“The only mark I think I had on that dining hall was that I lobbied to get that panini maker. So, if you ate at that dining hall, that panini maker was all me. They still have it.”
This accomplishment was simply one of many Sam Rosen, a 2007 alum of UVa, admitted to achieving while still a student at the University. He had returned as a visiting member of the 2016 Tom Tom Founders Festival and had deigned to join the HackCville community on a balmy Saturday morning for brunch.
In retrospect, the panini maker was simply a small taste of the incredible success Rosen would achieve as a modern-day entrepreneur upon his graduation from the University. After working as a consultant for such companies as Urban Interns and Scorebig Inc., Rosen took it upon himself to create his own ventures, co-founding Speakergram Inc. and Scaffold, the latter an online social credit score service.
Rosen’s latest venture has been MakeSpace, a storage service that combines the ease of a virtual inventory with custom physical storage, allowing a customer to manage their possessions online while providing free storage bins and pick-up or delivery services to secure warehouses. He also founded the company, utilizing not only his past experience in entrepreneurial business, but a sudden flash of inspiration. In the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, Rosen witnessed a new phenomenon first-hand in New York City. Many of the city’s residents had planned to place their belongings into storage prior to Sandy’s arrival, but found it considerably difficult to do so while also struggling to retrieve their possessions in a timely and stress-free manner.
Recognizing the chance to make a positive difference (a self-described “boom” moment), Rosen decided to tackle this problem head on, holding onto his conviction that the best startups begin in an attempt to find solutions. In Rosen’s own personal philosophy, turning an idea into a sustainable reality requires the ability “to come up with better ideas” to fix persistent social problems.
Rosen certainly honored that maxim in creating MakeSpace, a company of which he now serves as CEO. Once limited to New York City, MakeSpace now runs facilities in Washington D.C. and Chicago with a planned expansion to many more cities. Rosen was recently honored with a 2015 inclusion in Forbes’s annual “30 under 30” feature article. His recent return to Charlottesville was truly an honor and inspiring example to the local community. Rosen’s terrific energy and passion became apparent as he offered his personal advice and adventurous experiences to aspiring entrepreneurs.
As the brunch began to wrap up, Rosen had a final thought to share with the aspiring entrepreneurs:
“I think the biggest thing about being an entrepreneur is the optimism for the future—I think that’s the awesome thing about coming from, and being a part of, this [startup] community. You’re the optimists—you’re the radicals who make something new happen. And that’s cool. That’s the cool place to be.”