The Most Disruptive Business School Startups Of 2022 – Yahoo Finance

Good ideas don’t happen by chance. They are remnants of long-lasting impressions – s mystery that made a young man curious or a moment that left him riveted. Sometimes, inspiration is sparked when an issue hits home, when a loved one suffers or a dream falls short. In that moment, a serendipity emerges, where experience and insight bond to form something never seen.

The entrepreneurial journey of Raleigh Dewan began as he watched his grandmother endure Parkinson’s Disease. Targeting the nervous system, the disorder is marked by uncontrollable shaking. For Dewan’s grandmother, that meant she could no longer feed herself. Seeking solutions, Dewan was drawn to his childhood, when his oldest brother would bring him onto his movie sets. His favorite days involved action scenes, where cameras would be swung around the carnage to capture every imaginable angle.

Raleigh Dewan (right) and family, with Grandma June in the center


“No matter how much the camera moved, the shot was always steady due to the Steadicam technology,” Dewan tells P&Q. “[I] couldn’t understand how we could stabilize a camera on a Hollywood film set, but not my 90-pound grandmother’s trembling hand. So, inspired by the Steadicam technology I saw on my brother’s film sets, I set out to create a solution for my grandmother – one that would allow her to comfortably feed herself and regain the sense of autonomy and dignity the disease had stolen from her.”

In response, Dewan developed The SteadiSpoon™, which he describes as a “3D-printed assistive eating device” that enables the 10 million people suffering from Parkinson’s tremors to “regain agency, autonomy, and dignity.” In recent human trials, The SteadiSpoon™ achieved 95% of the efficacy of his competitors – at half the price. Along the way, he earned a spot in the VentureWell MedTech Accelerator and developed partnerships with several state Parkinson’s Foundations. However, talent and tenacity aren’t the only reasons behind Dewan’s success. While building The SteadiSpoon™, he studied at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, where he’ll earn his BBA this spring. Here, Dewan met Professor Simon Mak, his “start-up guardian angel” who helped him secure over $100K from pitch competitions and research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Education Association. Now, Dewan is adding products like forks and pen attachments to further empower consumers like his grandmother. In making this pivot, he plans to continue drawing on the lessons he learned at the Cox School.

“When I had actual taxes to file for my business, cost accounting classes became far more interesting and valuable,” he adds. “Studying operations management and capacity planning lit my soul on fire as I begin applying it to my production and scaling plans. In all my classes, I have been able to directly apply the course content to my business—driving higher personal engagement with the class, a better understanding of material, deeper questions, and the perfect balance of academic and experiential learning. Beyond just the skills and concepts my business classes have instilled in me, my professors have acted as invaluable advisors for my company, guiding me through risk management, marketing challenges, strategic planning, and more.”


Clayton Canfield, Washington University (Olin)

The SteadiSpoon™ is 1 of 21 undergraduate student ventures honored in Poets&Quants’ second annual “Most Disruptive Business School Startups.” This year, P&Q reached out to 23 of its highest-ranked business schools of 2022, with respondents ranging from the Wharton School to Notre Dame to the University of California-Berkeley. Like previous years, P&Q sought out startups launched by business majors with the potential to depose established models and create new markets. This year’s class isn’t just breaking new ground. They’re seeking to ‘democratize” the entire field through accessibility, reliability, convenience, and cost. They are seeking to change behavior around food waste or gain acceptance for traditional Muslim attire. They are building online platforms and mobile apps – even writing children’s books for a larger mission. Most times, they are harnessing talent from across their universities to bring their ideas to life.

No, these student entrepreneurs aren’t just sitting in their dorms kicking around ideas. They’re relentlessly talking to prospective customers; they understand that feedback is their friend – even the brutal assessments that contradict everything they initially believed. Over and over, these students are testing and refining, always questioning if they are truly solving the real problem or identifying all the possibilities. Some are even hiring employees and establishing supply chains! Every day, they are honing their pitch and hustling for every edge.  That’s because entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, a mindset, and a purpose – one that attracts restless spirits who live for invention and impact.

Take Clayton Canfield, a senior at Washington University’s Olin Business School. During a break from school, Canfield worked at a sober living home, which he describes as a “halfway between inpatient treatment (rehab centers) and normal life.” In theory, people manage their recovery, while operators track items like meeting attendance, resident chores, and even rent payments. However, Canfield was stunned to learn he could gain more data from a Tik Tok post than any monitoring software. That motivated him to develop Sobriety Hub, an operations management software designed specifically for sober living homes. In the short term, Canfield plans to become the “de facto choice” for these homes. Long-term, he envisions a different play.

“We hope to be able to provide aggregate, anonymized data sets for universities to practice data science, ultimately revealing important insights into behavioral health,” he tells P&Q. For instance, how does recovery meeting attendance determine recovery outcomes? Is there a statistically significant relationship between involvement in 12-step recovery and passed drug tests? Today, no one has the data to sufficiently answer these questions; we are hoping to change that.”


Mariam Ouedraogo, New York University (Stern)

Noah Sorin has channeled his passion for sustainability into Idori. Believing “eco-conscious” behaviors should start young, Sorin developed an illustrated children’s book that is accompanied by a stuffed animal to highlight the impact of deforestation. Now, he plans to roll out a line of books and “huggable” toys that address a range of sustainability issues.

“I have always loved creative writing, but holding a physical book that I created myself for the first time was a truly special feeling,” adds Sorin, a junior at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. “I was then able to take my book to a public park and read it in front of 30+ kids to gather feedback. Seeing kids smile and laugh as they engaged with my resources really filled my heart and it inspired me to continue working on this project because it showed that I really am capable of impacting people’s lives.”

For Mariam Ouedraogo, Ouéd Collections grew out of her belief that Muslim women should “unapologetically wear their hijab and jilbab.” Growing up, Ouedraogo tired of Muslim women being depicted as victims. Even more, she wondered why she should subscribe to the notion that they were oppressed unless they were uncovered. Rebelling against this convention, Ouedraogo began donning her jilbab and sophomore. Soon enough, she was designing her own clothes.

“I shared my journey on Instagram, where I connected with other Muslim girls that said they were inspired by me and my story,” writes Ouedraogo, now a sophomore at New York University’s Stern School. “Ouéd started with me selling just a few garments a month and has now grown to me shipping 500 garments over the past several years all across the world. Ouéd is inspiring a movement of Muslim women to be empowered and unapologetic in their hijab.”

Dhanashree Mandhani, University of Illinois (Gies)


You’ll find this year’s top student entrepreneurs exploring every imaginable niche. At Texas Christian University’s Neeley School, Payton Cranford co-founded March, a haircare line for the special needs of Black travelers. Down I-35 at the University of Texas, Trenton Balcombe formed ChurchSearch. Think of it as an online platform that connects the right houses of worship to the right people – a venture that placed 2nd in the Forty Acres Founders Pre-Accelerator Program Pitch Competition. By the same token, Santa Clara University’s Darius Johnson and Luke Poltorak co-founded Drem, which enables users to tap into all of web3 in a single app. In America’s heartland – the University of Illinois – Dhanashree Mandhani has built an Ag-Tech platform called Salam Kisan to support farmers in India.

“We bring together agricultural stakeholders, services, products, and technologies,” Mandhani explains. “We provide services and AI-powered tools for farmers to increase their yield and profitability through our digital platform. We also have physical stores where farmers can buy/rent state-of-art devices, farm inputs and sell farm outputs. What truly makes us end-to-end is that we provide financial services, value addition, and government convergence. These products and services are targeted at 209 million small and marginal farmers in India.”

While the scale is appetizing, Mandhani adds that the market is ripe for overhaul, particularly after witnessing the conditions first-hand as an intern for one of her family’s businesses. “I closely watched problems that farmers in India faced,” she adds. “They included misinformation to informal credit systems, fragmented supply chain, lack of data-driven farming, lack of farm mechanization, and middle men and agents profiting off of farmers leaving them with little to no income. Let me summarize the problem in a statement: agriculture in India is decentralized, fragmented and at the least efficient level. This problem, coupled with my upbringing and the resources I was born into, gave me the inspiration to build Salam Kisan with the vision of driving rural communities toward resilience and sustainability.”

Next Page: Favorite Courses and Faculty

Page 3: 21 In-Depth Profiles of Student Startups


Anna Pedrick, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

The ‘What’ and the ‘How’ are the staples of any new venture. Chances are, the ‘Why’ is the most interesting part of any startup story. Diran Shahrik’s journey started as a Boston University freshman. Watching his aunt bake a cake, he noticed she only used a third of one ingredient. The rest, he learned, would likely be tossed away. The incident inspired him to build Savor, a mobile app that uses food preferences, family size, and budget to create a s grocery list that minimizes waste.

