Boston native Sam Silver ’07 attended the University of Redlands because it was “a nice place to ride a bike,” he says.
As one of the top junior cyclists in the country in 2003, Silver needed a place to train year-round. With the Redlands Bicycle Classic every spring and plenty of foothill roads, the U of R seemed to fit the bill. And the University turned out to offer much more.
While he was a sociology and anthropology student, Silver says he experienced a new kind of freedom in academia. “At the U of R, I had a lot of access to my professors, the ability to be creative with my degree, and encouragement to do interesting work,” he says. “Completing my honors thesis was actually one of the most useful aspects of my degree.”
Silver’s thesis on statistical methods in the social sciences laid the foundation for his future. “Working on my thesis taught me how to manage time, be efficient, and stand up for my ideas, which are all important in entrepreneurship,” he says. “During the summers, I was training so I wasn’t earning job experience or building my resume. My thesis became something I could point to in an interview.”
After graduating, Silver accepted a position at RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution in Santa Monica. He went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Upon returning to the United States, he soon found himself working for various startups and investment firms, but found the experience unfulfilling. Wanting autonomy, Silver decided to found his own company.
Silver’s current venture is Same But Different, a Boston startup working to develop an artificial intelligence product that will enhance the e-commerce experience. “When consumers are evaluating a product online, they don’t have the benefit of the sensory experiences provided by a brick and mortar store,” he says. “We want to take those online items and relate them to things the consumer already knows. A context engine for e-commerce.”
Even though he’s on the East Coast, Silver still feels like a part of the Redlands community. Between attending weddings of friends he met at the University and revisiting the campus during a recent trip to Los Angeles, he says he appreciates the value of the small community he found at the U of R.
Silver credits his path to entrepreneurship to his time at the University. “There was an open-mindedness at Redlands,” he says. “Threads of Redlands have persisted in my life.”