Friday, December 9, 2011

Final Presentations in Duke's Program for Entrepreneurs (P4E)

The goal of the Program for Entrepreneurs (P4E) is to assist entrepreneurs in launching new businesses.

This initiative is the capstone of Fuqua’s entrepreneurship educational offerings. It leverages Fuqua’s academic research, courses and broad community of practitioners to work with entrepreneurs to define, plan, establish and finance new ventures.

More info at:

Teams in New Ventures 3

K Kane

K Kane is a fine jewelry line whose pieces are as unique as the individuals who wear them.

HyTower Energy Storage

HyTower develops distributed pumped hydro energy storage for merchant participation in electricity markets


Patent database and smart search engine based on artificial intelligence algorithm

Teams in New Ventures 1

BAMmarketplace is an online and app research platform for socially driven people.  We provide customers a way to use the power of their purchases towards the causes they care about most. Search by cause, by brand or by item and discover through a user-friendly, icon based platform how mainstream products and products from 3rd world entrepreneurs are creating social and environmental impact. 


Our current idea is to provide platform for people with health problems to connect. We will be providing a chat/text like application on phone for people to get real time feedback from other users having similar problems. For example, a diabetic person eating at a restaurant not sure of the food he is eating, can ask for advice from other diabetic users on our service. All these users will be subscribed to the same group - "Diabetes". This idea can be later scaled to different verticals.


A new social network that aims to facilitate connections between young professionals.


FlexRegistry is a location and time aware registry on-the-go for maintaining and sharing wish lists and recommendations among friends. The offering will have 2 components - an App and a backing website. The key features are listed below:


A new peer-to-peer platform aimed at connecting entrepreneurs and any population wiling to invest capital.


MBAApp is an online platform intended to solve the many inherent inefficiencies in the current MBA application process.  Via an easy-to-use online interface which would be accompanied by mobile apps, the MBA applicant would be able to manage the entire process, from writing essays, to finding schools and clubs or managing deadlines and recommendation letter requests.  Rather than replace existing systems in place, it would augment them from an end-user's perspective, and feed information to them once applications are complete.


Polymags offers magazine readers ultimate flexibility and cost-savings.  Users pay one low, annual subscription fee and can make monthly magazine selections via their web or mobile account.   A vast array of options is available to cater to the broad and evolving interests of readers; for example, one month a subscriber might receive Architectural Digest and the next month Women’s Fitness.  Readers are able save lots of money avoiding multiple subscriptions, and they no longer have to feel guilty for letting all of those untouched magazines stack up.

Project Pineapple

Project Pineapple offers students a radically different way of finding and choosing their academic courses - courses that are relevant to both their career and personal pursuits. Through our product, they can navigate the curriculum in innovative ways such as viewing classes based on course content rather than department, or finding students who have taken similar courses and connecting with them. Eventually, through a student's personal interests and academic history, we want to connect the student to internships and other non-curricular activities that actually draw upon and augment their classroom experiences.


Scene-ster is for professional or socially motivated individuals who desire to interact with a particular subset of people instantly through mobile interface. The Scene-ster smartphone app is a mobile, GPS-based, real-time social connectivity software that facilitates locating a group of people relevant to your social or professional interests by allowing you to search for people based upon characteristics and receiving real-time results on a map display. It is unlike other social media tools that require “logging in”, building a “profile”, or “checking-in”.  Our product does not require logging in or building a profile while it amasses data anonymously based on user-defined characteristics to bring people together instantaneously. 

Take Back the Trail

Take back your heart, health, and community

Equal parts social initiative and fitness apparel brand, the sale of all Take Back The Trail fitness apparel will support local initiatives to empower minority women in low-income neighborhoods to take back their hearts, health, and communities. Through purchasing the Take Back The Trail brand, consumers who live a life dedicated to health and fitness will be connected with women who aspire to do the same but who are yet to have the resources to do so.

Clinical Vest

Clinical Vest is designed to be a portable, non-invasive measurement system to monitor biological parameters in a non-clinical setting.  The system is capable of collecting and storing biologically relevant data (e.g. abdominal sounds, maternal/fetal heart rate and respiratory sounds) that are not normally collected in current systems.  Usage of the vest eliminates the need for subjects/patients to stay in clinics for evaluation and allows them to live as they normally would, and also enhances the measurement of the effectiveness of drug treatments by identifying outlier subjects in pharmacokinetic studies.

