News from Ohio State University

Ohio State President’s Buckeye Accelerator to launch student ventures

The third annual President’s Buckeye Accelerator has awarded $50,000 each to six teams of student entrepreneurs at The Ohio State University to further their startup business ventures. The winners were among 11 teams that pitched their business ideas to a panel of Ohio State representatives and business professionals on May 1 at the Student Entrepreneur Center on the Columbus campus.  

The President’s Buckeye Accelerator supports students in bringing their entrepreneurial ideas to life, said Cheryl Turnbull, senior director of Ohio State’s Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship. The center, which administers the accelerator program, is a campus-wide hub for the development of startup ventures.

“The President’s Buckeye Accelerator is a year-long program. It will start in August of ’24,” she said. “These students have worked really hard to get to this point.”

CorrSuite's Kush Dalal (left) and Sean Schnautz, Brutus Buckeye and the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship's Cheryl Turnbull and Ashley Lippincott.The students’ journey began in November with Launchpad, a weekend-long event at which students present ideas. The students then progressed to the Best of Student Startups (BOSS), a seven-week program during which they received feedback on their ideas from businesses and potential customers.

“At the end of that program, there’s a competition and the winner of that receives a golden ticket to tonight’s finale,” Turnbull said.

The other 10 teams that pitched business ideas during the May 1 finale were selected from the Boost Camp program that was held this spring. During Boost Camp, professionals in a variety of industries mentored the students and offered advice on starting and running a successful business. 

“That’s our pre-Accelerator program in which 85 teams this year, representing close to 400, participated,” Turnbull said of Boost Camp. “It takes students through a very rigorous program. The students have put in so much time and so much effort and so much grit.”

A panel of five business professionals chose the six ventures that received funding: Shereen Agrawal, executive director of Ohio State’s Center for Software Innovation; Anita Nti, a data scientist and president of Ohio State’s Smart Campus organization; Lindsay Karas Stencel, a senior partner with Thompson Hine law firm; and technology executives Kumi Walker and Grant Schneider.  

The student founders of the six winning teams represent The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Fisher College of Business.

Services in development at the student ventures range from custom exercise programs for individuals whose limbs have been amputated to programming to provide greater access to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for underserved communities.

Andy Hundley, who is earning a Master of Business Administration degree from the Fisher College of Business, said the idea to start Forged Amputee Wellness came from interacting with patients in his role as a physical therapist with the Wexner Medical Center. 

“What Forged Amputee Wellness aims to do is … provide them with personalized exercise programming that will allow them to continue to make progress well beyond discharge from physical therapy,” he said.

Sneha Prabu, who is majoring in neuroscience, said she and her business partners’ Youth for STEM Equity nonprofit organization will create “escape rooms” where students will use STEM skills to find their way out.

“Youth for STEM Equity provides direct, in-person exposure, along with reinvesting money into underserved communities,” she said. “We believe the key to growing as students and teachers is through extended content retention, sustainable student-teacher development, industry exposure and interpersonal engagement and belonging.”

In addition to $50,000, each team will receive a year’s worth of coaching and mentoring. The complete list of winning ventures and students in this year’s cohort is as follows:

Almara, which will provide a platform to connect cancer patients with potentially life-saving clinical trials. Team members: Harikrishnan Kasi, Adhav Parameswaran, Adam Roberts, Sid Singaram and Kuppan Subramaniyan.

Apiary Systems, which will assist military units in streamlining data collection to enhance strategic operations. Team members: Tom Cooney, Tyler Fenstermaker, Ritvik Rao and Daniel Domingo Tcheurekdjian.

BioBuddy, an e-learning platform to increase access to STEM education. Team members: Chris Egasti and Malak Askar.

CorrSuite, which is developing automated scheduling software to increase production efficiency in the corrugated box industry. Team members: Sean Schnautz and Kush Dalal.

Forged Amputee Wellness. Founder: Hundley.

Youth for STEM Equity. Team members: Prabu, Varshini Chennupati, Laksh Dhir, Kavya Jayanthi, Anurag Kejriwal and Natalie Stover.

The other five ventures that were featured at the President’s Buckeye Accelerator finale were:

Pulse, a mobile solution to streamline data collection and communication between health care professionals. Team members: Kevin Ravakhah and Hower Chen.

Roots: Farming Made Easy, which is developing software to streamline logistics management for organic farmers. Team members: Varsha Venkateshwaran, Shreya Sree Morishetty and Dipanjali Nandy.

Expenz, a banking solution for fraternities and sororities. Team members: Pranav Chati and Eshwar Pamula.

Mindful Diagnosis, which aims to decrease disparities and in health care through implicit bias and diversity training. Team member: Vraj Shah.

Pryva, a technological monitoring solution to increase safety for older adults in their homes and health care facilities. Team members: Nicolas Landis-Ashbaugh, Donovan Liao, Isaac Nolan and Om Patil.

For more information about the President’s Buckeye Accelerator, visit the program’s website.