Professor Barrett Hazeltine has been mentoring and inspiring Brown University students for decades. In honor of his dedication to student mentoring, and in particular, his mentorship of aspiring entrepreneurs, a group of alumni came together to start the Hazeltine Mentoring in Entrepreneurship Award.
We are excited to announce that Professor Jennifer Nazareno (left) and Professor Don Stanford ‘72 ScM ’77 (right) are this year’s recipients. Professor Nazareno has been affiliated with the Nelson Center since we opened in fall 2016. She currently has a dual appointment with the School of Public Health and the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, where she teaches UNIV 1089: Global Dynamics and Critical Perspectives on Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States. The students in her class raved about her generous mentoring, dedication to inclusivity and her steadfast commitment to Brown’s entrepreneurial mission. Outside the classroom, you will find her hosting faculty-led discussions and mentoring student entrepreneurs on their ventures, among many other responsibilities.
Professor Don Stanford has been teaching and mentoring students for decades. Barrett Hazeltine was one of the first members of the faculty that Professor Stanford met when he came to Brown in 1968 as a first-year. And I have been friends ever since. Clearly, Professor Hazeltine’s love and passion for mentorship inspired him. Professor Stanford has been teaching computer science for decades and mentoring student entrepreneurs. He has been on the Breakthrough Lab (B-Lab) selection committee for 4 years, and always volunteers to mentor student applicants. Many of whom have gone on to win the Brown Venture Prize and raise significant capital. They have both been generous with their time mentoring Brown students and have been instrumental in those students’ success.
Join us on Thursday, April 30 at 4:00 PM for a virtual happy hour to celebrate the recipients of the award, as well as get a chance to say hello to Professor Hazeltine. We invite your to join us and raise a glass from your home to honor the winners. RSVP here. A Zoom link will be sent to you.
Read more about the recipients below.
Professor Jennifer Nazareno is an Assistant Professor of Public Health & Entrepreneurship. She has a dual appointment at the Center and in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences in the School of Public Health. Jennifer’s specialty areas include medical sociology and health; qualitative methodology; women’s migration, labor and entrepreneurship. She received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 2015 and was an AHRQ and Presidential Diversity Post Doctoral Fellow at Brown. Her dissertation won the UCSF Anselm Strauss Award for Most Distinguished Qualitative Dissertation and was the first study to examine the lived experiences of immigrant Filipino women who emerged as owners of health and long-term service-related businesses.
Jennifer is currently completing her book manuscript, Hidden Health Care: Immigrant Filipina Nurses Building Businesses in the Shadows of the U.S. Long-Term Care Industry. It’s the first book to examine the emergence of immigrant Filipino women entrepreneurs in the United States starting as early as the 1970’s.
Jennifer organized the Center’s first one-day conference, “Entrepreneurship at the Intersection of Diversity and Inequality.” Her vision for the conference engaged the intersectionality of race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, differently-abled bodies, and immigrant status, and how these different social statuses shaped the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Jennifer’s peer-reviewed publications can be found in the International Journal of Health Services, Social Science & Medicine, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Medical Care, and the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.
She is the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Nazareno’s courses taught through support of the Nelson Center:
– PHP 1680U Intersectionality and Health Inequities
– UNIV 1089 Global Dynamics and Critical Perspectives on Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States
Professor Don Stanford ‘72 ScM ’77 is a founding member of GTECH and began working for GTECH’s founders in 1979 as Manager of Software Development. Over 30 years, he has held every technical leadership position, including Vice President of Advanced Development and Chief Technology Officer. Don guided the growth of GTECH’s technology organization from a software staff of four in 1979 to its current worldwide deployment of over 1000 technology professionals. From 1986 until 1989 Don served on the GTECH Corporation Board. Under Don’s leadership GTECH advanced the state of the art in both transaction processing and wireless communications which enabled it to dominate its industry worldwide and install systems on 6 continents. Don earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations in 1972 and a Master’s in Computer Science/Applied Mathematics in 1977 from Brown. Don serves on several boards including Times Squared Academy Charter School, Spectra Systems and the Business Innovation Factory. He is also a member of the R.I. Science and Technology Advisory Council.
In 2001 Don was appointed Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brown and has been teaching undergraduates since 2002. He is also an Adjunct in the School of Engineering and and is an instructor in the Program in Innovation, Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME). He serves on the Brown advisory councils to the President and the School of Engineering.
In 1999 Don received the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Professional Achievement. In 1999 he also received the Honorable Thurgood Marshall award for community service from the NAACP. In 2002 he received the Brown Graduate School’s Distinguished Graduate award and the R.I. Professional Engineer’s award for Community Service. Don and his wife Jane live in Pawtucket, R.I. and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
On March 7, 2020, over 100 young professionals gathered for the fourth annual WE@Brown conference, organized by the Women’s Empowerment team within the Brown Entrepreneurship Program (Brown EP) to celebrate and empower women in entrepreneurship. The theme of this year’s conference was Uplift, and the day began with keynote speaker Kristen Ransom, Boston Magazine’s Top 30 Rising Tech Star and founder of IncluDe Innovation, captivating the audience with her message of “dream big, be ambitious, and follow your purpose.” (See her on stage below).
Following the keynote speaker was the female founder pitch competition, where six student-founded ventures pitched their big ideas to attendees and a panel of judges to win $500 and $250 respectively to go towards their ventures. At the end of the day, the winners were announced. The first-place winner was LapSnap, co-founded by Diana Perkins ’20, Hannah Mintz ’20, and Chloe Rosenberg ’20. And the second-place winner was ResusciTech, co-founded by Abigail Kohler ’20 and Greg Fine ’20.
LapSnap has designed a grocery shopping bag for wheelchair users. Currently, shopping for food is a major hassle for people who use wheelchairs, and there is no affordable solution that works for all chairs. The LapSnap bag was designed in collaboration with real wheelchair users, and the hope is that it will improve lives by giving people a tool for greater independence.
ResusciTech has created a real-time CPR feedback app to help responders perform higher quality compressions and save more lives. There are 400,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests annually, and 90% of those result in death. The ResusciTech app will give people the confidence and capability to act in these emergencies by giving real-time feedback on the rate and depth of chest compressions, allowing people to adjust to proper CPR protocols.
During lunch, attendees were joined by 19 inspiring female-identifying entrepreneurs and industry professionals, who hosted roundtable discussions to further uplift and connect the attendees through the topics they are most passionate about.
The afternoon workshops this year were led by senior IDEO Co-Lab designer Shuya Gong on “Designing the Unseeable”, CEO and founder of Cheryl Overton Communications, Cheryl Overton on “Beyonce Taught Me: Five Killer Business Lessons from the Queen Bee Herself”, Brown Persuasive Communication professor Barbara Tannenbaum on “Powerful Communication”, and founder of The Art of Fate Jackelyn Decanay on “How to Make Space for All Womxn – In Business & Beyond”.
The day ended with the announcement of the pitch competition winners, as wells as an ice-cream social + startup fair.
WE@Brown 2020 is brought to you by the Women’s Empowerment Team at Brown EP, led by Maggie Bachenberg, Xinru Li, Claire Heiden, Emily Kompelien, Mali Dandridge, Thin Su San, Karolyn Lee, Liz Wells, Kerry Harrington, Serena McDermott, Trisha Ballakur, Amanda Levy, and Ashley Chon. This year our sponsors included: 305 Fitness, Yerba Mate, Health-Ade Kombucha, Gracie’s, Hint, Shake Shack, Ceremony, Canva, Kabob and Curry, Brown University Bookstore, PVDonuts, Chobani, Sticker Giant, Blue State Coffee, Avon Theatre, and The Flex Company. Supported by the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Brown EP.
Written by Lauren Brown ’22
On February 23, the Brown Black Hairitage group hosted its first annual Black Hair Show. Club leaders Alexis Newell ’20, Pauline Wakudumo ’20, Lauren Brown ’22, Abigail Wesson ’23, and Kira Dubose ’22 invited students, faculty, stylists, and community members to celebrate the societal impact of Black hair. The five hour show featured roundtable discussions with local hair influencers, stylist demonstrations, and personal hair consultations for students.
Brown Black Hairitage was founded in 2017 by Alexis Newell ’20. The organization’s mission was and is to create space for discussion and collaboration around the topics of how Black hair is integrated into the fabric of the workplace, academia, and popular culture. The group meets twice a month to hold roundtable discussions, hair workshops, and screenings for media centered around hair.
