This summer, the annual Summer Incubator Program and pitch summit of the Life Changing Labs at Cornell elevated eight student startup companies to the next level through industry professional-led workshops, lectures, mentorships and seed funding.
LCL is a non-profit organization that offers several initiatives and mentorships to “support Cornell’s top entrepreneurially minded minded students,” according to their website.
According to Auston Li grad, president of LCL, the lab’s summer incubator aims to guide students through the adjustment period of their products and company directions during the summer.
“Our goal … is to allow student founders to leverage the invaluable resources we provide them, and allow them to grow and develop as companies,” Li said.
At the outset of the program, each of the selected companies — such as Response, UniVRsity, and Suna Breakfast — receive up to $3,000 in funding to buoy their pursuits.
Over the course of the eight-week program, founders of these startups work to incorporate the knowledge they gained during the summer — such as key performance indicators, customer discovery and branding — into day-to-day operations while also learning from each other.
“[The founders] love to get up early and start working away,” Li told The Sun. “The companies will interact with each other, helping each other out.”
Keivan Shahida ’20, one of the participating founders in the summer incubator, created Response with hopes to increase transparency and efficiency in charity operations.
“Currently, when a charity wants to purchase supplies they don’t have on hand, they have to rely on a paper and email-based system that slows down the entire response process,” Shahida said. “Our objective at Response is to help charities operate more efficiently, so that aid can be delivered faster.”
After winning LCL’s summer pitch competition, the Response team plans on using the $1,000 prize money towards continuing customer relationship development.
Pedro Bobrow ’20 and Christophe Gerlach ’20 got their startup idea from their growling stomachs. Having observed student athletes’ dissatisfaction with their rushed protein bar breakfasts, Bobrow and Gerlach cooked up Suna Breakfast, a food delivery service where breakfast can be ordered the night before and delivered to customers’ doors the next morning before class.
Bobrow said that with the help of the LCL program, Suna was able to expand its reach to a wider Cornell campus and to advance its practices in time for their forthcoming launch.
“They helped us with our product design strategy and how to position ourselves. They also helped us with [customer relationship management], logistics, building the technology, and establishing the business as a legal entity,” Bobrow told The Sun in an email.
Upcoming events hosted by LCL include the Cornell Entrepreneurship Kickoff on Aug. 29 and a Meet & Greet and Q&A panel with the student founders from the LCL 2018 Summer Cohort on Sept. 10.