In the past two years, the Slavin Family Foundation has recognized the thriving entrepreneurial spirit on Princeton University’s campus, awarding five undergraduate students with Slavin Fellowships. This year, the three winners are Niko Fotopoulos, a Class of 2021 molecular biology major; Ron Miasnik, a Class of 2022 computer science major; and Liz Petrov, a Class of 2022 computer science major. These students come from diverse academic backgrounds, but what they all share is a passion to push the boundaries of innovation.
Through the Slavin Fellowship, they will be able to receive valuable mentorship and resources to pursue their entrepreneurial projects with support from the Slavin Family team, which is composed of company founders, professors from top universities, and industry experts.
"We are pleased to have another great group of Princeton students accepted into the Slavin Fellowship. This organization’s mission is to build strong connections among talented and creative people, with the long term objective of building value – which resonates with our own goals," said Anne-Marie Maman ’84, the executive director of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council.
Nick Slavin, chairman of the Slavin Family Foundation, reflected on his initial interactions with the Princeton Slavin Fellows: "On February 11th, I gave a talk over lunch at the eHub organized by Anne-Marie Maman and got a chance to meet a number of Princeton student entrepreneurs. Over the next couple days, I also had one-on-one coffees with Niko, Ron, and Liz, each of whom then applied for the Slavin Fellowship. It was great having a chance to meet them."
"What Niko, Ron, and Liz share is the bias for action and the seriousness and depth of thought you need to be a great builder and leader." - Nick Slavin
Niko Fotopoulos is a co-founder of Alimtas Bioventures, a Princeton Entrepreneurship Club subteam that works closely with the Office of Technology Licensing to facilitate biotech and life sciences ventures. His Alimtas co-founder and close friend, Rohan Shah, was also a Princeton Slavin Fellow from June 2019. Fotopoulos is a venture capital intern for New Enterprise Associates, a prominent venture capital firm. Currently, Fotopolous is working on a medical financing start-up, for which he plans to launch an MVP with a clinical provider and to work with a banking partner in the coming months.
Fotopoulos is pairing his passion for medicine with entrepreneurship: "I want to be a doctor. I have done medical devices, and now, I am doing financing in medicine. There are a lot of moving parts in the industry that are not patient-focused, but profit-driven. You can really reinvent it, put the power back in the patient’s hands, and make health a priority again."
Ron Miasnik is a co-director for Israel TigerTrek, a student-organized one-week trip that exposes Princeton students to the international entrepreneurship ecosystem, particularly to Israeli high-tech. Miasnik is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Adora, which is a start-up in the Keller Center eLab Incubator that applies augmented reality to generate customized college campus tour experiences. Adora will be particularly relevant in making social distancing more engaging for college applicants and admits during COVID-19.
"Princeton sells itself on the community, the alumni network, and how insanely loyal people are. I think that in itself is the best place you can start. For Adora, all four of our team members are Princeton students. Our first customer is the Princeton Admissions Office. We are the first student-owned company that has become a vendor for Princeton. Our advisor is a Princeton trustee (Ann Kirschner *78). We’ve been getting support from the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council and the Keller Center. Princeton has been an incredibly supportive institution. When students do innovative things, the administration offers support because increasing innovation on campus is an objective the University is working towards as well."
Liz Petrov heads Envision, which is a student-run conference that delves into how breakthrough advancements in emerging technologies will shape the future of humanity. "My career interests are in emerging technologies, and specifically in bringing futuristic tech to the market in an ethically conscious way. I want to follow my own curiosities and discover fields we don’t even know about yet," said Petrov.
This summer, Petrov will be a software engineering intern for Apple in the Technology Development Group. In addition, in the upcoming year, Petrov plans to take a gap year to learn and expand her technical understanding of topics that fascinate her, including but not limited to brain-computer interfaces, augmented reality, and biotech. She is currently working on an application that would allow people to organize and reflect on online content that is meaningful to them, combating the problem of information overload.
The three newest Princeton awardees are not only excited to attend the Slavin Fellowship summits and to work closely with the Slavin Family Foundation, but they also look forward to building a tight-knit community and professional network of others with strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship for advice and support.
Slavin said that this year’s Princeton Slavin Fellows stood out to him and that he sees great potential: "What Niko, Ron, and Liz share is the bias for action and the seriousness and depth of thought you need to be a great builder and leader." He is pleased to add these three new awardees to the current Princeton students and alumni who have already been awarded the Slavin Fellowship.