Looking back: A celebration of past recipients of the Tiger Entrepreneur Award

Written by
Claire Shin '25
Oct. 3, 2022

The Princeton Entrepreneurship Council is looking forward to awarding this year’s recipients of the Tiger Entrepreneur Award (TEA) during Celebrate Princeton Innovation on October 13, 2022. The Tiger Entrepreneur Award is a prestigious award designed to celebrate the value of entrepreneurship across the Princeton community and to emphasize the University’s commitment to Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way. The Award spotlights up to four individuals or groups of students or early-career alumni demonstrating success in entrepreneurship; as such, its recipients are and have always been impressive, ambitious, and highly decorated. Before this year’s Tiger Entrepreneur Awards are announced, we look back at a small sampling of the impactful work that a few of the past winners are accomplishing.

2017 Awardees: Stephanie Speirs *14 and Stephen Moilanen *14, co-founders of Solstice 

Speirs and Moilanen participated in a policy workshop while pursuing MPAs in the School of Public and International Affairs that took them to rural India, where they helped install solar panels. This inspired them to found Solstice Power Technologies, a company focused on making solar power available to all Americans.  They believe that whether you live in a city or on a farm, and no matter what your income level is, you should have access to clean, affordable energy. The duo founded Solstice in 2014 and received the TEA in 2017.

Since then, Solstice has helped lower and middle-income American households save millions in energy bills and prevented dozens of millions of pounds of coal from being burned. Among many other accolades, Steph Speirs was named one of the Top 35 Solar Influencers in the USA by RatedPower in 2021, and was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 New England Award. 

2018 Awardee: Vaidhy Murti '15, co-founder and CEO of Friendsy

Murti’s founding of Friendsy was a classic, inspiring case of a social networking app that originated out of a dorm room and took off from there. Friendsy succeeded with the help of Princeton’s Keller Center eLab, growing to hundreds of thousands of users. Due to many factors, Murti shuttered Friendsy in 2017. He then leveraged his experience to start his next company, Wit

Wit is a fan engagement platform that allows brands to host video contests where fans can submit videos, elevating companies’ digital marketing efforts. Murti focuses in the sports sector, where dedicated sports fans can use the Wit platform to submit videos to the NFL, NBA, and NHL in response to competitions. Wit has recently been recognized and used by the NCAA, Current, Manscaped, and Match. 

Listen to Murti discuss persisting through failure on PEC's podcast and read about the 2018 awards.

2019 Awardee: Natalie Tung '18, founder and Executive Director of HomeWorks Trenton

Boasting a Princeton education in both teaching and English, Natalie Tung founded HomeWorks Trenton as a way to replicate the boarding school experience without its high costs, bureaucracy, and scalability issues. HomeWorks Trenton is a free after-school program primarily for female scholars in marginalized communities in Trenton, New Jersey. 

Since HomeWorks Trenton’s creation in 2016 and Tung’s acceptance of the TEA in 2019, the non-profit has accomplished so much. Tung has since been featured in Real Woman Magazine, and HomeWorks Trenton has been featured in the Princeton Alumni Weekly Magazine; HomeWorks has also been featured by major companies such as TresSemmé, BlackRock, McKinsey & Company, Barclays, Comcast, and Hollister. And in early 2022, Tung was recognized by CamelBack Ventures as an Education Fellow and was selected for a Coaching fellowship. 


2020 Awardee: Miles Cole '22, founder of Invictis Technologies

While on campus, Miles Cole founded Invictis Technologies to help address an issue that he encountered every day.  Cole understood the challenges faced by those who need daily intravenous injections, such as hemophiliacs like himself.  He envisioned a more accurate, automated way of gaining IV access. Together with Professor Craig Arnold, they developed a working prototype of the device.

After winning the 2020 Tiger Entrepreneur Award, in October 2020 Cole negotiated the sale of Invictis. He has gone on to found two more startups, both in stealth mode - one in robotics and the other in the financial technologies sector.  

2021 Awardee: Catherine Dennig '15, CEO and co-founder of Fursure

After she had to make the decision to let go of her beloved cat Simba to lymphosarcoma because she was a college student inundated with hospital costs, Catherine Dennig '15 founded Fursure, a national pet insurance marketplace. Since its founding in 2020, Fursure has seen incredible success, receiving features on CBS, Fox, Fortune, and USA Today. Dennig and her co-founder Keji Xu ‘15 have been included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30. 

In addition to the 2021 TEA and her own entrepreneurial endeavors, Dennig has also been invaluable to the creation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Princeton: she served on the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee, which gave recommendations to the University on ways to nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

All of the past Tiger Entrepreneur Award winners continue to have an impact on society and they embody ‘Entrepreneurship the Princeton Way’. We look forward to giving the 2022 Tiger Entrepreneur Award during Celebrate Princeton Innovation.  To join us for this event, you can register here