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Nick Cox CC '11 and Brian Valero CC '12: Drop Global

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Drop Global is turning solo action sports into a social experience, making it easy for sports fans share information and connect with one another by tagging everything from prime surfing locations to great skate parks. Founded by Nicholas Cox ’11 and Brian Valero ’12, Drop Global is the most recent business run by young College alumni to join the Columbia Startup Lab in West SoHo.

Once users sign up for Drop Global, they can use the platform to tag and describe locations. “I started Drop Global because I wanted to connect people in the community and allow people to find locations around the world,” says Cox. “[Users can] connect with people from that area and learn about the local spots whether it’s surfing, skating, biking, anything.” The site focuses on action sports like surfing, skateboarding and other traditionally solo pursuits, making the activities more social, as users can connect with local sports enthusiasts by finding pins nearby or connecting directly with fellow users through their accounts. Drop Global not only lets action sports enthusiasts share information online, but also sells performance clothing to be a one-stop shop for athletes who want to find the best place to practice their passion and look good once they get there.

Cox and Valero met while both were on the Columbia baseball team, and decided to turn their mutual love of sports into a company. Cox was captain of the baseball team his senior year, and attributes that experience to giving him a background in how to run a business. He says, “Just playing a sport at an Ivy League school can teach you great leadership skills — you have to learn how to balance fun and work.” Now the CEO of his own company (Valero is CFO), Cox says he often draws on his Columbia experiences to remind himself to push through the hard work of getting a startup off the ground. The two plan to use their first few months in the lab to rework their website with their developer, add more features and update their graphics.

As members of the Columbia Startup Lab, the pair will be able to network with fellow College alumni (as well as alumni from Engineering, SIPA and the Business School), as the WeWork studio has an open floor plan to facilitate interactions among companies. Cox says that he and Valero are especially excited to join the Startup Lab for the camaraderie among fellow Columbians. “We thought, what better way to get Drop Global off the ground than through Columbia with our fellow alumni, where we can communicate with other people who are doing what we’re doing?”