Lab Dispatches

Dispatches from the Lab – When Columbia Startup Lab All-Stars Become Techstars

One of our measures of success at the Columbia Startup Lab are the number of teams who’ve graduated to other prestigious programs.  TechStars is just one.  With this dispatch, we highlight two Lab teams who were tapped to join the Techstars accelerator; one is returning after completing the program, the other is just about to join.

In September, we welcomed back ride-share app Wheeli from Techstars Mobility in Detroit, and we said “see you soon” to talent-development solution Pathspark as it heads over the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in New York. Here’s what happens when our stars become TechStars.

Welcome Back Wheeli

The idea for Wheeli – a carpooling app for students– came to co-founder Jean-Pierre “JP” Adéchi the way many entrepreneurs are inspired, through frustration. JP was a Poly Sci student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where he was, like many of his classmates, looking for a way to get back to his native NYC on weekends and holidays.  With two successful startups under his belt, Adéchi’s instinct was to create a startup to solve his frustration.

Adéchi and co-founder Alexandre Ayache ’14SEAS looked for other universities where the student populations had similar mobility problems, ultimately selecting the University of Vermont to launch the Wheeli platform.

JP and Alex join the Columbia Startup Lab in 2016 where the built their minimum viable product prior to the launch at University of Vermont.  After a 3-month stop at Techstars Mobility in Detroit, Wheeli is now continuing its journey back to the Startup Lab with a fresh round of funding and a presence in over 10 universities.

“Through Techstars, we were able to refine what we are doing – to better understand the market opportunity we were creating and how we could scale it up and reproduce it around the country,” said JP.

Introductions  to Techstar’s vast network of advisors, mentors, and investors also helped. “Techstars  opens up your vision and changes how you think about your business,” said JP.

Wheeli is now onboarding its first hires, getting ready for another seed round in early 2018, and looking to take the service nationally.  Follow the team on Instagram at WheeliOfficial!

See You Soon, Pathspark

After Anastasia Alt ’10CC graduated and began her career, she found a passion for helping people work – and live – better. Whether it took its form in mentoring new hires at J.P. Morgan or incorporating meditation into the workday at McKinsey & Company, Anastaisa  had an interest in helping both employees and companies grow to reach their full potentials.

“Investing in the professional development and wellness of talent benefits both companies and employees. The result is higher retention, better job performance, and improved job and life satisfaction,” said Anastasia .

Existing talent management solutions were inefficient and outdated, so she created a new solution: Pathspark, which delivers metrics-driven professional development and coaching for the modern workforce.

“Companies can realize a significant ROI by adopting professional coaching at scale,” said Anastasia. “We make it easy and effective for firms to bring personalized coaching to their employees.”

In October 2017, Pathspark was accepted to the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in New York, where the company will immerse itself in Techstars’ programs and worldwide network of mentors, investors, and alumni.

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