Seven teams. Seven ideas. Unlimited ingenuity.
For almost two hours, students of the Rady School of Management, Rady alumni, a UC San Diego faculty member and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran pitched their startup ideas to a rapt virtual audience of students, faculty and investors.
The presentations were part of Demo Day, an event held twice a year to showcase the startup ideas of entrepreneurs in the StartR accelerator, a program of Rady’s California Center for Innovation and Development (CIID).
The winner was Vogel, a company founded by Rady alum Govind Krishnamurthi (MBA ’07) and his business partner Samir Rayani. The company won the Audience Choice Award of $250 as well as the unanimous vote of the three-judge panel.
The centerpiece of Vogel’s platform is a data privacy app that was launched a year ago.
“Essentially, we are putting privacy control in the palm of your hands,” Krishnamurthi said to his audience. “With one click of a button, you can control what Facebook knows about you, what Alexa is probably listening to you and your wife or spouse in your bedroom, what LinkedIn knows about you when you are changing jobs.”
Since its inception in 2007, StartR has served as a launchpad for entrepreneurs by giving them access to a broad base of mentors, networking opportunities, and guidance to refine and build on their ideas.
The program is offered in six tracks — Rady students and alumni, Inclusion, Impact, Veteran, Teen and Blue. To date, StartR has supported 266 startup teams and helped them raise $212 million in funding for businesses that bridge science, data and innovation. The accelerator’s success is a reflection of the Rady emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills, rigorous discovery, innovation, and cutting edge faculty research.
One success story is Rady grad Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14), and a StartR alum ’14. He called in during Demo Day to share his thoughts about the accelerator’s impact on his own entrepreneurial journey. Kanuganti is founder and CEO of two companies in the artificial intelligence space, Aira.io and Personal.ai.
“As founders, we have ideas. We have a lot of conviction about how our background or skills can potentially fulfill that conviction to become reality,” Kanugunti said. “But there’s a lot more to executing your vision. I found being in a group of likeminded people, surrounding yourself with other founders will all of a sudden unlock conversations that you never probably had before.”
Dean Lisa Ordóñez welcomed the Demo Day gathering. Professor Kimberly Davis King, who has over 17 years of experience in the venture capital industry and is currently a partner at Launch Factory, lecturer at the Rady School and an adjunct professor at San Diego State University, moderated. Tim Schwartz, director of Rady’s CIID, introduced the center’s team. The three judges in the panel for StartR Day were Caitlin Wege, president of Tech Coast Angels; Jason Knapp, entrepreneur and CEO of CraftedPour.com; and Olin Hyde, StartR alum, and CEO and founder of Leadcrunch.
Applications for the next cohort of the StartR Accelerator are open through February 24th, 2022. Apply for StartR Rady, Impact or Inclusion. The next Demo Day will be held June 1. We hope you will attend the event and support our next cohort of StartR entrepreneurs!
StartR programs spotlighted at this year’s Demo Day:
Maisha Cobb (MBA ’21): MPact International, a scalable platform to measure and understand diversity of perspectives, openness to change, and psychological safety in organizations.
Lauren Hackney (FlexEvening MBA ’23): Rooted Reusables helps companies meet zero waste goals by providing reusable food ware products and services to eliminate the dependence on single-use plastics and other single-use alternatives.
Govind Krishanamurthi (MBA ’07) and business partner Samir Rayani : Vogel, a privacy platform with an app that aims to ensure data protection and greater consumer privacy.
Mark Thever (MBA ’13): Lift Seltzer is developing micro-dosed, cannabis-infused seltzers with 2mg THC and 6mg CBD for celebrating, socializing, or hanging out.
Cedric Paige (MSBA ’22): Rola, a social media aggregate and digital networking platform that removes the tediousness and inconvenience from the networking process.
Former U.S. Marine Corps Communication Strategy and Operations Officer Zack Doherty: TrueVote, a social platform for empowering Americans to be politically informed and engaged.
UC San Diego faculty member Dr. José Ricardo Suárez: Kryos is developing portable cooling garments for personal and industrial use.