Combplex, a niche startup founded by Hailey Scofield (PhD '20) and Nathan Oakes (PhD '20), introduces an unprecedented level of organization into the commercial pollination operations of honey beekeepers. Previously developing their concept in the Rev Hardware Accelerator in Ithaca, Hailey and Nathan were equipped with the skills to communicate with fellow scientists but sought a means to reach an audience of entrepreneurs and non-scientists. Intrigued by questions such as “is there a market [for a hive management product]?” and “is there a problem?”, the co-founders were drawn to eLab.
Through their company, Hailey and Nathan produce remote sensors that are embedded in hives and analyze data pertaining to the health of bee colonies. Those statistics are then transmitted to beekeepers in real time. Winning first prize in the 2017 eLab Pitch Competition, Combplex started as a collaboration between the two Cornell graduate students and grew into a synergistic venture, combining Hailey’s research experience in honey bee behavior and Nathan’s background in electrical and computer engineering.
Empowered by the direction offered by eLab, which Hailey credits for bridging the gap between science and business, Combplex ultimately aims to “facilitate non-hostile agricultural environments.” Specifically, Hailey points to the structured customer delivery process, through which the co-founders were encouraged to cold-call beekeepers and report their findings, as a distinct benefit that “yielded a tremendous amount of information not found elsewhere.” In the future, Hailey and Nathan hope to condense a currently obscure pollination market, introduce transparency, financially incentivize efficient pollination, and reduce skepticism against bees.
Combplex was named Student Business of the Year during the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Celebration this April. Selected from a competitive group of 13 start-ups, Combplex received $5,000 to improve and expand its business. Learn more about Combplex by visiting their website here.