Like any good tournament, there were upsets, nail biters and double-digit victories. But now, after four rounds of voting, we have a Readers’ Choice winner in Inc.’s 2016 16 Coolest College Startups competition: Ephemeral.

Founded in 2014 by a team of New York University students, Ephemeral is developing a unique tattoo ink that gives consumers the option to safely, easily and effectively remove unwanted body art. The startup, which expects to have a finalized product within 12 to 18 months, was founded by Joshua Sakhai, 19; Seung Shin, 22; Anthony Lam, 22; Vandan Shah, 27; and Brennal Pierre, 34. It has already won other competitions, including an NYU Stern competition that earned it $75,000.

In addition to lifetime bragging rights, Ephemeral wins two free tickets to Inc.'s 2016 GrowCo conference in Las Vegas in May.

Thanks to all who voted in this year's Coolest College Startups competition.


Inc.'s 2016 March Madness tournament will include four rounds of voting.

  • Round 1: Tuesday March 15 to Friday March 18, with 8 match-ups from which you’ll pick four favorites.
  • Round 2: Monday March 21 to Friday March 25, with 4 match-ups.
  • Round 3: Monday March 28 to Friday April 1, with 2 match-ups.
  • Championship Round: Monday April 4, with the final 2 startups.

Winner announced: Tuesday April 5.


Inc.'s 16 Coolest College Startups were selected from a list of more than 100 companies from universities across North America, most nominated by schools and collegiate entrepreneurs organization. Criteria included originality of idea, pitch, and growth potential.