Entrepreneurship Celebration

Cornell University, Ithaca NY

April 13-14, 2023


Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s Celebration is a two day entrepreneurship conference held every spring to bring together students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community participants. Highlights this year will include fireside chats with featured speakers, eLab Demo Day, Student Business of the Year recognition, the BenDaniel Venture Challenge, and the recognition of the 2023 Entrepreneur of the Year.


EY Building a better working world
Student Agencies Foundation
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
Triphammer Ventures
Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University
Blackstone Charitable Foundation
Cornell Entrepreneur Network
Cornell Silicon Valley
Upstate Venture Connect


*denotes sessions that will be livestreamed

April 12 – Wednesday

6:00 – 8:30 PM

Networking@Rev: Building Bridges for Ithaca Startups

Grab a drink and some delicious local eats as you relax and mingle with familiar faces, student startups, and some of the biggest companies in the local startup scene.

Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, 314 East State Street (Parking available at Seneca Street Garage, 215 North Tioga Street)
[Free & Open to the Public]

April 13 – Thursday

12:00 – 1:45 PM

BenDaniel Venture Challenge

The BenDaniel Venture Challenge (BVC) is Big Red Venture’s annual pitch competition that gives five companies the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors. Companies based in New York state or with a Cornell affiliation are eligible to apply for their chance to win a $25,000 cash prize and an additional $25,000 in matching funds if the company’s technology is licensed through Cornell.

Statler Amphitheater
[Free & Open to the Public]

2:00 – 4:00 PM

Entrepreneurship at Cornell Advisory Council Meeting

Advisory Council members and Invited Guests only

Taylor Room, Statler Hotel

2:00 – 2:30 PM

Life Science Entrepreneurship in Practice

Advances in the life sciences are transforming our health and have the potential to provide new and improved ways to support overall well-being. Many innovations are made in the research laboratory but the pathway to market is long and filled with obstacles. In this discussion organized by the BioEntrepreneurship Initiative, you will learn what it takes to launch a life science venture and bring an innovation to market as well as exciting new developments and industry trends.

Speaker: Harvey Tian MENG ’12, PhD ’17, CEO & Founder, Inso Biosciences

Moderator: Greg Ray PhD ’14, Entrepreneur in Residence, Center for Regional Economic Advancement; Lecturer, SC Johnson College of Business

Amphitheater, Statler Hotel
[Free & Open to the Public]

2:30 – 3:00 PM

WE Cornell: From STEM Researcher to Founder

Learn from Cornell STEM researchers who have brought their innovations to market following their participation in WE Cornell. Panelists will share the obstacles and opportunities they have met along their pathways to leading a growing technology-based business.

Panelists: Kathleen Hefferon PhD, CEO/CSO & Founder, Forte Protein
Linda Alvarez MD, MBA ’21, CEO & Co-Founder, Levelle Nutrition

Moderated by Andrea Ippolito ’06, MEng ’07, CEO & Founder, SimpliFed

Amphitheater, Statler Hotel
[Free & Open to the Public]

3:00 – 3:20 PM

Hardware (n.) 1. Software Wrapped in Plastic

What do beer, cars, and electricity all have in common? Hardware.
There’s more to entrepreneurship than apps and services. At the end of the day, we all use hardware products from the moment we wake until the moment our head hits the pillow; and hardware businesses are facing unique challenges. Hear from entrepreneurs on their journeys from launch to high scale manufacturing, and everything in between.

Moderated by Deanna Kocher MS ’22, Assistant Director of Hardware Programs, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works

Panelists: Aaron Walls MBA ’14, CEO & Co-founder, Beermkr Inc
Willie Mendelson MEng ’15, Engineering Program Manager, Tesla
Rachelle McCray, CEO, Co-Founder, Co-Inventor, Wisely Inc
Ryan Li ’12, CEO & Co-founder, ReVert

Amphitheater, Statler Hotel
[Free & Open to the Public]

3:30 – 4:00 PM

eLab Panel: Where are they now?

eLab is Cornell’s student accelerator where teams participate in a rigorous program focused on customer discovery, pitching, and business model development. A number of eLab teams have gone on to raise capital, launch new products, and successfully exit or grow their companies. Join us for a panel discussion to gain insight on how the accelerator helped position them to meet their goals and where they are now.

