Neelam Brar ’14 has a way with apps. In the last two years, the former investment banker and private equity consultant has brought two mobile apps to market. As a member of the inaugural class of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ Columbia Program, an initiative led by the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center that nurtures ideas and technologies from across the University, Brar teamed up with Columbia engineers to introduce WordsEye, a mobile app and website that translates typed descriptions into shareable images. The team won the New York State Business Plan Competition last year and will launch the app publicly this summer. Brar’s most recent app, Forever|Not, also leverages social networks — but with a romantic twist.
Columbia Business: What was the greatest value of IE@Columbia for the WordsEye team?
Neelam Brar: The premise behind IE is that there is a tremendous amount of intellect, research, and innovation happening across the University that can be harnessed. The program brought me together with engineers who had put in years of R&D; I was able to bring my business acumen to the table to help commercialize their work and bring it to scale.
You still have a stake in WordsEye but have just launched another app. How did that collaboration come about?
I joined a team in Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad to develop Forever|Not. The app enables users to anonymously bet on the relationships of friends and favorite celebrities. Entertainment gossip drives this fun and competitive game that uses social gambling. We launched on February 13, Valentine’s Day eve, and are live in the App Store. Our mission is to reduce the divorce rate by keeping bad couples apart through anonymous feedback from their friends and fans!