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ConnectU co-founder inspires CCI fireside attendees

Andrew Keefe

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Lighthearted, with a casual presentation of his message, entrepreneur Divya Narendra, whose name has been buzzing among students for his portrayal in “The Social Network,” filled Ayers College of Commerce and Industry’s main lobby Monday night with business majors, Facebook users and Jesse Eisenberg fans.

Narendra, the CEO and co-founder of SumZero and co-founder of Harvard’s ConnectU, stressed to more than 100 students to use caution when neglecting their education in pursuit of business ventures not necessarily destined to reach Facebook’s success.

Narendra, dressed in a sweatshirt, corduroys and sandals, established from the onset of the gathering that he had nothing planned and questions would direct the discussion.

“I’m a student, too,” said Narendra, who is a second year student at Kellogg. “I’m not going to dress up in a tie; that’s not my style. I’ve always been pretty laid- back.”

Narendra is best known by Northwestern students for being recently portrayed by Max Minghella in the “The Social Network.”

The setting of Narendra’s fireside matched his nonchalant presence. Packed well beyond capacity, the dimly lit lobby held the smell of garlic saturated pizza and a constant lull of giggles from an audience absorbed by Narendra’s answers.

Questions raised ranged from whether one should drop out of high school to pursue an entrepreneurship and whether it’s a mistake to trust peers with business ideas to “Is Zuckerburg really (a jerk)?”

McCormick junior Katie Bradford hadn’t seen “The Social Network” but said she was nonetheless motivated by Narendra’s business advice.

“He’s had a lot of good experiences for someone so young,” Bradford said. “In some capacity I’d like to start my own company. I thought this was informative and inspiring.”

McCormick sophomore Brian Chester noted the closure Narendra appeared to have about his scandal with Zuckerberg.

“In terms of Facebook, he was really relaxed about it,” Chester said. “He seemed like a pretty relaxed guy.”

Because CCI is a residential college focused on commerce and industry, hosting Narendra for a fireside was an obvious decision, CCI President Dhrumil Mehta said. “His age and demeanor makes him someone us undergrads can easily relate to,” Mehta said.

For Narendra, the gains from connecting with students are mutual, he said.

“I was in college not too long ago and I vividly remember going through the same process,” he said. “There were all kinds of practical questions I had, and there was also my bigger vision that I wanted to live out. If I can help inspire people to do something fun on their own, that’s a great opportunity.”

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