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Representatives from Blackstone LaunchPad, left, speak with interested students during the Entrepreneurship at Cornell resource fair, held during the organization’s kickoff event, Sept. 4 at eHub Collegetown.

App for finding study partners wins at entrepreneurship kickoff

An application to help students connect with others in their classes won the top prize – an automatic spot in this fall’s eLab class – at the Entrepreneurship at Cornell kickoff event, Sept. 4 in eHub Collegetown.

Zing, founded by Jordan Goldzweig ’21, Sam Brickman ’21 and Alisa Lai ’22, all computer science majors, helps students in large lecture classes meet other students for study sessions or late-night help with problem sets. As sophomores, the students realized they still didn’t know many other CS majors.

Zach Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell, speaks at the resource fair.

“People don’t like to go up to other people and talk anymore due to changing social norms and new technologies,” Goldzweig said.

Their app allows students to enter information about their courses, hometowns and interests, then matches them to other students with similar backgrounds and interests.

Over the summer, the Zing team spoke to more than 300 students at Cornell, Binghamton, Columbia, Syracuse and New York universities, as well as professors at Cornell and Binghamton.

“This semester, we have partnered with multiple Cornell professors who will be using Zing to connect their students,” Brickman said. “They have been super excited about this since they see this problem firsthand in their classes every single day and have not found a successful way yet to solve it.”

The team’s entrance into eLab, the university’s accelerator for student businesses, will give them access to resources, including: $5,000 to further their business once a legal entity exists; the ability to earn up to 5.5. credits in eLab classes that focus on their startup; access to one-on-one mentoring from successful entrepreneurs; legal consultation services; co-working spaces in Collegetown and on-campus in Kennedy Hall; and connections to Cornell alumni entrepreneurs.

Goldzweig said eLab “will be a great opportunity for us to speak with more professors to learn more about the problem and its nuances in order to eventually build out as excellent of a product as we can.” He also said that while their website is fully developed, they will be working to finish up their mobile application.

Four student teams competed in the eLab kickoff event, which included a tabling event highlighting entrepreneurial resources across campus, plus refreshments and networking.

“Kickoff is a key event for the entrepreneurship community at Cornell,” said Zach Shulman ’87, J.D. ’90, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell. “It provides students an easy way to get key information on what the ecosystem has to offer.”

The eLab teaching team is currently interviewing 79 student teams who have applied for the program, and will soon announce the 2019-20 cohort.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

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Rebecca Valli