadership, organizational culture and the art of public speaking. Through my involvement with the marching band and Sour Sitrus Society, and my service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma, I’ve developed rich and lasting friendships.”
Fun Fact: Maddalena is a Certified Speaking Professional, an international designation earned by only 17% of National Speaker Association members worldwide.
Whitney Parker Mitchell G’06
Founder and CEO
Beacon Digital Marketing (Beacon, New York)
Beacon Digital is a women-owned, digital marketing agency supporting clients in the financial, health and educational technology industries; cybersecurity; and the software-as-a-service field.
“My master’s degree in international relations equipped me with a robust foundation in negotiation and conflict resolution, enabling me to service clients around the globe in complex issues. I am currently working on my MBA, whose coursework in marketing management, marketing strategy, business law and ethics, leadership and venture capital enriches my understanding of the business world.”
Fun Fact: Mitchell and her husband, George G’06, G’11, enjoy downhill skiing in the Western Rockies as well as the Italian, French and Swiss Alps.
Sheena Parker ’18, ’19
Founder and CEO
4SYT Industries (Snellville, Georgia)
Fully certified and compliant, 4SYT is a government-contracting company specializing in facilities management. The company is disabled veteran-, woman- and minority-owned and offers range of services, including janitorial, flooring, painting, landscaping and light construction.
“It was after graduating from V-WISE [Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship], a premier training program in the D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families, that I reassessed my business goals and dove headfirst into government contracting. Hearing the stories of fellow service members gave me the reassurance and motivation that I needed to move forward with 4SYT.”
Fun Fact: Parker, an Army veteran, made headlines last fall when her company power-washed Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park in preparation for the Phillies’ World Series run.
Adam Wagner ’00
Founder and Partner
Market Square Architects (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
Market Square is a full-service architecture firm, managing projects across the country in the residential and commercial sectors. The company gives a portion of its year-end profits to local charities that support housing and education.
“I majored in architecture—one of the premier programs of its kind in the country—and spent a semester in the Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Syracuse University Program in Florence. I learned a lot about balance, proportion and scale, not to mention how to balance theory and practice.”
Fun Fact: Wagner serves on the board of Veterans Count, an Easterseals program providing resources and services to veterans, service members and their families throughout New Hampshire.