"At the end of my degree, I was offered a Job at YearUp as a Technology, Business and Design Instructor working with low-income underserved 18-24 year olds in NYC. My work at YearUp and with my students was the catalyst for starting Koplin & Propati Partners. My mission in life is to close the Digital Divide and I am extremely passionate about this."
"Teaching comes naturally to me, but I’m constantly learning about new instructional techniques and continuing to work on my own personal development."
"The goal is to go from two guys dedicating weekends to their students to a larger movement. This is not about personal fame or edification. This is about helping amazing individuals in underserved communities to create businesses and products that will change the world, and close economic divides."
"We’re a startup, we’re new and we’re mission driven so we still have a long way to go. We’re working the mission out first and will work out the logistics later."
"I was a professional Jazz musician. I played the drums with my own group as well as with various other Jazz heavyweights. I was touring Europe after my undergrad when I came to a major realization/pivot in my life. I was playing the main stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and I said to myself ‘what's next?’ Here I was at such a young age accomplishing all of my dreams and yet I did not feel fulfilled."
"It was in this same moment that I also realized what I was missing. I was supposed to be helping humans progress themselves instead of just focusing on myself and my music."
"I don’t think I was ever afraid, but I wasn’t always this positive person, especially being a Jazz musician I was surrounded by a lot of negative things. I made a conscious decision to be a good person towards the end of grad school; I really reflected on who I was and the way I impacted people. I’m an observer, I’m a learner, I’m always watching people and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m good at what I do, really understanding how and why things work, all of those things pushed me towards really trying to impact the world in a positive way."
"My only fear now is that i won’t impact people as much as I can and I’ll fail. The world needs to be fixed; it’s the designers and the builders that can make a positive change in the world, you have to do it."
"I’ve had a lot of personal failures with making wrong choices or getting too heavily involved with drugs at certain times, but I don’t look at failure as a negative thing. I look at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and make things better. Part of being a designer is you want to fail as quickly and as often as possible because it’s through some of those failures that we learn how to make better interfaces or design better for the user, and I feel that way about life."
"They talk about work-life balance, but I love my work so much it is my life. I don’t know why I would need to take a break from something I love to do, but Sundays belong to my girlfriend and it’s my family day."
"I never could have predicted any of the things that are happening to me right now, but I really believe it’s because I decided to be a positive person and I’m dedicated to helping others as much as I can. Put positive stuff into space and it will come back."
"Of course being at graduate school, living on your own, you have times when you’re eating ramen noodle every day and you can’t really do much because you don’t have any real money, but I always worked and I always had income, so I never a position where I was really fearful that I wouldn’t be able to make a living."
"One of the reasons my partner and I both work other full-time jobs is so we can sustain ourselves financially."
"I’ve been surrounded by really positive things, positive family and positive friends. My father always taught me that I had the potential to do anything. He really encouraged me and let me know that a passion is part of you, it never goes away; you can do it on the weekend, or you can do it at night, but as long as you never let it slip, it will always be there. I would not be here today if it were not for all the great advice and support he gave me."
"I wouldn't be where I am today without my students, mentors, family and friends. I can't thank them enough."
"I had amazing mentors growing up and it was those mentors and music teachers that literally saved my life. Listening to musicians like Bird and Coltrane, as a kid I believed that to play like them I had to be like them, and that included drugs and alcohol. This path could have been my demise, but luckily I had those mentors and teachers to not only tell me but to show me that playing music and jazz was more than just drugs and good times."
"The students and the community are my biggest inspiration. When you hear about some of the things they’ve experienced and then get to impact them in a positive way, the things you hear from the people around you that they call ‘Rich, white guy problems’ become more and more apparent. My biggest success and biggest triumphs are in the success of my students."
Advice to the Community
"Passion, vision and focus are really important attributes, I stole that from Steve Jobs but it’s true. Dedication is really key, stay positive and keep pushing. There is going to be a lot of adversity, things get in the way, people will tell you’re crazy and your ideas don’t make any sense, but you just have to believe in yourself and continue to push."
"I also teach all of my students that the answer to doing anything is networking and communicating; you want to get into an industry, start talking to people in it."
"One book that I tell everyone to read is Donald Norman’s ‘The Design of Everyday Things.’ He is like the user experience, usability god so to speak. It’s a really easy read. People think that design is about making things pretty but design is really problem-solving and it can be applied to everything."