2015 Kessler Fellows
Marc Choueiri, Mechanical Engineering
Marc has a keen interest in clean technology and aerospace, specifically in hardware products currently in the market or those with a short-term go to market strategy and promise of sustainability. As a Kessler Fellow, he worked at Alphabet Energy, a company founded in 2009 in an effort to catalyze a new era of advances in thermoelectric materials. The company’s proprietary PowerBlocks™ thermoelectric material turns waste heat from exhaust into electricity and serves as the technology platform for the company’s waste heat recovery products. The company has raised $30+ million in funding from venture capital and strategic investors and has received $2 million in research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force.
Mikayla Diesch, Electrical and Computer Engineering
At 16, Mikayla co-created a cold form nutrition bar and negotiated a space flight agreement with NASA that included the bar aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. Having the experience of a young entrepreneur under her belt, Mikayla joined the DreamIt Ventures team in NYC for her Kessler Fellowship to experience what it takes to support and nurture multiple early stage startups in a compressed time frame. DreamIt invests in early stage entrepreneurs at all levels to create breakthrough technology companies. Right up Mikayla’s alley! Over the summer, she was instrumental in creating, supporting and ensuring meaningful connections with entrepreneurs, investors, customers and strategic partners – experience that will inform her next startup. Recently, four DreamIt alumni were named to Forbes 2016 30 Under 30 list.
Kelsey Evans, Biological Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Business
Kelsey’s entrepreneurial interests lie at the intersection of research, biology and the study of medicine – a perfect fit for a summer with Partners HealthCare Innovation in Boston, MA. Passionate about the process of creating businesses around novel medical ideas, Kelsey sees herself fitting and collaborating in the space between innovation and market adoption. Her summer deliverables included work with the licensing and venture teams to create development plans, business models and pitch decks. She also developed a strategy to increase revenue based on current and predicted market trends and emerging medical technologies, compiled a focused asset list to be used in the negotiation of a large strategic partnership, built a model to forecast intellectual property filing costs based on the analysis of cost data from previous years and performed prior art searches to evaluate the patentability of inventions disclosed to the office. Her summer wasn’t all work and no play; since she was in Boston, she also became a connoisseur of cannoli, a pursuit also enjoyed by 2010 Kessler Fellow Josh Moskovitz ’11.
Michelle Felizardo, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Business
What does it mean to engineer the human connection? This is a question top-of-the-mind (and heart) for Michelle. Her answer, and her experience, is “to create value through individual experience built in community”. With a passion for the instant connectivity and sense of community she has experienced while traveling throughout the U.S., Greece, the Philippines and France, Michelle capitalized on her call to travel through the Kessler Fellows Program. Her search led to the perfect placement that combined her entrepreneurial interests in a new place. Blue Startups is a technology accelerator concentrating on helping scalable-technology companies compete on a global scale. A member of the Global Accelerator Network, Blue Startups follows the Techstars mentor-driven accelerator model and is fast becoming a nexus of entrepreneurial activity in Hawaii and between Asia and Continental U.S. Michelle’s lasting impact on the company included establishing a process for filming and editing grant applications and publicity shorts, managing and improving the Blue Startups intranet and website UI and increasing traffic and following on all social media platforms. She also pitched, planned and executed new recruitment and publicity events to spearhead key outreach, led the technical review stage of the recruitment process, tested alpha and beta products of startup companies. And, yes, she enjoyed being immersed in the Hawaiian culture!
Mark Flamme, Mechanical EngineeringSOLS
When Mark heard SOLS CEO Kegan Schouwenburg speak at Cornell’s 2014 SUMMIT he had his sights set on spending the summer at SOLS. Schouwenburg’s background in industrial design and mass manufacturing gives her a unique perspective on scalable systems and products, fuels her desire to bring beauty and simplicity to new markets and led her to create and found SOLS – 3D printed custom insoles. Mark’s interest in the mechanical aspects of running (and related injuries), and the runner’s experience was the perfect match for his summer entrepreneurial endeavor. “Never Stop Moving” is the SOLS mission, and that certainly represents Mark’s summer. He was immersed in all engineering and business aspects of the company including Biomechanics, Stereo Photogrammetry, 3D Printing, Product Evolution, Design Philosophy and Customer Acquisition. SOLS has raised $20M from investors and over the summer Mark experienced SOLS’s growth to include 300 cities, 40 states and 3 countries. SOLS is definitely off and running!
