Miller Theater on the Columbia University Campus


Check out videos from Columbia University’s Fifth-Annual StartupColumbia Festival, a two-day celebration of Columbia’s culture of Entrepreneurship and Innovation!  Day one was the culmination of the Columbia Venture Competition, where more than 200 Columbia startups competed for $200,000 in cash awards.  We announced winners on day two - meet them here! - at the StartupColumbia Conference.  The day was filled with provocative discussions on Blockchain, the NewSpace StartupsData EthicsWomen Inventors, and a fireside chat with unicorn founder Marco Zappacosta '07CC.


Conference Speakers


2018 Festival Highlights

Panels, Keynotes, and Fireside Chats


Columbia Food Founders' Fare

Join us for lunch the Columbia Food Founders' Fare, a great place to eat and network during the conference. Columbia-founded food startups will cater the conference and hold an innovative pop-up bazaar. Bring your appetites. 

Click on the logos below to learn more about the teams who'll be serving lunch.

Columbia logos_MASTER_Columbia Venture Competition Outlined.png

Your Chance to Win a Piece of $200,000


The Columbia Venture Competition (CVC) has four challenges, made possible by Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Entrepreneurship, and the School of International and Public Affairs. Each challenge will split $50,000 among the top three winners. CVC judges come from Columbia’s worldwide alumni community from Beijing to Brooklyn and represent diverse backgrounds and a wide-ranging set of expertise. The descriptions, rules, and eligibility guidelines - as well as the most recent winners! - are listed below.


Columbia Venture Competition

Congratulations to the 2018 Finalists and Winners! Find out who took home the big prizes here.

#StartupColumbia Challenge

This challenge is all about customer development and demonstrating product-market fit. Cash grants will be awarded to those teams that best prepare and present compelling and empirical evidence of market acceptance for their value propositions. If you don’t have empirical evidence, this is not the Challenge for you. For second-round submissions and final presentations, documented proof of business model viability must be provided. This proof may come in the form of qualitative and quantitative market surveys, customer development interview summaries, or current customer, revenue, or unit shipment counts.

1st Place | $25,000

Project Playdate

Amanda Raposo ’17BUS

2nd Place | $15,000

Fly Louie

Julia Takeda ʼ18BUS

3rd Place | $10,000


Sara Sakowitz ’18CC

Congrats to fellow finalists of the #StartupColumbia Challenge:


Jaclyn Rheins ’16BUS

ReDO Terminal

Taylor Zanke ’18GSAAP, Joseph Brennan ’13GSAAP, Mark Madera ’18GSAAP

Tail Risk

Robert Terrin ’17BUS, ’17SIPA, John Edwards ’16SEAS


Technology Challenge, Sponsored by Columbia Engineering

Entries must include business models based on a solid foundation of applied, solution-focused, technology innovation. Submissions must focus on product development, innovative design, and “builder” technologies including data analytics, biomedical solutions, software, or hardware. Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.

1st Place | $20,000

TempRes Technologies

Chathuranga De Silva ’17SEAS, Porakrit Leophairatana ’17SEAS


Samantha Siu ’18CC, Gabrielle J. Loeb ’18PS, Shirin Sadri ’21PS

3rd Place | $10,000

Advance H20

Kartik Chandran (Professor, Columbia Engineering), Young Lee (PowerBridgeNY), Halil Kurt (PostDoc, Columbia Engineering)

Meet the finalists of the Technology Challenge


Simone Lewis-Illo ’18BUS


Gaurav Ragtag ’17SEAS


Samantha Siu ’18CC
Gabrielle J. Loeb ’18PS
Shirin Sadri ’21PS

TempRes Technologies

Chathuranga De Silva ’17SEAS


Carol Neumann ’18TC
RodrigoAjenjo ’18SIPA
Cecilia Hevia NYU
Magdalena Izquierdo ’18SPS

Insta Power

Ilhem Nemri

Advance H2O

Young Lee, PowerBridgeNY
Karmic Chandran, SEAS Professor
Hall Kurt, PostDoc SEAS


SIPA Dean's Public Policy Challenge Grant


The Public Policy Grant Program of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) invites students to form teams to propose student-designed projects and prototypes that use ICTs and/or data analytics to solve urban problems around the world. Solutions may be market-based, public/philanthropic supported, or a mix. The Program encourages the formation of teams that integrate students of public policy, computer science, engineering and other fields across Columbia University. All teams must include at least one SIPA student in a substantive role.

