Startups Venture for Exposure at Annual NYU Showcase

Hundreds of members of the NYU community attended Thursday’s Venture Showcase, in which 41 of NYU’s top startups presented.

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Akiva Thalheim

Overhead shot of the 17th annual Venture Showcase, part of the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge. 41 teams presented their startups. (Photo by Akiva Thalheim)

By Akiva Thalheim, Social Media Editor

Stern School of Business hosted its annual fair for startups on Thursday, with 41 teams presenting their businesses to a crowd of around 500 students, alumni and investors in the Patron’s Lobby.

The 17th annual Venture Showcase is part of the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge, an eight-month-long program organized by the W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs. Part competition and part startup accelerator, the challenge is meant to identify and hone the most disruptive businesses emerging at NYU. Students, faculty, researchers and alumni are eligible to compete in three tracks – New, Social and Technology Venture –  and can win up to $300,000 in cash prizes and pro bono services.

Director of the W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs Cynthia Franklin said the showcase could directly impact the startups.

“For the teams, the Venture Showcase gives them a chance to connect in a meaningful way with those at NYU and from New York City’s startup community who are passionate about supporting and advising early-stage ventures,” Franklin said. “At this event, it’s not unusual for teams to meet their first investors, find strategic partners, sign a first customer or recruit a key hire.”

One of the teams presenting at the showcase was Grounded Upcycling, a sustainability-focused startup that converts used coffee beans to soap. CEO and Gallatin senior Parker Reposa explained that the competition is both valuable and grueling.

“The 300K will not tell you what you want to hear — they’ll tell you what you need to hear, and it’s really not about holding your hand in this process,” Reposa said. “It really forces us to think about things that otherwise we don’t really want to think about.”

SPS graduate Maryam Daryabegi came to offer her help.

“I have over 25 years of work experience, so I can advise all these entrepreneurs in marketing, branding and strategy, innovation and things like that,” Daryabegi said. “I think it’s a great opportunity also for me as well, to speak with them and see if they need an advisor.”

Others, like CAS graduate Avi Rabinowitz, came to gain insight on startups at the university.

“I have various ideas for ventures in the startup high-tech world and I want to network with people here, including mentors,” Rabinowitz said. “The startups are interesting and I’m interested in learning how they present themselves.”

Tisch first-year master’s student Tianyi Xie also commented on the helpfulness of the university’s resources. Xie is a co-founder of Beespect, a smart beehive with sensors that measure the living conditions and vital signs of bees.

“I mean [the challenge is] a great motivation, everyone in our group is very busy, but with the 300K, that kind of generates enough engagement to keep [Beespect] running,” Xie said. “The school generates a lot of support and just like helping us through different resources, different mentorships.”

When asked what Stern hopes to achieve from the annual showcase, Franklin said she hopes it motivates attendees to pursue their own innovative startups.

“We hope that this event inspires more NYU students, researchers and alumni to envision themselves as pioneers, changemakers and disruptors in their own rights and encourages them to get out there and put their ideas into practice,” Franklin said.

Email Akiva Thalheim at [email protected]