Board members of the Vanderbilt Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society share insights into their 48-hour kick-off event and discuss goals for expanding Vanderbilt’s corporate presence.
The Vanderbilt Innovation and Entrepreneurship Society (VINES) presented their annual 48-hour kick-off event last weekend, an opportunity for Vanderbilt students to come up with unique ideas or start businesses to measure and compete against each other.
All teams had to have at least one member affiliated with Vanderbilt, although students from other institutions, including Harvard and Princeton, also participated. Attendees attended expert-led workshops with mentors on Saturday April 10 to develop their business plans before presenting their ideas to a panel of judges from diverse venture backgrounds. With the help of partner and sponsor Contrary Capital, a nationwide venture fund, the organization awarded a grand prize of $ 1,500 to the winning team to help boost business and gain access to accelerator resources.
“We sign a contract with the administration to use ours [fiscal] Account to assist the winning team with any purchases they need to grow and expand in the future, ”said Austin Wei, Senior at VINES. “We also had some prizes for activities we did over the weekend, including a scavenger hunt, and prizes for people who gave good feedback about the event.”
According to Wei, the winning team consisted of Rishabh Saran and Sujan Rachuri and Alvin Eizner from the first year. The trio unveiled their VapeMate store, which offers a tool that can help reduce reliance on vaping by using a tracker on an e-cigarette. The product attaches to steam pens and uses a pressure sensor that detects nicotine levels as you inhale.
Some of the other finalist projects included an algorithmic website for stock trading, as well as an informal article trading platform on the Vanderbilt campus, a language learning platform for African tribal languages, and an instant therapy platform for quick and efficient coordination with therapists.
“In essence, the projects were not limited to just start-ups, but also to a wide variety of services and ideas for social entrepreneurship. The companies were all at different stages and we welcomed ideas that were still in their infancy, ”said Wei. “Some ideas were developed, such as Done dress Go, Instead, the founders used the event as a platform to receive feedback. “
Despite the difficulties in organizing people due to pandemic restrictionsVINES has been successful in delivering a transformative experience to avid students.
“I’ve invited a lot of mentors and judges, and I really enjoyed connecting with Nashville entrepreneurs, Vanderbilt alumni and others across the country,” said Sophia She, junior director of VINES. “They were very excited to come to Vanderbilt and help with the event.”
The event also featured a keynote speaker, William Hurley, a five-time serial entrepreneur who Wei said was a great inspiration to contestants throughout the competition. He provided helpful advice on how individuals can plan what their future in entrepreneurship would be if they are interested in the field.
Not only does VINES give students the opportunity to showcase their ideas, but the organization promotes entrepreneurship mentoring and supports passionate innovators in implementing their ideas by providing resources, education and an entrepreneurial community. One branch of this is VINES ‘six-week cohort program, which prepares students for pitching events such as the 48-hour start.
“The cohort program is one of the new programs for this year at VINES. It is a start-up accelerator that was developed by students for students,” said Wei. “We developed this program to prepare interested students who had ideas and wanted feedback for this competition. We have managed to start some successful companies. “
These efforts are all natural extensions of the VINES goat at the beginning: To ensure that students get the alumni and community connections they need through a program that previously didn’t exist for entrepreneurs on campus
“There are some other corporate resources on campus, including the Wond’ry Innovation Center, but there is a lack of social components. There is no student community that can regularly share your passions and interests with you, ”said Fateen Rafid, VINES Junior Vice President. “We try to create a community of like-minded students who can stay in touch regularly and work on their ideas so that they can be held accountable on projects and motivated from one another.”
Although VINES has only been on campus for a few years, the organization hopes to expand its presence in the future.
“We look forward to working with more organizations and connecting them more closely to our school,” said Wei. “We have already affiliated with other college entrepreneurs, but we want to put Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship on a national level.”