Business in the 21st century

Sophomore Michael Curzi’s Web site started small, but grew to a resource for information on netbooks

Allison Bischoff | Scene Reporter

Students at Washington University are among the brightest and most motivated students in the world. While most Wash. U. students envision themselves as having a professional career, be it as a lawyer, doctor or even photographer, these plans are often held off for the future. It takes a certain level of determination for an undergraduate to escape the daily grind of exams, papers and extracurricular activities to make the dream of owning a business a current reality.

Michael Curzi, a sophomore majoring in business and philosophy, is one of the few students who has this type of drive. Alongside Dan Pinto, a senior at Northwestern, and Dmitriy Rokhfeld, a senior at Duke, Curzi created NetbookBoards, a site that aggregates netbook and other technology news, rumors and concepts. Readers can also post relevant questions about new technologies on the blog.

Curzi embarked on this entrepreneurial journey in November 2007 while attending Brandeis University. (He later transferred to Wash. U.) Curzi openly admits that he started the blog to make extra money while attending school. Netbooks, inexpensive and easy-to-use 8-to-10-inch screen laptops, had only recently become a phenomenon sweeping college campuses, and the young entrepreneurs saw the product as a great springboard for their new computer technology-based Web site. At first, Curzi was the only writer for the site. Two years later, the site has between three and six hired writers, each paid $150 a month. Curzi is now a senior editor and writer, and is also in charge of human resources—hiring and communicating with the writers.

Curzi enjoys having an Internet business like NetbookBoards because he says it is a low time commitment and very cheap to maintain. He recommends that students looking to make extra money delve into the Internet business sphere because it doesn’t require a rigorous level of day-to-day work. He added that owning his own business has had a positive impact on his resume while he has sought internships. Employers “want to hire people that make things happen when it is not out of necessity; people who have creative energy and can turn it into a tangible product,” he said.

Curzi also maintains that his founding NetbookBoards has greatly affected his life in the business school. Instead of merely reading a textbook and trying to understand concepts and calculations passively, he is actually doing what he is studying. Besides learning how to run a business and make his own money, Curzi emphasized that NetbookBoards taught him how to motivate and work with people in a business setting. “As long as you keep high standards for yourself, employees will as well,” he said. He also observed that NetbookBoards has made him a better writer: “I can write error-free quickly, keeping quality by minimizing time.”

Curzi hopes to expand the site with more writers with specific knowledge in all areas of computer technology. Once the site has grown, he wants to sell it and move on to bigger and better things. As of now, he takes Chinese language courses and plans on entering international business and exploring a career as an entrepreneur on a much larger scale, while going abroad and reading philosophy in his spare time. With his extensive familiarity with the inner workings of both the Internet and the technology industry, Curzi could be an asset to future companies he works for or builds.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.