An interview with Startup@Brown lead organizer Valentin Perez ’18

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Even in an era of startup culture, where buzz terms like “disruptive innovation” and “knowledge economy” dominate headlines, College Hill stands out for its potential for digital creativity and innovation. The presence of both Brown and RISD on this elevated land has given rise to events like Hack@Brown and a Better World by Design, programs dedicated to the marriage of tech and aesthetics. And yet, for all these opportunities, there remains a notable lack of events focused solely on the startups themselves–with all the creative, financial, and corporate challenges that actually “starting up” a startup entails.

Filling this niche was the idea behind Startup@Brown, a self-described “weekend-long conference from Sept. 26–27 at Brown University that brings together innovative startups and talented students.” Blog sat down with Startup@Brown’s lead organizer Valentin Perez ’18, a sophomore dual-concentrating in CS and Applied Math. Originally involved with both the Brown Entrepreneurship Program and Hack@Brown, Valentin talked to us about some of his influences, the goals of the conference, and what attendees can expect from the first ever Startup@Brown.

What led to your decision to revive Startup@Brown?

I was looking through a Google Drive with photos from Hack@Brown and happened to see a logo for Startup@Brown, so I asked what it was. I’m really into startups. The original creators–Mackenzie Clark and Molly Long–had the idea together, but it had never fully happened because they didn’t have the time to follow through with the event. For me, when I saw it, I asked and they explained what happened and I told them that I had actually been thinking of doing something like this, partly because of my involvement with the Brown Entrepreneurship Program. I was thinking it could be a collaboration between the Brown Entrepreneurship Program and Hack@Brown. Then Atty and Sharon (Atty Reddy ’17 and Sharon Lo ’16, co-directors of Hack@Brown) put us in contact with the CS department in May and that’s when we started talking about what the event could end up being. Jeff Huang, a professor in the CS department, and Ugur Cetintemel, the department chair, were all excited about it, and said that we could take the lead of organizing it as students and that they would sponsor the event. They helped us a lot with contacts and people in the tech world. It was also super useful to have Lauren Clarke, who is the manager of the Industrial Partners program, helping us. After that I just started cold-calling startups. It was a pretty cool experience because some didn’t reply and some replied right away. Sometimes the CEO would even respond.

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Fifth annual Brown Unplugged competition begins Sunday

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Sunday marks the beginning of this year’s Brown Unplugged competition, an annual energy competition that pits dorms against each other to see which community can reduce its energy consumption by the greatest percentage. Now in its fifth year, the competition will run for three weeks, through March 21st. Last year, with 750 registered participants, Brown saved over 34,000 kWh of electricity during this period, amounting to $4,448 in savings. When the competition begins, energy stats and progress for the different buildings can be tracked on BuildingDashboard.

Brown EcoReps, a student group aiming to raise environmental awareness and sustainable living habits, is encouraging participation through incentives, prizes, and additional events during the competition, including LED lightbulb exchanges in the Blue Room every Friday during the event, as well as their second dodgeball competition. To encourage intra-dorm competition, the participants of the winning dorm will be awarded a pizza party and will be entered in a raffle to win prizes including Spring Weekend tickets.

Commit to conserve here.

Image via.


Dancing with the professors strikes again

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Dancing with the Professors came back with a bang Friday night after a brief four-year hiatus. The Brown Ballroom Team’s spin on the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars took seven of Brown’s beloved faculty members and whipped them into ballroom ready shape over the course of the semester. Each faculty member performed a 90 second choreographed dance routine with a student member of the Brown Ballroom Team. The winner was determined by a panel of judges and by audience vote. The night was a great success with fun costumes, crowd-pleasing music, and a slew of talented students and faculty.

The student faculty pairings were Bjorn Sandstede (Applied Math) and Lauren Chan, David Cane (Chemistry) and Julia Tatiyatrairong, Michael Littman (Computer Science) and Quynh Tran, Michael Stewart (English) and Angelia Wang, Monica Linden (Neuroscience) and Kevin O’Farrell, Rachel Toncelli (English Language Learning) and Michael Scheer, and Tom Doeppner (Computer Science) and Madeline Price.

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The Brown/RISD Beard Competition: A Recap

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No-shave November is in full swing, and it is a perfect time to celebrate all forms of facial hair. Last Saturday, Brown University Beard Appreciation Society (BUBAS) sponsored the inaugural Brown/RISD Beard and Mustache Competition. Nine hairy hopefuls competed in five categories: Mustache, Whiskerina (women with fake facial hair), Five O’Clock Shadow, Partial Beard, and Full Beard. The entrants were scored by three local facial hair aficionados. A beardless MC named Stew officiated the competition.

When called forward, the competitors walked across the front of the room, displaying their facial hair to the audience and judges. MC Stew would ask the competitors a few questions about facial hair, but spent most of the competition making fun of dreadlocks, Davy Jones, Thoreau’s Walden, and more.

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Audience participation was encouraged.

Though the event drew fewer participants than BUBAS had hoped for, the facial hair on display was impressive. Patrick (Brown) won the mustache award with his twisted handlebar. Patrick put up a good fight in the Partial Beard division as well, but lost to Eliot (Brown), who sported a thick goatee and two voluminous muttonchops. Catherine (RISD) was the only entrant in the Whiskerina division and won by default. But the judges commended her for the creative way in which she had pulled her hair into a silky mustache. The Five O’Clock Shadow field was also won by default.

A few RISD students and one shaggy Brown student vied for the prestigious title of Full Beard champion. Jake (RISD) displayed a clean and even beard that he attributed to “good genes.” Emory (RISD) wore a more free-form beard that covered his cheeks and chin in thick facial shrubbery. Noah (Brown) sported a curly look.

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Emory, the 2014 Brown/RISD Full Beard champion.

It was close, but Emory emerged the champion and walked out with a bottle of professional-grade beard oil.

Anyone looking to participate in next year’s Beard and Mustache Competition should start eating lots of keratin. For, as MC Stew pointed out, “beards are made of protein.”

Images via Ari Snider ’18. 


this is the end

Bring Seth Rogen and Craig Robinson to Brown!

Like Superbad? The Office? Pineapple Express? Comedy? Happiness?!

Let’s team together to bring Seth Rogen (this guy) and Craig Robinson (this guy) to campus! One lucky school will have the chance to bring to campus an early screening of “This Is the End,” presented by none other than Rogen and Robinson. The movie tells a hilarious tale of the apocalypse featuring many comedic Gods and Goddesses: James Franco, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Jonah Hill, Jason Segal, and Emma Watson.

How do we make this dream a reality? Visit Eventful’s competition page here, click “Find Your College,” vote, and share the link with all of your friends (virtual friends and some pets count)! We are currently in 30th place. C’mon Brown! We can do so much better than that! Seriously though, let’s make this happen … please.