B-Lab 2024: Student entrepreneurs design innovative solutions for personal wellness, sustainability and more

Over the course of an eight-week summer accelerator focused on personal and commercial development, the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship’s Breakthrough Lab is supporting student entrepreneurs develop 11 different ventures.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – Founded in 2015, Breakthrough Lab, a venture accelerator organized by Brown’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, brings together a uniquely creative community, demonstrated by their pioneering ventures.

This year’s 11 ventures reflect the diverse backgrounds of their founders and their common desire to solve big problems. Some ventures are developing new technologies, from prosthetics to smoothie machines, while others are utilizing technology to improve physical and mental health or developing platforms to promote inclusive fashion.

And they’re being led by someone with a deep understanding of the Brown experience: Alexis Alston, a Brown alumna who earned a degree in business, entrepreneurship and organizations in 2017, who this year took up the post of director of Breakthrough Lab — also known as B-Lab —  and draws inspiration from her own academic experience on College Hill.

“I have a deep, deep love of Brunonia,” Alston said. “… I swore that once I graduated, if I could come back and give other people a better Brown experience, I was going to do that.”

Students brainstorm around a table
B-Lab Director Alexis Alston (right) consults with Otto founders and recent graduates Renny Jiang (left) and Matan Gans.

During B-Lab, students pursuing a wide range of concentrations, from mechanical engineering and biology to English, are joined by a handful of graduate students, recent Brown graduates, and peers from the Rhode Island School of Design. Together, they participate in an eight-week program where they have the opportunity to learn from successful entrepreneurs and from each other.

Alston said this year’s cohort of 24 current students and recent graduates is particularly attuned to each other and display a level of camaraderie that is notable, even for B-Lab. 

“The amount of peer learning that happens is very natural and beautiful,” she said. “So everyone knows what everyone's skill sets are, and they work with each other a lot.”

Underpinned by a commitment to personalized mentorship, B-Lab draws on Brown’s vast alumni network to connect current participants with business leaders who provide unique insight into the process of taking an idea and transforming it into a robust enterprise, Alston said. Plus, each undergraduate participant receives a $4,000 award, which allows them to focus full-time on developing their venture.

But what sets B-Lab apart from other venture accelerators are the participants themselves.

“They like solving big problems," Alston said. "It’s not just about, ‘What random thing can I make that’s to be a billion dollar business?’ The root of what they’re doing is solving big problems, and that looks different for everyone.”

As the cohort continues to hone their skills this summer, here is a brief look at their various ventures, in their own words.

Althia Prosthetics

Christian Labrador, Class of 2024
Mechanical engineering

Joseph Dewan, Class of 2024
Mechanical engineering

Over 600,000 below-the-knee prosthetic users in the U.S. use an uncomfortable prosthetic socket. An uncomfortable and poor-fitting prosthetic socket can lead to pain, rashes, and even infection, causing more trips to the hospital. Part of the reason why this is the case is because an amputee’s residual limb (the part that fits into the socket) fluctuates in volume throughout the day. The majority of current sockets are rigid, with a few adjustable options which are tedious for the user. Althia Prosthetics aims to solve this issue by creating an automatically adjustable prosthetic to create a better fit for prosthetic leg users.


Abhinav Tripathi, Class of 2025
Applied mathematics and economics

Arman Mohammadi, Class of 2025
Computer science

Chayathorn Kulthonchalanan, Class of 2024
Computer science and economics

Bonsai is a smoothie machine company that helps gym-goers and athletes achieve their nutritional goals while providing fitness centers an additional source of revenue. As a user, whether you are trying to gain weight, lose weight or train for a sport, you can customize a smoothie just right for you. The fitness industry is just the start, we see this applicable as a healthy, convenient breakfast option for all sorts of settings such as airports, train stations, offices, schools and more.

