Student startup founders who participated in eLab, Cornell’s accelerator for student businesses, will showcase the companies they have been working on all year during the program’s virtual Demo Day, April 29 from 1 to 3 p.m.
The event, co-hosted by Entrepreneurship at Cornell, the Cornell Entrepreneur Network and eCornell, is part of Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s annual Entrepreneurship Celebration and is open to students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members.
During a live pitch and Q&A session, attendees will learn about student founders’ new product ideas, futuristic service platforms and high-tech innovations, as well as how the startups plan to scale them for market.
eLab is a yearlong, credit-bearing (up to 5.5 credits) educational experience through which students evolve their business plans, speak with potential customers, pitch to investors and prepare for launch. Benefits of eLab include a $5,000 investment in students’ startups, one-on-one mentorship, opportunities to network with Cornell’s alumni entrepreneurs, and access to software and legal consultation services.
“This year was anything but normal,” said Ken Rother, managing director of eLab. “But that didn’t slow down eLab’s entrepreneurs. The teams made tremendous progress developing their business models, building out their teams and preparing for company launch. For the entrepreneurs, Demo Day is not the finish line but definitely an exciting opportunity to see progress to date.”
New this year, program alumni are helping teams prepare for Demo Day, going over their pitches and responding with useful feedback and advice.
Adele Smolansky ’23 is one of the students presenting her startup. “I am excited and extremely grateful that Demo Day has been organized to have such a large number of attendees and I am really happy that there are so many people who care about entrepreneurship at Cornell,” she said.
Her startup, AI-Learners, is an e-learning platform for children with disabilities to play educational math games. The company uses data analytics and a unique design to personalize learning. Parents and educators can track kids’ progress on the platform to identify skills that have been mastered and areas that pose challenges for the student.
For many students, Demo Day can be as much a networking event as a learning experience, as guests include venture capital firms and Cornell alumni passionate about entrepreneurship.
Kyle Betts ’22 gained a board member for his startup from a previous eLab pitch event and is looking forward to the additional networking opportunities Demo Day will provide. His company, Bolt, specializes in improving the performance of hockey players’ skating using a combination of inertial measurement unit sensors, motion capture and machine learning technologies.
For Smolansky, eLab’s greatest value lies in the give-and-take between members of the cohort. “I love sharing updates and anecdotes during eLab bootcamps, classes and events that I have been invited to,” she said. “And I have greatly benefited from hearing stories from other entrepreneurs about their good and bad times.”
For his part, Betts said eLab illuminated the complexity of entrepreneurship for him, while offering up ways to navigate that complexity.
“The advice we received each week in class and through our board meetings have prevented us from making numerous costly mistakes, saving us not only time but also money,” he said. “It is truly unlike any other class.”
Descriptions of all startups in this year’s cohort can be accessed on the eLab website.
Casey Verderosa is a writer for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.