As an undergraduate at the University of Vermont, Eric Grunfeld '22 MTL, opted out of the business major he had chosen. Paradoxically, the decision helped launch his business career.
“Business school was very focused on how we can improve a company by looking within the business itself, how operational efficiencies or deficiencies can be improved to help your bottom line,” Grunfeld says. “But rather than looking at the business internally, why not look at it with the eyes of your customer or the eyes of your community?”
Grunfeld’s new major, Community Entrepreneurship, emphasized how businesses can apply innovation to solve social, economic, and environmental problems. By his senior year, he had founded PluggdIn, a company that leverages IoT (Internet of Things) technology to enable users to earn money for their safe driving.
“Twenty-seven percent of all car collisions are associated with distracted driving,” Grunfeld says. “That amounts to 1.7 million collisions and 3,200 deaths per year.” According to Grunfeld, distracted driving is the leading cause of death among his generation. As an entrepreneur, he says his motivation comes from providing others with the one opportunity that matters more than anything else: the chance to live.