Although the weather was gray and stormy the past two days, the atmosphere at both our Princeton and New York City eLab Demo Days was energetic and upbeat as eight emerging startups pitched their innovations to packed houses at the Friend Center here on campus and in Manhattan at Serendipity Labs.
KC Director and Professor of Computer Science Margaret Martonosi kicked off each afternoon by highlighting the ‘beehive of activity’ created by the eLab teams at the Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub all summer during what is usually a sleepy time on campus. She also proudly highlighted Keller Center’s sleek and informative new website, which launched last month.
Martonosi passed the microphone to Executive Director Cornelia Huellstrunk, who gave the standing room only audiences an overview of the program’s eight-year history. To date, the Keller Center’s eLab Summer Accelerator has helped launch 53 undergraduate and graduate student startup companies, of which 76% are active. “There is a diversity of industries represented in our eLab teams throughout these eight years that make us very proud. It highlights the bridge the Keller Center is creating across disciplines on campus and the diversity of our student entrepreneurs,” said Huellstrunk.
From there, eLab Program Manager Stephanie Landers acknowledged the many mentors who generously donate their time and expertise to the student startups, and also introduced the student associates who would be serving as MCs for the pitch portion of the event.
As each team took the stage for their eight-minute pitches, stories of how a personal challenge inspired the creation of their company seemed to be a common thread.
- A migraine sufferer who needs instant access to medication developed a discreet, versatile, and easily accessible pill storage unit.
- A military officer who is forced to move his family every three years without the benefit of financial security through home equity, creates an opportunity for short-term home owners to build wealth.
- A music aficionado creates a space to share concert reviews, discover new music, find like-minded friends, and help promote live music experiences.
- A hemophiliac innovates intravenous injection technology to mitigate injury, infection, and inaccuracy of current injection administration.
- An athlete, and daughter of an orthopedic surgeon, revolutionizes the walker boot to aid in natural healing and decrease complications from lower leg injuries.
- A student with a passion for ensuring clean drinking water is available to everyone is working to remove heavy metals from contaminated water.
- Two African students team up to bring investment capital to core businesses in their home countries, to foster entrepreneurship, and create sustainable economic impact.
- Two environmentalists merge ancient and modern technologies to solve energy challenges using wastewater.
After each pitch, industry-savvy feedback panelists peppered the teams with thoughtful questions, comments, and advice. After mSTAT’s presentation describing their pill storage unit for those who need medications close at hand, Kwame Dougan of Scotch & Palm exclaimed, “Where can I buy one right now?!”
The pitch presentations were followed by a networking reception where teams passed out swag, answered questions from audience members, and exchanged business cards with the many investors and entrepreneurs who came to Demo Day. Guests had the opportunity to visit each team's demo station and preview the extraordinary innovations coming out of Keller Center’s eLab Summer Accelerator Program.