[quote style=”boxed”]When I told my undergrad advisor that I was accepted into Stanford but couldn’t afford it, he responded with, “Bret, do whatever it takes to go there. Beg, borrow, or steal if you have to, just do whatever it takes and I promise you won’t regret it.” He couldn’t have been more right.[/quote]
Bret Kugelmass is the Founder of Eventative, a web start-up poised to change the way people organize themselves in the real world. He grew up in Baldwin NY, and over the last few years has tried his hands across a wide variety of technical disciplines. Jumping from building robots for NASA, to applied quantum physics at Berkeley, to designing solar technology for Silicon Valley’s Nanosolar, he consistently dives head first into any new technology that has the potential for positive world change. Upon landing at Stanford University he designed a digital credit card, a biodegradable toothbrush for children, and built a 2020 EV concept car.
He also volunteers his time mentoring high school students in robotics and engineering, lobbies US congressmen to promote and support STEM disciplines, and rides a ‘95 Kawasaki Vulcan 800. Now that he’s graduated with a masters in mechanical engineering entrepreneurship is his calling, and the web world is a launch-pad ripe with opportunity. Bret also strives to be an action film actor someday, seriously.
What are you working on right now?
We’re about to release the beta version of Eventative, a web tool that makes it easy to get your friends together in real life by making your plans contingent upon minimum guest confirmation.
It’s an elegant solution to getting your friends to commit and eliminating the need to painstakingly build momentum. You’re only actually committing if everyone else is; so the host knows with plenty of time whether it’s worth their trouble to plan and the guests are given confidence that it will be an event with sufficient interest from others.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up, do 100 pushups, take my roommate’s longhaired Doxen, Ella, to the “office” (a coffee shop down the block) and manage a team of developers and contractors across the world from my laptop. I’m surrounded by a group of talented and motivated entrepreneurs doing the same for their own projects and we spend the next 12 hours sharing advice and laughs while fueling our coffee addictions. Then I’ll grab a drink with friends, go to sleep, and press the repeat button.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
A friend had me help her move apartments once. I learned to avoid that situation at all costs.
3 trends that excite you?
- Solar anything and everything.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Just start prototyping, and don’t stop until you’ve answered a question or discovered a new one. Prepare yourself to face endless criticism. Then, iterate based on what your user actually needs, not what they say they want.
What inspires you?
World change. I live by the motto, “It doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is, all that matters is what needs to get done.” I apply it for everything from doing the dishes to taking on global warming. Knowing that I’m going to leave this world a better place than I found it is almost enough to get me through the endless challenges.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I grew up in NY. It gave me a thick skin, a no bullshit attitude, and the ability to persevere in the face of anything. I didn’t have my parents to pay for college, so I learned at a pretty young age the value of money, and taught myself some pretty serious self discipline towards high achievement. I believe in working for everything you own, and being very generous with friends.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Don’t let your friends convince you that your ideas are crazy. When you do something out of the ordinary, everyone is going to be against it initially, whether it’s actually a good or bad idea. I used to give up too early on ideas in the face of heavy criticism, now I know that if it’s non-consensus it’s more likely to be a game changer. Albeit a risky strategy, seeking these opportunities pays the highest dividends.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Fix customer service call centers, it’s a 100 billion dollar industry doing a shitty job.
What do you read every day, and why?
I read the NY Times, as many articles as I can every day. I’m obsessed with having the broadest understanding of the world possible. That way when someone wants to talk about whatever their passion is, I can contribute intelligently to the conversation. When you talk about what others want, it makes them like you more.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It gives you incredible perspective and the tools to analyze and improve your interactions with others.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Gmail access from my iPhone, I literally could not live without it.
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
I wish I used twitter more effectively, but here’s who I follow in general: Mark Suster, Thomas Friedman, and Paul Krugman.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Dean Kamen – He inspires high school students to tackle problems that world leaders shy away from.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.
Every single episode of “The Office.”
What one piece of advice have you been incredibly thankful to receive?
When I told my undergrad advisor that I was accepted into Stanford but couldn’t afford it, he responded with, “Bret, do whatever it takes to go there. Beg, borrow, or steal if you have to, just do whatever it takes and I promise you won’t regret it.” He couldn’t have been more right.
Where do you get your incredibly stylish and perfectly fitted shirts?
iTailor.com – thanks for asking.