“I find we…grow nonchalant when it comes to throwing away food,” Shahrik observes. “However, what we seem to forget is that it’s not simply just the food that we are wasting. The land that the food is grown on, the methane gas released from producing the food, and the water utilized to create food product is all wasted when we throw away food. I wanted to disrupt this pattern of food waste and make a serious worldwide impact.”

At Georgetown University, Stanford Maison discovered something unexpected. His female classmates distrusted dating apps because they were immersed in a “hypersexualized culture” where men often “were not transparent with their intentions.” After nearly 200 prospective customer interviews, Maison and his partner launched Blyss, a dating app that coordinated entire dates for users, creating a safe environment for everyone involved. In contrast, Anna Pedrick has seen the gender gap widen between men and women in STEM fields over the past two decades. This gap inspired her startup idea in her Entrepreneurship In Action course. Called Lovelace, Pedrick’s program ties arts and crafts to coding to expose young women to STEM concepts.

“Too many of my female peers never explored coding because they weren’t interested in robotics, gaming, or sci-fi when coding can be so much more than that,” Pedrick admits. “I wanted to create a company that shows girls that coding is more than it is stereotyped to be and can align with a lot of their interests. Through this, Lovelace reframes coding in young girls’ minds and shows them the potential opportunities that they too can be a part of.”


Peter Layne (Left) and David Roselle (Right), University of Virginia (McIntire)

Some startups were even inspired by issues faced by college students themselves. Exhibit A: The University of Virginia’s DoorList. Before it became a UVA phenom – think 5,000 users across 50 organizations – Doorlist was just a way to get around cumbersome wristbands and guest lists at university events.

“Wristbands cost money and must be distributed in-person, while guest lists are easy to bypass using a fake name and are very slow at the door,” explains co-founder Dave Roselle. “DoorList eliminates the need to make these tradeoffs – we set out to provide a solution that is fast at the door and significantly more convenient than any other option, while also saving organizations money and improving their environmental impact.”

Even more, Roselle adds, DoorList made the lessons from Professor Jeffrey Boichuk’s Marketing class all the more real – and applicable in real time. “The biggest lesson I gained from marketing class was to very intentionally craft a marketing message around the pain points of each stakeholder. For DoorList, this is applicable when we talk to event hosts versus event guests. For hosts, the value proposition is the money saved and the convenience while making a list, but for guests it’s that they don’t have to go pick up wristbands and can have all of their tickets in one place. Professor Boichuk’s marketing class helped us realize the need for varied messages and also taught us how to present these messages.”


The Wharton School’s Fab 4 at ToxiSense (Left to Right): Aravind Krishnan, Udit Garg, Andrew Diep-Tran, Aarush Sahni

The Wharton School’s Aravind Krishnan has been working on his startup, ToxiSense, since the 8th grade. On a field trip to the Jersey shore, he learned horseshoe crabs – a crucial part of the Atlantic Coast ecosystem – were being “overharvested towards extinction.” The reason: their blood is a key ingredient in most medical product tests ranging from medical devices to COVID-19 vaccines. Just a gallon of horseshoe crab blood costs $60,000 according to Krishnan. In high school, Krishnan discovered that a plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, carried many of the same testing benefits as horseshoe crab blood – at a far lower cost. After tirelessly testing to produce the best endotoxin concentration, Krishnan arrived at Wharton to commercialize his discovering, recruiting three classmates to handle the business, science, and operations arms of his startup.

And the venture took off faster than anyone expected.

“Our biggest accomplishment has been receiving substantial backing both from the university and some tech-focused VCs, raising about $100K in just one semester,” Krishnan explains. “Among these, our greatest success was winning Venture Lab’s Startup Challenge competition. This is an annual event run by Venture Lab, which is the Wharton School’s entrepreneurship center, and offers over $150,000 in funding to successful Penn students. Despite being freshmen competing against a field of mostly MBA-led teams, we were able to win the Perlman Grand Prize (the top award), and several other awards. This win alone earned us $70,000 in funding and over $10,000 in additional in-kind sponsorships.”


