Northeastern students attend summit as 30 Under 30 scholars

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Northeastern students attend summit as 30 Under 30 scholars




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By Riley Robinson, staff writer

The Forbes brand loosened its top button this weekend.

The business media company hosted its fifth annual 30 Under 30 Summit Sunday through Tuesday in Boston City Hall Plaza. More than 7,000 young people from more than 40 countries attended the event, according to a Forbes spokesperson. Several Northeastern students participated through the Forbes Under 30 Scholars program, which provided free tickets to 1,000 college students from around the country.

The 30 Under 30 “village,” a collection of clear plastic tents and Epcot-dome-like structures, sheltered speakers across professional fields, including Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. A “work hard, play hard” attitude shone through, with other tents devoted to tequila tastings and a mosh-pit kickoff concert Sunday night.

“The commonality is they’re are all doing things, the action element,” said industrial engineering  graduate student Sai Praneeth Macherla, of summit attendees. Macherla is a mentor at IDEA, Northeastern’s venture accelerator, and was a Forbes 30 Under 30 Scholar for the second time this year.

“My end game is leading a company,” he said.

Jerry Spatch, a fifth-year business administration student, first attended the summit in 2016, where he pitched his business in its prototype phase. Spatch is the creator of “vers,” a rap card game that prompts players with topics and rhyme schemes.

Jerry Spatch’s early prototype of his game very lies next to his current product, which he carried with him at the event. / Photo by Riley Robinson

“Back when I was a baby, I was walking around with this,” he said, holding out a brown cardboard box filled with cards he had illustrated himself in primary-hue digital scribbles. “I gave the exact same pitch, like here, this is what I’m slinging.”

Spatch said he gets a better response now with a manufactured product, which he created with Northeastern’s student-run design firm Scout over a four-month period. He carried it around the summit tucked in a black and white striped beanie.

“When I whip this thing out, now they’re like, ‘Yo, that’s legit,’” Spatch said.

What hasn’t changed over the past two years? How he pitches himself.

“I usually go up to people and tell them I’m ready to party,” he said. “You’d be surprised how often it’s worked. I’m here to get turnt and stay turnt.”

Spatch wasn’t the only person there to party. As the sun dipped below Boston’s downtown skyscrapers Sunday, hoodies and vape pens replaced slacks and blouses as thousands gathered for a three-act concert by Butterscotch, Russ and Marshmello.

Butterscotch, a female vocal percussionist, opened with lyricless beats before picking up a guitar and mixing in soul vocals. Between songs, she spoke in support of music education in public schools.

“When I was younger, I would struggle with depression and often felt suicidal,” she said. “It was music and art that saved me.”

Some audience members began climbing on other’s shoulders while Russ, an American rapper, was onstage. Eager Snapchat users captured bursts of smoke, flame and other pyrotechnics that punctuated mixes by Marshmello, a mask-wearing DJ.

Monday and Tuesday’s agendas were filled with business speakers, gif-making photo booths, and opportunities for attendees to pitch to venture capital representatives.

Macherla called experiences like the Forbes summit, and his work at IDEA, “learning vicariously.”

“I go through the grind without any of the risk,” he said.

Though Flake protestors made the headlines through Monday, revolution seemed to be on the mind both inside and outside the gates.

“This is Boston. We start revolutions here,” said Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams brewery, while addressing the crowd Sunday night. “I hope you all have a chance to start your own revolutions.”