Founder Stories

Design Thinking Takes BrainCeek From Deck To Reality

When you hit the workforce, you spend anywhere from a third to half your weekdays working. Wouldn’t it be great to try your career on for size before plunging in?

Columbia startup BrainCeek, founded by Jason Fan ’18BUS and Soonkang Soh ’18BUS is helping those bound for investment banking do just that. BrainCeek holds simulation programs that allow participants to experience the roles and responsibilities of the job and better know whether it suits their interests – no prior experience needed. It’s also an opportunity to learn on the job, without the risk of actually being on the job.

The simulations have been sponsored by such groups as Rise New York / Barclays.

“I talked with bankers all summer and scoured the web for resources, but it wasn’t until I actually sat down for a week and did the work that I developed the clearest picture of what an investment banker does,” explained one participant, an incoming Tuck MBA student. As BrainCeek grows, this model could be adapted for other career paths as well.

Fan is no stranger to the experiential approach to learning himself – he worked through much of his initial venture idea through the Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Studio, which emphasizes hands-on and immersive activities.

“The Design Studio really helped push this from an idea and a deck to reality,” said Fan. Design thinking exercises made him realize that he had to spend less time planning and more time building and testing his company to realize his vision. It also gave him the tools to do so; much like Fan is now giving would-be investment bankers the tools to experience real-world scenarios through BrainCeek.

“The thing about startups is not to just think, you have to do,” said Fan.

He was also inspired by other entrepreneurs in the class and the success that they found when they got out of their own heads and out into the world of their customers.

This spring, look for even more growth from BrainCeek, as the team has been accepted to the Business School’s Spring 2018 Greenhouse Program.

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