CUNY students present startups at eventful 2019 Demo Day
After six weeks of learning, designing and building, 13 teams of CUNY student entrepreneurs presented their projects in front of a panel of judges at CUNY Startups Demo Day 2019. With newly established companies tackling problems in areas ranging from education to fitness and travel, the ideas presented at the conclusion of the 2019 CUNY Startup Accelerator cohort reflected the drive for innovation and advancement from all of the CUNY schools.
With massive companies such as Facebook and Snapchat known for growing out of college dorm rooms and then becoming household names, it is no surprise that the largest urban university in the world would recognize the potential that students have in building products that could possibly change the world.
Perhaps the most notable startup to come from the CUNY system is WeWork, recently valued at $47 billion, which was co-founded by Baruch graduate Adam Neumann. The CUNY Startup Accelerator, which began its 2019 cohort on March 13, aims to promote the growth of ideas that can be just as impactful as those of Neumann or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Student founders worked with their teams and mentors at meetings twice a week for six weeks before pitching their ideas in front of judges at Demo Day. The judges included professionals who have experience as founders and investors working in venture capital, seed funding and accelerators.
Thirteen teams spent three minutes pitching their startups before the judges chose the top four teams to advance to the second round. Each of the four finalist teams then expanded on their ideas with a five-minute presentation and a Q&A session with the judges. After all of the finalists presented, the judges selected first, second and third place winners.
Baruch College was well-represented among the participating founders. The program was sponsored by Baruch’s Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship and the school’s business students came out in full force. Four of the 13 teams were composed of Baruch students including Oasix, an impact-investing marketplace, TripToo, a social media travel app, and Release, an AI-powered solution for the recidivism issue.
Univents, a Baruch startup led by CEO Michael Joh, Jonathan Li and Jaehun Choi, was a finalist but it fell just short of third place. Univents was created as a resource for students looking to get involved on campus but don’t know where to start.
“They give you a vast amount of resources and mentors related to your adventure and the weekly session are really insightful,” Li said of the Accelerator program. Univents designed mockups and strategies for launching an app meant to keep CUNY communities strong by providing a one-stop-shop for discovering on-campus events.
In third place was CuddlyTails, a platform made to connect pet owners with trusted pet sitters and dog walkers. The company’s founder was inspired to make the app when she had to cancel a trip because she couldn’t find a pet sitter she trusted and didn’t want to leave her dog in a kennel where he’d spend most of his time in a cage.
Second place was awarded to WiseWatch, a wearable GPS tracker meant to help medical centers and family members keep tabs on the location of someone who is suffering from dementia.
OddJobs, led by Michael Edwards II of the City College of New York, won first place as a platform for people looking for work that offered the ability to be paid the same day in which the work is completed.
Editor's note: Michael Joh, CEO of Univents startup, is the advertising director for The Ticker.