“The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel – these are the things that will endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events themselves” (Vince Lombardi).
It is as important for athletes to win championships as it is important for entrepreneurs to hit homerun exits fortheir companies; but value cannot be placed on the bottom line alone. Value is created by the determined people putting their heart and soul into making their dreams come true.
InSITE’s end of the semester event, which was held last Friday, truly embodied this spirit. It was a unique opportunity to reflect back on the work that has been done throughout the past months, to be inspired by entrepreneurs who are trying to improve our lives in many different ways, to hear about new, innovative ideas and emerging technologies, to learn from the other fellows, and to absorb insights from a distinguished panel of venture capitalists.
No two InSITE teams had the same experiences or takeaways from their work with these young startups; various markets, stages, competitive advantage, business needs, and most importantly – people, kept Friday’s event exciting throughout the entire morning. These are the companies InSITE fellows worked with throughout the semester:
BestVendor is a free online resource that helps professionals find the best “work apps” through social recommendations. InSITE fellows assisted with a wide range of business aspects – financial modeling, recommendation engines, viral exposure, etc.
Zeel is a marketplace to find and book appointments with qualified heath & wellness providers. Already serving thousands of customers, Zeel’s goal is to make American people happier.
The Geno.me is a startup striving to improve scientists’ ability to research and innovate in genomics. The company’s goal is to help accelerating genomics research, and it received some excellent suggestions from our panel on how to target a larger market.
The Runthrough is a platform that facilitates communication and discovery between the fashion industry’s most influential editors, stylists, and designers. The “W-Magazine Mafia” worked closely with InSITE fellows to perfect their pitch and mission of revolutionizing the fashion industry.
Framey provides the easiest way to record video on any website. InSITE fellows assisted with a full market segmentation and pricing analysis.
bre.ad is a word-of-mouth marketing platform for celebrities, brands and charities thatoffers a technology to amplify its customers’ exposure on Facebook and Twitter.
Roundtable is a platform for hosting and publishing public conversations online. The company’s mission is to bring dialogues to the monologue that is the Internet.
The companies gave their pitches to a wonderful panel that included Kirill Sheynkman (Managing Director, RTP Ventures), David Teten (Partner, ff Venture Capital), Bob Greene (Managing Partner, Contour Venture Partners), and David Lerner (Director of Venture Labs, Columbia University Tech Ventures). This journey would not have been complete without our panelists’ time and insightful comments.
Aside from the traditional work with the startups, InSITE fellows have also been involved in several special projects in biotech and cleantech, and in a new initiative named InSITE Research. Under InSITE Research, a pair of fellows dives into a specific industry or investment thesis – such as the NYC incubators and angels scene, or the mobile payments investment research that was presented on Friday (and will be available as a white paper in thefuture). We also heard a quick recap of the successful Sony Always Be Closing event held last month, where promising NYC startups pitched directly to Sony executives in order to provide a solution to Sony’s business development and technology needs.
Fellow Elliott Robinson mentioned at the beginning of the semester on how humbling the venture capital industry is, since you are constantly surrounded with extremely talented, smart, experienced, visionary entrepreneurs that inevitably fail (a lot). Friday’s event provided an opportunity to celebrate our companies’ dedication and courage to dare to challenge the status-quo, dare to create something that has not been done before, and dare to succeed. It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of InSITE fellows, who – in Sean Weinstock’s words – are “just kids with passion”, and InSITE has helped us to develop the set of tools to make this passion a reality.
This post was written by Maya Mandel, Columbia Business School Class of 2013 and Arun Batra, an Applied Physics PhD student at Columbia Class of 2015.