Dylan Gambardella was not yet out of high school when he formed his first company, Students4Students College Advisory. In his senior year at Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, the Cortlandt Manor resident and his best friend, Justin Lasazan of Long Island, began matching high school students with students at top colleges that could offer advice on their applications. That led the partners to the enterprise that is making headlines now, the Next Gen Summit. Gambardella and Lasazan got the idea when their Students4Students project was a semifinalist at a Forbes Under 30 Summit. “Everything just inspired us and we thought, ‘Why not create something like this for younger people?’” says Gambardella, now a sophomore at Duke University. Their summit is aimed at budding entrepreneurs about 15 to 25 years old. The summit connects these young achievers and introduces them to “people who were in their shoes and made it happen,” he explains. The first summit, in Austin, Texas, last summer, drew 350 people. The next one will take place in June in New York City; Gambardella expects to draw 500 attendees.
• The first Next Gen Summit in Austin helped startups raise more than $1 million and was seen by 17,000 online viewers, as well as the 350 attendees. Presenters included Uber and Verizon, while speakers included state legislators, former NBA players, Thiel Fellows, and others. Three companies were formed there.
• Plans for the June summit in Manhattan are still underway, but 24 speakers are already lined up on the website, including many young founders, cofounders, and CEOs of their own companies.
• Students4Students has now helped young adults on three continents. While Gambardella was presenting a project in diabetes research at the I-SWEEEP –or International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering and Environment) Project–competition, he met a fellow entrant from Cairo, Egypt who later enlisted the organization’s help. And a student in Switzerland connected to them through Lasazan’s cousin also used the services.