1st Place | $20,000


Shanna Crumley ’18SIPA, Gemma Torras Vives ’18SIPA

2nd Place | $15,000


Audrey Misquith ’18 SIPA

Honorable Mentiones | $5,000 Each


Sarah Lux-Lee ʼ16 SIPA, Rebecca Abramson ʼ19SIPA


Faria Sami ʼ18SIPA, Jeffrey Lepley ʼ18SIPA, Marisol Leos ʼ18SIPA, Stephanie Ullrich ʼ18SIPA


Noopur Desai ʼ18SIPA, Yuko Terama, ʼ18SIPA, Hisato Tamiya ʼ18SIPA


Columbia Undergraduate Challenge, Sponsored by Columbia College

Prize grants will be awarded to the top teams with the most innovative and viable business model. Winning entries must document the incorporation of customer or user feedback into the design of their business model.

1st Place | $25,000

Tee Systems

2nd Place | $15,000

Gallo Fueling

3rd Place | $10,000

Kenzo Health

Meet the finalists of the Undergraduate Challenge:

Tee Systems

Taylor R. Conlin ’19GS


Joon Kim ’20CC
Spencer Yen ’20SEAS
Arjun Srivatsa ’20CC


George Mgaloblishvili ’19GS
Vlad Bobrovnyk ’19GS


Timothy Ernest Chung ’18CC
Jason Patterson ’18SEAS


Jady Tian ’21SEAS
Elvis Zhang ’21 Brown University 

Gallo Fueling

Justin Donovan ’19CC
Sambhav Anand ’20SEAS
Ben Jones ’20CC
Kanishk Vashisht ’20SEAS


Sang Jun Park ’19SEAS
Neil Chen ’19SEAS
Cesar Ibarra ’19SEAS
Chelsy Wu ’20CC

Columbia Venture Competition Rules and Regulations

Updated January, 2018

  1. CVC is intended for new, independent ventures in the seed or early start-up stages.
  2. Businesses built using technologies or IP licensed from Columbia University will be accepted but ownership of the IP must be clearly stated and documented. Ownership of intellectual property and equity shares in the business must not be in dispute.
  3. Status of incorporation and any funding received must be clearly stated.  Cash grants will only be awarded to teams that have established, legally-formed business registration.  
  4. Teams do not have to be formally incorporated to enter – or win – the any track in the CVC. However, winning teams must be legally-formed business entities to receive the grant. If a winning team is not yet an incorporated entity, Columbia Entrepreneurship administrators can assist with that process.     
  5. Teams must not have raised more than $150,000 prior to March 1st, 2018.
  6. The Columbia Venture Competition is intended for ventures founded, managed, and owned by eligible founders (students or recent alumni within 5 years of degree). Winning teams with non-Columbia-affiliated founders must document the role all founders have had in the conception and development of the venture. At least one founder must be a Columbia student or recent alumnus (recent alumni within 5 years of degree).
  7. All team members are asked to state their university and school affiliation with degree year. CVC administrators may also require proof of the length of time each of founder has been engaged in their venture.
  8. Certain Challenges further restrict the eligibility requirements for teams. It is up to the team to fully review all eligibility requirements before entering a Challenge. Teams that enter a Challenge for which they are not eligible may be disqualified.  
  9. Teams who have won a CVC Challenge in prior years may not enter the same challenge again but can enter another challenge. For example, the 2017 Undergraduate Challenge winner may enter the #StartupColumbia Challenge in 2018.
  10. Teams may only enter one Challenge per year.
  11. CVC finalists must present live or via teleconference on Thursday April 5th, 2018.
  12. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 6th at the #Startup Columbia Festival. Winners must agree to release rights to use their images and brief descriptions of their business models to help promote Columbia University programs. Winners will be given rights to use their images, photos and videos for their own promotional purposes.
  13. It may take Columbia up to three months after the final winners are determined to award the grants.
  14. Eligibility is contingent on compliance with the rules listed above. Teams can be disqualified at any point, during the competition and prior to receiving funds at the administrators’ discretion. Disqualification is final and cannot be appealed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Blended Teams With Members From Other Universities

Generally speaking, entries from current Columbia students (and Barnard students for the Undergraduate Challenge) and alumni within five years of their degree will be accepted. Entries from blended teams that include non-Columbia-affiliated members will also be considered. CVC administrators reserve the right to determine if the Columbia members of a blended have played a significant role in founding and running the company and are currently engaged with the team. CVC may disqualify a blended team if they do not meet this criteria. If a blended team wins, award funds will only be granted if the Columbia-affiliated founder remains on the team at the time the funds are ready to be awarded.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

There is no formal non-disclosure agreement in place for the Columbia Venture Competition. Participants’ executive summaries and pitch decks will only be seen by the Venture Competition administrators and the judging panel. Neither of those documents will be distributed more broadly unless explicit permission is received from the team. Teams should be aware that CVC administrators will not require judges to sign non-disclosure agreements. Confidentiality has never presented a problem but we do advise that teams provide as much detail as possible without disclosing proprietary information or unprotected IP.