Congrats to the 2020 Winners of the $250K Columbia Venture Competition

Congratulations to all the winners of the 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. Columbia alumni judges from Brooklyn to Bordeaux to Beijing lending their time, talent, and expertise to narrow down the field and select the winners.

StartupColumbia Challenge

Open to all Columbia University students, including Barnard and Teachers College, and recent alumni, this challenge is all about customer development and demonstrating product-market fit. Cash grants will be awarded to those teams that best prepare and present compelling and empirical evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions.

First Place: Lite Wipes

A provider of discreet, portable flushable wipes founded by Bryan Richman, a 2019 graduate of Columbia Business School.


Second Place: SAYge Link

A digital platform that facilitates targeted private and convenient conversations among women with shared experiences.  The result is a supportive network of like-minded women built around topics that are as fluid as the life stages and world circumstances of their customers.  The company was founded by Linda Nedell, a 2018 graduate of the Mailman School of Public Health.

Third Place: Sabai Design

The first and only sustainable and affordable furniture company that manufactures and markets products that are sustainable, affordable, and beautifully designed. The venture was co-founded by Caitlin de Lisser-Ellen and Phantila Phataraprasit, both 2016 graduates of Columbia College.



Undergraduate Challenge, Sponsored by Columbia College

The Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College, is the portion of the larger Columbia Venture Competition open exclusively to students at the four undergraduate schools. The top three teams receive their share of a $50,000 annual prize.

Leadership at Harlem Hospital have called on members of the Columbia community to help provide meals for their physicians and healthcare workers amid the present crisis. As a unanimous decision that came prior to the proceedings of the Finals, the competitors donated 10% of their winnings to pay for these meals.


First Place: Sow

Sow is a marketplace where farmers and neighbors are directly connected for purchases, pickups and direct communication. This venture was founded by Jason Thomas of Columbia Engineering and Sam Stephenson of the School of General Studies

Second Place: LionBase

LionBase connects teams of top student data science talent to startups and early stage businesses. This venture was founded by Kevin Le and Morgan Kang of Columbia College and Andrew Rodriguez, Ketan Jog, Chris Kang , and Sian Lee Kitt of Columbia Engineering.


Baton is a community marketplace to buy and sell outdoor activities led by world-class experts. This venture was founded by Ismael Barry of Columbia Engineering and Johann Kerr of the School of General Studies. 


Columbia Engineering Technology Challenge

Open to all Columbia University students and recent alumni, this challenge looks for business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused, technology innovation. Submissions must focus on product development, innovative design, and “builder” technologies including data analytics, biomedical solutions, software, or hardware.

First Place, Tie: avoMD and EVQLV
$20,000 each

Founded by Joongheum Park of the Columbia Medical Center, Yair Saperstein (Columbia University/ SUNY Downstate) , and Laurence Coman of Columbia Business School, avoMD is a digital point-of-care personal assistant made for doctors by doctors.

Founded by General Studies and Data Science Institute (DSI) grad Andrew Satz and fellow DSI grad Bret Averso, EVQLV is an artificial intelligence company focused on accelerating biologic therapies. 

Third Place: Dialetica

Dialetica, founded by Columbia Engineering 2020 grad Benjamin Greendfield, develops wearables for managing advanced-stage kidney failure.


Columbia Engineering India Urban Works Challenge

The tied first place winners of the Urban Works India Challenge went to Extrinsic Labs and Kara Water.


Led by cofounders Cody Soodeen and Michael Di Giovanna, Kara literally turns air into water: the technology takes the humidity in the air to produce clean, drinkable water. 

Extrinsic Labs, founded by Akshara Baru, utilizes behavioral insights and gamification design to create training modules for organizational development. Extrinsic Labs and Kara Water each took home 1,500,000 INR in prize money. The winning teams will also receive access to training, with infrastructural support from a tech-first collaborative workspace at The CoWrks Foundry.



SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge

First Place, Tie: Tịnh Tâm and VocatiNest
$20,000 each

Tịnh Tâm (Pure Mind) is a comprehensive mobile application aiming to empower Vietnamese youth with mental health resources at their fingertips. It provides real-time assessment gauging the needs of each user, flags critical mental health scenarios, and connects individuals to appropriate mental-health resources (hotline, in-person therapy, “friend” counseling chatbot, and more). This venture was founded by SIPA students Loan Kim Chu, Khanh Vu, Taylor Light, and Dan Poniachik

VocatiNest is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based online job platform that provides end-to-end services from integrated personality & cognitive tests, tailored digital resume, to skill & personality job matching features. The objectives are to empower 5 million Indonesian vocational students and 1.7 million graduates annually to consolidate their competencies or take necessary actions to improve themselves to get fit in targeted jobs. This venture was founded by SIPA students Edi Saputra, Lindi Anggrani, Daniel Oscar Baskoro, Rendy Sabardi

 Honorable Mention, Tie: Art for Africa and Green It Up
$5,000 each

Art for Africa is a platform for bringing talented, passionate artisans together with socially conscious, culturally curious customers. This online platform will leverage e-commerce as a means for financial inclusion and economic development, building sustainable, inclusive communities in post-conflict countries. This venture was founded by SIPA students Brit Felsen-Parsons, Junghoon (Erica) Lee, Jiayi Li, Isabel de Katona, Mihret Moges, and Yao Wang.


GreenItUp believes that consumers will choose sustainable products, provided they are given the information they need to make environmentally-responsible purchasing decisions within their price range. Through a mobile app designed for both in-person and online use, GreenItUp will grant shoppers easy access to the hidden environmental costs associated with their purchasing decisions. By making sustainable consumption quick and easy, GreenItUp aims to unleash the purchasing power of environmentally-conscious consumers, sending strong demand-side signals to producers to adapt into a more sustainability-oriented marketplace. This venture was created by SIPA students Maya Zamir, Sophia Ng, and Kevin Karl.

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