Event Recaps

Congrats to the 2019 Winners of the $250K 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 part of that funding. The Columbia Venture Competition is a partnership between Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Entrepreneurship, the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and the Alliance Program that works with French universities Sciences Po, Sorbonne University, and École Polytechniqueand gives out $250K.

More than 200 teams of Columbia entrepreneurs competed this year, with 150 alumni judges Columbia alumni judges from Brooklyn to Bordeaux to Beijing lending their time, talent, and expertise to narrow down the field and select the winners.

Meet the 2019 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

StreetSmarts VR
Oliver Noteware ’18BUS, Alice Formwalt ’18NYU

Street Smarts VR provides distributed, immersive VR training to police departments to improve officer judgement and reduce avoidable police-citizen violence.

SECOND PLACE – $15,000

Lio Slama ’16GSAPP, Julien Brinas

Redefining the experience for the entire property management ecosystem.

THIRD PLACE – $10,000

Carol Pak ’16BUS, Soon Pak

Makku is a new take on Korea’s oldest alcoholic drink. Slightly sweet, fizzy, with a bit of tang, Makku is like nothing else.

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 – $25,000

Nausher Khan ’20SIPA, Nicholas Kho ’20LAW, Clara Tessler ’19SIPA, Laura Vera ’19SIPA

A smartphone-based medical device that will digitize the anthropometric measurement process of infants and children (namely, collecting information like height and weight) in order to instantly evaluate their nutritional status.

SECOND PLACE – $20,000

Ji Qi ’19SIPA, Alonso Flores ’19SIPA, Jessica Arnold ’19SIPA, Nigora Isamiddinova ’19SIPA,  Nitasha Nair ’19SIPA

DASH maps and analyzes the changes in migration patterns, seasonality, and urban and agricultural development using data from satellites, mobile telecommunications, and GPS-enabled systems.

THIRD PLACE, TIE – $10,000 Each

Rodrigo Ferreira ’19SIPA, Jennifer Jacobowitz Rae ’20SIPA, Diego Folly De Andrade ’19SIPA, Felipe Rocha ’19SEAS

An Artificial Intelligence-based virtual assistant that connects people with their local public agencies.

Design Xchange
Julie Tumasz ’19SIPA, Thomas DeMaio ’19SIPA, Daniel Aho ’19SIPA, Gregory Francois ’20SIPA

Matching volunteer designers with social enterprises in developing countries to build capacity in digital media marketing.

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 – $25,000

Octopus Robotics
Sterling Hooten ’21GS

Making it easy to have force-position control by providing sensory feedback in robotic movement.

SECOND PLACE – $15,000

George Liu ’17CC, Jie Feng ’17SEAS

Serengeti uses machine learning to recommend audiences to target your product to, even those you haven’t thought of yet.

THIRD PLACE – $10,000

CapCell Biologics
Jon Zaikowski ’19SPS, Ben Young ’18GSAS

Producing medical implants to treat rare diseases.

Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College

Judges will favor those teams with the most innovative and viable business models. Winning entries must document the incorporation of customer feedback into the design of their business model.

FIRST PLACE, TIE – $25,000 Each

Brain A. Eye
Nico Laqua ’22CC, Arman Jindal ’22CC

Helping law enforcement objectively and instantly determine if someone is under the influence of an impairing substance.

Raghav Mecheri ’22SEAS, Ajit Akole ’22SEAS, James Bollas ’22SEAS, Ishaan Chandratreya ’22SEAS, Ketan Jog ’22CC

Intelligent trash receptacles which automatically segregate waste for large corporations and office work spaces.

International Blockchain Innovation Challenge

This competition is held in collaboration with the Alliance Program, an alliance between Columbia and three French Universities: Sciences Po, École Polytechnique, and Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne. Teams of students and recent graduates from these three institutions and Columbia University are invited to submit proposals for new or existing ventures using blockchain technology to create innovative solutions in a range of areas, such as (but not limited to): crypto protocols, finance, the Internet of Things, and voting and elections.

MeditectTeam Sciences Po
Romain Renard, Arnaud Pourredon, Charles Cotillon, Verlaine Artus, Maylis Denis, Matthieu Bagory, Sacha Servan-Schreiber, Maxime Petit

Using Bbockchain to validate the authenticity of medicine, thus improving the supply chain by increasing trackability & accountability.

Moon – Team Columbia
Kenneth Kruger ’12SEAS, Kemel McKenzie ’17SEAS, Khurram Kalim

Moon is a browser extension that allows shopping with cryptocurrency anywhere online, instantly, securely, and without fees.

Ash – Team Ecole Polytechnique
Abel Adary, Louis Raison, Paul Roussel, Pierre Tholoniat, Enlin Zhu

Ash introduces an innovative protocol to verify and facilitate the transactions of digital goods (books, music, art, etc.), to the benefit of independent/wholesale sellers and buyers.

Unchain My Art – Team Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne
Maxime Michel, Raphaël Grenier

Unchain my Art is trying to disrupt the curatorial framework by maintaining anonymity for collectors while facilitating access for curators, thus improving accessibility to art for all.

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