Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 04:03 pm est

Entrepreneurs Festival celebrates student work, provides industry advice

Posted on March 3, 2014 | by Kavish Harjai, Ann Schmidt, and Rohin Shah

Felipe De La Hoz/WSN

The Entrepreneurs Festival took place last weekend at NYU, bringing together entrepreneurs and students from across the city to provide advice and discuss their ideas, paths and mistakes. The event kicked off with the first of three keynote speakers, Glen de Vries.

De Vries studied biology at Carnegie Mellon and subsequently went to NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, but ended up leaving after a few months to pursue his start-up. Now, de Vries is the co-founder and president of Medidata, a multinational technology firm that specializes in cloud-based infrastructure for firms engaged in clinical research and development.

“Medidata doesn’t make drugs, we don’t make pharmaceuticals,” de Vries said. “But we make the drugs that you use better.”

De Vries also said he was effective at leveraging his passion and embracing his personality as he developed Medidata, encouraging all entrepreneurs to use their introversion to their advantage.

The last part of his talk was question-and-answer. De Vries advised students to work with each other in the early stages of entrepreneurship.

“I think one thing that will set you up for success, is realizing that as dogged and tenacious as you are going to be, it can’t just be you,” de Vries said.

Jeff Dachis, current CEO, chairman and founder of Dachis Group, was the second keynote speaker at the festival.The Dachis Group is a data social analytics firm based in Austin, Texas.

After his undergraduate career at SUNY-Purchase, Dachis created his first startup in New York City called In Your Face, a guerilla marketing firm, while also bartending and waiting tables to start his life in New York.

“New York is hard,” Dachis said. “New York is expensive. New York is difficult to make it [in].”

Dachis proceeded to apply to NYU and attain a degree in performing arts, entertainment and media administration. After describing his successes and failures, as well as his mistakes, Dachis spoke to his audience about the future changes to the digital landscape.

“There is more opportunity ahead of us, for each and every one of you to create something that you can be passionate about and get excited about,” Dachis said. “There is nothing better in the world than waking up every day excited to go do what you love to do. Every day.”

John Johnson, co-founder of BuzzFeed and founder of the nonprofit art and technology company Eyebeam, was the third and final keynote speaker for the Entrepreneurs Festival. Adam Penenberg, NYU journalism professor and editor of PandoDaily, interviewed Johnson.

Their discussion ranged from the origins and marketing of BuzzFeed to advice for student entrepreneurs. Johnson echoed the importance of teamwork and said NYU students should partner well.

“You want to be around really smart people where you can build ideas together,” Johnson said.

During the question-and-answer session, a student asked Johnson if he likes lists.

“I do like lists,” Johnson said. “We all like lists. Even whether we admit it or not, the traffic shows that we do. So, I’m not alone.”

The final event at the festival was the Pitch, a competition where the six most popular student start-ups at the NYU Ventures Showcase received the opportunity to pitch to a panel of six judges as potential investors.

The student startups included SnappyScreen, HireCanvas, One Right Water, the Reading Holiday Project, Kipin Hall and Fresco.

Kipin Hall, pitched by CAS sophomore Abhinay Ashutosh, is a software supplement for NYU Classes that won the competition. Kipin Hall received $1,000 in cash, $250 for General Assembly Class Credit and a three to six-month lease and desk space at the Varick Street Incubator.

Ashutosh said he was excited to hear feedback on Kipin Hall during the showcase.

“It was a great chance to further validate our product and we made some great connections,” Ashutosh said. “Overall, NYUEF was an amazing way to meet fellow entrepreneurs and learn from some of the best.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 3 print edition. Kavish Harjai and Ann Schmidt are news editors. Rohin Shah is a contributing writer. Email them at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.