News, University News

Kyle Gion GS awarded Slavin Fellowship

Slavin Fellowship awards $2,500, network with entrepreneurs, provides startup support

Staff Writer
Monday, November 13, 2017

Kyle Gion GS, a master’s of science candidate in biochemical and chemical engineering, was announced as one of five new Slavin Fellowship awardees yesterday. Gion joins a group of 14 fellows chosen for their talent, drive and desire to create positive change in the world as student-entrepreneurs, according to the Slavin Fellowship website.

Along with a $2,500 scholarship, the Slavin Fellowship connects the fellows to a network of entrepreneurs. Slavin Fellows receive support and mentorship from Nick Slavin, founder of the fellowship, and the Slavin Family Foundation’s broader network of entrepreneurs, investors, academics and other leaders, according to the fellowship’s website. They also earn a place among what has become a tight-knit group of Slavin Fellows, multiple fellows told The Herald.

Since the Slavin Fellowship program began in October 2015, it has awarded Fellowships to 14 student-entrepreneurs, including four Brown community members: Matthew DiMarcantonio ’18, Aaron Mayer ’18, Max Song ’14 and Gion.

Entrepreneur Nick Slavin founded the fellowship as a means to help students “navigate a path in the real world,” Slavin said. “What fellows get is a commitment from me that I sincerely care about their success and will respond to their requests.”

Slavin has advised, founded and invested in startups in multiple fields including medicine, virtual reality, energy and education. Slavin said he is dedicated to help college entrepreneurs because he knows “how much is at stake” when starting a company.

Gion learned about the Slavin Fellowship when Slavin visited the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship for a discussion about his career. Upon meeting Gion in Boston, who said he had little interest in entrepreneurship before this year, Slavin encouraged Gion to apply to his fellowship.

Gion remembered thinking “entrepreneurship sounds interesting, but not something I see myself getting in to” before this semester, he said.

Gion will develop a startup related to health care communications currently in its initial stages and continue to expand the venture as a Slavin Fellow. But the award went beyond Slavin’s appreciation for Gion’s idea. Slavin said that he saw in Gion “an unstoppability and determination that you see in the best founders,” citing Gion’s national records in free diving as evidence he is able to set a goal and see it through.

This dialogue with other fellows, entrepreneurs and Slavin himself was the “biggest draw” to the fellowship, Gion said. “If you go down the list of mentors associated (with the fellowship), everyone is incredibly accomplished and successful,” Gion said. When it comes to startups, “everyone thinks of great ideas. It comes down to the execution and part of that execution is having a great network of people with applicable experience to help guide you.”

Aaron Mayer ’18 agreed that the network is the most valuable part of the fellowship. Mayer has joined forces with fellow Slavin fellow Alex Patin, a student at Penn, for his startup.

“Alex and I (have started) on a project … called Action Auctions, where people donate as much or as little as they want to a pot, and whoever donates the most amount of money wins half the total amount raised. The other half of the pot goes to charity.” More often than not, the winner ends up donating their half of the money raised to the charity, Mayer said.

“At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is somewhat a solitary journey amongst you and your co-founders,” said DiMarcantonio. The Slavin Fellowship creates a sense of camaraderie and a network of like-minded forward-thinkers who can share and discuss ideas and projects with one another, he said.

“The long-term vision of the Slavin Fellowship is ambitious — for our work to change the trajectory of humankind dramatically for the better,” Slavin said.

Slavin is always looking to continue supporting the fellows in his program. “The fellowship is like a startup, always evolving. We’re always thinking about how the program can become more valuable to new and past fellows.”