Wayfair Cornell

Indian American entrepreneur Niraj Shah (pictured) and Steve Conine, co-founders of Wayfair, were recently recognized by Cornell University as the 2018 Entrepreneurs of the Year. (photo provided)

Cornell University’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell recently announced that Wayfair chairmen and co-founders and Cornell graduates Niraj Shah and Steve Conine have been named 2018 Cornell Entrepreneurs of the Year.

The Wayfair founders, both graduates in 1995, will be honored at an Entrepreneurship at Cornell conference April 19 and April 20 in Ithaca, N.Y.

The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually by Entrepreneurship at Cornell to Cornellians who exemplify entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards, it said.

“Steve and Niraj have worked together through many ventures, with Wayfair being the largest to date. It is wonderful to see two founders who literally met at Cornell advance their business and technology interests so productively,” Entrepreneurship at Cornell director Zach Shulman said in a statement.

Shah and Conine co-founded Wayfair in 2002 and rapidly grew the business to become the largest online retailer of home furnishings, housewares and home improvement goods in the U.S., the Cornell report said.

The company has extensive operations in the U.S. and Europe and employs more than 6,800 people.

Shah, an Indian American entrepreneur, told India-West in a 2016 article that his hope is to turn Wayfair into the pre-eminent brand in home (see India-West article here).

Both graduates of the College of Engineering, Shah and Conine partnered in several successful ventures before founding Wayfair, including co-founding Simplify Mobile and Spinners, an IT services firm that was sold to global technology consulting firm iXL in 1998.

Shah, who served as chief executive officer of Simplify Mobile and of Spinners and as chief operating officer of iXL, also was entrepreneur-in-residence at Greylock Partners. He is on the board of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, his bio noted.

Conine served as chief technology officer of Simplify Mobile and as a top executive of Spinners. He also was COO for the London office of iXL. Conine leads development of the architecting and software systems at Wayfair.

Entrepreneurship at Cornell is a university-wide program supported by every school and college with a dedicated core of faculty, staff and alumni.

Undergraduate and graduate students benefit from studying and working in Cornell’s programmatic, research and clinical environments to develop technical, business and leadership skills that position them for success in entrepreneurial endeavors, the news release said.

With its broad array of programs and services, Entrepreneurship at Cornell is the gateway to everything entrepreneurial at Cornell University, it said.

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