Duke Undergraduate Entrepreneurs Win Inaugural $10,000 Borchardt Prize
Durham, NC – Three undergraduate entrepreneurs from the Duke graduating Class of 2014 have been awarded the inaugural Frank Borchardt Undergraduate Prize, endowed by Duke alumnus and serial entrepreneur David Cummings (Trinity ’02). The prize awards $10,000 in grant money to an undergraduate team to kickstart their venture which applies recent advances in machine learning algorithms to problems in the recycling and manufacturing industries, with a focus on solving problems and boosting productivity for local North Carolina business owners.
The three awardees are computer science major Fabio Berger (Trinity ’14), electrical and computer engineering and computer science double major Alex Browne (Pratt ’14) and mechanical engineering major Soroush Pour (Pratt ’14).
During their time as undergraduates, the trio worked on a number of companies. Fabio is the co-founder of ShelfRelief.com, an online textbook marketplace for students. Fabio and Soroush took a leave of absence in their junior year to work full-time on another venture, WealthLift.com, a financial education platform for beginning investors to develop essential financial skills, which they sold in December 2013. The pair have also worked on numerous web and mobile applications since then, including a mobile SDK for iPhone developers to integrate live chat customer support into their mobile apps. Alex is the founder of CrowdCourse, an online platform for collaborative instruction of academic courses, as well as Turnout, which provided automatic algorithmic customer targeting and segmentation for e-commerce companies.
All three were part of Duke’s Summer Innovation Program Incubator Track in Silicon Valley in Summer 2013, in which students have an opportunity to work on their companies while receiving mentoring from Duke alumni entrepreneurs and visiting technology companies in Silicon Valley.
David endowed the Frank Borchardt Undergraduate Prize Fund in 2013 to honor the original $20,000 investment that Professor Borchardt made in his own company when he was a Duke student.
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, David Cummings earned his bachelor of science degree in economics from Duke University. David has been an entrepreneur since college. In 2001, David founded Hannon Hill, which was recognized as the 247th fastest growing company in the U.S. by Inc. magazine as part of the Inc. 500 awards. In early 2007, David co-founded Pardot, which was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as the fastest growing technology company in 2010. Pardot was named to the Inc. 500 in 2012 coming in at number 172, and shortly thereafter Pardot was acquired by ExactTarget in one of the largest SaaS acquisitions ever of a bootstrapped company. David was subsequently named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner in the deal category. Most recently, David founded the Atlanta Tech Village, which at 103,000 sq. ft is the largest technology entrepreneur center in the Southeast.