Find Your Startup

Meet the new 2016-2017 HackCville staff and hear from the outgoing Director, Adam Ghazzawi, as he reflects on his experiences at HC.

While my original idea for this article was to draft a simple, short piece introducing the new staff of HackCville, our Managing Editor convinced me that an article reflecting on my time at HackCville would attract greater viewership. As a self-conscious writer, I sit here, two weeks past the article due date, unsure where to begin. After spending two years on staff at HackCville, and now the outgoing Director, my Word document remains a convoluted mess of my internal thought process. Not because HackCville failed to impact my college career or that I don’t feel confident in sharing our accomplishments (quite the opposite, actually), but because it remains difficult for me to simply articulate how HackCville has had such a profound impact on my outlook during my time here at the university and in my life.

So here we go…

In the most simple of terms, HackCville has allowed me to ‘find my startup.’ Not in the way that I am looking to hit it big with this grand idea and be the next Forbes 30 under 30. I have simply found this thing that I have a deep passion for and could spend countless hours finding ways to make it better. I love helping it grow in new directions. I love constantly meeting awesome members in our community. I love setting up kick-ass events that UVa students will find fascinating. HackCville has become a place I love so deeply and I want everyone at UVa to walk through our doors just once so I can show them why this place is so great.

While my ‘startup’ has been HackCville, all of our members have their own startups, their own ideas, passions, projects. Our space is made up of hundreds of startups that people love and want to continue to build upon. How are they able to do that? Community. Our space is filled with an academically diverse set of students who build upon each others’ skill sets to further their ideas. From founders of nonprofits to the most techy of engineers, we have somehow been able to build a space that provides the best environment to grow your startup idea into a fully developed article, website, or app.

I recently sat down with a UVa publication that wanted to do a piece on HackCville, but was under the stipulation that they could not write about “community.” They wanted quantitative facts and “success stories.” I left the meeting flustered by UVa at large. The whole point of our space is that we don’t simply end up as a number or tick mark in UVa’s series of pamphlets. We each have stories that should be shared and ideas that should be pursued. We are only able to do what we do because of the community which exists.

You don’t even have to be a member of HackCville to take advantage of our space. Come hang for an afternoon. Listen in on conversations and contribute as you see fit. I guarantee you will walk away from your hour in the house having learned something and possibly even inspired to push your personal idea one step further.

So, you’ve now scrolled to the end of the article and want my summarized “big idea.” What is my grand advice to any college student? Find your startup. Find a thing that you feel so passionate about that you could stay up all night brainstorming ways to make it better. It doesn’t have to be something that you created or built from the ground up. It just has to be something that you love.

With all that said, HackCville has a lot more room to grow. And here are the people who are helping to do that next year:


Managing Director – Andy Page started his involvement with HackCville during his first-year as a member of the first-ever Hustle Class. Since then, he has held the positions of Design Programs Coordinator, Senior Producer for the Pioneer, Programs Manager, and is now transitioning into the role of Managing Director. Andy is passionate about the distribution of information and education and believes HackCville is the place where these interests intersect.



Membership Manager – Amy Kim is a Statistics major from Chantilly, VA. She was part of HackCville’s first Fall 2014 Hustle Class and has been your Community Manager for the past three semesters. She loves traveling, watching basketball (go Hoos), and HackCville!



Alumni Relations Manager – Jeevan Karamsetty is a first-year from Northern Virginia studying Computer Science and looking to go into Commerce. He’s super passionate about investing, tech, entrepreneurship, and finance. He also likes to spend his free time playing chess and basketball. He hopes to one day start his own business!


Mentorship Manager – Sam Coppel is a second year studying Economics and has no idea what he wants to do with his career. He does know, however, that he is so excited to lead HackCville’s burgeoning mentorship program this upcoming year.



Marketing Manager – Sarah Dodge is a second-year here at UVa. Currently, her major is (hopefully) soon-to-be decided, which is a relief for her parents. She is from a small town in northern Virginia called Front Royal, also known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia and also not part of NoVA. She is a sports-loving, world-traveling photographer with an arguably unhealthy obsession with Grit Coffee, HackCville, and all other things on Elliewood.



Operations Manager – Upal Saha is a third-year who enjoys both breaking and fixing things.



Special Programs ManagerMadhav Sekar is a second-year Commerce and Computer Science student. He devours books and is an avid student of life. He is the proud founder of the Ballout Challenge and Balz-Deli. This summer, he will be taking his talents to Wayfair’s Media Solutions Team in Boston. His eventual goal is to become the “Indian Elon Musk.” Watch him plan some dope startup trips and indulge in his usual shenanigans during the 2016-2017 academic season.



Partnerships Manager – Irena Huang is a first-year whose major changes every single day. Right now, she hopes to pursue Computer Science and Economics. She joined HackCville as a part of the Fall 2015 Hustle Class and joined the programs team in the Spring of 2016. She wisely invests her free time in watching corgi videos online.



Weekly Workshops Manager – Mike Verdicchio is a third-year Computer-Engineering student from Mechanicsville, Virginia. In the future, he hopes to design and build computer hardware, but until then, he’s a software developer for fun. He’s passionate about technology, building things to make life simpler and cooler, and empowering others to kick ass in whatever they want to do. Over the last year, he has fully emerged himself in the HackCville community and can’t wait to continue making/working with hustlers next year on staff.



Programs Manager – Keaton Wadzinski hustled in Fall 2015 while co-working out of HackCville to launch ReinventED Lab (, a nonprofit startup. Keaton then proposed, designed, and launched a new education innovation program within HackCville called Rethink, sponsored by ReinventED Lab. Keaton is the incoming Programs Manager to oversee curriculum development, cross-program collaboration, and project-based learning within HackCville programs. Keaton’s personal mission is to create the future of education in Charlottesville.



Director of the Pioneer – Brian Mitchell is geeky about startups and is studying analytics and entrepreneurship in the McIntire School of Commerce. In a world where everyone seems in a race to specialize, he tries to develop a wide range of skills and never stop learning. From data to design, media to management, biz dev to app dev – he’s experienced all sides of the game during his two years working with HackCville and The Pioneer.

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About The Pioneer + HackCville

The Pioneer is the publication of HackCville. All of our producers are either current students or graduates of HackCville’s media education programs.

Our producers develop skills in modern media production through publishing stories about creative, civic, and entrepreneurial innovators in the University of Virginia and greater Charlottesville community. Learn more →

HackCville develops the skills, networks, and entrepreneurial ability of talented U.Va. students. We accelerate our students’ ideas, projects, and startups through our experiential programs and tight-knit community. More about us →

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