Moderated by Ken Rother, Managing Director, eLab

Panelists: Adele Smolansky ’23, CEO & Founder, AI-Learners
Nick Nickitas MBA ’14, Founder, Rosie, An Instacart Company

Amphitheater, Statler Hotel
[Free & Open to the Public]

4:30 – 6:30 PM

eLab Demo Day*

Discover Cornell’s leading student startups at eLab Demo Day. In this special presentation, startups from eLab, Cornell’s student accelerator program, showcase their businesses.

Statler Hall Auditorium, Statler Hall
[Free & Open to the Public]

6:30 – 8:00 PM

Networking Reception

The Terrace, Statler Hotel
[Free & Open to the Public]

April 14 – Friday 

(All events taking place in the Statler Ball Room, Statler Hotel)

8:00 – 9:00 AM

Networking Breakfast

9:00 – 9:45 AM

Pathways to Angel Investing *

According to the latest Pitchbook data, startups with all-women teams received 1.9% (or around $4.5 billion) out of around the $238.3 billion in venture capital allocated, which is a drop from 2021. While already extremely low, we are going backwards in supporting start-ups founded by women. In this discussion, we will share stories of Cornell alums in their fundraising journey and discuss ways to increase capital allocation to female founders. We will also demystify the pathway to becoming an angel investor and arm attendees with resources to move forward to either obtain funding for their organization or mobilize to join the growing community of Cornell alumni angel investors.

Andrea Ippolito ’06, MEng ’07, CEO & Founder, SimpliFed
Susan Danziger ’86, Founder & Investor, Eutopia Holdings
Deb Kemper ’88, Managing Partner, Golden Seeds Venture Fund

9:45 – 10:30 AM

The Extreme Sport of Edtech Entrepreneurship: Doing Well and Good with SAAS in a High Risk Environment *

Nona Ullman ’88, CEO & Founder, LessonLoop

10:30 – 11:00 AM


11:00 – 11:45 AM

Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Biology Driven AI *

Fernando Gómez-Baquero PhD, Director of Runway & Spinouts, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, and Neel Madhukar PhD, CEO & Co-Founder, OneThree Biotech

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Developing Disruptive Brands and Creative Allure Based on Loyalty and Identity Affiliation *

David Barton ’88, Founder, DavidBartonGym and TMPL

2:00 – 2:45 PM

Play the Cornell Speed Round with the hosts of the Cornell (Thank) U Podcast *

Michelle Katz ’90 and Stephanie Gitlin ’90, Co-hosts, Cornell (Thank) U Podcast

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Entrepreneurship at Cornell?

EaC is a diverse, university-wide program that finds and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in participants from every college, every field, and in every stage of life.

What is Student Business of the Year?

The Student Business of the Year (SBOY) is awarded to the student and/or team that is committed to developing and operating a successful business while pursuing an education. The award is determined by a selection committee and other criteria.

What is EaC Advisory Council?

The EaC Advisory Council is made up of alumni and other business leaders who are interested in fostering the growth of entrepreneurship at Cornell. Membership offers great networking and mentorship opportunities while learning about new initiatives and getting frequent updates on our program and the Cornell entrepreneurship ecosystem.

How can I stay up to date on all entrepreneurial things at Cornell?

Join our listserv! There are multiple events and news items that come out each week to keep you “in the know” of everything entrepreneurial at Cornell. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find the listserv form in the footer.

– Zach Shulman ’87 JD ’90, Director – Entrepreneurship at Cornell

Featured Speakers and Moderators