When you hear “college startup,” chances are that you think of Facebook. While Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant is probably the most recognizable corporate success to come out of a dorm room, there are plenty of other up-and-coming entrepreneurs doing the same thing. After all, who says everything has to be learned in the classroom? Check out these startups that were founded by college kids. Next
Founder: Ben Lewis, University of Pennsylvania ’11
Ten cents of each purchase of these color-coded water bottles is given to charities ranging from local breast cancer foundations to environmental protection agencies. Give donated more than $50,000 to local charities in its first 18 months on the market. Founder Ben Lewis has expanded his drink line to include energy drinks that fund—what else?—clean energy initiatives. Next
Founder: Jessica Truesdale, Spelman College ’11
Jessica Truesdale had always wanted to develop a line of cosmetics, and she made that goal a reality during her sophomore year of college. TrueYou products are based on old Hollywood glamour and feature natural ingredients. Truesdale’s Iconic Lip Collection debuted in 2010, and now she’s focusing on opening up a flagship storefront for her makeup. Next
Founders: Justin Cannon and Chris Varenhorst , MIT ’08 and ’09
Frustrated with the drawn-out process of recording their assignments for foreign language classes, Justin Cannon and Chris Varenhorst created Lingt Language. Teachers can build and grade assignments after students complete them right there on the website, without having to download extra software or email anything back and forth. Can you say speedy? Next
Founders: Anna Sergeeva and Fei Xiao, University of Southern California ’12
When they were seniors at USC, Anna Sergeeva and Fei Xiao noticed that many of the volunteer events they attended were short-staffed and under-attended. They developed trueRSVP to help fix that problem. The service tracked guests’ actual attendance at events and assigned them a “flake rating” to help organizers determine who could really be counted on to show up. Now, the duo has turned their original idea into Planana, which incentivizes guests to share the event with their social network by offering perks like free drinks or discounts. Companies benefit by getting more brand visibility online and more people at their events. Next
Founder: Eden Full, Princeton ’15
Eden Full took a few gap years out of Princeton in 2011 to become one of the first Thiel Fellows and develop the SunSaluter, a solar-powered device that filters water and generates electricity. It creates four liters of purified water per day and provides up to 40% more electricity than traditional collectors, however, because it tracks the sun and adjusts its position to maximize power. Next
Founders: Jimmy Liu and Yang Zhang, University of Southern California ’13
You’ve finally convinced yourself to hit the gym, but when you get there, it’s jam packed with people. GymFlow aims to help users beat the rush by analyzing a gym’s IT data, collected when students swipe in at the doors, to determine how crowded the gym is and estimates when you might be able to jump onto the elliptical later in the day. It’s currently available only at a few Southern California colleges, but the founders hope to expand GymFlow’s presence to college gyms nationwide. Next
Founders: Thomas Coburn, Jonathan Lacoste, and Chase McAleese. All three are currently taking a leave of absence from Boston College.
Why let yourself be bombarded with ads that you don’t care about? Jebbit rewards users for correctly answering questions about products that they actually care about. The simple system lets students make easy money and companies show their products to a targeted—and interested—audience that can truly interact with them.
As of August 1, the company had raised $1.25 million in funding.
Founder: Lucas Duplan, Stanford ’12
At 21, Lucas Duplan raised the largest seed round in Silicon Valley history. His $25 million funded the beta version of Clinkle, an app that Duplan promises will “modernize how payments work.” While it hasn’t launched yet, Clinkle aims to replace both cash and credit cards. Duplan is tailoring its launch to college students, a group that he hopes will be early adopters to push his app to the top. Next
Founders: Edison Wang and Jane Zhu, New York University ’12
Ever wonder how much sleep you’re really losing to studying—and how to maximize the times you do get some shut-eye? SleepBot helps track patterns over time and creates detailed graphs that show what might be getting in the way of a good night’s rest. The app, available for Android, won NYU’s startup challenge and has received recognition from the United States National Institute of Health. Next
Founders: Wesley Zhao, University of Pennsylvania and Ajay Mehta, New York University, both on leave.
Facebook is great, but you don’t necessarily want your tech-savvy grandma to see photos of you at that party last weekend. Enter FamilyLeaf, a social network just for families created by Wesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta. FamilyLeaf used Facebook data to find more family members to share status updates, stories, and photos with, but allowed users to post in a private social network. The duo took leaves of absence from their respective schools to develop their network in 2012. It was purchased by rival company Origami in July 2013. Next
Flash Food Recovery
Founder: Eric Lehnhardt, Arizona State University ’12
Flash Food Recovery began as a school project to target one of Phoenix, Arizona’s worst problems: childhood food insecurity, or the uncertainty of how a family or individual can afford their next meal. Through a network of volunteer drivers and food service businesses, families in need can receive text message updates telling them when and where they can pick up fresh, healthy meals. Next
Founder: Charlie Javice, University of Pennsylvania ’15
PoverUP—a somewhat roundabout way of writing “getting up out of poverty,” was founded by then-freshman Charlie Javice in 2011. Her microfinance network aims to provide microloans to small business entrepreneurs worldwide and also connects students with opportunities to consult and intern for some of these small businesses. Next
Founder: Susanna Young, Arizona State University ’11
Armed with an engineering degree and an astonishingly simple idea, Susanna Young created the G3Box: a shipping container transformed into a mobile medical clinic. The sturdy containers help provide essential medical care to remote areas of the world, especially Africa, by creating a space in which doctors and nurses can work. Next
Founder: Anthony D’Ambrosio, Phillips Academy ’14
ASL Sports hosts clinics for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have other other physical challenges that might usually preven them from playing sports. Though he’s still in high school, founder Anthony D’Ambrosio has already expanded his organization to include programs for children in Guatemala as well as the usual Massachusetts-based clinics. Back to the beginning
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