Fellow Spotlight: Mehves Tangun, Brown University



Name:  Mehves Ofelya Tangun

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

University: Brown University ’13

Major: Engineering & Economics


What led you to apply for Venture for America?

After taking my first entrepreneurship class at Brown University I realized that I really enjoyed drafting business plans and pitching to investors. My entrepreneurship professor Danny Warshay introduced me to VFA. With his advice I decided to apply.

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

It was during my spring break when I was in Istanbul, Turkey, suffering from a horrible jetlag. So I was up at 3 am checking my emails in my bed when I received the email from Andrew Yang. At that moment, all it said was: “Let the celebrations begin”. It was a memorable week!

Now that you’re a Fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I am very excited to be thrown out of my element and out of my comfort zone so that I could push myself in every project I undertake. As Andrew Yang said: “People spend money and time educating the market for consulting and finance. The theory is you must become a baller before you come back and change the world”. Even though we laugh to this statement, which is said with a touch of sarcasm by Yang; I would like to be trained for the startup sector and I believe Venture for America is the right place for it. So far this is all I want to accomplish- gaining knowledge and experience after a “baller” training.

If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose? Barcelona (minus the crisis)

Best thing about Brown:  You are the master of your time!

Favorite Book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera

Favorite childhood TV show: Rocko’s Modern Life and The Smurffs

Favorite meal: Dinner

Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving- even though I was introduced to it very recently, I cannot get over the food!

Best class you’ve ever taken: Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Danny Warshay

Favorite movie quote: “Do not be afraid to let go or forget… Because in reality, all that matters never leaves us…” –Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons)

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Sunday BRUNCH!

Favorite entrepreneur: Wolfgang Puck or Mario Batali (Going back and forth between the two)

Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Most worn article of clothing: Beige Scarf

Favorite sports team: The Celtics

Best trip you’ve ever been on: To the region of Cotes du Provence for wine tasting.

Favorite historical figure: Ataturk- The Great Turkish Leader who brought Democracy to Turkey

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Opening a bakery from scratch in a small town called Chepkanga in Kenya.

Fellow Spotlight: Astrid Schanz-Garbassi, Middlebury College



Name:  Astrid Schanz-Garbassi

Hometown: Larchmont, NY

University: Middlebury College ’13

Major: Physics


What led you to apply for Venture for America?

In January 2012 I invited myself to VFA’s New York offices. The (then much smaller) team graciously accommodated the intrusion and enthusiastically shared what they were working on. Their passion for the program was totally contagious and I knew I had to get in on it. Also, they were offering a continued education, a chance to make an impact on a cool young company and an off the beaten path city, a new friend group, and to pay me for all of this. Yes, please!

What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?

I was alone in my office at my last job. To this day I wonder how many people saw (and judged) my solo celebration dance through the windows…

Now that you’re a Fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?

Every single person I’ve met through VFA, whether a Fellow, founder, or year-round staffer, is incredible. I’m excited to continue to meet mind-blowing individuals and to be able to call them mentors and friends. I hope to learn voraciously and love every day at work … and to become a diehard fan of all teams in whichever city I land in. Sorry NY.

Best thing about Middlebury College:  Everything. But specifically being surrounded by mountains, eating unrestricted quantities of (local!) ice cream in the dining halls, and the fact that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, when the song “Like a Prayer” comes on you have to take your shirt off (a true Middlebury tradition).

Favorite Book: Pillars of the Earth. Stop reading this and go read that!

Favorite childhood TV show: Wild Thornberrys. Apparently they made a movie!? If you have any interest in (or can be bribed into) seeing it with me, please call ASAP.

Favorite meal: Anything you can eat with chopsticks.

Favorite holiday: Pi day!

Best class you’ve ever taken: “Education in America.” Professor Affolter, you are an amazing and inspiring human being. Your final project prompt, “design your own school,” was the best assignment I’ve ever had the pleasure to pour time into!

Favorite movie quote:  Every line in “Airplane!” Is that a cop out? Okay, for real: “People call those imperfections, but no, that’s the good stuff.” –Goodwill Hunting

Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Round up some good friends and take off for an extraordinarily long and arduous hike. Then retreat, with the same good friends, to extraordinarily comfortable chairs to nurse our aching legs (and some delicious hot drinks).

Favorite entrepreneur: Andrew Yang.

Favorite cereal: Honey Bunches of Oats with “real” bananas and vanilla almond milk, eaten from a grimy camping bowl before a long bike ride.

Most worn article of clothing: My running shoes.

Favorite sports team: Purple Haze—the recreational basketball team I played on in High School with all of my (rather short) best friends. Undefeated four years in a row! Take that, Pink Ladies.

Best trip you’ve ever been on: The bike tour I led around the coast of Nova Scotia with Stephen Coles, the best “co” I could ever ask for (hey Scoles, miss you!). 1,000 miles, 20 amazing high schoolers, very heavy panniers and countless jars of Nutella added up to six of the best weeks of my life.

Favorite historical figure: Gertrude Stein

Accomplishment you’re most proud of: Relationships I’ve made (and kept) along “the way.”