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Entrepreneurial students pitch to alumni at NYC event

elab pitch
Marshall Perryman
From left, Cayuga Crunch team members Alex Strauch ‘18, Kristin Zakoworotny ‘18 and Javier Perez ‘18 pitch to alumni and potential advisers.
elab reception
Marshall Perryman
Team members from RedRoute, second from left, Leor Alon ‘18, Brian Schiff ‘18 and Karl Reis ‘18, talk with a potential adviser before the pitches begin.

Students who are part of eLab pitched their start-up business ideas to a group of 54 alumni and other prospective advisers at a New York City event Dec. 4.

Twelve teams – with ideas ranging from a system to monitor equine water intake to a platform to connect college students to charities they care about – shared their midyear progress.

The midyear pitching event was new this year for eLab students, whose ideas span animal care, hardware, financial technology, biotech, food production, food science, philanthropy, Web platforms, data mining and distribution, said Jeremiah Cotman, eLab coordinator. Students presented on four main topics related to their business: their problem, customers, market and specific challenges moving forward.

“We had six or seven attendees approach us after the pitches to talk more,” said Tyler Hogge, MBA ’16, a founder of Unbroker, which would improve the process to lend and borrow securities. “They not only were willing to help, but they were also perfect fits. We met several people in the industry who offered to connect us further and seemed excited about what we were doing.”

Cotman said the event achieved its goal to help students meet potential advisers.

“A great number of alumni want to support students and their knowledge and experience allow insight that can be integral to the success of a startup,” Cotman said. “We are thankful to those who attended for being as eager as our students were to form connections.”

eLab, begun in 2008, is a collaboration between Student Agencies Foundation and Entrepreneurship at Cornell dedicated to accelerating Cornell's top student startups.

Teams for eLab are chosen in the fall, with this year’s 12 teams coming from 60 applicants, Cotman said. The teams can enroll in two classes during the year, meet weekly and have access to alumni mentors, a co-working space, special events and advice as they turn their concepts into businesses. At the conclusion of the school year in April, eLab teams deliver a complete pitch to a varied audience at Demo Day, held during Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s Celebration event.

“The greatest moments in learning are when a topic is being discussed and the teacher says something that makes you go ‘wow, that is so true and I had never thought about it like that,’” said Brian Schiff ’18, a founder of RedRoute, an app that connects college students to transportation services. “eLab has been full of moments like that.”

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

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Melissa Osgood