Students participating in Minerva University’s AI Lab program have teamed up to pitch four new tech startups.
From an app designed to match badminton players with worthy opponents to a plugin that helps users study for quizzes, eleven Minerva University students working in teams of two or three developed four startups this summer. Last week, they presented their final pitches to faculty and investors, including the vice president of Deepcore, Softbank’s AI incubator.
“This has been a tremendous year for new AI businesses,” said Patrick Watson, associate professor of computer science and co-director of Minerva’s AI Lab. “The widespread adoption of large language models like ChatGPT has allowed the teams to develop businesses with real impact in an extremely short time frame. I'm excited to see where our student entrepreneurs end up. In fact, I'm using some of their AI products for my classes in the fall.”
Georgi Sokolov, a rising senior who hails from Estonia and is majoring in social sciences, serves as team leader for one of the startups. They created an AI-based tool called Taita for recruiters and admission officers that uses a combination of video interviews and interactive tasks to assess applicants' suitability for a job or program. Sokolov and his teammates are already working with business partners to commercialize the app.
“Our journey into the HR space, a very new domain for our AI-savvy entrepreneurial team, has been a rewarding learning experience,” Sokolov said. “We've engaged with recruiters almost daily to gain deep insights into their needs and challenges. Our pilot customers range from incubator programs and universities to recruitment agencies and niche startups, reflecting our tool's broad applicability. As we look forward to raising our first round of capital by the end of the academic year, the best part of our AI Lab experience is knowing we're at the innovation forefront.”
Another team, working closely with Taita, developed Interview.ai, an app that lets candidates practice for their big interview. This is the fifth year that students at Minerva have had the opportunity to spend the summer honing their business plans for AI-based startups. Watson estimates that Minerva’s AI Lab has launched about 20 businesses so far, which have in turn landed a couple million dollars in funding and revenue.
“The pitch meeting is a chance to get some attention from funders at the end of a full year of work, but there's still a long road ahead. Often they get some ideas about what direction to take the business in, but this is much more about launching their projects. Many students adapt their business for their senior capstone project and some continue as CEOs of their own company after they graduate.”
About Minerva University
Named the World’s Most Innovative University by World’s Universities with Real Impact (WURI), Minerva University combines a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum of the highest academic quality, a global immersive residential experience, a cutting-edge digital learning environment, and an accomplished faculty versed in the science of learning to develop problem solvers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Minerva students represent more than 90 countries and territories from every corner of the globe.
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