Entrepreneurs from Columbia Business School’s Class of 2012, who were the driving force behind the creation of the incubator, see CBL as a continuation of their time in school – with revenue targets. Ninoh co-founder Sage Wohns began building the company while he was still a student. “I used my time at CBS to craft the business and wanted to maintain those connections. CBL is an extension of those resources.” Ninoh uses your calendar to recommend activities based on where you are, who you’re with, when you have time and what you like to do using a complex machine learning platform. In fact, in addition to business resources, Sage continues to maintain relationships with the Columbia Machine Learning Lab for technical advice.
Like Sage, Jonathan Wasserstrum, TheSquareFoot, also began working on his business, while in school. In fact, we talked about his idea for an online marketplace that makes commercial real estate leasing easier by connecting prospective tenants with landlords, brokers, and other service providers, when he was a first year student. TheSquareFoot launched in Houston and is now starting in New York City’s massive and complex commercial real estate market. A member of the CBL Partnerships team, Jonathan is helping his colleagues access important service firms they are all likely to need, including lawyers and public relations firms. “It’s a really collegial environment, it’s like how we used to hang out in the library at Columbia. You have a group of people you can talk to who think about things in different ways.”
In addition to highly technical companies like Ninoh and The Square Foot, CBL is also home to decidedly low-tech companies like Blue Nectar Tequila, a producer of super-premium artisanal tequilas, and Soaked Up. Soaked Up manufactures an anti-hangover electrolyte drink mix appropriately named Hangunder, using some of the proceeds to provide medical treatment for dehydration, which kills millions of children around the world each year.
In fact, CBL has quite a few startups in the food and beverage space, including Untamed Sandwiches, Cup & Compass and Urbavour, which delivers hyper-local produce and artisanal foods to subscribers’ homes. Urbavour’s founder, Coleman Skeeter finds that one of the main benefits of CBL is being surrounded by peers, entrepreneurs who can help you deal with “the emotional ups and downs of starting a business.”
Although Columbia Business School is probably best known for its finance resources, with the new Business Lab, the school continues to step up its game with regard to entrepreneurship. No doubt that entrepreneurs like Coleman will complete the circle and go on to participate in Columbia’s Entrepreneurial Sounding Board, providing advice to students and alumni on their business ideas – including how to deal with the emotional roller coaster involved in entrepreneurship.
About Akiba Smith-Francis
Akiba Smith-Francis has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, serves as a Career Coach for Columbia Business School students and other young professionals interested in making major professional and life transitions. Akiba is also a founding member of counSOUL, a consortium of career coaches focused on mid-level professionals (28-38). She is working on a book called Stepping Off the Path: From Doing What's Expected to Doing What You Love and offers a free eBook on the 5 Questions You MUST Ask Before You Quit Your Job. Akiba is also training to become a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach.