Even during such an unpredictable and challenging year, 2020 brought many highlights that make us grateful for the work we do. This is all thanks to our entire Nelson Center community, which continues to make the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship the hub for entrepreneurship at Brown where students are engaged, inspired, and empowered to change the world one solution at a time.
To celebrate and wrap up the year, we present a few of our highlights from 2020!
Happy New Year!
– Nelson Center Team
Despite the struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, student and alumni ventures made significant progress. From Jayna Zweiman’s ‘01 Masks for Humanity, to Chuck Isgar ‘21, Megan Kasselberg ‘20 and David Lu’s ‘20 venture Intern From Home, to Max Goldman ‘21, Aidan Reilly ‘21, Ben Collier ‘21, and recent alum, Will Collier’s ‘20 The Farmlink Project, our community continues to develop new solutions for the problems that developed as a result of the pandemic.
We launched our new Entrepreneurship Certificate in May. The certificate provides a curricular structure for undergraduate students who wish to make entrepreneurship an important part of their intellectual journey at Brown. Learn more here.
Student and alumni ventures raised significant funds this year including Alex Zhuk, Jack Roswell, and David Schurman’s Cloud Agronomics (left), which raised $6M from SineWave Ventures as the lead investor, and Robbie Felton ‘21, Alexander Rothberg ‘21, Samuel Prado ‘21, and Evan Jackson’s ‘21 Intus Care (right), which raised a total of $600K in funding over two rounds.
Under the leadership of Chuck Isgar ‘20.5 and Grace Parker ‘21, the Brown Entrepreneurship Program (EP), the Nelson Center’s student-led club, grew larger than ever this year, launched a new partnership with Spelman College, and partnered with the Amplify Speaker Series. Read more about their year here.
Professor Jennifer Nazareno (left) and Professor Don Stanford ‘72 ScM ’77 (right) were this year’s recipients of the Hazeltine Mentoring in Entrepreneurship Award. Over 100 people tuned in from all over the country for the award ceremony. Read more here.
YEP! (Young Entrepreneurs of Providence), the Nelson Center- and EP-sponsored program for Providence high school students, virtually hosted its third cohort. Watch a recording of their 2020 Pitch Night here and read more about their semester here.
Van Wickle Ventures, the Nelson Center’s student-run venture capital fund, announced investments in Projector, co-founded by Trevor O’Brien ‘10, and a company in stealth mode. Read more about Van Wickle Ventures in News from Brown here.
The 2020 Brown Venture Prize friendly competition went virtual! This did not stop students from presenting their best venture pitches, leading to Intus Care winning first place, Intimately winning second place, and Resuscitech winning third place. Read more here.
We are thrilled to welcome Hamzah Ansari (Brown/ PRIME ’09) to the B-Lab team this summer! He has been supporting B-Lab ventures as an informal mentor from the beginning of B-Lab, back in 2015 and we are happy to officially welcome him to the B-Lab staff for this summer. He will be one of our lead in house mentors, along side Jason Harry, B-Lab director and Jonas Clark, Associate Directer at the NCE.
In addition to being the 2020 B-Lab Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Hamzah is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Brown’s School of Engineering, and a Lecturer in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. As EIR, Hamzah coaches student, faculty, and alumni ventures on business development, product development, lean methodologies, fundraising, and capitalization. He teaches a class in technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in the PRIME Masters Program. Outside of Brown, Hamzah serves as a Senior Advisor with Rhode Island-based innovation group “The Innovation Scout”, as well as a Partner in real estate private equity firm Denwood Capital.
Previously, Hamzah started Accelereach, an angel-funded developer of health and wellness coaching software, in 2009. The company’s software helped thousands of people around the country lead to healthier and more fulfilled lives. He advised the Rhode Island Health Insurance Exchange on developing new lines of business, growth strategies, and additional sources of revenue. Finally, he has advised United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on legislative policy governing immigration reform, economic development, and funding for small businesses.
Want to get in touch? Email Hamzah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are proud to announce that Jennifer Nazareno, Assistant Professor of Public Health & Entrepreneurship, is the recipient of all the 2019-2020 awards listed below. We congratulate Professor Jennifer Nazareno on all of her success!
The Dean’s Excellence Awards recognizes faculty leaders in the School of Public Health who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in teaching, mentoring, and research collaboration that goes above and beyond the usual call of duty. Professor Nazareno was awarded the 2020 Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award and she is the first faculty member to win this award in two consecutive years.
The Hazeltine Mentorship in Entrepreneurship Award recognizes someone who embodies the leadership and commitment to entrepreneurship that Professor Hazeltine has exemplified for so many years at Brown. Professor Nazareno and Professor Don Stanford ‘72 ScM ’77 were recipients of the award this year.
The Primary Care-Population Medicine (PC-PM) Research Mentor Award from the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown (voted by 4th-year PC-PM medical students). The Primary Care-Population Medicine (PC-PM) program is an innovative, dual-degree curriculum that prepares students for a career in medicine while providing comprehensive, longitudinal training in population medicine. Graduates are awarded both an MD degree and a Master of Science in Population Medicine.
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.
– 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.
Launched by Brown and RIHub in 2019, Innovations for Urban Living is an accelerator program for early-stage startups with solutions to make cities more intelligent, livable, and sustainable.
Innovations for Urban Living is a new accelerator program for early-stage startups with solutions to make cities more intelligent, livable, and sustainable. Brown University and RIHub have partnered with The CoWrks Foundry to launch this 24-week startup accelerator. IULA is designed to help entrepreneurs improve the urban infrastructure and systems in India and in other emerging economies by leveraging a combination of technology, policy and local ingenuity. Successful teams will receive up to $40,000 in seed capital, engage in an accelerator curriculum experience, and gain access to top Indian and global investors through the CoWrks network, targeted coaching and mentoring; and coworking space at RIHub (Providence, RI) and CoWrks (Bangalore, India). Travel costs to enable time in direct experience, collaboration and network engagement in Bangalore are also covered.
Van Wickle Ventures (VWV), Brown’s first student run-venture fund, is excited to announce their first investment in 305 Fitness. 305 Fitness is a dance-cardio fitness brand founded by Sadie Kurzban ‘12, who began teaching the classes out of the OMAC here at Brown. She won the Brown Entrepreneurship Program’s Venture Pitch competition in 2008 and launched 305 in New York with the $25K cash earnings from the competition. Today, 305 Fitness offers over 500 classes a week across 6 studios and 3 pop-ups in major U.S. cities.
Sadie’s story is the perfect example of the kind of founder VWV was created to support – one who follows the entrepreneurship process and had close ties to the Brown community. VWV will be participating in 305’s Series A alongside world-class investors such as Founders Fund, RiverPark VC, and Healthyish Ventures, as well as earlier angels including Tiesto and Kevin Durant.
VWV is also delighted to announce the students comprising the second cohort. Chosen from over one hundred applicants, there were nine that blew the team away with their curiosity, intellect, and creativity. The group includes founders of 3 non-profits in addition to sports tech and hair care ventures, crypto enthusiasts, and a medical school student – and ask them about their gap years! You can learn more about the team here. If you know a Brown- or RISD-affiliated founder, please send them to email@example.com.