NYU announces new entrepreneurship “eLab” to bring the university together



This weekend NYU students and alumni are trekking to Greenwich Village from near and far to attend the third annual NYU Entrepreneurs Festival. This two-day event brings together hopeful entrepreneurial minds with older, more-vetted business people, all of whom are at least tangentially affiliated with the Manhattan empire that is known as New York University.

This morning, to kick off the event the University announced a new addition its hallowed hallways: a lab dedicated solely to entrepreneurship dubbed the Mark and Debra Leslie eLab. The building is slated to open next fall.

Frank Rimalovski, managing director of NYU’s Innovation Venture Fund, says this eLab will be the go-to place for any student with questions about entrepreneurship: “Where do I go to learn about entrepreneurship? Where do I meet my cofounder? Who can I talk?” Rimalovski said. It will also be filled with amenities every student wants: a fabrication lab as well as bountiful and free coffee and ramen.

While Rimalovski wouldn’t put a price on the building, he said it was “a major gift from Mark and Debra Leslie.” Mark Leslie is an alumnus of NYU, who is also a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

In some ways it is similar to the many incubators NYU has put into place. But instead of providing physical and financial support to help new businesses, this is more of a springboard. Like half college dorm half incubator, I suppose. Other schools, like MIT, have similar spaces, although Rimalovski — being the man behind the building — begged to differ.

Instead, he sees it as another way to bridge NYU communities. The enormous school is fissured and fragmented both geographically and organizationally. Rimalovski has been trying to to bridge nearly 40,000 students (both undergrad and post-grad) in nearly 20 separate colleges. Entrepreneurship, in his estimation, is one of the great tying binds for nearly every program, save, perhaps for its Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. He points out that 14 separate NYU schools were represented at this weekend’s event.

While the eLab may or may not solve this problem, at least a student can come in for his fix of free ramen. And what could be more emblematic of entrepreneurial life than that?