The inaugural weeklong New York TigerTrek trip, hosted by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club, will take place over spring break next week.
Twenty undergraduates have been selected to participate in this trip, and they will be meeting with founders and CEOs of startups, venture capital firms, and other companies in New York and Philadelphia. The lineup includes Comcast, Chegg, x.ai, Etsy, Bond Street, Greycroft, WaitButWhy, Tory Burch, Iris, Stitch, Insight, REINGE Clothing, and the author Jennifer Weiner.
The trip is co-directed by Soham Daga ’18 and Caroline Stafford ’18.
The E-Club has hosted a weeklong Silicon Valley TigerTrek for the last five years, and last year, a one-day TigerTrek to New York City was developed. Stafford, who is a concentrator in comparative literature and has been a member of the E-Club since her freshman year, led the trip. She has since worked on transitioning the one-day trip into a weeklong experience for this year, modeling it after the Silicon Valley program that the E-Club offers as well.
“Everyone on campus here always talks about ‘West Coast, best coast’ in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation,” Stafford noted. She explains that there accordingly seems to be a lack of consideration of the buzzing entrepreneurship that is taking place in New York.
Daga, an ORFE major, participated in the Silicon Valley TigerTrek trip his freshman year, characterizing it as a defining experience of his Princeton career.
“I wanted to create a similar experience,” Daga said. “I really wanted to see whether or not opportunities that exist on the West Coast, like in Silicon Valley, can be found on the East Coast,” he added.
Many people think that going to Silicon Valley is the only plausible way to succeed in entrepreneurship, Daga noted, but there are actually quite a number of startups in New York. Although most major tech companies are in California, there is a much more diverse selection of companies in New York, from fashion to biotech to artificial intelligence, Daga said.
Three freshmen, five sophomores, eight juniors, and four seniors will be embarking on the trip.
“Of course Silicon Valley is great for tech startups, but entrepreneurship is not just about tech. New York is obviously an amazing hub of activity in the entrepreneurial business world, and it’s really close,” Eric Stinehart ’20, a prospective Woodrow Wilson School major, said. Stinehart was also part of the organizing team for this trip.
“I think it will give us a glimpse into different types of industries we might be interested in career-wise. That’s why I think it’s great as a freshman to start to get an idea of that,” he explained.
Amy Liu ’19, a BSE computer science concentrator who also helped organize this trip, said that it will be exciting to talk to founders and CEOs, learn about the risks they have taken, and find out how they have brought their ideas to fruition.
“I think that [entrepreneurship] is really inspiring and something I definitely want to be a part of in the future,” Liu said.
During the trip, there will also be a networking and mentorship event with alumni. The alumni event will be a way to see a more personal side to entrepreneurship, foster meaningful relationships, and be an opportunity to ask questions about Princeton to these leaders, Stafford noted. Meeting these people and talking to them about their experiences, failures, and mistakes can encourage students, she added.
In entrepreneurship, there is a valid fear of failure, Stafford noted. The event will help students with this by giving them the opportunity to talk to people who have had these fears, she continued.
“Entrepreneurship is the willingness to innovate,” Stafford explained. At its core, she said, entrepreneurship is not a complex or intangible concept, but rather something accessible.
“I’m not COS or ORFE. I am comp[erative] lit[erature]. As a qualitative individual, I can still have a place in entrepreneurship,” Stafford said.
Meaghan O’Neill ’17, a senior in the computer science department, applied to the New York TigerTrek based feedback she had heard from her friends who had participated in the Silicon Valley TigerTrek. On the trip next week, she hopes to get exposure to different startups and to learn from people who have been successful in entrepreneurship and their respective ventures.
“For me, I see myself ultimately going into a career of entrepreneurship, whether that’s five, 10, or 15 years down the road,” O'Neill explained.
“I actually didn’t know that there was such a robust entrepreneurship scene in New York prior to applying. I just figured that all the big name companies that you recognize would be out west. That’s not the case, obviously,” O’Neill said. “I think it’s a really good thing to see how startups do in cities that aren’t necessarily nurturing for startups.”
Throughout the course of the week, students will visit three to four companies each day and participate in other group activities together.
“I hope to ask hard questions to leaders and get honest answers about what their struggles are and what their mistakes are. I think there’s a lot of value to be found in learning from other people’s mistakes,” Daga said.
The TigerTrek will run from March 19 to March 25. The trip is sponsored by the Bendheim Center for Finance.