Syracuse Surge Accelerator Finalists Announced

Published on August 08, 2023

This release was originally issued by CenterState CEO.

The accelerator is a core program of Syracuse Surge, the city’s strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy


CenterState CEO announced the five companies selected to participate in the first year of the new and innovative Syracuse Surge Accelerator program. These companies will participate in the yearlong accelerator, which provides direct resources and support to Black-Indigenous-Persons of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs who want to launch and accelerate tech-related and tech-adjacent startups.

“Our city and region are growing as a high-tech hub, creating exciting opportunities for higher paying careers and for new businesses to take root here,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “Nationally less than 25% of tech startups are founded by people of color—we must do better in Syracuse to ensure inclusive growth in the New Economy. The Syracuse Surge Accelerator is the right kind of investment to help breakdown systemic and social barriers that have kept founders of color away from the tech space and out of the workforce.  I look forward to helping these entrepreneurs grow scalable businesses and thrive here in Syracuse.

Starting Aug. 22, 2023, the five selected companies will begin their 12-month experience at CenterState CEO’s The Tech Garden, where they will have access to extensive programming and resources, including an ignition grant, stipends and other resources totaling $90,000. Support for the Surge Accelerator is provided by JP Morgan Chase Foundation and Microsoft. All five finalists are from Upstate New York region.

“We are excited and honored to work with such a diverse group of local startups,” said Dr. Emad Rahim, Syracuse Surge Entrepreneurship Manager, at CenterState CEO. “The technologies represented by our entrepreneurs provide a glimpse of emerging trends in innovation and creativity that are developing right here in Upstate New York. We look forward to showcasing these unique businesses and their leaders who will help foster inclusion in our local entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

The five selected finalists are:

Certainty Analytical Labs  (Rochester, NY) is a B2B life science laboratory that offers 3rd party compliance testing services to the environmental, food, pharmaceutical, and cannabis industry. Certainty is a regulated testing laboratory that provides quality assured data, regulatory support, research and development support, and laboratory consulting services. The firm is positioned to mitigate legal risk, provide regulatory safeguards, streamline market entry, and help build & protect emerging brands. Certainty takes the worry of laboratory compliance testing away, while clients watch their margins grow.

Founder: Dr. Brandy Young    

Clutch Delivery LLC  (Syracuse, NY) is designed to provide higher education institutions with a dining experience that goes beyond the traditional on-campus options. Using advanced location-based technology, Clutch delivers to areas that are not accessible by competitors, such as Doordash and Grubhub. Using a unique approach that hires students as food delivery drivers ensures that Clutch can access all the buildings on each campus. Our student delivery service also supports campus security needs.  

Founder: Celestin Abwe

HippoH Apparel, LLC (Clay, NY) is a boutique streetwear brand that seeks to empower and lend voice to "Emergents”--up-and-coming BIPOC creatives and influencers-- while also supplying the most stylish streetwear culture and apparel to the masses. Through wearable technology collaborations, "Emergents" can get their content directly to culture and style enthusiasts, building the HippoH Nation fan base. Imagine a culture that is not just seen and heard, but also worn.    

Co-founders: Hasan Stephens and Liztazia Ramirez-Stephens     

Sign-Speak Inc. (Rochester, NY) is a real time Sign Language recognition, avatar, and transcription solution that allows Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) individuals to communicate with businesses in on-demand situations. With Sign-Speak, businesses and local governments can ensure that D/HH customers receive information from, and convey information to, their employees and officials.    

Co-founder: Yamillet Payano 

Talkadot (Jamesville, NY) is a SaaS that helps public speakers collect audience data and testimonials, create real-time data reports on the effectiveness of their presentations and capture people in the audience who want to book them to speak. This allows speakers to become evidence-based presenters and bring clarity to the events space in the way review-platform Trustpilot does for consumer businesses.

Co-founder: Arel Moodie            

Throughout the program teams will have access to free workspace at The Tech Garden, experts and other founders specific to their industry, executive advisors, recruiting, marketing and fundraising support, programming and events, as well as other perks like access to platforms such as PitchBook, and offer companies AWS credits. The goal is to help underrepresented BPOIC entrepreneurs grow and sustain their startups in Syracuse, New York.

“This is such an exciting time of growth for Syracuse and Central New York, particularly in the tech space,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “It's imperative that this growth is felt across our community. The Surge Accelerator is helping to finance BIPOC innovators and entrepreneurs that are developing unique technologies and business solutions that not only support their success here in our region but contribute to the economy of tomorrow.”

To learn more about the Syracuse Surge Accelerator visit The Tech Garden website.  


About CenterState CEO

CenterState CEO is Central New York's premier business leadership and economic development organization, committed to creating a region where business thrives, and all people prosper. Its vision is to be recognized as a visionary leader, effective advocate, exceptional employer and a force for positive outcomes for the community.


About Syracuse Surge

Syracuse Surge is an inclusive community plan to ignite economic growth and neighborhood transformation in the city of Syracuse and the Central New York region. It builds on a massive investment in technology infrastructure to drive new strategic investment.