We travel to Bogotá, Colombia to catch up with Doug Coombs (Economics, Butler), founder of biciq.com, an event hosting and ticketing site that handles the financial transactions and sends PDF tickets to purchasers that the organizer can then scan with his iPhone. The business brings a high level of professionalism and efficiency to all parties involved in the transaction. The previous alternative was tracking signups via email and rough Excel documents and attendees paying by physically depositing cash into a bank account.
Doug’s career has taken him from investment banking to a stint in VC investments in vineyards where a key perk was “product testing,” to his start-up in Colombia. What’s the next step for Doug? “Sometimes I still think I’m going to be a professional snowboarder when I grow up [laughs]…I think it’s in many cases a matter of recognizing opportunities as they come and being in a position to take advantage of them, whatever they may be. For me, it’s fascinating to see how little decisions start people down paths that are nothing you’d ever picture them doing.”
Doug was drawn to Colombia because its great cultural energy, friendly people who love their country and a prime market for new entrepreneurial ventures. “As a businessman, it’s a great time to be coming to the market. The security situation here in the last 10 years has done a complete 180, and the middle class is growing in both size and purchasing power, but the market hasn’t yet been saturated by overinvestment, like Brazil for example.”
Colombia is luckily situated close to the US and Doug makes the trek back for skiing in Tahoe and weddings across the country, and “it doesn’t hurt that I can take a 5.5 hour direct flight to Newark for Reunions!” Doug hasn’t missed one since sophomore year.
On his life in Colombia, Doug enjoys the proximity of places like the Amazon, 500 year-old colonial cities, and deserted coastlines, and travels as often as he can, rendezvousing often with 2007 classmates on South American adventures (see photos). Bogotá, being a city of 9,000,000 people, Doug enjoys the same city life you would find in any other cosmopolitan city including weekend brunches, going out, playing golf and riding his bike, though he does enjoy a Colombian twist from time to time with additions to the line-up of nights of salsa dancing or afternoons playing tejo, a sort of Colombian version of cornhole…but with explosions! (Tejo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o16LyndAY2U)
We wish Doug all the best in this and any future endeavours! We look forward to catching up over a beer with him in Old Nassau in May!
And now here’s an update from our resident Olympian, Genevra (“Gevvie”) Stone (Forbes, History), who competed in the 2012 London summer Olympics. The 2012 games were well represented by Tigers with 18 Princetonians competing or coaching (full list can be found at http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2012/07/11/pages/8117/). Gevvie competed in the single sculls race at the 2012 Summer Olympics and placed 1st in Final B and 7th overall.
Rowing is a family tradition to Gevvie, and the Head of the Charles in October is “a weekend on par with Christmas to me and my family. The regatta is a reunion for my family friends as well as all my rowing friends.” Gevvie’s win in the single in 2008 was a momentous occasion for her, made even more special because she got to share it with her family, friends, and former teammates in attendance. It was this special win that encouraged her to go for the 2012 US Olympic team.
Between races, Gevvie has found time to complete her medical degree at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She has known since she was young that she wanted to become an orthopaedics specialist. “I had knee issues beginning in middle school. When I was 12, my Mom took me into an appointment with an orthopaedist. He had extraordinary bedside manner and loved his work. As I was leaving the office, I said to my Mom, ‘I want to be like Dr. Boland when I grow up.’” Making the story come full circle, Gevvie worked with Dr. Boland in his clinic during medical school and still strives to be like him when she grows up.
What does Gevvie miss most about Princeton? “Do I have to pick just one? Then Lawnparties. It’s the best of Princeton: great friends all out celebrating being together at the best college there is.” And as many of us do, Gevvie stays connected to her local P’07 classmates. She participates in a Boston book club with three members of our fabulous class: Jessie Cronan, Emily Smith, and Luke Owings. In terms of other interests, in her free time, Gevvie takes ice-cream eating pretty seriously.
Gevvie states that one of the most memorable moment of her life thus far was racing the final in London as well as the entire Olympics experience. “Cheesy and predictable as an answer, I know, but it was out-of-this-world spectacular. Seriously living on cloud nine!” Luckily Gevvie has many opportunities ahead of her to participate in the games. “Lots of aspirations for Rio 2016! Residency is officially on hold.” What else does the future hold for Gevvie? “Attending Princeton reunions, of course!”
