Many Princeton alumni have gone on to start companies, either immediately after graduating or after gaining other professional expertise. The entrepreneurs featured on this page – whether engineering graduates or not – all took at least one course at the School of Engineering and Applied Science and, most recently, through the Keller Center, on how to grow an idea into a viable venture. Their quotes are drawn from a series of videos produced for the opening session of a new sophomore-level course that began this year. Further videos of Princeton entrepreneurs as well as an interview with legendary teacher and mentor Ed Zschau are available on YouTube.
Phil Inagaki A.B. ’04
Polyera, a company that creates flexible electronics
“Princeton is a great place to find mentors. I also sought them out in the summer jobs I took. So rather than doing consulting or investment banking internships, I worked for entrepreneurs and startups.
You talk to your mentors and they give you advice, but one of the greatest ways they helped me is just being a source of inspiration. Seeing what they had done with their careers just made me all the more excited about being an entrepreneur.”
Jason Aramburu A.B. ’07
Edyn, manufacturer and seller of garden monitoring hardware and software
“My first real experience with entrepreneurship, or first big experience, was Ed Zschau’s class at Princeton. It was really influential to me. It taught me that anyone could be an entrepreneur. You didn’t have to have all the details figured out, and that interest and persistence were really important.
Starting a company is really hard. It’s the hardest thing you could possibly do. And it’s in those difficult times, it’s really your personal passion that keeps you afloat and keeps you going.”
Robert J. Moore BSE ’06
RJMetrics, a data analytics platform supporting growing businesses
“Do entrepreneurship now. Get exposure. It doesn’t always mean starting your own company. Come work for an amazing startup, whether it’s RJMetrics, whether it’s someone in New York or on the West Coast. Get exposure to what it’s like, and it’ll definitely pay off.”
Carter Cleveland BSE ’09
Artsy, an online resource for art collection and art education
“The first time when I ever considered the possibility of entrepreneurship – up until that point, I figured I was going to be a theoretical physicist or something – was when I took Ed Zschau’s entrepreneurship course, my junior year. I just thought it was so fascinating how you could build something out of nothing.”
Brian O’Kelley BSE ’99
AppNexus, real-time online advertising platform
“Going from failure to failure to failure was the only way to really quickly learn and build skills that would allow me, once I was in the right place at the right time, to actually be successful. I think the biggest risk for an entrepreneur is often that if you’re successful for the wrong reasons, like if you get lucky, then when hard times come, or the business grows, you don’t have the next set of things that you need to overcome those challenges.”
Arielle Sandor A.B. ’12
Duma Works, online job recruiting
“One of the best aspects that we got from eLab was the incredible network that it provided us.
Get to know about the opportunities that are out there – the competitions, the accelerators, or what have you. Even just studying abroad, you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a good idea. So make sure you’re informed about the types of funding opportunities, or competition opportunities, or opportunities outside of Princeton.”
Christine Blauvelt A.B. ’12
“It wasn’t until senior year, when Arielle and I were in the same social entrepreneurship class, that I started to really see more of the startup side, and got really interested in technology, and fusing those technology elements together with social issues to address the issues that I was already interested in.”