Lion Hack: CBS and The School of Engineering bring Columbia together to Innovate

On November 20th, 2015 at Watson Library in Uris Hall, Columbia Business School and Columbia’s Graduate School of Engineering held its first cross-school business hackathon, Lion Hack.

Armed with technical advisors from Google and Venmo, drinks from Dig Inn, and caffeine supplied by Wandering Bear Coffee (a startup born out of Columbia Business School), the students raced to complete an MVP, a pitch deck, and a business plan within 24 hours.

By Saturday the dust had cleared and 5 judges from venture capital, the New York angel investing community, and Columbia Engineering gathered to judge the efforts of over 100 students from across the university.  Some had dropped out, but those that made it to present put forth ideas that ranged from energy to digital currency tools.

At the end two winners emerged and were fast tracked to participating in the presentation rounds of Columbia Business Schools I.E. Program:

MemorEyes – a new web app in the educational and productivity business. We are a startup company that aims to help students, actors, or anyone memorize vocabulary, poems, lyrics, lines, or anything else. The user inputs everything they want to memorize, by word or by line, and we match each segment with a specific picture with varying colors and shapes.

Sierra Leone Solar Corp. (SLSC) – a social venture with the aim of reducing energy poverty in urban and peri-urban areas of West Africa, especially Sierra Leone. To achieve our goal, we are targeting under-served market segments by providing cheap, clean and reliable solar energy to our customers. We overcome the hurdle of high upfront cost by offering lease-to-own and pay-as-you-go payment plans for solar lamps.

Congratulations to the winners! While the event was not without it’s hiccups, reactions to the hackathon have resulted in demand for a spring version of the hackathon from students. Investor have been overwhelming positive and they are excited to participate in further events geared toward getting students to launch businesses.  Lion Hack has been officially added to CEO’s recurring events so look out for the next hackathon in Spring or Fall of 2016.