Starting Up Startup Weekend

Navjot Brar wearing a virtual reality headset

As a business analyst for Carpe Data, a leading provider of next generation data products to the insurance industry based in Santa Barbara, Brar supports the firm’s product team in providing next generation predictive scoring and data products via product management, project management, data analysis and quality assurance. 

A mechanical engineering major, Navjot Brar earned multiple awards while at UCSB (see below) and became involved in UCSB’s Entrepreneurs Association. He quickly became president of the organization and began hosting events that engaged a greater audience than the association had ever seen. This sparked Brar’s interest in startup companies and motivated him to bring startup weekends and career fairs to UCSB for the first time. 

In order to mobilize such large-scale events as Startup Weekend, Brar depends heavily on his Gaucho network. As a brother of Sigma Nu and a pivotal member of the Alumni Association's GreekFest planning committee, he still maintains a deep connection to UCSB. “Being a UCSB alum is extremely helpful for those in sales because there are so many successful UCSB alumni out there who love talking to fellow Gauchos, even if it is a cold call every now and then!” 

What does it take to make Startup Weekend successful? 

In my free time, I like to support startup communities as an organizer, facilitator, and mentor for Startup Weekends. Startup Weekend is a three-day startup accelerator event that encourages a fun and engaging environment for startup enthusiasts of all backgrounds. Weekend activities begin with rapid-fire startup pitches, prototype building, mentor feedback from experts in the field, keynote speakers, and conclude with a Shark Tank-style judging session. Prizes are awarded to the best new startups. Since graduating, I have already had the opportunity to facilitate the first ever Startup Weekend in Wyoming and founded the first ever AR/VR themed Startup Weekend in California.

Describe your childhood. 

I grew up in Santa Clarita. A town that’s not so fun to grow up in, but is right next to Magic Mountain! I didn’t know about anything I wanted to do in the future when I was a kid. I loved playing video games like Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and more. I was good at math so always thought I would do something with that but never knew remotely what that would be. I guess these must be the roots of my interest in tech! My parents actually were in India most of their lives and moved to the United States in 1996 so that my brother and I could have better opportunity here. They struggled to get their jobs at the Post Office and make a living. They had to navigate their language barrier and work several minimum wage jobs to get where they are now. I am extremely happy to have had great, hard-working parents growing up.

Why did you choose to study at UCSB? 

The school looked way more fun, was on the beach, and also had a better engineering program so the decision was pretty easy. I will never forget the moment my parents left as I stood in between the lawns of San Nic and San Miguel. I was free and could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted. The school was beautiful. Everyone that I met during my time in Freshman Summer Start Program (FSSP) was awesome! I loved having all you can eat food while going to Isla Vista every weekend. That summer of FSSP was definitely the best six weeks of my life.

What drew you to your major? 

I had no idea what Mechanical Engineering really was back in high school. Every other good math person was doing engineering so I guess that looked like my best option.

Wow, was I in for a surprise when I actually started taking mechanical engineering courses. I was one of the only kids to ever get a year ahead in engineering courses so I took the hardest engineering courses during my second year when I was also vice president of Sigma Nu. I remember that being a tough time, but I was starting to figure out mechanical engineering wasn’t for me as a full-time thing. Since I was so close to finishing I realized that getting an engineering degree is always a good thing. During my third year though, I started taking TMP classes and fell in love.

What was student life like for you?

Student life was amazing! Two parts of my student journey stand out. The first of which was being a founding father and influential leader within Sigma Nu. The second of which was my time supporting the entrepreneurial community of UCSB as the president of the Entrepreneurs Association. I grew so much along with the growth of the fraternity and it is definitely my most proud college achievement now seeing the fraternity still doing well to this day.

As president of the Entrepreneurs Association I participated in the New Venture Competition, founded the first-ever UCSB Startup Weekend, and founded the first-ever UCSB Startup Career Fair. I enjoyed the journey through each of those so knew my future was at the crossroads of business and engineering which has led me into my current business analyst role at a great Santa Barbara insure-tech startup and my efforts were commended with the Chancellor’s Award of Distinction, the President of the Year award (Leslie Griffin Lawson Award for Outstanding Leadership), and most involved engineering student award (Hynes-Wood Award).


Reasons We're Proud to be Gauchos

No. 12

Gauchos are awesome! I have so many great friends from UCSB and love meeting fellow alums. Every time I meet other alumni, I feel that we can chat for hours about our experience despite never having met one another before. That’s why I love talking to the students at the Annual Fund that cold call me for money.