Noah Sobel-Pressman ‘21 (BUS) grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs.
“I’m lucky to have a lot of examples in my family of successful entrepreneurs,” says Sobel-Pressman, who is from West Hartford. “From a young age, I was interested in entrepreneurship because I had all these role models I wanted to emulate.”
Now a management major with a minor in data analytics and Chinese, Sobel-Pressman has utilized the resources and opportunities at UConn to learn more about venture capitalism and entrepreneurship, and develop programs to help other students.
After taking Management 3500 and 3501, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Sobel-Pressman gleaned an understanding of what it takes to develop and sell a product.
“It was a great experience to get in the weeds and understand the environment,” Sobel-Pressman says.
Sobel-Pressman founded the Get Seeded program with the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and other partners. Get Seeded allows students to pitch their ideas to an audience of their peers in the hopes of receiving up to $1,000 in seed funding and get feedback on their idea.
“I got to see so many ideas and help so many people,” Sobel-Pressman says.
Sobel-Pressman has also led efforts to establish the Student Venture Fund, which is expected to launch before the end of the year. Students involved in the fund will invest real money in real startups, with support from the Werth Institute. Sobel-Pressman had the idea for the fund his freshman year after seeing a similar program at another school.
He brought his idea to David Noble, the director for the Werth Institute. Noble helped Sobel-Pressman refine his idea and transform it into a reality.
“He saw potential in the idea despite its rough edges,” Sobel-Pressman says. “We worked together to turn it into a full-fledged idea. I think that’s the power of the Werth Institute, that [Noble] was willing to take a risk on it and I’ve really grown from that.”
Through a class, piloted last semester and started in earnest for Fall 2020, a group of students will learn how to evaluate companies seeking investors. Sobel-Pressman hopes those involved will be able to start investing in student-run companies beginning in Spring 2021.
The class will help students understand what investors look for in a startup, benefitting both those interested in investing and those who want to start their own companies.
This experience is extremely valuable to those working on a startup as incipient companies rarely have access to the resources UConn students do. From help with engineering, data, translations, marketing, intellectual property protection, and just about anything else, UConn has resources to help.
“We think people will be interested in working with us because anything you want, we probably have a student who can do it,” Sobel-Pressman says.
Last fall, Sobel-Pressman learned about startup culture beyond UConn and Connecticut by studying abroad at the University of Birmingham in England.
“It was really interesting to be immersed in their startup ecosystem and see how different it was there,” Sobel-Pressman says.
Sobel-Pressman encourages any student who can to study abroad and gain a new perspective on how their area of interest looks in other parts of the world, as he did.
After UConn, Sobel-Pressman wants to work at a venture capital firm or a high-growth startup.
While Sobel-Pressman isn’t targeting any industry in particular, as someone who loves to cook, he finds the food and food technology sector interesting. Especially given the COVID-19 pandemic, the food tech industry has developed a newfound importance.
“Most people didn’t even know what Instacart was last year and now it’s a household name,” Sobel-Pressman says. “It’s a really interesting space to work in right now.”
One practice that helped Sobel-Pressman be successful at UConn was his willingness to meet new people and start conversations.
By joining groups such as the Business Management Society and attending entrepreneurship events, Sobel-Pressman forged valuable connections with peers and mentors.
“You just gotta take the dive,” Sobel-Pressman says. “Don’t be afraid to reach out because the worst thing that’ll happen is they say no, and the best is that you’ll have a good conversation.”
Students interested in learning more about research opportunities at UConn can check out virtual events during the Month of Discovery.