Entrepreneurship is a fundamental aspect of the Rady School of Management educational experience. Whether students are pursuing an MBA, Master of Finance or Master of Science in Business Analytics degree, students have the opportunity to take an idea and transform it into a company at the Rady School. The StartR Accelerator – a free six-month long acceleration program open to all Rady School students and alumni – sets the stage for students to get businesses running through educational seminars, access to funding, mentorship connection and more. Recently, the StartR Spring Class of 2018 gathered to present their pitches to Rady School students, faculty, alumni and the San Diego business community.
Robert Sullivan, Dean of the Rady School of Management, kicked off the event by celebrating the success of the StartR program.
“Since its inception in 2013, the accelerator program has launched 61 companies,” Sullivan said. “Twelve of these teams have been accepted into the prestigious EvoNexus accelerator, and 60 percent of the teams that have been launched are still operational. StartR teams have generated more than $40 million in capital.”
A successful graduate of the StartR program returned to campus to speak about his company, CB Therapeutics. Sher Ali Butt (MBA ’16) entered the Rady School with an idea – to create cannabinoids without the use of marijuana plants. These compounds are not psychoactive. They do not produce a “high” or have potential for abuse and are already sold in the market similar to supplements. Since graduating from the Rady School, CB Therapeutics has been accepted into EvoNexus and Y Combinator, raised millions of dollars in funding and was recently selected as a finalist in a TechCrunch pitch competition in San Francisco.
“Rady was the best thing that happened to me and my business,” Butt said. “I came with an idea and left with a business. As a scientist, I was comfortable with creating the product, but I had no idea where to begin with the business side of things. CB Therapeutics would not have been possible without the Rady School.”
Here’s a look at the companies that were pitched at StartR Demo Day.
If you’re a fan of free stuff, TrySpree is for you. Developed by Ben Koonse (MBA ‘19), the website scrapes the internet to search for products offering free samples. The user is able to select free samples they’re interested in testing and choose to try them risk-free. TrySpree is then able to offer custom-selected samples to the customer based on their selections and interests. The company has created the most revenue out of any company actively involved with StartR, currently generating $1 million in revenue annually.
Traditional shopping malls are struggling to meet the demands of dedicated online shoppers, but Rady School student Chuan He (MBA ‘18) is developing a solution to help both malls and customers improve their shopping experiences. Hylite is a precise marketing system that uses LED lights to identify preciswe shoppers’ location within a shopping mall. Shoppers are able to navigate better within a mall and can receive product offers from businesses in the location. Hylite plans to launch in China where almost 1,000 new malls were built last year alone.
Modern businesses have more data than they know what to do with in order to make informed decisions. AnalytixHub – launched by current student Fay Mehr (MBA ’19) – created a company that connects data scientists and analytics experts with companies and research institutions. The platform is also moving toward creating a database that provides advanced data analysis services and consultations on demand.
Sugar-packed sodas are out and healthy beverage options are in! Bevea, created by Kabir Gambhir (MBA ‘10) creates beverages from a nutrient-dense coffee cherry byproduct. The beverage Cascaraa provides a solution for the 23 million tons of byproduct created annually while creating a low calorie, low sugar and delicious sparkling beverage. The drink comes in five flavors – original, mint basil, lavender, hibiscus, and rose chili.
Evolution Smart Bag
The average American woman owns 13 purses and handbags from seven different brands. To cut down on the clutter, Rady School graduate Suvi Tanninen (MBA ’18) created a smart bag designed to fit the needs of women on the go. The modular, washable and customizable bags come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and are equipped with pockets that provide wireless charging.
In addition to the pitch presentations, Herb Meistrich was presented with the Guru Award in recognition of his mentoring support of students in the StartR program. The audience also voted on their favorite pitch and selected Koonse of TrySpree to receive a $500 check for his company.
Due to the success of their startups, each five teams have chosen to continue building their companies after graduating from StartR.
“It’s inspiring to see these teams succeeding and contributing to the local and national economy,” Sullivan said. “The Rady School community is proud of their efforts and we are looking forward to watching them continue to grow.”