This September, students, faculty, and other NYU entrepreneurship enthusiasts gathered at the Stern School of Business’ Paulson Auditorium for the second annual Demo Day. There, NYU student start-up teams introduced their newest ventures. It was the culmination of the work students conducted all summer through the NYU Summer Launchpad, a nine-week accelerator that helps promising entrepreneurs transform their ideas into successful businesses, or the Stern Venture program, in which high potential entrepreneurs spend 10 weeks developing their start-ups under the guidance of Stern School of Business mentors. The students made five-minute pitches to a live audience and then answered questions about their start-ups.
From Sustainable Straws to Creative Kibble
Student ventures focused on topics like environmental sustainability, consumer products and services, dating apps, and sustainable fashion. Sea Straws, a start-up founded by a team of students from the College of Arts and Science, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and Stern, manufactures products that have minimal environmental impact, such as paper straws. Crafted Kibble presented a boutique dog food brand that customizes each order according to the optimal diet for your pooch. (Each package arrives with your pup’s picture on it and doubles as a storage container.) Merciless Motors—a team made up of students from the Tandon School of Engineering and Gallatin—developed an electric motor that is 50 percent lighter, 33 percent smaller, and up to 10 percent more efficient than those currently on the market.
Drew Enyedi, a Business major at Stern with concentrations in finance and sustainable business, says, “Getting to meet some of the people in the crowd who heard us pitch at Demo Day was awesome.” Drew is the cofounder of Grounded Upcycling, a socially conscious start-up that diverts by-products such as coffee grounds from landfills and turns them into natural skin care products. “Lots of people came up to us afterward excited about our idea, and we also met a few potential partners and investors,” he adds.
An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
At NYU, students poised to see their business ideas come to life have access to a robust network of entrepreneurship-focused resources. For example, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute and the NYU Stern W.R. Berkley Innovation Labs hosted Demo Day. At the Entrepreneurial Institute, anyone in the NYU community can join a team or get the support to turn their business idea into reality. The Innovation Labs are an on-campus resource where students, alumni, and researchers from across NYU learn the skills to launch sustainable businesses. In addition to Demo Day, there are competitions, programs, and workshops throughout the year where students can gain funding and support for their ideas and learn the skills necessary to become successful founders.
And the Audience Choice Trophy Goes to…
After hearing each team’s pitch, audience members got to think like venture capitalists and vote via social media for the business they thought was best prepared to overcome the challenges it set out to conquer. In a surprise tie, student start-ups Grounded Upcycling and ChoreBug won the award. ChoreBug is an online platform that connects people looking for responsible workers for jobs, like gardening or moving furniture, with high school students in search of flexible work in their area. All of the students ended the night with a sense of accomplishment for their work, excited to move forward with their businesses.
According to ChoreBug CEO and cofounder Avante Price, whose concentration is finance at NYU Stern, “Entrepreneurship is known for being the path less traveled not only because of how difficult it is to succeed but also because of the risk-taking it involves. Opportunities like putting together a deck, rehearsing your pitch, and presenting in front of hundreds of people don’t come along often. And getting to experience it at just 18 years old is something I will treasure and draw value from for years to come.”