From Ideas to Impact: Students Pitch Their Startups at September Networking Night
More than 100 members of the local community convened at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works last Thursday for Networking@Rev: Successful Student Startups, an event to showcase innovative startups founded by local students.
Tom Schryver, the executive director of Cornell’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement, a division of Research & Innovation, kicked off the presentation portion of the evening with a keynote address.
In his speech, Schryver highlighted the importance of diversifying the local economy, since the largest employers in Ithaca are concentrated in the education and healthcare industries. He encouraged establishing and growing businesses in different markets.
“What I’d much rather do as a local citizen is find a diversified economic base: People who do key card systems, people who make air conditioners, people who sell clothes, people who make hummus,” he said, referencing past successful startups that have emerged from Ithaca. “Those are the kinds of jobs that are going to be unrelated to whether or not higher education is growing or shrinking, or if we find a way to become more efficient in how we deliver medical care.”
Schryver also discussed the role of startups in college towns like Ithaca.
“If we can come together and leverage the assets that we have, found new ventures, hire and keep some of the talent here, then we’ll find a way to grow this economy and make sure this place continues being a great place to live.”
Following Schryver’s keynote, the event featured pitches from three student founders:
- Elevate.Autonomy: Elevate.Autonomy, founded by Cornell University student Mehrnaz Sabet, is dedicated to connecting industry and academia in an effort to address technical challenges and advance reliable autonomy. Sabet is a recipient of a 2023 Commercialization Fellowship, and she has participated in national and regional I-Corps programs.
- Cair Fare: Ian Cairns, a 2022-23 eLab participant and Cornell University MBA student, founded Cair Fare with the goal of helping busy professionals access healthy meals.
- Aunt Flow’s Kitchen: Armita Jamshidi founded Aunt Flow’s Kitchen to provide customers with snacks designed to minimize period pain. Jamshidi was a 2022 W.E. Cornell member and is currently a 2023-24 eLab participant.
Following the pitches, guests continued networking and enjoyed local bites and beverages from Word of Mouth Catering.