Meeting with Mentors in NYC – Ryan Gruss '18

OfficeHours in the City mentor Pierre duPont ‘82 chats with a Princeton student.

Meeting with Mentors in NYC – Ryan Gruss ‘18

Outside of my studies at Princeton, I have a startup called Peek, which allows people to privately live stream to groups of friends and family. During my fall break, my co-founder and I decided to focus on building a network in New York for my UK-based startup. As a Brit here at Princeton, my list of contacts in New York is not as extensive as I’d like, so evidently I felt I was starting from scratch. That’s where Princeton Entrepreneurship Council’s (PEC) OfficeHours in the City came in – through simply visiting the website, I was able to book three meetings with Princeton alums who could give me different perspectives of the New York startup scene and introduce me to contacts beneficial to my company.

My first meeting was with Larry Studnicky ‘79, partner at Winslow Studnicky McCormick & Bomser LLP. Having worked with the likes of LL Cool J and Dreamworks, Larry was able to lend expert legal advice on how to set up a company the right way, structure a funding round, and protect intellectual property. Due to the Princeton connection, Larry was happy to offer his council for free, an unbeatable rate for consulting with a New York City attorney.

Next up was Nic Poulos ‘08, principal at Bowery Capital, a B2B boutique venture capital fund. Nic gave a different perspective, this time from the viewpoint of an investor in terms of where and how to fundraise in New York City. Like Larry, Nic was happy to serve as a mentor and made some introductions to relevant investors.

Finally, I met with Daphne Earp ‘10, who is now VP of Ecosystem Partnerships at Yext. She was one of the first members of this fast growing platform that now boasts a Madison Avenue office and hundreds of employees, 5 percent of which are Princeton alum, Daphne was proud to share. Daphne provided great insight on the marketing front of running a startup, offering tips on how I might better position my startup’s product.

Office Hours in the City was a fantastic experience for me and my co-founder. Not only did we learn how to better iterate our product, we were also able to cultivate relationships with alums who genuinely want to help us build our network and mentor us to success. The close-knit nature of the Princeton community is one of the many perks of being a Tiger, and Office Hours in the City is just another example of this closeness both on and off campus.

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— Julie Clack
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Director or the plutonium refinement in Yonkers.