Hometown: Baton Rouge
Artistry: President & CEO, Nexus Louisiana
The road from inspiration to commercialization is fraught with challenges for even the best ideas, a minefield that inspired Genevieve Silverman to launch the BizTech challenge at six HBCUs across the state, including Southern’s three campuses, Dillard, Grambling State and Xavier.
Combining her experience in venture capitalism with her work alongside creative tech entrepreneurs as head of the nonprofit Nexus Louisiana, Silverman is equipping students with business coaches and mentors, STEM brainstorming, and key insights on developing pitch decks, other toolkit necessities, and entrepreneurial skills through online sessions.
“These students are so bright, but they have to see entrepreneurship as an accessible, viable pathway,” she says. “Many of these students don’t have an entrepreneur in their home or their family, so it’s about developing that mindset from scratch.”
Silverman’s goal is to foster more opportunity and inclusiveness in the field of technology, and for this reason she has also spearheaded Apprenti Louisiana, the state’s first IT apprenticeship program taking inexperienced Louisianans and training them quickly for an entry-level tech job.
Looking for ways to overcome a challenge has always been a part of the Columbia University alumna’s journey.
“I grew up with cerebral palsy, though I never really leaned into that until recently,” Silverman says. “But now I’m thinking about those challenges in terms of technology solutions and my career.”
On a recent hike with her daughters in California, Silverman encountered a trail marked with incomplete information, making it unexpectedly difficult for someone with her condition to traverse.
“I got mad but also motivated, thinking about how I can use technology on a platform to connect people with mobility issues to outdoor communities—people with injuries, the elderly, or those with small children who all want to still get out there into nature.”
A certified morning person, Silverman feels most creative at the start of her day, though she does play piano and often listens to music—be it jazz, classical or heavy metal, depending on her mood and the challenge before her—to get her in the zone for work.
“On the business side, I love collaboration,” she says. “That type of brainstorming on creative problem-solving can really be fun.”
Inspired by the passion of the tech entrepreneurs she works with through Nexus on a variety of virtual, AI and cryptocurrency solutions, Silverman says progress comes down to a four-letter word: grit.
“Perseverance,” she explains. “That’s a primary characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. I think I’ve absorbed that from being around so many of them.”