F.I.M. - Fighting the Impulsiveness Monster

The business idea is the creation of a serious health game aimed at training three specific aspects of cognitive function among adolescents with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) facing issues with inhibitory control.


Okulife is a prospective company that will focalize in the production, sale and distribution of ornamental plants through a Japanese technique call Kokedama (“Koke” = moss, “Dama” = ball). The project includes the creation of a detailed website with high quality pictures and a shopping cart.


A reliable, high quality, low cost manufacturing technology of a biomedical material, PEG. Specialty polyethylene glycol (PEG) is widely used by research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. But the market lacks a specialized and reliable PEG provider that offers high quality PEG. We will fill this gap with 5 patentable technology by providing superior PEG product and after sales\ services to our clients.

Rent the Room

"Rent the Room” is a high quality rental service for home staging accessories (art, lamps, linens etc.). It builds on the momentum of the rent-by-mail success of Netflix and Rent the Runway to provide do-it-yourself homeowners and real estate agents with an alternative to expensive home staging services. Rent the Room allows budget saavy customers access to the simple, modern styles that appeal to home buyers without having to invest in accessories they don't want. When the home sells, they simply send their items back to us...and we send them on to another customer.

The Monday Life

The Monday Life  is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that improves the environments inside children's hospitals by asking people to donate $1, every Monday. We are currently working solely with Duke Children's Hospital yet plan to expand to children's hospitals around the world throughout our time in P4E.


Web-based services for detecting deception in corporate financial statements: TrustyEarnings aims to use psychological and linguistic models to assess the information conveyed by executives during earnings conference calls about their affective states that, in turn, help users predict future profitability and returns.

Winter Update 2011 - Entrepreneurship at Duke

By Howie Rhee

There's a lot to report.

It's been a great Fall here in Durham, for entrepreneurship activities at Duke.

  • Over 100 Duke student teams competed in the 6th Annual Elevator Pitch Competition (part of the Duke Start-Up Challenge and DukeGEN). That's a new record (previous high was around 70 teams). Great spread of years (from Freshmen to Medical School Residents), and schools (Pratt, Fuqua, Trinity, Nicholas, Law, Medicine, Graduate School).
  • Will Pearson '01 of mental_floss, gave a great talk at the Elevator Pitch Finals, where our 19 finalists pitched in Reynolds Theater of the Bryan Center (a new venue for us). 

  • DukeGEN held it's 4th DukeGEN Angel Pitch Event, our second in New York City.  (We also held our 3rd event in San Francisco in June). Summing the 3rd and 4th events, about 80 Duke startups applied to pitch, and 12 actually pitched to investors.

  • The Program for Entrepreneurs (P4E) started it's fourth cohort with 16 teams (a new record).  They started the first course, New Ventures 1, in mid-October.  About 8 of the teams were IT/Internet/App based. 

  • InCube got off the ground and the students have moved in.  Congrats to Sid and everyone involved. 
  • The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Task Force (led by Kimberly Jenkins) has formed, met twice, and put together some recommendations on entrepreneurship at Duke going forward.  The response to join the Task Force was really positive, and things are looking bright for Duke's future.

  • We hosted five Duke speakers for DukeGEN: Live from Silicon Valley.  This was a departure from our previous years' Education Series, and all speakers joined us live via Skype.  We tested Skype as an experiment, and the feedback was overall positive.  Videos of their talks are available on YouTube.  Speakers included:
    • Jason Freedman (Flightcaster, Y Combinator)
    • Howie Liu (Etacts, Y Combinator)
    • Ryan Spoon (Polaris Ventures, Dogpatch Labs, beRecruited)
    • Matt Koidin (Read It Later, TeamRankings)
  • Congrats to Duke alumni Jesse Lipson (ShareFile), Justin Segall & Yoav Lurie (SimpleEnergy), Kathryn Minshew (The Daily Muse), David Goldberg (Contently).  All had exits or closed on funding.
  • Published DukeGEN interviews, at, with:
    • Jeff Kovick '11 - Co-founder and CEO of Medici Medical Technologies
    • Evan McCormick '11 - Founder and CEO of Investors Mosaic
    • Brian Hamilton '90 - Co-founder of Sageworks
    • Vikas Narula '07 - Co-founder of Keyhubs
    • Glen Caplan '02 - Co-founder of Joystick Labs
    • David Mauney '90 - Co-founder and Managing Director of De Novo Ventures
    • Brooks Bell '02 - Founder and CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive
    • Liz Reaves Walker '05 - Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn
  • Over 300 Duke students joined the DukeGEN Startup Matchmaker Directory
Looking forward to having a great Spring.  Each semester we get a little better, and the goal is to continue to improve, and at the same time, continue at a sustainable pace.

