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eLab entrepreneurs can earn credit for startup work

Rosie team
Jon Reis
The Rosie team at elab in Collegetown.

The 900 students dancing to a silent disco during Orientation this year probably had no idea that the headphones making it possible were the brainchild of Cornell entrepreneurs. Jacob Reisch ’13 of Party Headphones is one of many entrepreneurial students whose businesses get their start boosted by the eLab, a student business accelerator in Collegetown.

This year, students who earn a spot in eLab may earn academic credit for eLab-only courses. Previously only 1.5 credits could be earned through a lecture series class. Now two new classes offered through the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management carry an additional four credits.

“eLab participants can now earn 5.5 academic credits toward a Cornell degree for work associated with their startups,” said Dan Cohen, director of eLab and a lecturer in the ILR School. “We join Stanford and MIT at the cutting edge of offering these types of courses. Through these classes we will really be able to enhance the skill sets of eLab student entrepreneurs.”

Established in 2008, eLab by Student Agencies Inc., in collaboration with Entrepreneurship@Cornell, is a nonprofit organization that helps students develop and launch businesses. eLab students go through an intensive yearlong process of business development, are advised by alumni mentors and entrepreneurs, and engaged through weekly meetings and work sessions.

Each year, about 10 teams are chosen for eLab. Competition for those spots gets tougher each year, Cohen said. Deadline for this year’s applications is Sept. 30. Applicants need to have formed a business team and should have a solid concept that’s been shown to potential customers. Students need to demonstrate the commitment, professionalism, enthusiasm and execution skills necessary to launch a startup while also being fulltime students, Cohen said.

eLab teams will present during Demo Day at the Entrepreneurship@Cornell celebration in April. Some teams gain funding from angel investors, move on to professional accelerators or bootstrap their own financing, while others decide to take a new direction or learn from the experience of failure, Cohen said.

“After graduating from eLab this past May, we continued to work growing our business,” Reisch said. “Our company has now supplied wireless headphone systems for over 40 silent disco events and works with companies like Viacom, MTV2 and Red Bull.”

Many eLab teams are visible on campus and in the community, such as Rosie, a grocery app that allows you to order online for pickup or delivery and tracks your grocery needs based on your preferences. The service is available at the P&C Fresh store in East Hill Plaza and is expanding to locations in Cortland and Syracuse.

For students not quite ready for eLab, such organizations as the PopShop on College Avenue – also sponsored by Student Agencies and Entrepreneurship@Cornell – offer co-working spaces for student businesses, workshops and mentoring.

To apply or learn more, visit elabstartup.com.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship@Cornell.

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