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Alison Ewing

Alison Ewing 10 joined Entrepreneurship@Cornells internship program, spending a summer with reading software company Sound Reading Solutions, creating marketing materials and leading the company into the world of social media. See larger image

Nurturing big ideas, continued

But for Meryl Gabeler '10 it was her mother, Cary, who first influenced her. The two have always enjoyed getting together to dream up business ideas. "When I was younger, I had car washes and ran smoothie stands in my driveway," Meryl Gabeler says of her entrepreneurial roots. "My mom had a childrenswear manufacturing company, and I remember her toting us around to factories in Brooklyn."

The pair's latest venture is in India, making delicate soaps combining the benefits of Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine that uses natural herbs and medicines, with exotic fragrances. To develop their product line, the Gabelers opened up their cupboards and started mixing spices, herbs and teas to find scents.

Started in March 2009, the company's products are now in 30 stores around the New York City metro area and are available on the Web at

To help her grow her business, Meryl Gabeler took several entrepreneurship classes, met with entrepreneurial alumni who spoke on campus and applied to be a member of eLab, where she connected with other student business owners and met alumni who helped her solve business problems.

"Since it's lonely being an entrepreneur, it's nice to get out of your world and connect with other students," she says. "There's a positive and contagious energy there."

From soaps to high tech, Bryant Guffey's product could easily be mistaken for an iPod, although people who wear it aren't listening to the latest Lady Gaga song -- they're getting a dose of ultrasound pain therapy.

Pull quote: Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking, of planning for the future and taking responsibility for oneself.  David BenDaniel, the Don and Margi Berens Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Johnson School

Not to be confused with ultrasound imaging, Guffey's product is a power-packed miniature ultrasound therapy device that can help ease arthritis pain for elderly patients or relieve the sore muscles of middle-aged weekend warriors, all with the ease of applying a bandage.

Guffey, MBA '10, co-founded his company with Cornell Ph.D. student George Lewis Jr., who developed the process to shrink powerful ultrasound devices so that patients can receive therapy at home or on the road. The two licensed the technology from Cornell and will be applying for Food and Drug Administration approval of the device.

Solving social problems

A new generation of student entrepreneurs is also gaining ground on campus, students who have a desire to create an enterprise -- many non-profit -- to address a pressing social need.

"Social entrepreneurs see the possibilities where others don't," says Anke Wessels, executive director of the Center for Transformative Action. Wessels began a new course in fall 2008 called Social Entrepreneurs, Problem Solvers and Innovators, which requires students to create a viable project to address a critical social issue.

Sheridan Reiger '10, discovered his social entrepreneurship venture during a volunteer trip to Honduras where he worked as an EMT in a rural clinic. Now he's the founder of the NGO Salud Juntos which empowers Honduran communities through the development of sustainable health systems and health education. Reiger has been one of many students honored by Cornell and the Ashoka Foundation as "campus changemakers" during twice-yearly events on campus.

Another student working with developing countries is Lauren Braun '11, who has applied for a patent for a device that helps mothers remember their children's vaccination appointments. Braun developed the idea after working for a Peruvian medical clinic during the summer of 2009.

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