Shane Heil, Chemical Engineering
What do you do when you have a great idea and the entrepreneurial spirit to build a business around it? You start a company. Co-founded in 2014, NTi Technology focused on bringing a new, long lasting disinfection and cleaning technology to market. The idea originated as a coating to self-clean clothing, a desirable attribute for a college market, and then morphed into a healthcare centered disinfectant coating that had the ability to provide a continuous protection that other disinfectants lacked. When Shane was offered a spot in the Kessler Fellows Program he knew he wanted to explore what his summer could look like if he worked on his own venture. During Shane’s spring semester, he acquired a grant to further the core technology, streamlined the company and methodically approached his objectives; key to putting together an R&D internship program for the summer. Before summer arrived, Shane had hired 3 interns, secured an on-campus lab space for their work and completely design an incubation plan. The successful NTi summer incubation program included product development, management and development, business plan development, sales and marketing, manufacturing and investment development.
Justin Khalil, Chemical Engineering
Rapper-preneur and Hip Science dude, Justin is an engineer by degree and a science communicator at heart, determined to make good things great and great things better. Who is better positioned to create entertaining and educational science videos that illustrate the exciting intersection between science, music and everyday life? Bringing his talents and interests to Knewton over the summer allowed Justin to experience digital curriculum development within the world’s leading adaptive learning technology provider positioned to “bring personalized education to the world.” The Knewton platform makes it possible for anyone to build applications that provide real-time proficiency estimation, activity recommendations and analytics. The world’s largest and most innovative learning companies use Knewton technology to improve student achievement in K-12, higher education and global English language teaching. Throughout the summer, Justin created science videos aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, designed assessments, lesson plans and demos, aligned concepts for the Knewton Knowledge Graph and developed and managed relationships with retail partners. A+, Justin.
|Kelsey Kruse, Electrical and Computer Engineering|
The Kessler Fellows Program was a natural fit for Kelsey who was entrepreneurial long before she came to Cornell. With startup experiences ranging from marketing director to hardware engineer to co-founder, the question for Kelsey was “What’s next?” To compliment positions at Fiberspark, Inc., Vector Marketing, Polar Chiller, and saʊnd, Kelsey pursued nest, a company that matched her interest in normalizing energy efficiency. At the same time, Kelsey was contacted by past Fellow Jeremy Blum ’12, M.Eng. ’13, and invited to join his team at Google, an invitation that’s hard to resist! At Google, Kelsey worked on the hardware engineering team for Google Glass and on confidential projects. Shhh….we can’t say more about that. We do know Kelsey was last seen in Ecuador.
Seth Martin, Computer Engineering and Global Entrepreneurship
When you’re the type of kid who will found a socially responsible coffee company while on Semester at Sea, you can call yourself entrepreneurial. Nothing excites Seth more than turning an idea into something real and helping others do so, too. He loves to ideate, strategize, execute and pivot, and often finds himself navigating between technology and business. So, a summer at WeWork in NYC was the perfect fit for him to combine all of these interests. WeWork is an American company which provides shared workspace, community and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and small businesses. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in NYC, the company currently has locations in 14 U.S. cities and 5 countries. While at WeWork, Seth contributed to and completed too many projects to mention and one that we can’t help but share. Seth spearheaded the deployment of a living entrepreneurial knowledge-base called the “Creator’s Manual” – the world’s first community driven living repository of knowledge on everything needed to start, grow, and successfully operate a business. The manual is community driven, allowing for constant updates that match current trends, laws and strategies. This project is the perfect example of Fellows’ summer impact – it not only lives on now that Seth is back at Cornell, it will continue to become relevant through input from WeWork creators. Nice job, Seth!