Cameron Allen, University of Michigan (Ross)

ToxiSense isn’t alone in chalking up big wins. Just head over to Ann Arbor to meet Cameron Allen. Only a sophomore, Allen has generated over $2 million dollars in revenue over the past four-and-a-half years with his Beacon Book Box startup. An “avid reader”, Allen was enchanted by the idea of monthly deliveries of books and reading-related merchandise to consumer. After firing up Excel to calculate curation and startup costs, he sold his family on launching a business – even collecting a $10,000 loan from a family friend! While his firm’s ledger would the envy of any entrepreneur (or teenager), Allen believes his Beacon Book Box’s biggest assets are equally fundamental: a wide network and deep goodwill.

“I have worked with small businesses, individual artists from across the globe all the way up to #1 New York Times bestselling authors and executives in the Big Five publishing houses,” Allen points out. “These relationships did not form out of thin air, rather the effort and work I put into establishing them over the years. These individuals have shaped the growth of my business, and I will continue to partner with them on projects to come.”

Prospective partners are already lining up to work with this year’s Disruptive Business School Startups. FORENAIRE, an apparel line launched by Georgia Tech’s Aboubacar Barrie, snagged a $20,000 award by GUCCI. On top of that, Georgia Tech’s Create-X program gave FORENAIRE a %250,000 valuation. Success also made an impact on FINNIVA, a PropTech co-founded by Andrew McMaster at Indiana University’s Kelley School. The startup won the Elevate Nexus Southern Regional Pitch Competition, the Crossroads Collegiate Competition, and the “Best Overall Venture Plan” at IU’s Spine Sweat Experience too. From these efforts, the team came away with an unexpected epiphany.

“Elevate wasn’t just for college students,” McMaster notes. “A real investment team saw this solution as a scalable, viable, investable business. After that, things got really real for myself and the other two founders. It has forced us to shape up the edges and put 110% of ourselves into building Finniva.”


This summer, Dhanashree Mandhani was running a dozen events across India reaching 10,000 farmers – when she wasn’t busy onboarding 22 employees to Salam Kisan, that is. For her, the benefit of business education is this: “Everything I do in my business is tied to a concept I learned in class [and] everything I learn in class can be applied to some aspect of running a company.” That said, the University of Illinois senior learned that business school offers another unexpected benefit for student entrepreneurs: Friends in high places.

“I spoke to Dean Jeff Brown in November 2021 about my business plan, and he was kind enough to make multiple introductions,” Mandhani explains. “He introduced me to the startup ecosystem in UIUC and the Chicago area, connected me to Venture Capitalists, and other entrepreneurs and resourceful individuals. He also encouraged me to participate in iVenture Accelerator, an incubator for the top student startups at the University of Illinois. During the summer, I did participate in iVenture Accelerator, and Professor Noah Isserman and Director of iVenture Manu Edakara have been the two greatest mentors at UIUC. They help me navigate management and leadership as well as inspire me to set goals both personal and professional and achieve them.”

Even more, being a business student and novice entrepreneur can open doors. Just ask. At Northeastern University, he started BOOST2GO, an all-natural energy drink that relies on the Amazon’s Guayusa Leaf – which carries a greater potency than green team. Initially, Serrano assumed that he couldn’t get an audience with one of his heroes, Santiago Peralta – a famed chocolatier in his native Ecuador. Turns out, Peralta was as interested in hearing from a college student as a world leader.

“When he received me in his office, he was so curious in learning from me and would attend any event I told him I needed his help,” Serrano tells P&Q. “Even when I was at an event at the World Trade Organization, he helped me in a matter of minutes by putting me in contact with an Ecuadorian diplomat to assist me.”

Next Page: 21 In-Depth Profiles of Student Startups


Closer to home, many of this year’s founders credit faculty for their never-ending commitment and uncompromising candor. That spirit is epitomized by Doug Villhard. He helms the legendary “Hatchery” course at Washington University’s Olin School, where the mantra is seemingly ‘Research, research, research.’

“Doug is very big on feedback,” observes Clayton Canfield. “He taught us to obsess over our customer pain points. If we hadn’t spent three months focusing on customer pain points and doing dozens of customer interviews, we would have built something completely different, and it would not have worked.”

