Student Start-Up Encourages Students to Engage with the Local Community

Richard Lewis launched his company, StudentTicket, during his first year at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, where he is currently double majoring in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and finance.

“Almost every member of my extended family has started a business, so it is almost in my blood to create and do things on my own,” said Lewis.

From the age of 5, Lewis was always traveling to Syracuse, New York from his home in Providence, Rhode Island because his father owned a business in the area. His childhood memories of Syracuse consisted of riding the carousel at the mall, seeing Syracuse SkyChiefs games with his father and exploring downtown. During his freshman year, Lewis realized that the student body stayed mostly on campus or around Marshall Street. Hoping to change this and improve the local economy, Lewis started his company, StudentTicket.

StudentTicket is a company based in Central New York aimed at strengthening local economies by connecting college students with local businesses. StudentTicket sells coupon cards that offer exclusive local business deals and promotions. When student go into local businesses looking to purchase goods or services, they simply show their StudentTicket and reap the benefits of the discount. Local businesses also have the option of buying ad placements on the StudentTicket coupon cards or its social media page.

“I see StudentTicket as a way to bridge the gap between students and local businesses,” said Lewis. “There are too many amazing places in Syracuse that students simply just do not take advantage of. I hope StudentTicket makes them explore the area further.”

One of the biggest challenges Lewis faced was getting a lot of no’s when he first started going door to door asking businesses to believe in his mission. However, he overcame this hurdle by building a strong board of advisors which validated his mission and helped get stores to start signing on. The board of advisors consists of:

Elizabeth Wimer, who has been Lewis’ professor for a year now, has mentored him in creative thinking and has helped him take his idea from planning to an opportunity. She also introduced him to small-business owners in Syracuse.

Anthony Richichi, who is a serial entrepreneur in the Syracuse area, has started three businesses, including an anonymous social network, a volunteer management software company and a jewelry business. He brings expertise in mobile and desktop development, startup operations and marketing.

Eric Hinman, a serial entrepreneur in technology, health and fitness, was one of the first business owners to join StudentTicket, and agreed to mentor the project. His experience owning a mobile app development company is crucial as StudentTicket begins the mobile app development, according to Lewis.

Linda Hartsock, who recently took on a role as the executive director of Blackstone, has helped StudentTicket with operations and getting connected with countless local businesses in Syracuse.

Chris Fowler, founder of Syracuse First, is passionate about educating the public and building a culture of support for local independent business. According to Lewis, Fowler has been immensely helpful with introducing StudentTicket to the local businesses in Syracuse, and encouraging local businesses to believe in StudentTicket’s mission.

Ethan Waltersdorf