It’s been less than a year since SparkCharge founder Josh Aviv took home first place in the New York State Business Plan Competition. Since, he’s raised capital and joined Techstars!
Less than one year after winning the grand prize in the New York State Business Plan Competition, Syracuse University’s SparkCharge has officially “launched” from the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University to acceleration stage with Techstars in Boston. Growing from a college student’s idea, to an award-winning company that has raised institutional funding, it is now part of an accelerator program internationally known for rapidly scaling great companies.
SparkCharge’s latest investment round closed in February and the clean tech hardware startup expects to raise another round later this year for its ultrafast charging unit for electric vehicles that fits in the trunk of a car and charges at level 3 speed, giving users one mile every 60 seconds.
Winning a spot in the Techstars Boston startup accelerator is a competitive boost. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion. Fewer than 1% of all companies that apply to a Techstars program are accepted into the worldwide network that inspires, educates and connects entrepreneurs, accelerating innovation and startup activity.
His connection to Techstars was catalyzed by his participation in the Blackstone LaunchPad/Techstars global venture pitch competition where he won grand prize last fall. “SparkCharge is joining a vibrant group of entrepreneurs,” said Clement Cazalot, managing director for the Techstars Boston Accelerator. “Our Boston program has helped launch and fund 144 startups, with north of $750 million in total funding. Josh is now part of the most connected and successful entrepreneurial network in the world, as well as Boston’s very active angel network and VC industry that is focusing more on earlier stage tech innovation, enabling access to funds at all stages of development.”
“Each year we select the most promising companies to join our three-month mentorship-driven accelerator,” said David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars. “SparkCharge will now be part of the Techstars community for life, with access to over 1,500,000 founders, investors, mentors, and industry leaders. Leveraging the combined power of Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars resources and connections, SparkCharge and other high-growth startups are surrounded and supported by a team of experts who can help them quickly start and scale.”
“The Techstars accelerator program builds on the solid startup foundation we received through Syracuse University’s amazing innovation ecosystem,” says Aviv. “Having a well-connected and collaborative support network at SU helped us move from idea to venture, and positioned us to now scale to the next stage. We intend to stay engaged with SU as we grow. We’re excited to bring this product to market, and working with this network will help us get to commercialize our technology faster.”
Through Techstars, Aviv and his team of four engineers are getting hands-on help and mentorship from experts in multiple fields, while working out of spaces such as Mass Robotics. A first-time CEO, Aviv says access to an international pool of knowledgeable and experienced mentors is already advancing SparkCharge to a new level. However, Aviv says the startup is not leaving its home in Syracuse. Personal connections and the manufacturing industry in Syracuse has strong pulls on the startup. “Our roots are in Syracuse and we want to tap into the manufacturing and industrial base there,” Aviv says. He expects to keep his research, engineering, testing and manufacturing based in the region, while focusing sales and finance operations in the Boston area where there is cluster of supportive investors.
Supporting this growth is an investment by PJC, a Boston-based venture capital firm that focuses on consumer and enterprise technology investments. PJC takes an active approach to investing, striving to build collaborative relationships with portfolio company management. They have constructed the firm and their team around the strategy of building market-leading companies with innovative founders and serial entrepreneurs. The firm and its partners have backed market-leading companies across multiple industries such as Nest Labs, Yandex, Expensify and GetWellNetwork.
“We are excited to partner with Josh and the entire SparkCharge team,” said Mike Cunningham, a Principal at PJC. “They have the drive, conviction and vision necessary to solve the problems faced in this rapidly expanding market. We look forward to working with the SparkCharge team and Techstars to help bring their idea to the electric vehicle community.”
SparkCharge’s success follows other recent accomplishments that included: FuzeHub Commercialization Competition, First Place; Innovation Fund Award, SyracuseCoE; iPrize, First Place Winner Clean Tech; and Panasci Business Plan Competition, Winner of Product Innovation Prize and Sustainability Award.
Aviv’s plans for 2018 include final design and testing of the beta unit, manufacturing and unit sales. SparkCharge is currently taking beta test orders: https://spcev.com/forms/betatest
Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars announced last week at SXSW EDU that they are teaming up to supercharge Blackstone LaunchPad, the preeminent campus-based entrepreneurship program, through a new partnership. Read details here. This will enable Syracuse University to leverage Techstars’ proven success to create a competitive advantage for campus entrepreneurs on a global level. “Our goal is to help launch ventures, but also to build skills that will make our students better global citizens, innovators and leaders in an entrepreneurial world,” said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University. “We’re growing the next generation of global change-makers.”