Each summer for the past eight years teams of Princeton University undergraduates have spent their summers on campus, working to design and build startup ventures through the Keller Center’s eLab Accelerator Program.
This summer the students had their entrepreneurial skills and adaptability put to the test as the normal in-person collaboration was moved to a virtual setting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of their work will also be shared in a virtual setting on Wednesday, August 12, in a Zoom-based version of the annual Demo Day.
The online program begins at 11:30 a.m. and will include remarks by Cornelia Huellstrunk, director of the Keller Center, followed by pitches by each of the six student teams and an opportunity for questions and answers. Access to the virtual presentation is free, but registration is required at kellercenter.princeton.edu.
Phase One is aimed at business development in the pharmaceutical industry. The founders note that existing databases used to inform decisions on licensing agreements and mergers and acquisitions are either prone to inaccuracies or prohibitively expensive. Phase One seeks to create a reliable and affordable platform for those performing due diligence on biopharma companies and their products.
The team consists of Brian Kang and Satya Nayagam, rising juniors majoring in chemical and biological engineering; John Ahloy, a rising junior studying math; and Nathan Spilker, a rising senior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Claudius Legal Intelligence seeks to improve efficiency in the practice of law through the use of artificial intelligence. The team, led by computer science graduate student Joseph Avery, who also has a law degree, is combining AI with predictive analytics to produce data that informs lawyers’ decisions on what cases are worth taking on. It could also, for example, provide guidance on the optimal settlement amount in a personal injury case.
Other team members include Zhe Chen, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering, and computer science undergraduates Veronica Abebe, Beatrice Caruntu, and Ariel Rakovitsky.
Kotami is a fashion brand that produces sustainable clothing at reasonable price points. Team members include recent graduates MC Otani, electrical engineering; Taylor Branch, African American studies; Somi Jun, comparative literature; and Sharon Musa, neuroscience; as well as rising senior Anika Nishat, anthropology.
Maname a logistics startup that uses advances in blockchain technology to improve access to transportation services in Africa.
Team members include Serge Priam Nsanzineza and Collins Metto, recent graduates in computer science; Peter Mwesigwa and Diamond Acharya, rising seniors in computer science; and Ifeanyi Isichei, rising sophomore in operations research and financial engineering.
Lumentee is a social media platform specifically for underprivileged high school students. The platform connects the high schoolers with current college students, who are able to offer advice and support on the college admissions process and college experience.
Team members include Winfred Dark, a recent computer science graduate; rising seniors Natashia Neckles, School of Public and International Affairs, and Laura Molina, African American studies; and rising juniors Amanda Vera, computer science, and Miranda Wang, electrical engineering.
The Crumpet Society is a restaurant company that has reinvented the traditional English crumpet with locally sourced ingredients, sustainable packaging, and a range of flavors as well as vegan and gluten-free options.
Their products are branded as commuter cuisine — something that can be ordered quickly and eaten on the go — and the founders, all graduate students in architecture, have created a micro-store model that makes for minimal infrastructure costs associated with new storefronts.
Team members are Esra Durukan, Nathaniel Banks, and Yidian Liu.
In an article published by the Keller Center, former high tech entrepreneurship professor Ed Zschau said that this summer’s eLab program amounted to “a ‘great experiment’ to see if startup companies can be successfully formed and launched when the founders are remote from one another. If that is true, it has significant implications for the future: It would mean that it may not be necessary to live in expensive areas like Silicon Valley or NYC or even be co-located with other founders to start up a new venture. It could open a great many possibilities.”