Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration 2012
2012 Cornell Venture Challenge: Winners and Finalists
Johnson’s BR Venture Fund judges select winner and finalists from a record-breaking number of highly qualified applicants
In past years, judges for the Cornell Venture Challenge deliberated and reached agreement on selecting the winner and runners-up within two hours. Not this year. In fact, the competition was fierce due to the high quality of the technologies and companies that applied. Judges passionately pleaded the case for one company over another, and only reached consensus late in the day, following prolonged deliberations. All agreed that this was the most competitive Cornell Venture Challenge to date.
Each year during Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration, the BR Venture Fund (BRV), Cornell University’s seed-stage venture capital fund run by Johnson MBA students, invites entrepreneurs to compete in the Cornell Venture Challenge by pitching their startup ideas and plans to judges as well as to the greater Cornell community. In addition to competing for a non-dilutive cash award, participants receive valuable, individual feedback from venture capital professionals — an opportunity that past participants consistently report as a performance-learning goldmine, unmatched in terms of long-term, real-life, and real-business takeaways. As always, multiple outside investors attended the pitches, hoping to speak with Cornell Venture Challenge participants following their presentations.
The 2012 Cornell Venture Challenge saw a 38 percent increase in applications, receiving 66 entries from Cornell-related technologies and companies. BR Venture Fund managers reviewed all 66 applications and selected five as finalists.
The five finalists, including the winner and runners-up, represent a variety of industries ranging from education to biotechnology:
1st place: $10,000 prize:
Tadpoles.A company co-founded by Andrew Monroe ’99, Tadpoles is revolutionizing childcare by streamlining operations and parent communication through mobile technology. Tadpoles engages parents and providers in the learning process by sharing photos, videos, and progress reports every day.
Socrative.Michael West ’05, MEng ’06, is chief technology officer of Socrative, a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. It is cloud-based, takes two minutes to set up, and runs on laptops, smart phones, and tablets. More than 300,000 students answer more than 2,500,000 questions on Socrative every month.
Nanoly.According to the World Health Organization, 2.1 million people die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. People living in hard-to-reach areas of the world struggle to receive immunization. Nanoly is addressing this need by developing a technology that enables cheap, effective, and safe delivery of vaccines anywhere in the world via a nanoparticle-based chemical shield that enables vaccines to survive without refrigeration. Peter Matheu ’04, who earned undergraduate degree at Cornell in applied engineering physics, is a team member at Nanoly.
Enzymeticsis a biotechnology startup dedicated to the development of anti-aging and DNA-repair skincare products that reduce UV-induced skin damage and boost the skin’s natural repair mechanisms.
Seraph Roboticsis a personal robotics company, providing a platform that takes all the power of an industrial manufacturing plant and puts it into a tabletop device: the Seraph ONE. Adam Perry Tow, MBA ’12, is co-founder and CEO of Seraph Robotics; co-founder and CTO Jeffrey Lipton ’10, is a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering at Cornell University.
Christopher James "CJ" Halabi, MEng '12, MBA '13, is a BR Venture Fund Manager and Cornell College of Engineering Lester B. Knight Scholar