Nat Kelner here, along with my colleagues from Columbia Business School, Columbia Engineering and Columbia Entrepreneurship I help to keep things in proper running order here at the The Lab.
The Lab is a 5,100 sq.ft. co-working facility located at WeWork Soho West that provides subsidized space for 71 Columbia alumni entrepreneurs to house and nurture their fledgling ventures. It is a testimony to Columbia University’s longstanding spirit of collaboration and burgeoning entrepreneurial community. With over 35 startups from all over the Columbia campus, the Lab is the result of a unique partnership between the deans of Columbia College and the Schools of Business, Engineering, Law, and International Political and Affairs.
Our resident ventures moved in on June 11th and as we approach the one month mark, I’d like to share a short “dispatch” from The Lab that characterizes what’s so special about uniting this diverse group of entrepreneurs under one roof in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
About a week after the lab launched I overheard an exchange between Cooper Pickett ‘10CC of the digital marketing firm Longneck & Thunderfoot and Matt Star ‘12CC a web developer for RAWRDenim.com, a specialized fashion site.
Cooper was explaining the intricacies of ad retargeting to Matt who was looking for new ways to monetize RAWR’s many monthly active users. In exchange for Cooper’s wisdom, Matt offered to give him lessons on how to use Git, a popular version control system. From there white boards were broken out, many arrows and boxes were drawn, and topics that had once seemed cryptic to both parties became much clearer. Ah, serendipitous collaboration. It’s a beautiful thing.
The only way to describe the atmosphere here is, well, collegial.
What can academia offer the entrepreneurial community? Is it even possible to teach entrepreneurship? These are questions that have complicated the relationship between institutions of higher learning and the entrepreneurial community. But here at the Columbia Startup Lab it all seemed simple. Universities excel at putting smart people in close proximity with one another to search for knowledge. The Lab does the same.
I’m incredibly excited and optimistic about where these companies can go. If you’re a young alumni entrepreneur and you’d like to get on the waiting list for the lab shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, Nat