A student shares her ideas at the Big Idea Competition last Friday.

Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

A student shares her ideas at the Big Idea Competition last Friday.

April 24, 2018

Cornellians Share Business Plans in Competition Promoting Entrepreneurship

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Students pitched business ideas ranging from detecting milk contamination to providing fresh meals to students in the Big Idea Competition last Friday.

It was the third annual entrepreneurship contest hosted by Life Changing Labs, a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurship students. The contest was open to all Cornell undergraduates and was organized to promote and support entrepreneurship at Cornell. The LCL team said its competition received a record-high 63 applicants and 131 participants this year.

“Our goal is to increase the engagement of students, and hopefully through their 7 weeks of training and mentorship, they are able to develop a passion for startups and follow through with their company even after the Big Idea Competition,” the team said in a email.

“One of the driving factors is also to celebrate the diversity of thought within the Cornell Community,” the team added. “Every year we get tons of fantastic ideas that range from startups about cows, to politics in the United States, or even [virtual reality] in education.”

The first place winner of the for-profit category was Cowscope, an idea for detecting milk contamination early, developed by Sachiye Koide ’18.

“I entered the Big Idea Competition because I came up with this idea with my team, and it seemed too important not to share with the world,” Koide said. “The most important thing I’ve learned from my time as a Cornell Engineer — from classes, project teams, and as a Kessler Fellow — is that when you have an idea, you push it and expand it as far as you can even if you don’t know where it will lead you.”

Koide was the only female who became a finalist in the for-profit category. She said she “hope[s] to continue to grow as an entrepreneur and inspire other women to shine.”

Pedro Bobrow ’20, the third-place winner of this year’s for-profit contest, founded Suna Breakfast, which aims to provide fresh meals to students.

“We entered the competition seeking an opportunity to meet incredible entrepreneurs and receive mentorship from different experts in the field,” Bobrow said. “Throughout the weeks we practiced for the pitch, we learned a lot about our own business and the best way to convey what we were trying to do.

Bobrow said his team, which won $500, will “use every penny towards implementing” the business.

Experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals, such as Steve Benjamin, the vice chair of the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Alumni Council, and Eric Young, the co-founder of Canaan Partners, judged the competition. Prizes were awarded to the top three winners in the for-profit and nonprofit categories and totaled $9,000. In addition to the monetary prizes, the 25 semi-finalists also received mentorship and coaching on their start-ups.

A full list of winners:

For Profit:

1st place ($3,000): Cowscope – detecting milk contamination early, Sachiye Koide ENG BEE ’18

2nd place ($1,000): Speak2 – giving back control to intubated patients, Ori Belson ENG MAE ’19

3rd place ($500): Suna – bringing freshmade meals to every student, Pedro Bobrow CALS AEM ’20 | Christophe Gerlach CALS AEM ’20

Non-Profit:

1st place ($3,000): Amps – powering the mobile revolution, Shen Lee COB HA ’20 | Alex Li ENG ECE ’20 | Rohan Patel ENG ECE ’20

2nd place ($1,000): Research Connect – handshake for lab research, Aram Baghdassarian ENG CS ’21

3rd place ($500): Spect – making mindfulness accessible to all through bio-visualization, Deanna Deyhim CALS BEE ’18