Cory Nissly, Chemical Engineering and Business
With a mission to utilize existing technologies to enhance relationships between customers and businesses, Cory joined FiveStars for his Kessler Fellows summer experience. One of his deal breakers for his summer experience was to select a company affiliated with Y-Combinator, a company that created a new model for funding early stage startups. Since 2005, Y-Combinator has funded 800+ startups. Through his research, Cory found FiveStars – the fastest growing company in customer loyalty and marketing automation for local businesses which matched everything he was looking for, including a CA location. These guys are scrappy and successful; in three years co-founders Matt and Victor have gone from two guys in a garage to serving thousands of businesses across the country. They raised $45M in funding from top tier investors including Menlo Ventures, Lightspeed, DCM, and Y-Combinator. They believe that relationships are the future of commerce and strive every day to bring that vision to life. A perfect match for Cory, who worked in all areas of customer success building processes, testing and implementing systems and working with customers. Cory implemented a rescheduling solution that impacted company efficiency and remains an important system for managers to connect to merchants.
Maurilio credits his success to family, mentors and pre-college programs. With an intense aim to create inclusive communities and give back to those who have and continue to support him, Maurilio looked for a summer experience to combine his entrepreneurial spirit with his cultural involvement. Interested in creating products that have positive influence and impact and to serving as an example to his community, Maurilio searched for companies involved in Latino entrepreneurship in the San Jose area. Enter Manos Accelerator – the perfect match. The mission of Manos is to foster a new generation of Latino entrepreneurs by providing access to early-stage capital, mentorship support and resources that will enable them to build and grow their startup companies. While at Manos, Maurilio managed logistics and Demo Say presentations at Google and Andreessen Horowitz for the 3rd Cohort, sourced 79 U.S. and Latin American startups for the incoming 4th cohort, co-wrote four grant applications totaling $600,000 and created a video for a successful $50,000 grant through the U.S. SBA Accelerator Fund.
|Iyore Olaye, Chemical Engineering|
Walker & Company Brands, Inc.
|Josselyn Tsai, Computer Engineering|
When you want to be surrounded by smart, creative people driven to make a product positioned for incredible impact on people’s lives, and you want to be in NYC for the summer, you look for a company like Canary. Unified by three core values – information for everyone, make the world a smaller place and create a lasting impact – Canary promised everything Josselyn was looking for during a Kessler Fellows summer. The company is on a mission to help everyone feel safe and secure by providing smart home security for everyone. In July 2013, co-founders Chris and Adam launched a crowdfunding campaign in July 2013 on Indiegogo. It quickly became the most successfully funded project in Indiegogo history; within a month Canary pre-sold 10.000 devices to people in 78 countries. Jessica’s summer was robust and served as a broad and deep exposure to a successful startup. In addition to working on the current product and with the current customer base, she led a case study on future Canary device applications and users which will surely inform the trajectory of the next Canary product.
|Lauren Tweel, Mechanical Engineering|
When there is something Lauren can do to help relieve a person’s limitations through a product, device or toy, she wants to be involved in that solution, work at that company and create with those people. Lauren began her search for an entrepreneurial summer eager to find a team who shares her mission to engineer a world in which people feel empowered to experience life beyond their limitations. So, when she found Uncharted Play in NYC, she felt right at home. The KFP first worked with Uncharted Play in 2012 when Fellow Andrew Sung ’13 joined the team. The Uncharted Play mission is to power a world in motion, with motion. The company is consumerizing and individualizing power access by embedding a proprietary technology for motion-based, off-grid renewable energy into everything that moves. In three short months, Lauren collaborated with the product development team to research different forms of energy harvesting technologies to sustainably power unique consumer products. As a result, she developed 3 energy harvesting prototypes that address energy poverty. A functional demo was developed in 2 weeks, and a provisional patent filed. The company CEO invited Lauren to work on business strategy, revenue benchmarking analysis, company SWOT analysis and outreach curriculum additions. Looks like she is part of the solution!
|Feifan Zhou, Computer Science and Business|
Builder, designer and biohacker, Feifan founded the award winning startup Tunetap while a Cornell student. With that experience under his belt, he pursued a part time opportunity with Kinga Corp for his Kessler Fellows summer.