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Niraj Shah '95, CEO, co-chairman and co-founder, and Steve Conine '95, CTO, co-chairman and co-founder of Wayfair, at the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 2, 2014.

Wayfair founders named 2018 Cornell Entrepreneurs of the Year

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Rebecca Valli

Entrepreneurship at Cornell has announced that Niraj Shah ’95 and Steve Conine ’95 have been named 2018 Cornell Entrepreneurs of the Year. They will be honored April 19-20 during Celebration, Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s conference in Ithaca.

Shah and Conine co-founded Wayfair in 2002 and rapidly grew the business to become the largest online retailer of home furnishings, housewares and home improvement goods in the U.S. Wayfair has extensive operations in the U.S. and Europe and employs more than 6,800 people.

Both graduates of the College of Engineering, Shah and Conine partnered in several successful ventures before founding Wayfair, including co-founding Simplify Mobile and Spinners, an IT services firm that was sold to global technology consulting firm iXL in 1998.

Shah, who served as CEO of Simplify Mobile and of Spinners and as chief operating officer of iXL, also was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock Partners. He is on the board of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Conine served as chief technology officer of Simplify Mobile and as a top executive of Spinners. He also was COO for the London office of iXL. Conine leads development of the architecting and software systems at Wayfair.

The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually by Entrepreneurship at Cornell to Cornellians who exemplify entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards.

“Steve and Niraj have worked together through many ventures, with Wayfair being the largest to date. It is wonderful to see two founders who literally met at Cornell advance their business and technology interests so productively,” said Zach Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

Entrepreneurship at Cornell is a universitywide program supported by every school and college with a dedicated core of faculty, staff and alumni. Undergraduate and graduate students benefit from studying and working in Cornell’s programmatic, research and clinical environments to develop technical, business and leadership skills that position them for success in entrepreneurial endeavors. With its broad array of programs and services, Entrepreneurship at Cornell is the gateway to everything entrepreneurial at Cornell University.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

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