StartupConnect Networking Fair Attracts 25 Companies To Campus

Students meet alumni entrepreneurs at the StartupConnect Networking Fair. Photo by Pilar Tiimpane
Students meet alumni entrepreneurs at the StartupConnect Networking Fair. Photo by Pilar Tiimpane

Representatives from 25 startup companies visited Duke’s campus recently to meet about 250 Duke students at the fourth annual StartupConnect Networking Fair.

An annual event, the fair is a casual, low-pressure opportunity for students to meet startup founders and employees, said Howie Rhee, StartupConnect organizer and Duke I&E’s managing director for student and alumni affairs.

Many of the participating startups were represented by Duke alumni, such as Washington, D.C.- based Legends of Learning.

Legends of Learning CEO Vadim Polikov, who earned both his undergraduate degree and his Ph.D. at Duke, said he brought his company to StartupConnect because he loves meeting students who are interested in entrepreneurship.

Legends of Learning is a platform for educational games that can be used in the classroom. The company will launch its product for middle school science classes this spring.

“We love to hire bright, young, enthusiastic people as interns,” Polikov said.

Derek Holt, a Duke alumnus and president of Raleigh-based K4 Connect, agreed.

“There’s a lot of great talent at Duke, and we want to keep as much of it here as we can – not only to benefit our company, but also to benefit the local startup ecosystem,” Holt said.

K4Connect focuses on leveraging smart technologies for older adults and individuals living with disabilities.

Elena Adlaf, who is currently a postdoc in a Duke neuroscience lab, said she came to StartupConnect to find out about opportunities as she considers a career change to marketing.

“The list of companies that was put out beforehand was especially helpful for me because I was able to do some research on the companies and know who I wanted to talk to,” Adlaf said.

The StartupConnect Networking Fair was hosted by the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Pratt School of Engineering, the Career Center, Duke Futures and the Fuqua School of Business.