Participant diversity at NYU entrepreneurs challenge


This article was originally published on Forbes on 10/01/2012.

When the start-up instructor  Bob Dorf asked the participants at the Sunday’s entrepreneur boot camp: “who feels bad for the other participants because you know you will win the $200K capital?” Dasha Snyder was the only one that raised her hand, almost instantly, with passion and confidence.

Snyder, a NYU graduate student, has been working on, which intends to connect LGBTQ people and provide them with resources in real time and space.

Snyder argues that there are plenty of resources for the LGBTQ community, but they are only useful when people can find them.

“The biggest challenge is to create a database, a centralized database for queer resources,” Snyder said, “People should see the existence of resources, such as gay centers, suicide prevention hotlines and homeless queer youth shelters, and be able to access them in real time. I think it’s valuable.”

Part of the LGBTQ community herself, Dasha thinks her project has great social values. She says that it is important for people like herself to know the existence of networking and information out there. “Then people wont feel alone. They will feel good and powerful,”  Snyder said.

Dasha Snyder, founder of, shows the features of the website on her mobile phone during lunch at the Sunday's boot camp. Photo by Yue Jiang.

Dasha Snyder, founder of, shows the features of the website on her mobile phone during lunch at the Sunday’s boot camp. Photo by Yue Jiang. currently is in the form of a representative prototype and holds potential resources of subjects such as education, healthcare, networking, suicide prevention, etc.

Another feature that is yet to develop is a texting service. People can send text messages to a number provided on, and will be replied with relevant resources in the community.

Also has been working on a resource website is Xiang Zhou, a database manager at the NYU School of Medicine.  Zhou plans to name the website, which would provide personalized meal plans.

Farther of a two-year-old son, Zhou finds it dreadful and difficult trying to cook different and nutritious meals everyday for the whole family. Zhou came up with the idea of creating a website that would do the planning for you.

People can input criteria such as their budget, how often the grocery shopping, desirable nutrition intake, size of the family, location, etc. Then the website will generate a personalized plan including the types and amount of groceries to get, where to get them and detailed recipes.

The next step for Zhou is to develop potential customers, which is one of the biggest take-aways at the Sunday’s boot camp. Zhou plans to interview potential customers and try to get constant feedback.

Snyder and Zhou are only two examples of the diversified crowd at this year’s NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge. People with different ethnicity, background and experience participated at the Sunday’s boot camp, which shows that true entrepreneurship has no borders.


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