An update from our classmate Lorne Hofstetter (Wilson, Astrophysics). After graduation, Lorne spent five+ years at General Electric’s Global Research Center, developing new techniques for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). But he kept scratching an entrepreneurial itch, building Beartooth Longboards <www.beartoothlongboards.com> on the nights and weekends. But it was another idea that ended up being the push he needed to jump into entrepreneurship full time—the “wedding facebook” he and his wife, Rachel, created for their 2012 wedding. Inspired by the Princeton Freshman Herald, Lorne and Rachel created their own version of the Herald to feature all of their friends and family at their wedding.
Last spring, he left GE to launch the concept publicly, now called guesterly. It’s been one wild ride—guesterly <www.guesterly.com> has been featured everywhere from Glamour and InStyle to The Knot, and they’ve sold versions not just to brides and grooms but to corporate clients ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Says Lorne, “Thanks to all the Princetonians that have provided so much feedback and encouragement. Couldn’t have done it without your support!”
Time for a new update from one of our classmates! VICTOR WAKEFIELD (History) is currently leading Teach For America’s efforts in the Las Vegas as their executive director in the region. Following graduation, Victor joined Teach For America and moved to Gary, Indiana where he taught at the West Gary Lighthouse Charter School.
After his time as a teacher, he joined the organization’s staff as the recruitment director at our lovely alma mater and our favorite copycat school, Duke. During his tenure, 15% of the senior class applied to Teach For America. He’s very proud to call himself and his wife Las Vegans and frequently gets together with the rest of the water polo team at weddings as they seem to be marrying themselves off by the minute! Lucky ladies!
Time to catch up with RORY TRUEX (Mathey / Politics). While in freshman Chinese, Rory hadn’t yet figured out that this introductory language class would set him off on one wild journey. While at Princeton, Rory spent his early summers at Princeton in Beijing, and came back with an idea to start a school in rural China, focusing on training teachers and using Princeton’s language learning methods to help them learn English. Rory’s program, the Summer of Service, has since become fully integrated into Princeton-in-Asia’s offerings. More information on the initiative can be found here: http://piaweb.princeton.edu/
After graduating, Rory spent two years as an Associate Consultant at Bain before going back to graduate school to become a China scholar. Now a PhD Candidate at Yale, his research focuses on the development of democratic and legislative institutions in the People’s Republic of China. He is one of the only scholars outside of China currently studying the National People’s Congress, and has developed a database of member’s past and their bill proposals. His research is helping to shed some light on China’s government — an institution precious few people understand — and shows how it is more responsive to citizen’s concerns than might be apparent at first glance. This work has already received support from the National Science Foundation.
Despite all this, Rory still managed to find time for one important extracurricular passion. His multi-continent courtship of Katherine Ensler ’08 finally led to their wedding just a few weeks ago on a dock in Ithaca, right at the spot where he proposed.
An update on Pyne Prize winner, ALISHA HOLLAND (Rocky/Woody Woo). Alisha is currently a graduate student in the last year of her PhD Harvard’s Government department, as well as a Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago where she lives. After graduation Alisha worked for Human Right Watch through Princeton in Latin America and was the lead author of a controversial report on Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela that got her bosses kicked out of the country at gun point (luckily, Alisha was at math camp starting her PhD).
At Harvard she has been studying Latin American politics and has published her senior thesis, “Right on Crime?” on the politics of gang violence in Central America in the Latin American Research Review. Her dissertation, Forbearance as Redistribution, studies the ways in which the non-enforcement of laws (against squatting and street vending) acts as a politically important form of welfare policy in Bogotá, Colombia, Lima, Perú and Santiago de Chile. She has spent every summer, and much of the year, living in those cities since graduating Princeton, though she has also lived in Cambridge, MA, Chicago and Toulouse, France.
Alisha is busy now looking for jobs for after graduation jointly with her husband of three years now, GLEN WEYL, our class valedictorian who is now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago.