All Zicklin News

Zicklin Undergrads Win $1,000 Each for Startup Ideas

February 6, 2023

Three undergraduate students in the Zicklin School — Jack Kasindorf (BBA, ’24), Lily Lo (BBA, ’23), and Kristov McKinnon (BBA, ’23)—have each won $1,000 in the preliminary round of the Blackstone LaunchPad Ideas Competition, a nationwide contest that encourages entrepreneurship among college students.  

The winners were chosen from among over 40 entries this year, said Chris Meyer, a lecturer in the Narendra Paul Loomba Department of Management and the Baruch campus director for Blackstone LaunchPad.  

Jack Kasindorf, an entrepreneurship major, won in the social impact category for Djembe Joy, a program that offers music therapy via drum circles for young people with special needs. He was inspired by a summer he spent as a teenager playing music with a younger boy with developmental disabilities, whom he saw transformed by the experience. “My greatest passion is music, but I’ve always had a desire to help others and I also have a business mind,” Jack says. For the next phase of Djembe Joy, he hopes to partner with local organizations, musicians, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to spread the organization to the New York City community on a large scale.

Lily Lo, who is also majoring in entrepreneurship, won in the consumer goods category for Mugu Vintage, an e-commerce site that she launched last summer after being frustrated by her poor user experience shopping for secondhand luxury goods. “The idea is to make vintage designer shopping easy, sustainable, and safe,” she explains. Mugu Vintage professionally cleans and refurbishes its products, and also provides proof that they aren’t knockoffs. There’s an environmental gain as well: “Buying secondhand items reduces textile waste and saves money,” Lily adds. Since launching the site last July, she has already generated $36,000 in profit, without spending one dime on promotion. Lily also won a fellowship in a previous Blackstone LaunchPad contest, which gave her access to training and seed money that helped with the launch of Mugu Vintage.

Kristov McKinnon, a marketing major, won in the health and life science category for Mattress Evolved, a mattress specially designed to correct posture problems while its user is asleep; its main feature is a built-in pillow that aligns the sleeper’s head, neck, and shoulders. Kristov was inspired by observing how excessive laptop and cell phone use encouraged poor posture habits among his young cousins—a phenomenon he also links to the back problems suffered by older family members like his father and grandfather. “Sleep is healing,” Kristov says, “but a lot of people don’t know that how they sleep can contribute to their posture problems.” For Mattress Evolved’s next phase, he plans to develop and test a prototype.

The three students, along with a fourth finalist from the Weissman School, have now entered the national phase of the Blackstone LaunchPad competition, in which the top prize is $10,000. Winners will be announced sometime later this year. 

Categories: , ,