Howie Rhee '04 is working on helping Duke be one of the best environments for students interested in entrepreneurship.  Follow him on Twitter @howierhee

Friday, October 14, 2011

Successful 4th DukeGEN Angel Pitch Event

Summer has come and gone and the semester is in full swing. We've hosted lots of entrepreneurship events including our 7th DukeGEN Multi-City Networking Event, the Program for Entrepreneurs (P4E) and the DukeGEN: Live from Silicon Valley speaker series.

On October 12, 2011, we held another successful DukeGEN Angel Pitch Event, our fourth overall, and the second one in New York City.

A slight drizzle in Manhattan didn't stop the attendees from coming out. The room was packed, the audience was energetic, the pitches were great, and the panel, again, did an excellent job.

About 80 Duke alumni came and filled up the room at DogPatch Labs.

Here's who pitched:

Showcase Company

SimpleEnergy (Boulder, CO) - Justin Segall, Duke '05 (Business Partner: Yoav Lurie, Duke '05)
SimpleEnergy is changing how millions of people save energy by revolutionizing how utilities engage their customers. We leverage our experience in the energy industry and combine leading behavioral science and the tools of the modern, social web to engage customers and get the results regulators demand.

SimpleEnergy has recently raised their first round of financing and were invited by DukeGEN to showcase their company at this event, to help educate the audience members.

Pitch Competition

myDrugCosts (Research Triangle Park, NC) - Dan, Pollard, Duke ‘92 -
myDrugCosts, Inc. operates a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform based on a proprietary database of drug costs and savings options. (Durham, NC) - Tito Bohrt, Duke ‘13  -
ShelfRelief is a combination of Craigslist and Amazon. Connecting students within a university to let them sell their books to one another.

CRE-DASHBOARD (Washington, D.C.) - Jill Homan, Duke ‘06 -
CRE-DASHBOARD aggregates commercial real estate and economic data to create an investment dashboard for commercial real estate professionals to make better decisions - a super-charged Zillow for commercial real estate (CRE).

CareProsper (New York City) - George Mathew, Duke ‘03 -
CareProsper makes Personal Health Records (PHR) work, by combining an incentivized PHR with a membership rewards program.

Perfect Beauty (San Francisco) - Daisy Jing, Duke ‘11 -
Perfect Beauty creates a customized set of reviews for beauty products, so when a user searches for a review on a product, she can filter the results based on her profile so only those reviews that are relevant for her appear in the results.

The Daily Muse (New York, NY) - Kathryn Minshew, Duke ‘08 -
The Daily Muse brings smart content to young, career-focused women.  We are not Cosmo; instead, we focus on the central needs of many highly educated, ambitious young women today.

And here's who was on the panel:
  • Peter Flint, Polaris Ventures and Dogpatch Labs
  • Rob Go '01, NextView Ventures
  • Thomas Lehrman '95, Alta Investors
(Phin Barnes was also schedule and helped select the teams, but had an unexpected conflict the night of the event)

And here's who attended:

Audience voted and asked questions of all the teams:

Audience Choice went to:

The Daily Muse - Kathryn Minshew

Judges went to convene and came back to deliver the results:

Judges 2nd Runner Up:
My Drug Costs - Dan Pollard

Judges 1st Runner Up: - Tito Bohrt

Judges Winner:
The Daily Muse - Kathryn Minshew

  • Consultation with Josh Felser '86 '90, Co-founder at Freestyle Capital
  • Send top pitches to to Naval Ravikant at AngelList for review

Video:  You can watch the recording on Ustream.

Photos: The photos of the event are up on Picasa

Thank you to our volunteers!