Andrew McMaster touts Regan Stevenson, who taught another regaled entrepreneurship course: Indiana University’s Spine Sweat Experience. Short on theory and heavy on one-on-coaching, Stevenson focused his students on taking action every single day to instill confidence, courage, and commitment.

“My biggest lesson was to DO more,” McMaster acknowledges. “Before taking this class, I had always thought like a corporate leader or a consultant. I’d spend a great deal of time planning and thinking, and then present the possibilities to the team and work together to build a course of action. This class showed me that being in a startup is agile for a reason. Fail fast, bootstrap solutions early, talk to more people, and do less planning, more doing.”

And schools get into the act too. At Cornell University’s Dyson School, Rumbidzai Mangwende opened EthosSphere, an ethnic beauty marketplace. Now a senior, Mangwende credits Dyson for everything from accessing grant funding to connecting with her with prospective investors. And that’s just the start, she adds. “The rich entrepreneurial and collaborative environment Dyson students create has made my progression, from a woman with a good idea into an actual entrepreneur, one of the most seamless that I can think of. am surrounded by mental upliftment and physical resources; from friends and faculty alike.”


Rumbidzai Mangwende, Cornell University (Dyson)

Mangwende’s long-term goal? “Change the ethnic beauty market from brick-and-mortar to click-and-order.” Sure enough, her peers are equally ambitious. Aboubacar Barrie is already dreaming of a multi-dollar valuation with FORENAIRE, while Dhanashree Mandhani hopes to create employment opportunities for women and vulnerable populations. And Jhonatan Serrano plans to do good and do well with BOOST2GO. His vision: Become the world’s best energy drink while spurs economic development in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Noah Sorin admits that he wants his Idori startup to change the world. While he doesn’t see his children’s books and stuffed animals revolutionizing the world by themselves, he does believe they could be part of something larger that’s emerging.

“I do believe that Idori could be the start of a real movement towards sustainability becoming a more integral part of early childhood education and developmental learning – and THAT is what could really change the world,” he writes. “My goal is not to sell a billion stuffed animals. My goal is to create a brand that truly stands for something: A brand that stands for the Earth, a brand that stands for the people, but most importantly a brand that seeks to bring the two back together as one. If my startup truly succeeds, then every child in the world will understand how their behaviors affect Mother Earth, and they will want to do everything in their power to protect it.”



Business School




Boston University (Questrom)

Noah Sorin

Sustainability, Early Childhood Education


Boston University (Questrom)

Diran Shahrik


Gravity Platforms

University of California-Berkeley (Haas)

Kevin Gillespie and Jolene Huey

Social Media, Entertainment


Cornell University (Dyson)

Rumbidzai Mangwende

Beauty, e-commerce


Georgetown University (McDonough)

Stanford Maison, Hunter Hanley

Dating Services


Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Aboubacar Barrie

Clothing, Apparel, Fashion

Smart Estates

Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Sam Tsang-Chan, Nathanael Tappin

Real Estate

Prym Solutions (Salam Kisan)

University of Illinois (Gies)

Dhanashree Mandhani


Finniva Technologies

Indiana University (Kelley)

Andrew McMaster

B2B Software, PropTech

Beacon Book Box

University of Michigan (Ross)

Cameron Allen

E-commerce, Retail


University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Anna Pedrick

Education Tech


Northeastern University (D’Amore-McKim)

Jhonatan Serrano

Energy Beverage

Chameleon Foods

Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Sean Callaghan, Brian Gonzalo

Agricultural Technology

Ouéd Collections

New York University (Stern)

Mariam Ouedraogo

Modest Fashion


Santa Clara University (Leavey)

Darius Johnson, Luke Poltorak



Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Biomedical Devices

Raleigh Dewan


Texas Christian University (Neeley)

Payton Cranford, Jeremiah Johnson

Beauty Products, Consumer Goods


University of Texas (McCombs)

Trenton Balcombe

Religious Tech


University of Virginia (McIntire)

David Roselle, Peter Layne

Mobile Applications, Event Management

Sobriety Hub

Washington University (Olin)

Clayton Canfield

Behavioral Health


Wharton School

Aravind Krishnan, Udit Garg, Aarush Sahni, Andrew Diep-Tran

Biotech (Genetic Engineering/Synthetic Biology)


The post The Most Disruptive Business School Startups Of 2022 appeared first on Poets&Quants.


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