Alum of the Week - Nishant Neel






Involvements while at Penn: Theta Tau, Engineers Without Borders (team lead, went to Cameroon 4 times to work on sanitation and water projects), Engineering Deans Advisory Board (VP, worked on time capsule for opening of Singh Center), research with Dr. Issadore, Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity.

What have you been up to since graduating?

“After graduation I started a diagnostic device company called Drop Diagnostics with a fellow Theta Tau alum (Max Lamb). We got some funding from DreamIt ventures in Philly and ended up moving to San Fransisco to build out our team and advisor network. Unfortunately we didn’t get the tech to where we wanted so decided to move on to different startups.

“I joined Benchling shortly after and came in as the 8th employee and first commercial hire. Benchling builds software tools for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Today we are around 90 people and I head up our Customer Success team. We help our customers better leverage tech in research areas like CRISPR, Car T therapies, Gene therapies, syn bio and a bunch of other areas. We’re hiring so if anyone is interested let me know!”

What was the biggest change, going from college to career?

“Not having your best friends and social circle within a 5 block radius. Cherish that as much as you can.”

What are some of your favorite OT events/memories?

“I’ll always remember going into the fish bowl or the engineering cafe and seeing a swarm of red OT hoodies. I always felt I had a group of people to fall back on and some of my closest friends were from OT.

“SnowJam has a special place in my heart. I’m not sure if everyone knows the origins of SnowJam, but Max (mentioned above) is an awesome skier and saw a Facebook ad for SnowJam over winter break. He convinced a bunch of us to go and that’s how the first OT SnowJam trip happened. One of my favorite trips of all time. Make sure you check out that ice cave party on the middle of one of the black diamonds…”

Do you have any advice for us still here at Penn?

“Pay attention to your mental and physical health. I really wish I had better sleep habits in college, as it’s something that levels you up a level in all other aspects of your life.

“Don’t get too sucked into the consulting / banking tornado that happens during Penn OCR. I remember that almost everyone I knew, myself included, were trying to get consulting or banking jobs. most of us went down that route because it was what we saw around us. Its okay if that’s not for you. One of the best things that happened for me was that I got rejected by a bulge bracket bank my junior year. Their feedback was that I didn’t seem interested in finance, and they were right! I immediately found a startup through Penn’s network and interned there for free over the summer. It launched my passion in tech and science. What I thought at that time was a setback was actually a path to finding my passion. I also know former OTs that have done really well in consulting, so my advice is to take a peak out but don’t feel like it’s the only path when you see all your friends in suits :)”