Cornell Entrepreneurs Gather for Yearly Summit

On Friday, November 3, the Cornell community gathered for the annual Entrepreneurship Summit in New York City. Held at the The New York Times Building, Summit brought together over 500 Cornell community members to celebrate the university’s progress in becoming a top-tier entrepreneurship program.

Speakers for the Summit included influential members of the Cornell administration, like President Martha Pollack and Entrepreneurship at Cornell Director Zach Shulman, along with key business leaders, many of whom graduated from Cornell.

Robert Smith (left) in a fireside chat with Cornell College of Engineering Dean Lance Collins (right)

One of the most popular speakers was Robert Smith (’85), who also received the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year for accomplishments including his philanthropy and work as Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. After earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell, Smith was quick to praise the education that Cornell gave him.

“Cornell believes in rigor, and there are a lot of programs that are out there that aren’t as rigorous as Cornell’s,” Smith said. “That created a basis that helped me understand the importance of sticking with problems and seeing them through.”

To also hint at the future of university entrepreneurship, Summit also featured student startup pitches from students at Cornell, Princeton, NYU, and Columbia.

The Cornell team, Combplex, pitched data analysis technology that helps commercial beekeepers remotely monitor the health of their colonies, even when they’re in transit to help pollinate crops on a farm somewhere else. After review from a group of Cornell judges, Combplex was determined to be the winner.

Combplex co-founder Hailey Scofield pitching Combplex

“A lot of beekeepers that participate in this migratory pollination, as we call it, often have several thousand colonies, at a minimum that they’re trying to keep track of”, explained Combplex co-founder, Hailey Scofield (’20). “When their colonies are spread across county, or even state lines, there’s no way for them to know if one colony is in need of help.”

Students who made the trip from Cornell’s Ithaca campus to Summit found the event well worth the trip. Adam Ingber (’18), a senior at Cornell studying Biometry and Statistics, knew he wanted to attend Summit before he graduated.

“For me, the most valuable takeaway from listening to the speakers, as well as interacting with other attendees, was the confirmation that there is no standard route towards success as an entrepreneur,” Ingber noted. “No two people’s paths are alike, and most of those paths are not even remotely linear.”

Ingber also noted that the event renewed his optimism in the future of Cornell’s entrepreneurial pursuits. Ingber is a member of Cornell Venture Capital on campus, so he was curious to learn more about the quality of Cornell’s entrepreneurs at Summit given all the work he has done evaluating other entrepreneurs.

Ingber summarized, “The freedom that Cornell fosters to explore and blend multiple disciplines seems to inspire these kinds of roundabout and unpredictable experiences, and I think it sets us up as a natural breeding ground for young entrepreneurs.”

For more on Cornell’s Entrepreneurship Summit, visit the website here