  • Jason Begleiter, Trinity ‘09
  • Jason Ethier, ‘10
  • Shalav Gupta, Fuqua ’10
  • Alex Guttler, Fuqua’11
  • Can Kuterdem, Fuqua '09
  • Tom Powell, Fuqua ‘09
  • Niraj Tailor
Posted by Howie Rhee '04
Event run by Howie Rhee '04 and Jozef Krakora '10, Co-chairs of DukeGEN

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Great 3rd DukeGEN Angel Pitch Event in San Francisco

We held a successful DukeGEN Angel Event last night, hosted at Rocket Space and sponsored by SNR Denton (thanks to Richard Allan Horning '69) and SVB (thanks to Steve Allan '08).

The room was packed, the audience was energetic, the pitches were great, and the panel did an excellent job.

About 120 Duke alumni came and filled up the room. 

The full set of pictures can be found here:

Here's who pitched:

    • CommuterRx - Commuter benefits, fueled by Android
      • Team Lead: Benjamin Picard '07
      • Location: Fairfax, CA
    • Dynamo Micropower - Cheap power dense distributed power
    • Happy Toy Machine - Design your own toys online
    • LoudSauce - crowdfunded media buying platform
    • Rentcycle - OpenTable for product rentals
    • Ribbons - enable earnest friend job recommendations
      • Team Lead: Anthony Bishopric '08
      • Location: San Francisco, CA
      • Website:
    • Youbibi - China Travel Search 2.0

    And here's who was on the panel:

    • Jim Scheinman T '88 of Maven Ventures, his early stage investment fund.  With over 15 years experience, Jim is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and adviser to consumer internet and mobile start-ups.  He is a pioneer in social networking and engagement marketing.  Jim is best known for his role as employee number one at Bebo, the third largest social network when it was acquired by AOL in early 2008 for $850M.  He was also the first business employee at Friendster.  Maven Ventures was the first investor in Social Gold which sold to Google in 2010 & is currently an investor/adviser at Tango, the leading mobile video call platform; and PageOnce, the leading mobile personal finance app.  
    • Josh Felser T '86, B '90 of Freestyle Capital, an early stage venture capital fund designed to fill the void between retreating angels and venture capitalists moving into later stage investments.  Josh is a seed investor and serial entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Freestyle Capital, Spinner (first Internet music service, sold to AOL for $320mm), Grouper/Crackle (video sharing service, sold to Sony for $65mm) & (health information, launched in April 2010). He is also on the board of Duke's Center for Entrepreneurship.
    • Ryan Spoon T '03 of Polaris Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in seed and early stage investments in companies engaged in the information technology and life sciences sectors.  Ryan was the founder of beRecruited, the nation's number one online networking destination for high school student-athletes seeking recruitment from college coaches and universities.  beRecruited was acquired in 2007.  Ryan worked for four years at eBay where he focused on user acquisition and launched and ran Kijiji (eBay's U.S. classified advertisements site).  He also served as VP of Marketing at Widgetbox, a widget distribution platform.
    • Aaron Patzer E '02, founder and CEO of Mint, a free, simple, and secure personal finance web application which consolidates your financial life in one place.  Aaron became the Vice President and General Manager of the Personal Finance Group at Intuit when that company acquired for US$170M in November 2009.  Prior to Mint, Aaron was a Lead Architect as Nascentric and the technical lead of the San Jose office.  Aaron was selected by Fortune Magazine to the Top 40 Entrepreneurs Under 40 in 2009 and Money Magazine named him as one of the top 8 Money Heroes of 2008.  He has twelve patents issued or pending to his name.

  • And here's who attended:

After the pitches, the judges convened, and the audience had a Q&A with the teams.
Then, the audience voted:

  • Audience Choice Winner: RentCycle

Then, the judges came back, gave feedback to each team (in front of the audience), and then announced their results.

Congrats to Kai Wang '08 and his business partner Steven Pang.

Youbibi will be introduced to three venture capitalists by Josh Felser.

Presented by:
 Michael S. Cann Jr. T '95 - Event Lead
 Matt Koidin B '05 - Operations Lead
 Shea DiDonna B '10
 Basil Enan T '03
 Howie Rhee B '04

Thanks again to SNR Denton and SVB!

Posted by Howie Rhee '04, Co-chair of DukeGEN