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Featured on Sep 14, 2011

Chris Kurdziel

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan"


I'm a CS-nerd turned Cornell b-school student who has lived in 6 states and visited all 50. I'm also a native New Yorker, but it's taken me two decades to get back to the city that I left when I was a kid. Now that I'm back, I can't get enough of the passion, tenacity and energy that the people in New York's tech scene exhibit on a daily basis. I discovered in the early weeks of its formation this past February and joined the team this past summer to help them on a host of fronts (one of which is planning - the awesome video hackathon we're hosting at General Assembly). When I’m not voraciously reading about technology and big ideas, following up on the latest video memes or working on my other Shelby related duties, I moonlight as a VC with Cornell's BR Venture Fund, play guitar and spend a lot of time outdoors running, hiking and bouldering. I also have been known to enjoy a game or two of Starcraft 2.

  • Title: i[0],
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Upper West Side
  • Contact: @ckurdziel

You recently wrote a post for intern[1] (your future replacement at that gave a few pieces of advice on your experience.  Did your internship at Shelby work out as you had expected when you took the job?

Even better than I expected! Coming from a large, Fortune 15 company with over 30,000 employees to a small startup with 4 employees was a huge change that I really welcomed.  While I knew that the environment would be fast paced and exciting, I don't think I had the deep appreciation (that I now have) for what it takes to keep an early stage startup moving forward.

Startups aren't for everyone, but I'm glad to say that my experience as i[0] at pushed me to take much more ownership over my own path in life and in my career.  In a company with 4 employees, even the intern has the power to change the company for the better.  I've met amazing people this summer (including a lot of other awesome interns) and really couldn't have gotten more out of the experience.  Reece, Dan, Henry and Myles all trusted my ability to execute on our event (among other things) and I'm really thankful that they did - it was a rich and rewarding experience for me both personally and professionally.

You mention that you like to spend a lot of times outdoors.  What are some of your places to go here around New York?  

When I'm up for a climbing session, I love to head over to Brooklyn Boulders.  Aside from that, I've really enjoyed having close access to Central Park and have been for a few great runs there while training for the marathon this fall.

I also think it's important to find the time to get out of New York - it's the greatest city in the world, but not the only city in the world.  I've done a lot of traveling, which has given me an appreciation for the diversity of landscapes in the US and I love to change up the scenery every once in a while.  Since I'm in business school at Cornell, I spend a lot of time in upstate New York as well.  Ithaca is extremely beautiful (gorges, even...) and getting out of the city gives me the chance to strike a nice balance between fast-paced city life and outdoor activity.

What were some of the more unexpected challenges that you faced while planning

We have a pretty ambitious vision for what the event should look like, and making sure that all the different API partners, sponsors, developers, designers, and videographers share and execute on that vision is a more subtle and complex task than I originally anticipated.  At Shelby, we view any challenge as an opportunity to make ourselves better as people and as a company, and I'm thankful that I had the support of the team to help me do just that.  

Most people that work in startups harp on "execution" and "shipping product" as the best way to achieve success and I'd say that's still very true whether you're building a product, a brand, or even an event.  Startup life is a roller coaster of emotion, but keeping the engine moving forward and having a positive and balanced attitude is really the key to successfully handling whatever challenges lie in the way.  I'm really thankful that our first event turned out so well and we're already talking about how we can make it even better for subsequent events in other cities.

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