Students pack eHub Collegetown for a recent Startup Hours meeting.

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Thursday night sessions connect student entrepreneurs

Every Thursday night in Collegetown’s eHub location, there’s business building going on. Fueled by Chipotle, startup ideas and knowledge from various disciplines, 30-50 students gather every week for Startup Hours, a meetup begun last year by Sean Cai ’25, an applied economics and management major in Dyson.

“Startup Hours was our take on creating a casual recurring event where CS majors, business majors and creators of all disciplines could meet and build,” Cai said.

The informal meetings allow students to work on projects, meet with venture capitalists and mentors, find out about startup resources and catch up with other builders and early-stage investors. Once a month, organizers invite a guest speaker.

During an October meeting, participants heard from investor George Mathew ‘95, managing director at Insight Partners, who shared the story of his career and offered advice to students about building a company.

“When you start these journeys, you have to move the best ideas forward and be able to differentiate your ideas from others,” he said. “You have to go from being the idea leader to being the engine builder.”

As a neurobiology and behavior major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mathew said his Cornell education helped him to be a lifelong learner.

“I try to optimize for learning and being curious — all the things that Cornell teaches us very well,” he said. 

Emma Warden ’25, an information sciences major (A&S), came to listen to Mathew because she has interests in technology and healthcare and working at a startup.

“I love hearing how really successful people think and how they have used their resources,” she said.

Peter Lu ’25, an industrial and labor relations major, said he comes to Startup Hours to meet other like-minded students share ideas, and find friends to help him build his company. Lu also hosts the Passion Play Profit podcast, and he recorded Mathew’s talk as a podcast episode.

“It’s a place where everyone is willing to help,” he said about Startup Hours.

Caroline Zhu ’26, an applied economics and management major (Dyson), said some students who come to Startup Hours are venture capital fellows looking for companies for potential investment, others are company founders seeking co-founders and still others just want to learn more about entrepreneurship.

“Our primary goal when we started was to bring out those secret entrepreneurs working in their dorm rooms and connect them to all of Cornell’s resources,” she said. “There are a lot of nitty gritty details about entrepreneurship that really come out when you get entrepreneurs talking to each other.”

Startup Hours are financially sponsored by Entrepreneurship at Cornell and take place every Thursday from 7:30-9 p.m. at eHub Collegetown, 409 College Ave.

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