In proper social distancing fashion, selected startups from the eLab Class of 2020 delivered their final business pitches at eLab Demo Day 2020 on April 28 to an engaged audience via Zoom, fielding questions from peers, mentors, and supporters online.
This year’s six participating student startups were selected by their eLab peers and included Call of Duty Agent, Hopscotch, PediCure, takk, THIS IS MY SPACESUIT and Veribuy. While their innovations and industries range from fashion to medical to e-commerce, the presenting teams all shared the same drive, passion, and potential that the Cornell’s prestigious student accelerator program has allowed them to tap into.
Moderated by director of eLab, Ken Rother, the pitches kicked off with student startup, PediCure, which invented a toenail trimmer to help individuals with limited mobility, such as senior citizens, maintain independence. Co-founder Jessica Tao ’20, who was recently named one of Poets & Quants for Undergrads’ 2020 Best & Brightest, expressed that the idea was inspired by her grandmother and an unfulfilled market need.
“I was raised by my grandma and she did everything for me,” stated Tao, “Now I’m 22 and the roles have completely reversed. I’m the one taking care of her.”
In addition to being selected to pitch at eLab Demo Day 2020, Tao and PediCure co-founders, Joshua Zhu ‘20, Jialin Ke ‘20, and Jonathan Pao ‘19, recently won third place in Cornell’s Hospitality Business Plan Competition.
Call of Duty (CoD) Agent presented their business pitch next—a platform that matches CoD players of a similar skill-level into teams. Inspired by their own interest in competitive gaming, Brett O’Connor ’21 and Shane Thorsteinson ’22, built a platform that connects players and stores gaming data. With a growing number of competitive CoD players, the startup aims to help eSport athletes improve their skills and performance in competitions.
Veribuy founders, Milik Dawkins ’20 and Brandon Womack ’20, presented their innovation, an online platform that protects customers from counterfeit products. By examining the value, quality, and authenticity of products sold on their online platform, Veribuy allows luxury sneaker collectors to make purchases without risk. “Sneaker reselling is a $2 billion market. The total sneaker market is $80 billion as of 2019,” stated Dawkins. The startup hopes to tap into this growing market by using technology to authenticate goods.
Frustrated by her own experience with “inefficient, super expensive, and outdated” software systems used by higher education institutions for fundraising, Iliana Paleva, MBA ’20 and team members, Jacob Bee Ho Brown ‘20, Jiayi Chen ‘20, Oishani Ganguly ‘22, Jason Huang ‘21, Andrew Chen ‘22, and Andrew Gai ’19, launched takk, which is developing a data-driven platform designed to help higher education institutions enhance their fundraising efforts with more modern capabilities such as online payments, customizable analytics, and alumni outreach via texting.
Student startup, THIS IS MY SPACESUIT, continued the presentations. Founded by Shoshanna Swell ’20, the startup has created a clothing line to inspire and empower others, as well as a series of branded workshops that focus on fashion and sound design, wearable tech, and dream building. Swell was inspired to launch THIS IS MY SPACESUIT after NASA canceled an all-women mission in March 2019 due to not having a spacesuit that would fit a woman astronaut.
Since launching, the startup has taught workshops to over 500 students around the globe, including visits to Milan Fashion Week and NASA Headquarters. According to Swell, “We’re focused on creating products to help people blast off. We’re launching new kits to help people create at home, which will include additional charitable measures.”
Finally, Hopscotch closed out the successful eLab Demo Day 2020. Hopscotch, founded by Marla Beyer ’20, Nicole Beck ’20, and Kelcie Lee ’20, is building a pediatric behavioral health program with the goal of helping children reach their full potential.
“Our ultimate goal is to equip children with the necessary tools to help them regulate their emotions and deal with challenging situations as they navigate an increasingly complex world,” said Beyer. By creating digitized and gamified treatment plans for an increasing number of pediatric behavioral health conditions, the student startup is working to make mental health support for children more accessible.