Columbia University
Demo Night

Hosted by Columbia Venture Community, Columbia University Norcal Alumni & Columbia Alumni Association @General Assembly in San Francisco

My experience at Columbia University was beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I enjoyed meaningful education surrounded by intelligent and dedicated people. I discovered that even in a big university you can create community. When I left New York, I didn’t expect Columbia folks to come together in the same way in a different city. How many people would decide to leave NYC anyway?

Yet, I found the Columbia Venture Community and the Columbia University Alumni of Northern California, proving that the hills of California attract excellence. It is within this group of empowering people that it was decided to take the next step in building our entrepreneurship status.

How did we do it?

We decided to host an inaugural start-up demo night to feature start-ups led by founders that graduated from Columbia University. Although similar events had been planned in New York, this would be the first in SF. Lauren Smith, Ops Lead @Bindle, and I took the lead and delved into planning.

The credit for this event goes wholly to the community. We started off with an incredible donated space at General Assembly. Then, our request for high level mentors and judges sent through e-mail newsletters was met with 30+ responses. Start-ups we had never heard of, started to reach out to participate. Finally, and most encouraging, people kept saying how amazing it was to have a chance to discover more Columbia run companies.

Probably the biggest lesson learned from planning this event, was to be as open as possible about our goals and to share what we needed. It was with this strategy that we were able to find amazing talent, lock down sponsors and bring the vision for the event to life.

The event (6/1)

That Monday night, we hosted 100 + attendees there to see 5 start-ups present to four judges with VC & start-up experience—

Michael Bykhovsky
Rahul Chopra
Daniel Hoffer
Michelle Zhou

See here for start-up details and judges’ bios. I was most impressed with the detailed and dynamic feedback to a lineup for earnest and innovative companies. Usually, in this type of event, it’s hard to tell what people are thinking in the audience and beyond the 5 minute Q&A to start-ups. However, during this demo night, we had the advantage of @Bindle where there was an ongoing chat on the app about what the judges were saying and questions from the audience. Founders were active in responding and sharing more information about their companies.

Judges’ vote winning start-ups

Dovetail |
Dovetail is creating a reliable and easy way to continuously monitor baby health — both movements and heart rate.

Mountary |
Mountary is the easiest way to get your stuff on the wall with easy online and on-demand framing.

Audience’s vote winning start-up

Firstmile is building an API to help make financial technology products both better to use and easier for developers to build.

Thank you

Judges: Michael Bykhovsky, Rahul Chopra, Daniel Hoffer & Michelle Zhou
Start-ups: Dovetail, Firstmile, Mountary, Parcelpuppy & Sensihub

Featured Start-up: Laterally |
Laterally is disrupting legal headhunting with a marketplace connecting the nation’s best lawyers with top firms and companies.

Intro speaker: Dan Loflin
Emcee: Ryan MacCarrigan
Sponsors: Silicon Valley Bank, Bindle
Venue: General Assembly SF

Planning Committee:
Victoria Cheng (CVC), Jaclyn Chu (CAA), Ben Kanner (Norcal), Ryan MacCarrigan (CVC lead)Matt Mireles (CVC, Norcal), Nadine Rose (CVC/Norcal), Lauren Smith (CVC), Pablo Schuhmacher (CVC),
Stephen Wang (Norcal lead)


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