Dani King

Danielle King, Class of 2025
Economics and entrepreneurship

Dani King is a plus-size women’s shoe company looking to create high-quality, comfortable, and fashion-forward shoes in sizes 9-15. Women with larger feet have been overlooked in the fashion industry, and it’s time for change. Dani King’s shoes are designed specifically for larger feet with increased arch support, reinforced heels, wider toe boxes and varying widths. Dani King is a space where large women can shop with peace of mind, knowing they can find styles they love in their size.


Gene Oh, Class of 2024
Computer science

Felix Lee, Class of 2026
Applied mathematics, computer science, and public health

DAYGUARD is a tasty, convenient and affordable hangover remedy in the form of a jelly stick, designed to alleviate hangover symptoms and promote liver health. These jelly sticks have become immensely popular in South Korea in the last three years, and we plan to be the first to bring them to the American market at scale. Whether you’re savoring a single glass or embarking on a night-long adventure, DAYGUARD will protect your tomorrow. Our jellies are packed with electrolytes and herbal ingredients that are game-changers in the fight against hangovers. Improved immunity, hydration and liver detoxification have never been easier and tastier.


Rongyu Na, Class of 2024
Master of arts in design engineering

Myung Bender, Class of 2024
Master of arts in design engineering

EcoForge develops local, sustainable building materials from agricultural residues and plants while supporting local communities.


Pengye Yang, Class of 2024
Master of arts in design engineering

Liming Chen, Class of 2024
Master of arts in design engineering

Xinyue Wang, Class of 2024
Master of arts in design engineering

Our venture is a gamified self-care application that combines mixed- and virtual-reality technologies, designed for Generation Z individuals facing academic and workplace stress. By incorporating a virtual pet system, we have created an immersive experience and interactive AI dialogue. Our application not only helps users relax and de-stress but also sparks their interest in self-improvement and emotional management through gamified elements.


Natalie Chernysh, Class of 2024

Katelynn Park, Class of 2026

Christina Wang, Class of 2026
RISD, Industrial design

At MAP4HER, we streamline health management for college-aged women by removing the guesswork from health-related decisions. Our app guides you in scheduling health routines, establishing lifelong habits, and overseeing your physical, mental and reproductive health — all in one convenient place. We’re here to make staying healthy simple and empowering, helping you thrive every day.

No Empty Seats

Michael OuYang, Class of 2026
Public health

No Empty Seats (NES) is a student-led mental health initiative dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and bringing an end to suicide. This summer we plan on expanding NES through our clothing brand, college videos promoting mental health, diverse collaborations and vulnerable shared stories. We acknowledge how crucial it is to speak up about mental health, and we believe that NES is a perfect way to help our peers internalize that it is okay not to be okay.


Renny Jiang, Class of 2024
English, gender and sexuality studies

Matan Gans, Class of 2022
Master of science in computer science

Otto is redefining workplace culture by facilitating knowledge-sharing within and across teams. We help companies learn better to build faster.

Shared User Community eXperience

Yanmi Yu, Class of 2026
Applied mathematics and computer science

Bruce Xie, Class of 2025
RISD, Industrial design

Shared Using Community eXperience offers convenient, low-cost rentals of tech devices like vacuum robots at local sharing stations. Our service promotes sustainability and affordability, enabling users to access technology without the drawbacks and inconvenience of owning. Join us in embracing a smarter, easier and greener lifestyle.

Women to Women

Fatima Rezaie, Class of 2024
Master of public affairs

Khadija Nazari, Class of 2025
International and public affairs

Gulshah Nazari, Class of 2026
Central South University

Women to Women is a beacon of cultural fusion and empowerment, intertwining traditional Afghan craftsmanship with contemporary fashion sensibilities. Our garments are not just attire; they are a testament to innovation and creativity in the fashion realm. With each purchase, you not only adorn yourself in elegance but also uplift Afghan women artisans financially, ensuring their skills are celebrated and sustained. Furthermore, your support fuels initiatives dedicated to enhancing the lives of Afghan women, fostering a brighter future for generations to come.