Columbia Startup Demo Night: 6 Inspiring Founder Stories

On Thursday, September 14th, 2017, the San Francisco chapter of the Columbia Venture Community will host CVC’s biggest West Coast event of the year: Columbia Startup Demo Night! We always look forward to this opportunity to meet, mingle and shine the spotlight on innovative startups from the Bay Area. This time, six startups, all with at least one founder who graduated from Columbia, will take the stage to demo their startup and compete for a cash prize in front of a panel of experienced judges.

As we gear up for the event, we’re speaking with all our Demo Night founding teams so that we can share their diverse, inspiring stories with the CVC community.

I had fantastic opportunity to meet and speak with founders from our six CVC Demo Night teams over the past several weeks. These six articles are the result of our conversations.

Each founder discusses their startup mission and what brought them to it, their experience at Columbia University and how school prepared them for a life of entrepreneurship, and their best advice to students, young people, and those considering starting companies of their own.


Prolegis founder Brian Overland has a plan to make Congress smarter

Brian Overland, co-founder and CEO of Prolegis, talks about about his interesting and unusual career path and current plans to improve U.S. government by helping staffers understand complex topics more easily. His mission? “To make the public policy process more effective, dynamic, and transparent.”


Folia Water founder Jonathan Levine on dignity, empowerment and clean water

Jonathan Levine, co-founder and CEO of Folia Water, explains his global quest to provide safe drinking water for millions of people, growing a company, relocating to the Bay Area and more. What is Folia? Jonathan says: “We’ve invented the world’s first water filter that costs pennies, not dollars. We’re not your typical Silicon Valley company.”


Influ2 founder Dmitri Lisitski on making advertising great (again)

Dmitri Lisitski has been growing companies for over 15 years. He founded Influ2 to address one of the biggest problems faced by marketers: wasted resources due to poor ad targeting in B2B advertising. His background in machine learning combined with his marketing experience led him to some unique insights into how to improve B2B marketing.


StrongDM founder Schuyler Brown wants to protect your data

Schuyler Brown, co-founder and CMO of strongDM, discusses what he loves about startups, data security, and his goal of helping every company protect sensitive data and monitor every database. A former board member of Columbia Venture Community, he dedicates much of his spare time to helping teach and mentor others within the startup community.


Follow-Up founder Matthew Himelstein wants to solve the biggest headache in sales

Matthew Himelstein, founder of Follow-Up, is a product and startup leader with a very particular goal: leverage artificial intelligence to help make the lives of B2B salespeople easier. I caught up with him to learn a bit about how Follow-Up began and how his experiences at Columbia University, as well as at other startups, prepared him for starting the company.


Authentag COO Rob Torti on instilling truth

Rob Torti is a busy man, full of energy and enormous goals. I grabbed a quick phone chat with him just before he left for Burning man. Lucky for us, he’ll be back in time for CVC Demo Night to present Authentag, a supply chain logistics software company where he serves as Chief Operating Officer. His mission there? To “instill truth.”

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