Fifteen undergraduate students at Duke University have been selected as 2015 Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs.
Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs is Duke’s premiere undergraduate entrepreneurship program. Students have been selected through a rigorous application process to be part of a cohort that will receive individualized teaching and coaching starting in spring 2015 and lasting throughout the year. The program gives students the personalized support they need — including workshops, mentors, a summer stipend, and a personal connection with Melissa and Doug Bernstein and dozens of other successful alumni entrepreneurs – to turn their creative ideas into promising ventures. The program was launched last year with a generous gift from Melissa T’87 and Doug Bernstein and falls under the auspices of the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative.
Melissa expressed her enthusiasm for this year’s cohort of students. “We are so excited to be working with these incredibly talented students. To be part of the team that helps young Duke entrepreneurs develop, refine, fail, and prevail with their promising ventures has been such a rewarding experience for Doug and me. We can’t wait to see what will unfold with this new group of students and their startups.”
The 2015 student entrepreneurs are working on ventures that range from pioneering wearable tech to a grocery delivery service in Kenya to an innovative magnetic product for the home, and more. The students kicked off this year’s program with a trip to New York City for networking with alumni entrepreneurs and a visit to Melissa & Doug headquarters where they met with Melissa and Doug to discuss their ventures. In the fall, students will participate in a Demo Day where they will present their startups.
The fifteen selected students are:
- Ibanca Anand ’17, Economics and Literature
- Andrew Buie ’17, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science
- Daniel Chander ’16, Economics
- Ivonna Dumanyan ’16, Mechanical Engineering
- Alex Elsea ’17, Economics
- Stephanie Engle ’16, Public Policy and I&E
- Raffi Garnighian ’15, Economics
- Suhani Jalota ’16, Economics and Global Health
- Kasper Kubica ’17, Physics and Computer Science
- Adhar Maheshwari ’17, Visual and Media Studies
- Michael Mann ’17, Visual and Media Studies
- Logan Rooper ’17, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science
- Tapiwa Sondayi ’17, Public Policy Studies and Political Science
- Henry Yan ’17, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science
- Jeremy Zhang ’17, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Economics
About Melissa and Doug Bernstein
Melissa Bernstein graduated from Duke in 1987. After a stint at Morgan Stanley, she and her husband (then boyfriend), Doug, founded a company that sold children’s educational videotapes. That company has evolved into the toy company, now known as Melissa & Doug, with over 2,000 different toys and 200 new items each year! Melissa is passionate about helping students think differently about their ability to shape their future through entrepreneurship.
Doug Bernstein attended the University of Connecticut, where he was president of the student government, and graduated in 1985. In 1988, he co-founded Melissa & Doug, and together they continue to run the company.
About Duke I&E
The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative brings to life and deepens Duke’s enduring theme of Knowledge in the Service of Society. The Initiative helps members of the entire Duke family – faculty, students, staff, alumni and others – use ideas from all fields and disciplines to positively and tangibly impact our society. The Initiative provides the tools and resources – both tangible and intellectual – to enable entrepreneurs to use the fundamental knowledge that grows at the University to better the lives of those around us.
For more information about the Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurs, contact:
Managing Director for Student and Alumni Affairs
Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative
For more information on Melissa & Doug Entreprenerus: