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Small Victories, big parties: How founder Alex Norocea ’14 is putting ‘Providence on the map’

Norocea reflects on evolution of decade-old, student-founded business

<p>After working on Wall Street for four years, Alex Norocea ’14 decided to quit his job at Barclays and dedicate himself to Small Victories full-time alongside a team of student workers. </p><p></p><p>Courtesy of Samiyra Afife</p>

After working on Wall Street for four years, Alex Norocea ’14 decided to quit his job at Barclays and dedicate himself to Small Victories full-time alongside a team of student workers. 

Courtesy of Samiyra Afife

From a tiny window in the green room above Fête Music Hall, Small Victories founder Alex Norocea ’14 could survey both the DJs performing on stage and a mass of white-clad Brown students dancing the night away. Last Friday night, SV threw “Winter White Out,” a celebration welcoming students back to school after a month-long winter break.

Norocea, who founded Small Victories as a sophomore at Brown nearly ten years ago, donned a tie-dye hoodie and displayed small gemstones on his cheekbones. He spent the night rushing between Fête’s performance rooms and checking in with artists such as Em’s Femmes and Julien Deculus and the Golden Hour backstage.

From throwing parties where first-years can find “their people” to providing a platform for student performers to grow their acts, Norocea said he is motivated by a passion for helping student artists further their careers in entertainment. Currently, SV employs between five and seven students who help organize parties, book artists and promote the brand.

Norocea’s entertainment company has come a long way since its inception at Brown. As a sophomore, Norocea initially created a brand around the parties he threw with his friends in order to give their events more legitimacy. Then, in ENGN 0090: “Management of Industrial and Nonprofit Organizations,” he created a business plan for Small Victories. When he took ENGN 1010: “The Entrepreneurial Process,” the professor challenged his students to make money off of their class projects in order to be rewarded with an A. Norocea and his classmates threw an SV party, got the A and established their organization.

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When Norocea graduated, he continued his role part time at SV, handing over his mantle as leader to other Brown students. After working on Wall Street for four years, Norocea decided to quit his job at Barclays and dedicate himself to SV full-time alongside a team of student workers. Though Norocea currently lives in LA and hosts events throughout the country, the SV brand is still based mainly around the Brown community.

According to Norocea, the first few SV parties in 2014 were populated mainly by athletes — given that Norocea was on the football team — and played mostly EDM. Now, SV is a grand-scale production featuring live acts such as Julien Deculus and DJs like John Finberg ’24.

“SV has a pretty wide audience at Brown, and they do a pretty good job promoting people and showing people off,” Finberg said.

Friday was Em’s Femmes’ first ever SV performance. The eight-member band is an “all femme funk/jazz band,” according to the group’s Instagram account.

“So much adrenaline is in my body right now,” saxophone player Coco Kaleel ’24 said during the event. 

The other band members, called Femmes, echoed Kaleel’s enthusiasm. “I’ve never felt a more awesome, energetic crowd,” Marina Benson ’24 said. 

Huddled together, the members complimented one another and emphasized how much making music together meant to them. “I haven’t found a place where I belong more,” Sophia Wotman ’26, the newest addition to the group, told her bandmates. “These are some of my favorite people in the world.”

Julien Deculus and the Golden Hour, another band that performed Friday night, played several covers and “A Few More Days,” an original song written by Deculus and released on Spotify earlier that day. According to Norocea, Deculus has had more gigs at SV this school year than anyone else. 

Deculus told the Herald that without SV, he “would not have expected to be playing in front of 300 people at (his) band’s second real gig.”

“What I love about Small Victories is getting to keep in touch with Brown and students and hear them talk — hear them mention something that they think is a … far away dream and then show them that, within the semester, we’re gonna make it happen for them,” Norocea said.

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“This is just another step in the right direction for us,” said drummer Lucas Lieberman ’25, who performed at SV with Deculus.

Norocea said he is proud of how far SV has come, but he does not plan to expand his business to other schools. Instead, he hopes to integrate and grow the company further within the Brown community, hosting student acts alongside other “bigger names” and putting “Providence on the map” with more music-festival-like events.

“Winter White Out” was the start of Norocea’s vision, with Canadian DJ John Zibin traveling from Toronto to play his set, but he still sees “the sky (as) the limit.”

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