Beck Entrepreneurship Fellows Receive Feedback from Benefactors

Marla and Barry Beck offered a sounding board on projects ranging from a device that eliminates parasites from beehives to an ILRie’s startup that authenticates online sneaker purchases.
Milik Dawkins '20 and Barry Beck '90
Friday, November 8, 2019

Eleven Beck Entrepreneurship Fellows had the opportunity to meet and receive valuable feedback from their benefactors this month when Marla and Barry Beck ’90 met with the students at Cornell’s eLab space in Collegetown. 

The program, in its first year, offers summer grants of $5,000 to allow students to work on their startup without needing to seek additional employment. At the meeting in Collegetown, students reported on their progress and gained insight from the Becks. 

One such student, ILRie Milik Dawkins ’20 presented on his startup, Veribuy, a marketplace for people to get their on-line sneaker purchases authenticated. Dawkins, who ran a successful sneaker reselling business in high school, is hoping his startup will combat the rampant counterfeit market that hurts consumers and luxury brands. 

"It means a lot to have the support of an alumni like Mr. Beck," Dawkins said. "The Becks have run successful businesses and went through what I'm going through now. So, to have their support and to see that they have trust in me and my business that we can succeed, it really means a lot coming from them."  

Additional projects range from a new phone software that will help non-profits in their fundraising efforts, to a credit scoring platform exclusively for farmers worldwide, to a revolutionary way to make prosthetics, to hardware that is aimed at saving the honey bee population.  

Hailey Scofield, a doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior, and Nathan Oakes, a doctoral student in computational biology, are the co-founders of Combplex. Their device, the Combplex Smart frame, is just like a regular bee frame, except it uses precision technology to eliminate harmful Varroa destructor parasites within the hive. 
“This technology allows beekeepers to prioritize the colonies that are in the most urgent need of intervention, minimizing colony losses for large-scale commercial beekeepers,” Oakes said.

Over the summer, Oakes and Schofield used the Beck funding to create several upgrades to the frame, including the addition of Bluetooth functionality, while applying for additional funding through GrowNY, NextCorps and the Small Business Innovation Research. 

“We are incredibly proud of The Beck Fellowship Program at Cornell University and the amazing roster of 2019 entrepreneurs,” said Barry Beck. “We recognize the challenges posed during the dynamic uncertainty of the business creation process and knowing that we may have propelled innovation in some small way, leaves us eternally grateful.”

Applications for summer 2020 funding are due by Nov. 15. The application can be found here