Written by Gabe Sim
NYU’s Entrepreneurs Festival, which occurred on March 8th and 9th this year, was a weekend-long celebration of NYU’s innovation and the exchange of ideas. 2019 marked the festival’s eighth annual occurrence and an all-time high attendance of over 1,100 individuals. Attendees had the opportunity to interact and engage with 100+ speakers, 60+ startups, and 6 panels (all of whom were NYU students or alumni) and participate in a series of roundtable discussions, workshops, an idea jam, and a pitch competition. All of this came to fruition due to the hard work and dedication of the 30-member student-led core team who worked in conjunction with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute throughout the past year.
The festival was the perfect opportunity for students to get firsthand insight from experienced founders, as well as founders who were the same age as them. No matter how far along in the entrepreneurial process attendees were, everyone could find someone with applicable knowledge to help them get over that obstacle they were currently facing. Jeff Furman (Stern ‘65 and NYU Law ‘65), the Co-Founder & President of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was one of four keynote speakers. He imparted on entrepreneurs the idea that in order to harness the power of the business world to make a difference and create value for society, one needs to innovate and depart from conventional thinking. Other keynote speakers included Nobu Nakaguchi (Tisch ’10) who is the Chief Design Officer and Co-Founder of Zola, Maryellis Bunn (CAS) who is the CEO and Founder of Museum of Ice Cream, and Andrea Breanna (Gallatin ’97 and Tisch ’03) who is the Founder and CEO of RebelMouse.
The student startup exhibition was another one of the festival’s highlights. 25 startups showcased their ideas and attendees voted on their favorite startups. The top 3 vote-getters participated in a pitch off competition to win a prize of $1,000, which was awarded to Outro. Outro is an app-based company whose goal is to make staying safe as easy as having fun by rating and reviewing bars and clubs. Users can rate their experience at these places using criteria like security, comfort level, vibe, and cleanliness.
Ultimately, the success and proliferation of the festival is indicative of the university’s recognition that entrepreneurship is a growing interest of the student body. Whether it be through the creation of physical spaces, like Stern’s W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs, the Leslie eLab, or Tandon’s MakerSpace, or by incorporating entrepreneurship into course curricula, like Stern’s co-concentration in entrepreneurship, NYU has been taking the steps to invest resources into the growing field.