Briarcliff High School Helped Westchester’s Sam Mogil Become a NYC Tech Mogul
Westchester local founded social-event-hosting platform SquadUP.
Sketching out an idea for a startup in your college dorm room is a rite of passage for many entrepreneurs, including Briarcliff High School alum Sam Mogil. The 24-year-old co-founded the social-event-hosting platform SquadUP (which was recently named one of New York City’s hottest startups by media company Tech Cocktail) with his best friends at the end of his senior year at Duke University. But his high-school science teacher, Michael Inglis, planted the seeds for the self-starting mentality it takes to launch a firm.
Mogil was a student in Inglis’ intensive, three-year science research course—and it made quite an impact on his life. The class allows high schoolers to carry out college-level scientific research projects, complete with a summer research internship at a local university. Inglis helped Mogil find a spot at a Yale microbiology lab for two summers in a row, where Mogil studied the robustness of RNA viruses. (“Nerdy, I know,” he jokes.)
For Mogil, the class, which had only eight students in it, also brought an opportunity to log plenty of one-on-one time with Inglis. “The individual attention was really helpful and something I was missing in other classes,” Mogil says. “Mr. Inglis was energetic and charismatic, and always pushed me to do my best work.”
He recalls, “We also had weekly group meetings to discuss the status of our projects, which taught us about being accountable and focused. And because the course was research-based, it forced me to be independently motivated and self-starting.”
The course is a perfect example of what Inglis thinks is lacking in American science classrooms: hands-on experience. “We need to teach science in a way that helps kids understand how to think critically, how to plan, and how to achieve their objectives,” he says. “Even if they don’t end up pursuing science, they can use those critical-thinking skills in any career path they take.”
Inglis, who worked in the business world for years before becoming a teacher, also instilled in Mogil and his classmates another skill that is crucial for any successful career: the importance of networking in order to pursue your passions. “He taught us that fully embracing the field or project you are working on means not only learning and reading as much as you can about it, but also getting to know as many people as possible that can help you learn more about what you are interested in,” he explains. “That life lesson—of networking to find people who can help you pursue your dreams—has stuck with me.”
All those handshakes and smiles are paying off for Mogil, who helped secure both an angel investor and a new round of capital for his fledgling tech company. The success doesn’t surprise his former teacher.
“Sam was a bright kid and I knew he would go places,” Inglis says.