Universities Represented at the EMRG Conference
Many successful companies started out of college dorm rooms before striking it big (Facebook, Rent the Runway, Dropbox, Dell to name just a few). EMRG seeks to showcase this student potential through their Pitch-Off competition. Here are 4 of the companies that corporate innovators should know about.
- Chute (Penn State University): Data is everywhere, even in your laundry pile. Chute started as a laundry service primarily serving college students, when the founder realized he was sitting on a load of data. “Other companies know what you buy, but we know what you actually wear.” Chute scans your laundry as it’s prepped to be folded (outerwear only, no intimates) and uses “AI” to identify individual articles of clothing and send recommendations to buy new ones. Got a hole in your favorite shirt? Chute will send you a link to buy a new one. Like to wear black tees and gym shorts? Chute will send you a link to buy more at a discount, receiving commission on sales.
- Float/There (University of Pennsylvania): Inspired by to the need to shop for clothes for multiple weddings, showers, and bachelorettes, all in cities with different climates, the founders of Float/There saw an opportunity. The service ships a curated box of climate-appropriate clothes to your destination, allowing you to pack light and avoid cluttering your already too small apartment. New customers fill out a profile with their tastes, provide their Instagram account and Float/There’s stylists curate a package suited to their tastes. And if they really like what’s in the box, they can take it home with them.
- Pilota (Georgetown University): Pilota is using AI to disrupt the Travel Insurance industry. They ingest data from several sources across the industry and use AI to predict which flights will be disrupted. They book backup tickets for their clients on any airline from and to the original airports, allowing you to seamlessly switch flights if your original flight is affected. They are targeting corporate travel services initially but are opening up to D2C soon.
- Noodie (Harvard University): The first-place winner of the event, Noodie creates healthy ramen noodles that provide 15% of your daily recommended vegetable intake, 12g of protein and 10g of fiber in each serving. Noodie services corporate offices with their easy-to-prepare meals on a subscription basis and is also on shelves in Whole Foods and WalMart.
The advantage of college founders is they are within the peer group of the next generation of shoppers and can more intimately understand the challenges and white spaces of tomorrow’s consumers. We often advise our corporate clients to look to the university space, whether labs, research or entrepreneurship programs to find new thinking that can also accelerate to market due to the passion of classmates. Interestingly female founders made up more than half of the cohort and were on all 3 winning startups’ teams, indicating that female founded companies will become a greater force in tomorrow’s marketplace (Rogue Women Top Female Founded Startups).