Cornell Entrepreneurs of the Year Steve Conine ’95 and Niraj Shah ‘95, co-founders of Wayfair, will be honored on campus April 19 during the annual Celebration conference sponsored by Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
More than 300 alumni, friends and entrepreneurs are expected to come to Ithaca for the April 18-20 event, which features symposia on a wide range of topics; a Q&A and dinner with Conine and Shah; numerous student business plan competitions; an expo of resources for entrepreneurs; and multiple networking opportunities.
The conference will also feature a keynote speech from Pelin Thorogood, president and co-founder of Wholistic Research and Education Foundation and co-founder of Mana Artisan Botanics. Panels will focus on topics including cryptocurrencies, clean energy, startup challenges and the power of networking.
“Entrepreneurship is booming at Cornell, and this event serves to showcase our numerous stakeholders in a high-profile atmosphere,” said Zach Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
Portions of the Celebration conference are open to the public, including:
- Book sale and signing with Heather Cabot, co-author, “Geek Girl Rising,” followed by a panel discussion, “A Conversation with Geek Girls,” April 18, 6:15 p.m., Alice Statler Auditorium, Statler Hall;
- Cornell Venture Challenge finalist presentations, April 19, 9 a.m., Statler Hotel amphitheater;
- Q&A with Wayfair founders Steve Conine ’95 and Niraj Shah ’95, followed by eLab Demo Day, Statler Auditorium, Statler Hall, 4:30 p.m. April 19;
- Big Idea Competition finals, April 20, 3 p.m., eHub Collegetown, 409 College Ave.;
- Student Agencies Showcase and reception, April 20, 4:30 p.m., eHub Collegetown, 409 College Ave.
Undergraduate student finalists in the Big Idea competition have been working with mentors and team members to perfect their three-minute pitches for the April 20 event. Rahul Mukherjee ’20, a biology and economics major, will pitch his idea for a nonprofit dedicated to increasing student political engagement.
Mukherjee’s organization would sponsor conferences that bring college students together to draft legislation that would be delivered to Congress.
“I have found that a majority of people are living in partisan echo chambers, which are reinforced by our social media, news media and by a lack of productive political dialogue,” he said. “Our organization would serve as a platform for people of different ideologies to come together and have difficult, and much-needed, political conversations.”
Pedro Bobrow ’20 and Christophe Gerlach ’20, both applied economics and management majors, have created Suna Breakfast, a delivery service for college students, which they piloted in March.
“Like many other students, we found ourselves skipping breakfast altogether, or (at best) grabbing a sugar-filled bar on the way out, leaving us hungry and lightheaded in our morning classes,” Bobrow said. “Unlike the traditional delivery system, we take orders the night before, which allows us to optimize the delivery route.”
Sachi Koide ’18, a biological engineering major, has come up with a handheld system that allows farmers to detect contamination in cow’s milk before it goes into a communal collection tank.
“Dairy production is a $440 billion global industry and loses $29 billion every year due to undetected contamination,” Koide said.
Ori Belson ’19 said he developed the Speak2 System to help intubated patients communicate with doctors and family members.
“I came up with the idea when shadowing doctors over break,” said Belson, a mechanical engineering and pre-med major. “After talking to different doctors, I discovered that a simple but powerful new technology was needed in this space to both save time for the doctors and nurses along with helping the patients to feel more comfortable during such a vulnerable time.”
The final presentations April 20 are open to the public. Winners will be selected based on a combination of rankings by judges and audience vote.
To register for the symposium, dinner or other Celebration events, visit the Celebration website.
Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.