Nolan Zandi | Mathematics | Economics
From: Born in Santa Cruz, CA. From Morgan Hill, CA. Currently lives in Laguna Beach, CA.
Pomona Days: Class of 2010 | Double Major: Mathematics and Economics
Current Employment: Chief Operating Officer at RideApart
Past Employment: Associate at The Starkenburg Group, Analyst at ACA Compliance Group
Coming to Pomona: I came to Pomona as a freshman in 2006, not really sure what to expect. Pomona was highly recommended to me by various influential people in my life, but I had never visited and I knew nothing about the school's traditions or philosophy. That was about the end of my apprehension as Pomona quickly proved to be an immersive environment where I could get ready for my career and grow up emotionally. I enjoyed my time there and when I graduated in 2010, I was ambitious and ready to work as hard as necessary to try to get to the top.
Where I am today: My first job out of college was with a financial consulting firm that was doing great business-wise, but was in an incredibly boring industry. Not interested in grinding the ranks there and looking to get closer to technology and entrepreneurship, I took a position as a venture capital associate at The Starkenburg Group. I spent almost two years analyzing and performing strategic consulting projects at dozens of startups of all sizes and stages. By the summer of 2013, I was ready to become an entrepreneur for real and I accepted an invitation to join the executive team of a company that I was advising, RideApart. RideApart was a small new media company dedicated to under-served enthusiast topics, namely motorcycles and other powersports. They had revenue, a charismatic CEO, and bold ambitions to create a freelance platform to help freelance writers share revenue and make more money from their online journalism. I joined in July 2013 and it's been a ride ever since.
What's next: I think there is a lot more to do at RideApart (in fact, we are barely getting started) but in the future I'd love to experiment with non-internet products (possibly robotics), try a more technology/product focused role in a startup, and I definitely want an opportunity to teach someday.
Biggest advice for students: Don't forget about the value you can add as an entrepreneur at any point in your life. Most of you aren't likely to start a company right out of college, but almost all of you are going to have long and successful careers at whatever you choose to do. You are going to have an opportunity to have close contact and experience at the top of the world's thought centers. Some of the work that you do is going to expose you to new solutions to some of the worlds toughest problems. At that point you are going to have to decide if you want to lead this solution into the world or if you want to let others take the credit and receive the rewards. It's never too late to become a leader and to try to solve problems from the ground up as an entrepreneur. My CEO and cofounder is 42. Entrepreneurship has always been his dream and he never forgot that. I don't think he regrets it either.
What can I offer: Mentorship, networking, future business opportunities. I'm looking to work with future entrepreneurs who need advice and help and who want to create a Pomona network of entrepreneurs that can use our combined scale to create new business and investment opportunities for all of us.