After a 10-week intensive program this summer, the 2023 Johnson Summer Startup Accelerator (JSSA) cohort celebrated innovation and progress at its culminating Demo Day on Sept. 9 at the Sage Atrium in Ithaca, New York.
In what was JSSA’s largest cohort to date, 25 startups participated in the program co-led by Gregory Ray, Ph.D. ’14, and Ken Rother. Twelve student startups pitched their business ideas at Demo Day to an audience of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, potential investors and the greater Cornell entrepreneurial community.
One of the student startup founders that presented was John Khazraee, Executive MBA Americas class of 2024, of Investwise Learning. The company is an all-in-one online platform for single and multi-family investment education, coaching and partnership opportunities, catering to all stages of the investment journey.
“My existing knowledge within technology and international business strategy combined well with the JSSA experience,” Khazraee said. “It provided a bridge, enhancing my knowledge of broad skill sets covering important fields like marketing, IP protection and the nuanced details of funding tactics. These skills are essential to the success of startups, and JSSA has strengthened my tool set needed to meet the possibilities and overcome the obstacles presented by the startup landscape's constant change.”
Open to all MBA students at Cornell, JSSA allows students to learn about startup development in a flexible yet comprehensive environment. The program is structured in a way that enables students to focus solely on their startup for the summer or participate in another internship or job simultaneously.
One of the most valuable aspects of the program is the individualized mentorship that each cohort member receives over the course of the summer. This includes 1:1 guidance from an experienced entrepreneur in Cornell’s startup ecosystem, such as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Brad Treat, MBA ‘02.
“Mentoring students through the JSSA program is advantageous, as it allows me to get to know their startups and goals from the beginning and initiate connections for the cohort members within my network,” Treat said. “Being a mentor helps me stay engaged with Cornell's entrepreneurial ecosystem and enables me to share my expertise with students.”
The 14 experts that served as mentors to this year’s cohort hail from diverse backgrounds and have different areas of expertise, but all share a passion for positively influencing the next wave of entrepreneurs. The 2023 JSSA mentors include:
- Ed Bizari
- Illa Burbank
- Nate Cook
- Julie Eagle ‘89
- Rob Gregor ‘99, J.D. ‘07
- Alex Hagen, MBA ‘03
- Colin Kessinger ‘92
- Andy Monroe ‘99
- Aleksander Nikolic
- Caitlin Parrucchi ‘15, M.Eng. ‘16
- Aaron Proujansky
- Heather Sandford ‘97
- John Tauzel ‘03, MBA ‘12
- Brad Treat, MBA ‘02
In addition to mentorship, the cohort participated in the New York City Trek, a full-day event where participants learn from and connect with founders, investors and established entrepreneurs.
Now equipped with the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, the JSSA student founders will continue developing their endeavors independently. In terms of the future of Investwise Learning, Khazraee plans to continue scaling his startup in multiple facets.
“In order to accommodate the demand from our consumers, we are actively looking for funding and investment opportunities,” Khazraee said. “To support the rapid expansion of our operations, we are also increasing our staff, most notably in product development and sales.”
The JSSA program is funded by the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management and administered by Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA), a division of Research and Innovation.Research and Innovation.
Applications are now open for the summer 2024 JSSA cohort. Apply today.