Simon Schwartz CC’17, a philosophy major with a concentration in archaeology, brought an entrepreneurial spirit from his childhood on a farm to school in the Big Apple.
Schwartz, who grew up on a farm in Delaplane, Va., ended up on the College’s waitlist when he first applied. Frustrated, he took the initiative to write a supplementary essay – a parody – on why he was uniquely suited to go to Columbia.
“I explained why the College could use a few farmers,” Schwartz said. “I believe this is what got me in.”
Once Schwartz got to campus, he joined the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, becoming president in his sophomore year, and co-founding Almaworks Startup Accelerator, a student-run accelerator, in his junior year.
In Fall 2016, inspired by the mom-and-pop shops back home, which are “the key to preserving local businesses,” he says, Schwartz, along with Kimberly Hou CC’16, SEAS’21 and Mohamed Abedelmalik SEAS’19, started Locasaur, a platform for local, independent stores to interact with their customers and market to them directly.
Starting in June, Schwartz will be working on Locasaur at the Columbia Startup Lab in Soho, one of three Columbia College teams chosen through an application and interview process.
“I haven’t figured out how much money I’ll actually be paying myself or what couch I’ll be sleeping on,” he said. “But right now, at least we have a place to work.”
In His Own Words
“Being a philosophy major gives you the tools on how to think about things in a way that’s incredibly relevant to entrepreneurship. If entrepreneurship is all about changing the world, you first have to know how the world works. The world is made less of stone and steel and more of ideas and systems, and understanding those worldviews and systems is more important than ever. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that people don’t understand just how many worldviews there are, even in our own country. The world I grew up in down in Virginia was very different than the world here at Columbia. Over four years here, I’ve tried to see things from different points of view. I’m thankful because I feel like in coming to Columbia, I’ve become a much more observant and aware person in the way that is incredibly useful to entrepreneurship.” —Simon Schwartz CC’17
Corinne Lestch SOA’18 is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has worked for the New York Daily News, where she received a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and is currently getting her M.F.A. in creative writing at Columbia's School of the Arts. She received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University in 2010.