The Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund, now in its 17th year of supporting student ventures, announced seed capital investments totaling $175,000 in four student ventures.
The ventures provide aid across diverse industries:
BlocPower markets a portfolio of low cost renewable and energy efficiency products to property owners in domestic underserved communities. Donnel Baird ’13
BUZZtheBar is a free ordering app that increases efficiency within the hospitality industry to create a world with no lines for customers. Richard Liang ’13
Plenishable turns recipes into groceries by providing eCommerce infrastructure linking recipe content & grocery services. Jeff Freedman ’13
Travefy solves the coordination headaches of group travel. David Chait ’13
“It's an incredible honor to receive an investment from the Lang Fund and a privilege to join a community of startups that have received Lang investment, including giant successes like Recyclebank, founded by my mentor Professor Ron Gonen ’04,” said BlocPower founder, Donnel Baird ’13. “It is moving to receive the endorsement and vote of confidence from Columbia and be associated with Eugene Lang ’40, and what he stands for as the founder of the I Have a Dream Foundation, focused on economic opportunity in the same American inner cities that BlocPower targets. We are thrilled,” he added.
The investments were chosen from 23 venture proposals submitted by students and presented at the annual Columbia Entrepreneurs Showcase earlier in May. A panel of judges evaluated each of the plans, providing feedback and recommendations to the Lang Fund Board.
In order to provide more access to seed funding in a venture’s early stages, the Lang Fund Board makes an immediate initial investment, typically in the amount of $25,000-50,000, in the form of a convertible demand note in ventures that meet its investment criteria. This criteria requires that ventures have a viable business plan with good chances of success and a full time commitment by the graduating student to the business as its owner or prime mover. The Fund retains the right to make an additional equity investment in the business when the business raises its first round of equity backed by professional investors.
Richard Liang ’13 shared what the investment means to his company. “The Lang Fund's investment in BUZZtheBar gives us the seed capital to deploy our service into numerous NYC venues, and provide ongoing marketing support, he said. “The investment also marks a significant milestone for BUZZtheBar as we emerge from the Greenhouse program with the tools to build a sustainable business.”
About the Lang Fund
Established in 1996 with a $1 million gift from Eugene M. Lang, MS ’40, the Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund fosters an entrepreneurial environment at Columbia Business School by providing early stage investing opportunities to qualifying student business initiatives. It also allows the School to share in the success of funded ventures through negotiated equity or other participation.
Steve Gilman '15
“To organize a robust community, sometimes you have to put walls around it,” says Steve Gilman ‘15 about his company, Block Party Suites.