When George Liu CC’17 couldn’t find a business accelerator on campus that would connect student entrepreneurs to the broader New York City community, he created one.
Liu, an economics major from Los Angeles, launched the Almaworks Startup Accelerator during his junior year. Since then, 18 student-run startups have graduated from the accelerator, raising a combined $7 million in seed funding.
Still actively involved in the venture through a role on the advisory board, Liu was able to entice companies like HubSpot, Genius and Teachable to lend their expertise to the fledgling companies.
After graduating, Liu will transfer those entrepreneurial skills to his own enterprise: Palette, a web app that allows marketing teams to work with engineers, product managers, designers and others on marketing experiments that he created with Alan Gou SEAS’17. They will be starting their business with $25,000 from the Columbia Venture Competition’s Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College, which they won in April 2017.
“Things like whether a background image is better than no background image, these are all marketing experiments that need to be tested, so we’re that one platform to plan all of that,” he said.
Liu was named a Core Scholar in 2015, after submitting a 3D printed sculptural reproduction that represented Plato’s theory of forms and his ideas on the relationship between the mind and the body. He also got a behind-the-scenes look at how the Core Curriculum works as a member of the Committee on the Core. He said he was “really honored” to have a say in which professors were selected to receive the Preceptor Teaching Award, a role he held through the committee.
“Just being able to give back in some way, shape or form to the Core has been such a huge experience,” he said.
In His Own Words
“One part of my experience here is just being able to interact with such a group of talented people. These are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and we’re all together on this campus for four years. Being able to bond with them over common interests and do cool things like start a student-run accelerator, I think that’s an invaluable opportunity that Columbia provided. The other part is more on the academic side: I really enjoyed the Core, and it forced me to really broaden my horizons. Just being able to sit together with people from different walks of life in Contemporary Civilization and discuss a lot of the deep philosophical questions, that really was a good educational experience.” —George Liu CC’17
Corinne Lestch SOA’18 is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has worked for the New York Daily News, where she received a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and is currently getting her M.F.A. in creative writing at Columbia's School of the Arts. She received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University in 2010.