Princeton Entrepreneurship Council is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Tiger Entrepreneur Awards. The Tiger Entrepreneur Award was designed to celebrate the value of entrepreneurship and innovation across the Princeton community, and to emphasize the University’s commitment to Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way. There was a robust and impressive list of nominees for the 2018 Award, with nominees from a wide range of entrepreneurship, including life sciences, tech and social enterprises. The quality of the nominees truly reflects and celebrates the value of entrepreneurship and innovation across the Princeton community.
In alphabetical order, the 2018 Award finalists are:
The award winners will be announced at TigerTalks in the City tonight at WeWork Grand Central in New York City. The announcement will be available as part of the Facebook Live stream of the TigerTalks event, beginning approximately at 6:30pm ET.
The award will be presented at one of the year’s most prestigious campus events, Celebrate Princeton Innovation, on the evening of November 8, 2018, at Frick Chemistry Laboratory.
Read more about our finalists below:
Richard, Felix and Avthar are the founders of Afari, a decentralized social network that uses blockchain to preserve the privacy and digital property rights of users. The trio have quickly amassed a number of accolades with Afari in 2017 and 2018, including winning first place and audience choice at TigerLaunch, the international student startup competition, third place at the Princeton Social Impact Competition and second place at the Princeton-Harvard Business School Startup Showcase. After graduation, they passed on lucrative offers at Microsoft to participate in the Keller Center eLab Summer Accelerator and work on Afari full-time. They have also secured $100,000 in seed funding from the Blockstack Signature Fund.
With four friends from high school, Niko co-founded Blackwell Surgical Company, a medical technology startup. Through an introduction by the Office of Technology Licensing at Princeton, Niko and Blackwell secured $25,000 funding from the New Jersey Health Foundation. This enabled the team to spend the summer of 2018 at Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs, the first team of undergraduates to do so. As their first project, Niko and his team are building an artificial ligament, and they used the summer to evaluate the biocompatibility of their prototypes. He is also working with the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club on a new E-Club team to promote biotech entrepreneurship on campus.
Matthew and Yuyang are co-founders of Tendo Technologies, commercializing their research on flow monitors as graduate students in Prof. Marcus Hultmark’s lab. The team discovered a novel approach to measuring fluid flow in a scalable, inexpensive, sensitive and versatile way, and quickly enlisted the help of the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) and started a company. Matthew and Yuyang won third place at the 2017 Innovation Forum hosted by the Keller Center and OTL, and then participated in both the 2018 Keller Center eLab Summer Accelerator and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation-Corps (I-Corps). They have recently expanded their business team with Princeton students and are focusing on their first sensor product in automation of liquid compounding.
Jason is a Ph.D. student in Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE) studying large-scale machine learning optimization algorithms. With some friends in the Computer Science department, he represented Princeton at the 2016 Amazon Alexa Prize competition and won $100,000 in funding from Amazon to build a social chatbot. In 2018, he co-founded Snark AI to make cloud graphics processing units (GPUs) low-cost and easily-accessible for artificial intelligence researchers. Soon after, Jason was accepted to the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator and later raised $1.7 million in venture capital funding. He and Snark AI plan to also build a cloud software ecosystem for AI training and deployment.
Tommy is the co-founder of Hempitecture, a green building material company using hemp-based concrete. His first experience with entrepreneurship was the Fall 2014 HackPrinceton, winning second place with a taxi-hailing app. Later he joined education technology startup Piper as Head of Growth and Community, where he secured an investment from the Princeton Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund and helped bring the company to $5 million in annual revenue. The Hempitecture portfolio includes the first public and first retrofit hempcrete buildings in the United States.
Alex and Nick are the co-founders of Geltor, Inc., a biotech startup in San Leandro creating lab-grown, animal-free collagen. Both Rutgers graduates, they met in the Molecular Biology department at Princeton. Alex and Nick have entered into partnerships with large firms such as GELITA, the world’s leading collagen supplier and Archer Daniels Midland, a leading food ingredient manufacturer. They and the Geltor team have secured $23 million in venture capital funding, including an $18 million Series A announced this week. Their bio-designed materials will have a wide range of environmental benefits and is poised to disrupt several important industries, including cosmetics, food, beverages and materials.
Vaidhy is the co-founder of Friendsy, a social networking app that enabled college students to meet each other. A classic startup that came out of a dorm room, Friendsy grew with the support of the Keller Center eLab Summer Accelerator and the Princeton Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF), gaining 300,000 users and 3 million matches. The economic realities of competing in the difficult social network forced Friendsy to close in 2017, but not without Vaidhy’s funders immediately ready to back his next project: Wit, a new winner-take-all social video app. While building Wit, he also served as CTO of fellow AEF portfolio company DonorUP, a platform for managing donations and discovering your philanthropic identity, and founded a successful product development company to build elite minimum viable products for early-stage startups. Wit is now available in the Apple App Store.
Victoria is the co-founder of WellPower, a technology startup that repurposes old and damaged solar panels and batteries to create solar-powered water purifiers. She and her fellow Princeton undergraduate WellPower teammates won the recent Hult Prize Princeton competition and were finalists at Hult Prize Boston and Hult Prize Ivy, winning over $10,000 in prize money. Victoria is also committed to sustainability through her fashion wear company, VZ Designs, which aims to solve the world’s problem of wasted fabric. A former participant in the Keller Center’s Princeton Startup Immersion Program in New York City and Tel Aviv, Victoria is currently a member of the IBM Watson Cloud Platform Innovation Team.
Shriya is the founder of Lumhaa, a memory collection and engagement app that grew out of her senior thesis research in Psychology. After graduation, Shriya participated in the 2018 Keller Center eLab Summer Accelerator to build out the Lumhaa app and website with a team of undergraduates. Lumhaa, which means “moment” in Hindi, now boasts collected memories from 60 countries around the world. Long involved in social enterprises both on and off-campus, in 2015 she helped develop the Tiger Challenge program, which uses design thinking to train students to tackle big societal problems. She is currently working at both Lumhaa and Goldman Sachs.