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Brown EP to visit NYC startups

Undergrad trip part of Synapse series

Staff Writer
Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Brown Entrepreneurship Program will offer undergraduates from Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design the opportunity to travel to New York City and meet with various start-up companies as part of its Synapse series from Jan. 21 to 23.

“Synapse New York City is an opportunity for Brown and RISD students to better understand the start-up ecosystem and entrepreneurial ecosystem in New York City,” said Rohan Rastogi ’18, director of special events for Brown EP. “We want to demonstrate that there are industries, markets and communities that are unique to New York City, such as media, fashion, finance and many others.”

Organized entirely by students, the trip aims to include diverse types of start-ups in order to maximize student exposure to various fields. In its fifth year running, this year’s trip will include visits to  successful start-ups such as Ellevest, MongoDB, Buzzfeed and General Catalyst Partners.

“We try to find new firms in different spaces,” Rastogi said. “There’s usually a technical firm, and we try to focus on a media firm, if possible.”

The organizers plan to select 36 student applicants to take on the trip. “We look for the same type of candidate that we look for in our general EP application,” said Jacob Saltzman ’18, co-president of Brown EP. “Someone who is thoughtful, who is curious, who is dedicated to building things and trying to innovate and think about the future and do it in interesting ways.”

Saltzman, who has been involved in Brown EP throughout his time at Brown, had a worthwhile experience on a Synapse trip to New York as a first-year.

“It was really inspiring to be part of a like-minded community of students, who are willing to hop on a train and spend a weekend in a different city,” Saltzman said. “I was able to meet really smart and curious people who I would not have been able to meet otherwise.”

The Synapse series receives funding from the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship,  which is also aiding the program in expanding to new locations. “We have a really strong, seamless relationship with EP and its leaders,” said Executive Director of the Center Daniel Warshay ’87 P’20. “We’re working hard with EP’s leadership to expand Synapse to other cities and even to other countries.”

Warshay, who was a founding trustee of Brown EP, is hoping to work with the club to put together a similar trip to Barcelona in the spring. Saltzman shares this goal and looks to expand to other regions of Europe and even the Middle East, he said.

“Students are eager to learn about entrepreneurial ventures by visiting them and hearing from their founders and alumni who work in them,” Warshay said. “These are really good catalyst programs that introduce — in some cases (to) people who don’t know anything about entrepreneurship — what those environments are like and stimulate interest.”