All posts by Elyssa Stewart

Executive Committee

Andreas Duus Pape
Dr. Pape received a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan in 2007 under Emre Ozdenoren and Scott E. Page. Dr. Pape’s research includes work representing agents’ causal models of problems in a decision-theoretic setting and developing software which represents the decision-making of an agent governed by case-based decision theory in order to empirically test the validity of that decision theory. Dr. Pape’s economic models provide Launchpad with an immediate academic element, and his expertise is key to Launchpad’s broader vision for local economic growth.

Charlie Ackerman
Charlie Ackerman is Binghamton’s premier real estate agent, with extensive experience in the Binghamton area. Charlie’s agency has provided rental and buying services for both students and community members, and his local knowledge and connections are essential to Launchpad’s continued success. Launchpad’s objective hinges on locating businesses in the right places, and Charlie is the best man in Binghamton to do that job.

David Sloan Wilson
David Sloan Wilson is a SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology. Professor Wilson is known for incorporating an Evolutionary Perspective into his work, which in the past has involved (among many topics) religion, education, and community organization. Included in his past work is “The Neighborhood Project”, a book focusing on the local Binghamton area and incorporating his Evolutionary Perspective. Professor Wilson’s extensive network in the community, with a strong academic backdrop, has been an integral part of Launchpad’s progress. Professor Wilson is also an instructor of the Binghamton Microcosm class, and carries on several projects in Binghamton.

Vishal Gupta & Tony Frontera
Professors Gupta and Frontera teach in the School Of Management at Binghamton University. They provide an essential resource to the Launchpad team, bringing a background of entrepreneurial and management experience. They play an important role in helping students translate create start up ideas into viable business proposals.

Elyse Stewart & Rafi Schulman
Elyse and Rafi, both BU students (‘16), started Launchpad Binghamton as members of the Binghamton Microcosm fall 2014. Rafi is an Integrative Neuroscience and Evolutionary Studies Major, and Elyse is a Spanish Major and Chinese Minor. Both of them saw the student community in downtown Binghamton as a ripe market to start student businesses to help get Binghamton’s economy off the ground.


Launchpad Binghamton began as just the executive committee, but the desire was to get more of the Binghamton University community involved in this project by a series of events.  So far, there have been two important events and next semester we hope to continue getting more students involved with Launchpad.

Initial Brainstorming event- Entrepreneurial Rush

Binghamton’s students were invited to come and share their business ideas with the executive board. Everyone’s ideas were heard; the best ideas and most enthusiastic personalities were noted.  The students came from all academic backgrounds; this event was not limited to business students.


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David Sloan Wilson opens the event with a brief introduction.

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Students presenting their business ideas to the group.

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Students brainstorming ideas with each other.


Follow up event

The students who the executive board felt were the best fits were invited to meet us in the tree street district where the businesses would be opened. The students would be able to walk around the neighborhood and see the properties where the businesses could potentially be located. The object of this event was to describe the five niches of the area to the students to help them hone in on a business concept that is best for them.


A finalized business concept was required before the start of 2014.
As the students return to Binghamton for the spring semester of 2014, they will be required to show the executive committee a first draft of their business plan.

The Niches Explained

Taking an evolutionary perspective on the development of the Seminary Valley neighborhood, we want to develop five business ‘niches.’ These niches are a synthesis of student’s idea submissions and the executive committee’s opinions, analysis, discussion with others, and professional training. Viewed from an evolutionary standpoint, these niches are currently unexploited.  In the opinion of the executive committee, these are the most likely businesses to thrive here.  We believe they can thrive because through mutual beneficial business relationships.

There are 3500 students in a half mile radius in the Seminary Valley neighborhood, so student oriented business would potentially thrive in this area.

NICHE 1) Small neighborhood grocery/food co-op

Based on a survey done in the area by the Binghamton Neighborhood Project, there is a clear need for some form of market in the area.

NICHE 2) Study Space

There is no study location in the Seminary Avenue area.  Students would take advantage of a late night study space with coffee and snacks offered.

NICHE 3) Fitness

A fitness space would be in prime use in a student populated area.

NICHE 4) Cultural Meeting-space Restaurant

A restaurant that incorporates the food and customs of different cultures would be a nice addition to the area.

NICHE 5) Makerspace, Art Space, retail art/maker output and art/maker supply store

Students with an interest in art would benefit from a space like this where they can go and work on their own projects.