"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, December 22, 2014

23. Niraj Shah

Boston, Massachusetts · Engineering

Twitter: twitter.com/nshah10

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I live in Boston with my family (we have two kids, ages 10 and 8) and am one of the co-founders of Wayfair, which is a leading online retailer of home goods. I have been in Boston for about 20 years now and I now think of it as home!

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

The most useful class was the Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise class taught by Professor David BenDaniel in the Johnson School. The reason for this is that it led to Steve Conine and myself starting our first company together right after graduation in 1995. That company, Spinners, was based on the business plan which we wrote for that class as our class project.

Which Cornell classmates do you keep in touch with?

I keep in touch with a few but most closely with Steve Conine and Mike O'Hara, both Engineering '95. Steve, Mike and I have worked together for a long time. Steve and I are the co-founders of Wayfair which we started in 2002 and it is the third company we started together.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?

I would encourage that student to take advantage of all that the college offers—all types of classes, meet all types of people, all types of activities. The broad diversity is an amazing thing and I think students may not often take full advantage.