Although one of this year’s blockbuster movies, The Social Network, featured Palo Alto, Calif., as the place to be for young technology entrepreneurs, Nikolai Chowdhury said he thinks the Big Apple is hotter.
“New York is where it’s at,” said the 22-year-old, who will graduate with a degree in economics from Fordham College at Lincoln Center.
“[Palo Alto] may be Silicon Valley, but this is Silicon Alley,” said Chowdhury, who owns Nikolai Ishan Chowdhury Technology Solutions, a small web technology company with a not-too-shabby list of clients. “New York City has a much faster pace and there’s room for growth. It’s the financial and culture capital of the world.”
Chowdhury isn’t being cocky about the city where he chose to attend college. He simply exudes a confidence that comes with years of experience in the fast-paced world of technology and new media.
The son of an Indian-born technology professional, Chowdhury has been tinkering with computers since he was 10 years old. Growing up in New Jersey, he began working for hire at a young age by building PCs and troubleshooting all types of systems.
“I’ve always been a big learner,” he said. “I’m excited to learn something new and overcome challenges and produce great content.”
Chowdhury’s post-graduation plans include business school, but first he wants to take time to grow his business or begin an exciting collaboration.
“Or build something exciting, like the next Facebook,” Chowdhury said.
His portfolio includes work for Women’s Wear Daily, the Time Warner Center, Manhattan Airport Foundation and Morescape Music.
Music, as it so happens, is in Chowdhury’s blood.
His grandfather, Salil Chowdhury, was a famous Indian film composer. “He was the Leonard Bernstein of India,” said Chowdhury, who plays the piano, saxophone and clarinet.
In addition to technology, music is an area where he sees increasing opportunity.
“Right now, the music business is challenging,” he said. “You really have to leverage content people would want to buy—premium content. Music alone won’t get it anymore.”
So will Chowdhury develop a Facebook-for-music website or an application that everyone must have? Stay tuned.
“It is definitely a great time for startups in New York City,” he said, as he reflected on what he will take away from Fordham.
“I’m Hindu. But I came to Fordham because my father had a Jesuit education all his life. It’s the best,” Chowdhury said. “What I loved is the education of the entire person. It’s not just about the field of study you’re in. It’s about values, tradition and becoming a better person. It all plays into your life.”