NYU Tandon students relieve the pain points of the car-buying process at the Forbes Idea Incubator

Forbes Idea Incubator on Zoom

For the fifth year in a row, NYU Tandon’s women students had the chance to develop solutions to critical gender-related issues facing the automotive and transportation sectors at the Forbes Idea Incubator, an event held in partnership with Audi of America. This year’s challenge tackled the pain points women can face during their car-buying experience, from a hesitation to negotiate price to false assumptions about their level of automotive knowledge. Those pain points are very real: In one recent study, car dealers quoted higher prices to a test group of women than to a similar group of men–even when those women came to the dealership armed with the same information as the men, and followed the same “script.”

Dean Jelena Kovačević affirmed that any woman who has ever walked into a dealership has probably experienced bias of some sort and drew the participants’ attention to one of Audi’s mottos: “Progress is for everyone.” “It’s a powerful and important message, and I feel confident in saying that Audi was not merely paying lip service to the idea of gender equality,” the dean said. “Their sponsorship of this wonderful event for the last several years is ample proof.”


The teams included: 

  • “Genderate,” a platform that collects lead data from dealerships, transfers it to the cloud, and uses an algorithm to detect gender bias; if indicated, dealers are offered either self-directed or in-person sensitivity training. (Members: Nishat Kabita, Kaitlin Cohen, Sreeja Ghose, Tammy Li, Sue Purohit, and Raihana Sultana.)
  • “InCarnito,” a platform that allows for anonymous shopping and negotiations. (Members, Dorothy Akpovwa, Anastasia Bortsvadze, Kayla Krieger, Shrudhii Kundu, and Cree Manning.)
  • “Helping Hand,” a browser extension that uses web-scraping techniques to create an integrated knowledge hub that allows for comparison shopping and networking with others in the car-buying community. (Members: Tasmia Anika, Caroline Barker, Vidya Gopalakrishna, Nia Asemota, and Yiqing Guo.)
  •  “CareMotive,” which employs a kiosk system to compare models and plan a test drive. (Members: Niharika Narendra, Aziza Kurbonova, Sarah Lamond, Regina Fumero Baharet, Shimun Naher, and Samantha Rathe.)
  • “MetaCar,” which aims to provide an unbiased and unique web experience to users based on their personal profiles. (Members: Kaniz Fatima, Rachel Ombok, Melody Yap, Senthia Ahmed, and Melia Walker.)


Although the judges had an admittedly tough job, they remained enthusiastic. Associate Professor of Technology Management and Innovation Michael Driscoll said, “Judging the event is an honor and one of the highlights of my time at Tandon. It’s awesome to see the innovative projects our female students developed as potential solutions to eliminate the bias female consumers experience in their car purchasing process.”

When the grueling process was over, Team Genderate had garnered first prize and Team InCarnito took second. 

Computer Engineering major Nishat Kabita, of Genderate, was happy to participate in a woman-focused arena. “Having something planned just for us adds a level of comfort you might not get at other events,” she said, “and it was great to work on an issue that could directly impact us.”

In their remarks, NYU Tandon Veterans Future Lab Director Alexa Modero, who served as a judge, and Assistant Dean for Opportunity Programs and Chief Inclusivity Officer Nicole Johnson, who helped organize the event, both expressed pride in Genderate’s far-reaching vision. “The students involved were so thoughtful in their business ideas. You could tell that they really took the time to understand the problem they were solving and present innovative solutions that were not only creative but realistic,” Modero said. “I was impressed by how the winning group was able to look at the problem from all perspectives and included the car dealership as part of the solution to the problem, not just the woman customer.” Johnson concurred, asserting: “Once again I was amazed by the solutions developed by our student teams. Each was creative and innovative in their approach and I know they made it particularly difficult on the judges this year. I loved that the winning team, Genderate, addressed the issue from a more systemic perspective, understanding that as a society we oftentimes have to dismantle the structures in place that perpetuate bias in order to effect long-term transformative change.”

Judges were also impressed by the feasibility and inclusivity of InCarnito’s anonymity-preserving platform. “We tried to ensure that our solution would benefit not only women, but anyone who might benefit from avoiding an in-person dealership visit, such as those with social anxieties or physical disabilities,” team member Anastasia Bortsvadze explained. Her teammate Shrudhii Kundu had taken part in last year’s Idea Incubator, when the challenge involved how best to promote the use of electric vehicles among female consumers, and had helped develop a social media platform aimed at educating environmentally conscious young drivers and giving them personalized recommendations. “If Forbes and Audi sponsor the Idea Incubator again next year, there’s no question I would participate for a third time,” she said. “I love that we have a fully woman-focused initiative that challenges us to find solutions for other women.”

The event would not have been such a rousing success without the support of:

  • Moira Forbes, President and Publisher of ForbesWomen and Executive Vice President of Forbes
  • Maggie McGrath, Editor of ForbesWomen
  • Mirjam Abel, VP of Digital Business at Audi of America and Audi Canada
  • NYU Alumnae Mentors Krishitha Raghuraman, Priya Soni, and Aida Mehovic: 

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