The roundtable discussion featured Shahidah Ali, Rodlyne Louis, and Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste ’16. Ali is the former owner of Mixx Beauty hair salon which now focuses its efforts on producing various hair and beard products for salons and individuals. Louis runs the BeauEssence salon on North Main Street, catering to natural hair. Along with the salon, BeauEssence has hair products for natural, textured hair. Jean-Baptiste ’16 is the founder of KerlyGirl: a hair care line that aims to make plant based products for natural hair more accessible and affordable. During the session, these hair entrepreneurs discussed their own journeys through the business side of the beauty industry. Attendees asked these hair experts for advice regarding their own hair during the Q&A portion of the discussion.
The remainder of the event featured Kyle Pereira from DaPoint barber shop and Miguelina Liberato from 1263 Salon. Students received complimentary haircuts and blowout styles from these stylists and Jasmine Cardichon ’22 provided students with cornrow styles as well. Attendees left the event with a bundle of free samples from natural haircare brands including the Traces Ellis-Ross ’94 line Pattern Beauty.
To learn more about Brown Black Hairitage read this Brown Alumni Magazine’s article and fill out this interest form to see what you can do to expand BBH’s impact on campus and around in the world!
By Chuck Isgar ‘21
On February 7, 2020, The Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Brown EP hosted Charlie Kroll ‘01 for a roundtable discussion as part of the Roundtable Discussion Series moderated by Chuck Isgar ’21. Kroll shared stories and lessons learned from the process of founding and building Andera and Ellevest, companies focused on financial technology.
Beginning Andera as a student at Brown
Kroll attended Brown in the late 90’s, around the time of the dot com bubble. He was on his way to Wall Street, but a unique situation set him onto another track. As a student, Kroll had been running his own web design business. He entered a business plan competition, and while he didn’t win, his mentor, Steve Siegel, ScM ‘83, PhD ‘85 offered to be an investor. Kroll said “let’s do it.”
The web design business pivoted into Andera which provided an instant solution for banks to allow customers to fill out forms when opening checking accounts. Technology like this was very new to banks at the time. Kroll described the interesting process of selling this new concept: “nobody bought it, but everyone wanted to talk about it.”
Capturing a timely opportunity in the financial services industry
Kroll admitted that much of the success of Andera stemmed from the unique timing at which the business was expanding. Leading up to 2008, there was lots of excess in the financial system, and since banks needed deposits to fund loans, Andera was uniquely positioned to help the banks quickly open accounts for customers.
Andera survived the financial crisis fairly well and the growth continued. After expanding to over 100 employees, 3 offices, and 600 financial institution customers, Andera was acquired by Bottomline Technologies (NASDAQ: EPAY) in April 2014 for $48 million.
The inspiration for Ellevest
Kroll took some time off after the acquisition of Andera, but he knew he wanted to start something new in fintech. He shared with our group of students that as he was trying to determine what his next venture would be, he was asking himself: “what is the next 10 year shift and what role can I play in it?”
He saw financial advising as having been the same for many years, and he wanted to be around people innovating in investing. Charlie came to know Sallie Krawcheck, previously CEO of Smith Barney, CFO of Citigroup, global head of wealth management for Citigroup, President of Merrill Lynch, and considered one of the most successful women in Wall Street history.
Both having extensive experience in the financial industry, they started Ellevest with a question: why is it that men and women have different behaviors in investing? Most notably, they knew that women don’t invest as much as men, and they saw an opportunity to help women.
The emphasis on thorough testing when building Ellevest
Before beginning to actually build Ellevest, Kroll and Krawcheck had lots of hypotheses to test. After six months of diving deep into research and customer testing, they began to narrow in on who exactly their target users would be. Their initial target was mid-career professional women aged 28 to 35. To this day, they continue to focus on a target persona, which they call Elle.
There were tens of thousands of women interested in Ellevest before the launch. According to Kroll, they spent nine months just going through the waitlist, a time during which they would test out features with different segments of users.
Growing Ellevest: a continued focus on females
Ellevest officially launched in November of 2016. The company initially was pulled up market, but they are now going down market and figuring out how to best serve a wider audience.
In terms of the competitive landscape, Kroll shared that Ellevest competes with many other platforms, but also none at the same time since no one else is focused exclusively on women. When asked whether Ellevest would ever expand into the male audience, Kroll was clear to say that their focus is women.
There is strong reason to think that the focus is working. Ellevest has has been named on CNBC’s Top 50 “Disruptor” List, #14 on LinkedIn’s 50 “Hottest Startups To Work For” (and #2 in New York), and one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Brilliant Ideas.
Going forward, Ellevest is aiming to be more involved in banking. Their vision is that you start banking with Ellevest, and then realize that you can invest sooner than you thought.
The importance of diversity at Ellevest
Diversity is very important at Ellevest. The company places an emphasis on diversity of thought and point of view. The team is diverse, but they are all bound around Ellevest’s core mission of helping women invest. Kroll shared that having a team motivated by the company’s mission is such an important asset to the company.
Kroll’s advice for students on their journey in entrepreneurship
For the student entrepreneurs in the room, Kroll provided advice about the research phases of beginning a startup. He encouraged the student entrepreneurs in the room to focus on doing hands-on prototyping and user research. Kroll emphasized the importance of conducting your own user research as opposed to reading research reports.
Students at our discussion were curious to hear Kroll’s advice about what to look for when thinking about interning or working at a startup. He provided two core questions to consider as you think about joining a startup: Are you inspired by the people at the company? Importantly, do you respect the people with whom you would be working? In addition, he recommended seeing if you have an interest in the subject matter or industry of the startup.
Kroll left students not just with specific advice, but also inspiration. The inspiration that someone who lost a pitch competition could go on to turn an idea into a $48 million business. Inspiration about how to think about the future of an industry. Inspiration about how to use detailed research to create the best product for people. And importantly, inspiration about how a company can focus on a specific market in order to make people’s lives better.
We are kicking off our first black history month founder feature with Lisa Gelobter ’91 founder and CEO of tEQuitable, an independent, confidential platform to address issues of bias, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace. Back in April 2018, Brown University invited her to speak on behalf of the “Thinking Out Loud” speaker series, which showcases profoundly creative and accomplished scholars who not only tackle some of the biggest “Big Questions” there are, but also skillfully communicate their inner visions to broad audiences. Watch the video here. With 25 years in the industry and products that have been used by billions of people, Lisa has a deep and proven track record in software. She has worked on several pioneering Internet technologies, including Shockwave, Hulu, and the ascent of online video. Lisa’s experience ranges from small, entrepreneurial startups to large, established organizations. Most recently, she worked at the White House, in the U.S. Digital Service, serving as the Chief Digital Service Officer for the Department of Education. Previously, Lisa acted as the Chief Digital Officer for BET Networks and was a member of the senior management team for the launch of Hulu. She has an expansive background in strategy development, business operations, user-centered design, product management, and engineering.
Fun Fact: Lisa is also the computer scientist who developed the animation used to create GIFs, forever changing the way we text and tweet. She’s also responsible for Shockwave and was even a member of the senior management team for the launch of Hulu.
Ayanna Howard ’93
Ayanna Howard is a roboticist and professor at Georgia Tech where she is the director of the Human-Automation Systems lab. Her research specialties include human-robot interaction, assistive robots in the home, therapy gaming apps, and remote robotic exploration of extreme environments. It’s no surprise that she was recognized as one of “The Most Powerful Women Engineers” by Business Insider. Among all of this, she founded Zyrobotics, an award-winning educational technology company that makes STEM learning accessible to all children.
Ayanna was a part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast this past January which you can watch here.
Brickson Diamond ’93
Brickson Diamond is the CEO of Big Answers, LLC, which consults on diversity and inclusion strategy for clients in entertainment, technology and asset management, generating new partnerships and leveraging impactful connections. He previously served for five years as COO of The Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent member organization of Black executives in the Fortune 1000. Brickson is also a co-founder and chair of The Blackhouse Foundation, which provides pathways for Black multi-platform content creators into career opportunities within film, television, digital and emerging platforms. In addition to everything else, Brickson is a Brown University trustee who has worked on several aspects of the DIAP (Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan) for the University.
Kerlyne Jean-Baptiste ’16
Kerlyne Jean Baptiste is founder of KerlyGirl and is passionate about health and wellness. She, like many other black women with coily hair, grew up believing her hair was incapable of growth, and unmanageable. After years of chemical processing, and unhealthy hair products, Kerlyne became dissatisfied with the state of her hair health and started to create her own homemade regimen in 2015. In 2017, Kerlyne began to share her haircare tips and products and launched KerlyGirl as an effort to bring affordable natural products to people everywhere. KerlyGirl aims to cultivate the beauty of textured & coily hair with plant-based products.On February 6 Venture Cafe Providence held its first-ever Pitch Night and KerlyGirl had the pleasure of pitching and taking home first prize! Congrats to Kerlyne and the team!