More than 300 students filled the eHub space in Kennedy Hall Aug. 31 for a grand opening celebration, a showcase of student businesses and a pitch contest.
InvestMend, founded by Samuel Kramer ’18 took first place in the student pitch contest, winning $1,010 and entry into eLab, a student business accelerator run by Entrepreneurship at Cornell and the Student Agencies Foundation. Kramer’s company matches investors interested in renewable energy with small-project developers.
“I’m currently recruiting one person with a background in finance who wants to save the world,” Kramer told the audience.
Second place went to Vispio, an educational technology company that helps teachers bring current events discussions into the classroom. Vispio team members include Shaan Franchi ’17, Stuart Wang ’18 and Christopher Colen ’18.
“I am convinced that our students are unusually entrepreneurial in terms of the ideas they have and the marketable products they develop,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But what we’ve done now is to create a space where they can come together and dream together, with professionals who can work with them to help them turn those dreams into reality.”
The first-floor renovation is only part of the plan to turn Kennedy Hall into a student-focused center for engaged learning, Boor said. The building will also soon house the offices for the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the Prison Education Program, the Community Service and Learning Partnership, and others on the second and third floors, Boor said.
“Kennedy Hall will be a bustling hive of energy for our students around the clock,” Boor said.
That energy was on full display during the student business showcase, organized by Life Changing Labs, a group that supports Cornell entrepreneurs. At the showcase, entrepreneurs like Wisler Charles, Ph.D. ’16, shared “Fight or Flight,” a video game that teaches lessons about the immune system, and Miles Ahead founder Robert Karp ’19 talked about his business, a high-end travel advisory firm that helps travelers maximize airline reward points.
Eric Berg ’19 and Jeffrey Ly ’16 showed off X Board, their idea for a “trickable” electronic skateboard, which riders control through a special glove.
“All current electric skateboard are longboards because the technology that exists doesn’t allow you to put all of the components you need onto a regular board while maintaining a low enough weight and robustness to do tricks,” Berg said. The company has come up with a series of technologies between motors, batteries and control interfaces to solve the problem, he said.
Many resources and meeting spaces for student entrepreneurs are housed in the new 5,000-square-foot first-floor Kennedy Hall space, including Entrepreneurship at Cornell and Blackstone LaunchPad.
“The Blackstone LaunchPad program is a terrific complement to our programming,” said Zach Shulman, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell. “The mentorship and other resources brought to Cornell by Blackstone LaunchPad enables us to provide programs and tactics for outreach to a greater number of aspiring entrepreneurs regardless of the individuals’ college or discipline.”
Blackstone LaunchPad provides mentoring, coaching and resources for entrepreneurial students, faculty, staff and alumni, including access to global online resources, applications, software, tools, courses and discussion groups. It operates at 19 campuses across the country and in Ireland and has more than 630,000 participants.
More resources will be available in a second eHub location on the second and third floors of the Student Agencies building at 409 College Ave., due to open Sept. 24.
Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.