Entry to Entrepreneurship

Students are pursuing entrepreneurship thanks to support from the Ansary Foundation.

Thanks to the Cy and Jan Ansary Foundation, students who pursue entrepreneurship can now compete for a prestigious prize. At the Innovation Expo in May, the annual contest where students pitch their senior design projects as startups became the Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition. Through the endowed Ansary Prizes for Entrepreneurship, every year the top three teams will receive $10,000, $5,000 or $2,500 they can use to develop their ideas into real businesses.

“Through the generosity of this wonderful family,” President Farvardin said, “Stevens is able to nurture, support and provide recognition and rewards for the talented entrepreneurs in our student body. The Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition is a significant milestone for Stevens innovation. It will further motivate students to consider the commercial viability of their senior design projects, and it will provide funding to assist in that transition from a simple university project to a viable startup enterprise.”

The Life Skills Software team was a co-winner of the first-place prize, after impressing a panel of guest judges from companies like Google and Tesla. The students designed a game that teaches transitional skills to older special-need students, such as buying groceries or getting dressed for a day at the beach.

Their pitch told the story of a student named Josh. “After just a few plays of our cashier simulator game, Josh was ready to run a cash register as his first real job after school,” said Khayyam Saleem ’19. “Our online teacher and parent portal grabs specific data points while students play, such as number of correct questions or time spent to completion.

Before Life Skills Software, Josh’s teachers had no quantitative data with which they could back up his individualized education plan. Now, they’re able to leverage the portal’s features for intelligent custom lesson plan creation.”

There are more than 1.5 million special-need students in the U.S., and Life Skills Software believes it can address that market. In addition to using their winnings from the Ansary Prize, they continue to hone their idea at the Stevens Venture Center.