The Best of Proviso: Homegrown Maywoodian, Nick Brown, building millennial think tank one story at a time

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Entrepreneur Nick Brown’s Glappitnova journey and millennial social movement.

Staff Reporter

MAYWOOD | Homegrown Maywoodian and Proviso East graduate, Nick Brown is building a global think tank with hopes to engage millennial’s in Chicago and the world over in diverse conversations.

Nick Brown opens discussions at a Glappitnova conference

The 31-yr old entrepreneur and co-founder of Glappitnova, featured in Crain’s Chicago Business; 40 under 40, and Chicago Tribune, has galvanized the millennial’s Talented Tenth to tackle Chicago’s minority problems from market place, industry, to grassroots activism.

In its fifth year, the Glappitnova conference combines storytelling and panel discussions across the country to engage the brightest and multifaceted of multicultural and diverse minds in dialog about the ethnic experience.  The conference took place this year in Chicago, San Francisco and New York.  Glappitnova speakers are typically multi-cultural and under 40. Attendants and speakers create topics for panel discussions and finds speakers in what he says is his nationwide network of some 10,000 people in business, sports, arts and culture.

“Glappitnova is building a global community of entrepreneurs, creatives, and influencers to diversify the world. Our conferences provide a voice for mixing culture with knowledge, and our festival unites some of the brightest and craziest through eclectic events.”  Brown said.

Brown said the idea of networking on a grand scale hit him while in college.  He and college friend Michael Webb co-founded the company Glappit, and launched a Facebook page to start conversations about art, sports, culture, business and other topics. The idea grew into a conference where the Facebook conversations came to life in what was the first Glappitnova conference held in 2013 in Wicker Park.

Brown graduated the University of Illinois in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.  He then went to graduate school, interning at Walsh Group construction firm based in Chicago. Post graduate school, he landed an interview at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

NFL’s Michael Leach host Glappitnova July 2017 New York debut

The entrepreneur-itch took hold of Brown, who felt a corporate 9 to 5 was not his life’s passion.  In an interview with the West Suburban Journal Brown said, “I like to get into the action.”  He began work as independent contractor for startups and event-related activities, and in 2015 focused full time on Glappitnova.  He’s never looked back.

Browns first conference attracted ​about 60 people. Five years later, his attendance is quadruple that at each conference. Brown says what’s key to Glappitnova success is more sponsors and like-minded people.  According to Brown, his sponsorship is 50 percent financial and 70 percent in-kind donation.  An increase amount of paid sponsorship requires Brown to extend his engagements year-round, longer than two days, the current length of Glappitnova.   The playing field is ripe with competition.  Brown’s competitors include Chicago-based Ideas Week and Techweek and Complexcon and WebSummit , which also markets millennials and host think tank symposiums.  Brown’s guest speaker lineup has included white supremacist turned anti-hate evangelist, Christian Picciolini, and NFL senior vp of digital media, Vishal Shah.  Local speakers have included Raaja Nemani, co-founder of social-enterprise shoe company Bucketfeet; Desiree Vargas Wrigley, CEO of the kids’ activity company Pearachute; and Alex Niemczewski, CEO of BallotReady, a site that aims to educate voters about candidates and issues.

Brown and Webb dissolved their business partnership on good terms in 2014.  Webb is now principal of debt capital markets at Fifth Third Securities in Chicago, but he attends Glappitnova each year.

Glappitnova’s home base for now resides in Brown’s mother’s Maywood home, where Brown lives to save money and invest in his brainchild.  When asked about what the future holds, Brown said, “Whatever’s next will be grounded in community, culture and inclusion,” which parlays well to the Glappitnova Facebook page mission statement, “Discovery of millennial culture with diverse perspectives. All industries one community is the motto.”.

Ahhh, yes, the name.  Brown said of Glappitnova, it mimics sound the popular 80s Pac-Man video game makes while eating “super nova power”pellets.  Kinda makes us want to fire up our Super Nintendos.


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