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It has been six months since the first Columbia Business Lab (CBL) cohort moved out of the office space they shared with nearly 30 other Columbia Business School entrepreneurs. Some of these alumni returned to the Lab recently to reflect on how the experience helped them and their growing businesses.
The Columbia Business Lab launched in 2012 to provide newly-graduated Columbia Business School entrepreneurs office space and continued access to the School’s resources, advisors, and programming. The group pointed to the supportive community at the Lab, the knowledge-sharing, and frequent access to successful alumni entrepreneurs and other experts, as keys to what makes the Lab an invaluable place to grow a business post-graduation.
Nikhil Bahadur ’12, co-founder of the Blue Nectar Tequila, attributed the camaraderie among the entrepreneurs at the Lab as instrumental to the momentum of his business growth. “It can be scary growing a business alone after graduation,” he explained. “Having a place to go to work with daily contact with other entrepreneurs, helped make the transition easy while we grew our business.” Lenny Beckerman-Rodau ’12, founder of Eventava agreed and sited the space itself as a life-saver for the growth of a budding company. “The Lab helped us focus on our company by taking the stress of spending limited funds to securing adequate space out of the equation,” he said.
Columbia Business Lab founding co-presidents, Kajal Sanghrajka ’12 and Allison D’Eugenio ’12, stressed knowledge sharing as a key factor to the Lab’s overall culture. “The few of us with consumer products held sales sessions and helped each other with strategy,” Kajal said. She is working on Kajal London, a company that specializes in one of a kind, designer vintage sunglasses and frames.
Allison founded InteractAble while at the Lab, a social skill building game for children. “The ability to learn from others is definitely why my business progressed in the early stages and why I was able to continue even at times of uncertainty,” she added.
CBLers also appreciated Lang Center-supported programming such as the Lunch ‘n’ Learns which brought in alumni entrepreneurs like Jeremy Miller ’10, Becca Brown ’07 and Marc Glosserman ’06 to talk about their companies and share their entrepreneurial journeys. Monthly events like CBL Happy Hours provided members, current students, alumni and other invited guests an opportunity to meet, greet, and network throughout the year. “Informal connections are just as important as any formal outreach,” said Cup & Compass beverage maker Philip Crouse ’12. “Many CBLers made connections this way and it was mutually beneficial.”
To learn more about the current group of Columbia Business School entrepreneurs, visit the Columbia Business Lab website.