Event Recaps

Columbia Venture Competition

Every year, Columbia gives out $2.4M  to startups across campus through its programs, and the Columbia Venture Competition is a major component of that funding. The Columbia Venture Competition is a partnership between Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Entrepreneurship, and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and gives out $200K.

More than 200 teams of Columbia entrepreneurs compete each year, and the top three startups in each challenge split $50,000 in non-dilutive grants. Columbia alumni judges from Brooklyn to Beijing lend their time, talent, and expertise to narrow down the field and select the winners.

Meet the 2018 finalists and winners.


StartupColumbia Challenge

This challenge is all about customer development and proving product-market fit. Judges will favor those teams that present clear evidence that unique customer insights drove the development of the team’s products and formed the foundation of their businesses.

FIRST PLACE – $25,000

Project Playdate
Amanda Raposo ’17BUS
Childcare: reimagined. Interactive playdates with expert caregivers.

SECOND PLACE – $15,000

Fly Louie
Julia Takeda ʼ18BUS
Platform for purchasing charter flights by seat.

THIRD PLACE – $10,000

Sara Sakowitz ’18CC
A data-driven approach to healthy snacking.

Congrats to fellow finalists:

Jaclyn Rheins ’16BUS
The Knot.com for Divorce.

ReDO Terminal
Taylor Zanke ’18GSAAP, Joseph Brennan ’13GSAAP, Mark Madera ’18GSAPP
Digital finance tool that synthesizes development acquisitions.

Tail Risk
Robert Terrin ’17 BUS ’17 SIPA, John Edwards ’16 SEAS
Cybersecurity services & risk analytics.

SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge Grant

This challenge invites interdisciplinary teams to propose projects and prototypes that use Information Communication Technology or data analytics to solve urban problems around the world.  This challenge encourages the formation of teams that integrate students of public policy, computer science, engineering, and other fields across Columbia University. All teams must include at least one SIPA student.

FIRST PLACE – $20,000

Shanna Crumley ’18SIPA, Gemma Torras Vives ’18SIPA
A4Ed leverages mobile and block chain technology to ensure inclusive and secure learning for every refugee student using existing records software and standardized secondary completion exams. This centralized system makes it possible to store and transfer educational data and digital transcripts for students, educational institutions, employers, and the UN.

SECOND PLACE – $15,000

Audrey Misquith ’18 SIPA
Learn2Earn is a communication tool that helps spread public awareness on crucial issues among millions of people outside the reach of the internet (presently about half the world’s population). Through the innovative use of technology, Learn2Earn allows content to go viral on the more widely available cellular network that is used for phone calls and SMS.


Sarah Lux-Lee ʼ16 SIPA, Rebecca Abramson ʼ19SIPA
Mindr runs talks, workshops, classes and events led by global experts, where crying babies are welcome. Described as the ‘TED talks of the parenting world’, Mindr is disrupting the experience of urban parenting by creating opportunities for professional, intellectual and personal growth in a baby-friendly environment.

Faria Sami ʼ18SIPA, Jeffrey Lepley ʼ18SIPA, Marisol Leos ʼ18SIPA, Stephanie Ullrich ʼ18SIPA
Thirty-five percent of U.S. carbon emissions come from electricity generation and use in the United States. MONICA Energy addresses this challenge of global climate change: our social enterprise is a virtual assistant platform with an integrated phone application and website that simplifies the household clean electricity switch.

Noopur Desai ʼ18SIPA, Yuko Terama, ʼ18SIPA, Hisato Tamiya ʼ18SIPA
WeCare is aimed at creating individual philanthropy to solve some of the largest public policy issues in emerging and developed markets.

Technology Challenge, Columbia Engineering

Entries must include business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused, technological innovation. Submissions for this track focus on product development, innovative design, and “builder” technologies. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.

FIRST PLACE, TIE – $20,000 each

TempRes Technologies
Chathuranga De Silva ’17SEAS, Porakrit Leophairatana ’17SEAS
Direct injection therapy for locally-advanced pancreatic cancer.

Samantha Siu ’18CC, Gabrielle J. Loeb ’18PS, Shirin Sadri ’21PS
Revolutionizing endovascular surgery through augmented reality guidance.

THIRD PLACE – $10,000

Advance H20
Kartik Chandran (Professor, Columbia Engineering), Young Lee (PowerBridgeNY),  
Halil Kurt (PostDoc, Columbia Engineering)
Next-generation cost saving analytics for water/wastewater treatment.

Congrats to fellow finalists:

Simone Lewis-Illo ’18BUS
Virtual leasing consultant for cost conscious landlords.

Carol Neumann ʼ18TC,  Rodrigo Ajenjo ʼ18SIPA,  Magdalena Izquierdo ʼ18SPS, Cecilia Hevia NYU
Platform that facilitates feedback follow-up in education.

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