June 27, 2016

eHub opens doors to first set of student entrepreneurs

Life Changing Labs' Team
Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group
Life Changing Labs' Design Team Lead Mihir Chauhan ’18 works with founders and team members on developing a company's branding and logo scheme.
Peter Cortle gives a workshop
Jason Koski/Cornell Marketing Group
Peter Cortle gives a workshop on the importance of establishing connections with mentors.

The first floor of Kennedy Hall has been transformed from a lobby and waiting area to a humming incubator for entrepreneurial students. Even in summer, 10 teams of students are using the space to help move their businesses along without the pressures of classes.

eHub opened earlier this month and houses the offices of Entrepreneurship at Cornell and Blackstone LaunchPad, as well as conference rooms and a large meeting area for groups and informal meetings. A second eHub location in Collegetown is set to open in early August.

Students meeting in the Kennedy eHub space are part of an eight-week summer incubator run by Life Changing Labs (LCL), a nonprofit that supports Cornell entrepreneurs in every stage of business development. Along with the 42 people working on businesses, another 10 student interns work with student management team members to help businesses with customer research, product development and marketing.

Auston Li ’19 and Kevin Guo ’19 are studying operations research and information science, respectively, in the College of Engineering. This summer Li is managing resources offered to student entrepreneurs and working to build community among those in the incubator. Those resources include software and cloud tools from Amazon and Google, and alumni and staff mentors who offer advice and guidance. Guo has worked on the design team, focusing on the LCL website and helping with brand identity and logos.

Companies populate a large task board with sticky notes detailing specific projects. Interns take the sticky notes and work on tasks throughout the week. The whole team comes together for dinners, weekly workshops, pitch practice and weekly stand-ups when company founders update each other and receive feedback from peers and mentors.

Kennedy Hall eHub open for business

The new Kennedy Hall eHub space is open for students, faculty and staff interested in entrepreneurship and business development.

A project of Entrepreneurship at Cornell in partnership with the Student Agencies Foundation, the newly renovated 5,000-square-foot space includes the offices of Entrepreneurship at Cornell and Blackstone LaunchPad at Cornell, as well as lecture space and conference rooms.

Students, faculty and staff are welcome to start using the space and can register here for access to the building after hours. The Collegetown eHub location at 409 College Ave. will open in August.

Other partners in eHub include the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the ILR School and the School of Hotel Administration.

There’s lots of goal setting and checking in to make sure progress is being made, said Michael Raspuzzi ’16, LCL managing director. “Teams develop a road map at the beginning of the summer for three things they want to accomplish,” he said.

The majority of teams are made up of current Cornell students on the Ithaca campus, but some include Cornell alumni or Cornell Tech students.

A summer goal for Andres Gutierrez ’15, M.S. ’17, and Adler Faulkner ’18 is to pilot their platform, CoMake, in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. CoMake is an online collaborative content management and discovery platform for designers that helps users find information from multiple perspectives as they work on projects.

“You can get focused on one part of your business if you’re really working on that all of the time,” Gutierrez said. “So having to speak with other people at the incubator and hearing presentations about the other sides of creating a business can break you out of some of these focuses in a good way.”

For Beverly Wallenstein ’16, being part of the incubator helps her bring structure to her decision to work full time on her company, Girls Rule Business, which won first place in the nonprofit category in last April’s Big Idea Competition, sponsored by Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

Mikayla Diesch ’16, M.Eng. ’17, hopes the summer will end with her product, WristBeat, being put through trials with actual patients. The heart monitoring device allows for continuous, discrete cardiac event monitoring and replaces bulky ECGs that patients now wear.

The incubator program runs through Aug. 5, and LCL is preparing to welcome 25 high school students from around the world July 11-29 to an entrepreneurship and computer science program called “Life Changing Summer.”

The public is welcome to attend a community event July 11 from 4-7 p.m. in the eHub space in Kennedy Hall to kick off the high school program. It will include a dinner, pitches from the incubator teams and a talk from Cornell trustee John Alexander ’74, MBA ’76, founder of the CBORD Group.

Kathy Hovis writes for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.