A savvy idea and a Cornell education helped 15 alumni make it onto the annual Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year. Crafting concepts ranging from sports drinks to insect-sized robots, young Cornell alumni are “putting a new twist on the old tools of the trade”, according to Forbes.
The annually released list compiles the 30 top “trailblazers” in 20 different industries for a total of 600 people. The Cornellians featured include entrepreneurs creating new ways to manage healthcare, scientists developing “artificial photosynthesis” and startup founders that have raised millions of dollars.
Other similar universities also have their fair share of alumni on the list. Columbia has 11 alumni, Yale has 19, and Stanford tops the list at 54 alumni.
Kristen McClellan ’12 started her company, SnappyScreen, a sunscreen application system, while she was at Cornell. Her freshman year, McClellan competed in an elevator pitch competition. Over the next three years at Cornell, she built three prototypes and conducted her first trial period. After she graduated, McClellan continued growing SnappyScreen into a company that now expects to make almost $3 million in sales this year.
Another startup founder, David Roger ’13, former dining writer for the Sun, is the CEO of Felix Gray, which sells specialized eyewear that filters out blue light. Roger’s eyewear is designed for people who spend a lot of time looking at their screens and helps to minimize eye strain. Felix Gray has more than 100,000 customers and is expected to earn $14 million this year.
Along with McClellan and Roger, ten of the fifteen alumni will be interviewed in a virtual event this Wednesday hosted by the Cornell Entrepreneur Network and Young Alumni Programs. Amanda Hatcher, Senior Associate Director at CEN, thought of this event as a way to recognize the Cornellians featured in the Forbes list and showcase their achievements to other alumni.
“We’re looking to do more than tweet about it or post it on Facebook. I wanted to congratulate them and highlight them,” Hatcher told The Sun.
Hatcher and Amanda Massa, associate director of Young Alumni Programs, decided to host a virtual rather than physical event because they wanted to respond quickly to the new Forbes 30 Under 30 list. With the wide range of alumni locations and availability, an online event meant that more alumni would be able to join.
“It was definitely a good surprise that [the alumni] wanted to take part in it,” Massa said.
The event will be hosted by two other Cornell alumni, Iyore Olaye ’16 and Lou Diamond ’92, who will ask questions submitted by the audience. Questions can be submitted both prior to the interviews and as the interview is occuring.