On the evening of June 18th the Columbia Business Lab (CBL) Showcase was held at Fahrenheit 212 in downtown New York. Nearly 70 invited alumni, faculty, past CBL members, mentors and other supporters were in attendance for the event that served as a fond sendoff to the outgoing companies and a celebration of the CBL entrepreneurs’ accomplishments over the past year.
Lang Center Director, Vince Ponzo ’03, kicked off the evening with welcoming remarks. “The Columbia Business Lab was founded in 2012 as a way to support newly graduated alumni of the business school who were dedicated to pursuing their venture full-time post-graduation. More than 30 ventures initially spent time at the lab growing and changing all with the support of the Columbia community,” Ponzo said. “The program has been a huge success, and because of it, this summer we were able to partner with Columbia schools across campus to build an even bigger and better location for our most dedicated young alumni. We don’t believe this would have happened without the success of our first two years in the Columbia Business Lab. Tonight is about the celebration of all these amazing accomplishments.”
The highlight of the evening included presentations from seven CBL teams to two Fahrenheit 212 representatives – Engagement Manager Alex Bertha and Innovation Consultant Faiz Rashid – for a chance to win an exclusive two-day strategy session with their creative and commercial teams. Pete Maulik ’04, the host and Managing Partner at the innovation consulting firm, enjoyed listening to the pitches along with fellow attendees. “It was a fantastic showcase of the type of innovation that makes us proud to be associated with top business schools like Columbia,” Maulik said. Maulik helped launch Fahrenheit 212 and is responsible for driving growth through strategic planning, partnerships, and client relationships for the firm. “This is great creativity coupled with equally powerful business acumen.”
Among the presenters was Brian Ballan ’13, founder of A&B American Style pepper sauce. Ballan was particularly appreciative of the many supporters that came to the event. “The CBL was a great place to start expanding A&B American Style and the community of founders was always supportive,” Ballan said. “The advice and mentorship we received from the Columbia network was invaluable to us, and I look forward to continuing the tradition by offering my advice to future graduating entrepreneurs.”
Following the pitches, the teams were stationed throughout the venue where attendees were encouraged to network with the founders one-on-one. Entrepreneur & Angel Investor, Debbie Hidajat ’06, enjoyed meeting the companies and noted the diversity of industries represented in the room. “I am happy to see the progress that Preo, Exubrancy, A&B American Style have made, and look forward to the development of Kookopa, PreConceive, Inspiring Capital, and TheTake.”
CBL alumni Philip Crouse ’12, founder of TinyKitchen Brands, agreed. “It was incredible to see how far all of the businesses have come in the last year. I also love to see the breadth and variety of ventures that CBL supported. It is a great representation of just how rich and diverse the community is. As a member of the first CBL class, I couldn’t be more pleased to see them all continue to thrive.”
Before the end of the evening, the judges selected Sarah Robinson '13, founder of Preconceive, as the winner of Fahrenheit 212’s strategy session. “Winning the consulting services is just another example of all of the wonderful doors that can be opened to you within the Columbia Entrepreneurship program. I couldn’t be more excited.” Robinson said.
Starting this summer, the Columbia Business Lab has re-launched and expanded as the Columbia Startup Lab located at WeWorks-Soho West at 175 Varick Street. The co-working and incubator space provides Columbia University’s most promising and dedicated entrepreneurs with a strong ecosystem in which to successfully grow their businesses immediately upon graduation. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for July.
View the CBL Showcase Event Photo Gallery.
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.