2018 Best & Brightest: Brian Alexander Mitchell, University of Virginia (McIntire)

Brian Alexander Mitchell

University of Virginia (McIntire)

“I’m a passionate risk taker who loves to learn, code, travel, and make music. Spirit animal = lion.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve travelled to 32 countries.

Hometown: Rockville, MD

High School: The Bullis School in Potomac, MD

Major: B.S. Commerce (concentrations—Finance and Marketing, Business Analytics Track)

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Business Analytics

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


  • Director and co-founder of The Pioneer (2014-2016). The Pioneer (thepioneer.co) is an online publication and digital media education program. Our student writers and producers develop skills in modern media through publishing stories about entrepreneurial, creative, and civic innovators in the University of Virginia and greater Charlottesville community.
  • Executive team at HackCville (2014-2016). HackCville is a student-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers UVA’s student entrepreneurs free co-working space, skills classes, alumni mentorships, and internship opportunities.
  • Founder and director of DCXP (summer 2015). I founded and directed DCXP’s pilot program (nonprofit) in summer 2015, with a goal to activate the metropolitan area’s top high school and collegiate tech talent. Our one-month entrepreneurial boot camp included 12 students and featured prototyping sprints, skills workshops, and mentorships run in tandem with many D.C. startups and serial entrepreneurs. Our students built seven different web/mobile mini apps, learned project management skills, and concluded by developing iOS and Android prototypes for D.C. bike-sharing startup “Baas Bikes.” We raised $10,000 in capital and in-kind donations in just four weeks from D.C./Northern Virginia tech companies and private donors, allowing us to fully subsidize the program’s cost for our 12 students and fund our Student Innovation Gala.

School Honors:

  • First prize, 2016 UVA Entrepreneurship Cup – Discovery Competition (won $5,000 for pitch of Jobocracy, a data analytics platform for regional workforce development agencies)
  • Raven Society (UVA’s highest academic honors society)
  • Miniotas Communication Scholar (awarded to eight students with top communication ability out of approximately 350 total in my class at McIntire)
  • Jefferson Scholar (full academic merit scholarship at University of Virginia. One of the most competitive undergraduate academic scholarships in the world)
  • Echols Scholar (selective honors program awarded to top 8.5% of incoming UVA students.)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Summer 2017. Investing team summer analyst at Alpine Investors in San Francisco. Alpine is a middle-market private equity firm based in SF; since its inception in 2001, Alpine has raised more than $2B across seven funds and closed north of 60 deals in the software and recurring services markets.
  • Summer 2016. Operational engineering intern at ICX Media Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Where will you be working after graduation? Business intelligence specialist at ICX Media Inc. in Washington, D.C. ICX is a venture-backed data science company in the video analytics space.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Professor Natasha Foutz. She combines deep subject matter expertise with electricity in the classroom that keeps you on your toes.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? When preparation meets confidence, success is likely. There’s no way to guarantee success in a given situation or project, but to maximize the likelihood of success, strong preparation and a confident mindset are two critical factors.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice would be to pair your business education with strong grounding in another field such as math, psychology, or computer science. A business education is best when it’s interdisciplinary, in my opinion.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…I would be majoring in Computer Science because I’ve loved to code since 10th grade and enjoy the feeling of successfully building software.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I’ve been most surprised by the universality of business—that is, I’ve found that my business education can be applied to almost any conversation or meeting that I have, regardless of the individual’s profession.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad most influenced me to pursue business with his passion for investing. Growing up, my dad taught me about researching stocks, trading options, and evaluating various investment opportunities. He would always show me what he was working on, and he was patient with me when I asked countless questions. I developed my love of business and investing through his love for them, and he’d probably say that he developed his love of investing through my grandfather’s.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’m most proud of developing and launching DCXP in my summer after freshman year. We put together an entrepreneurial boot camp for less fortunate high school students unlike anything else that exists, and we made the program free through clever partnerships with D.C. tech companies. To go from idea to execution of this program in just one month was a rollercoaster ride that required a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. Finally, we ran the DC Student Innovation Gala in partnership with 1776, which brought together 125 students, founders, and industry professionals for a showcase of startups from five regional universities. This was the largest student-focused entrepreneurship mixer in D.C. and received press from DC Inno magazine.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate James Wang (McIntire ’18), as he double-majored in Business and Computer Science, and is a brilliant programmer.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most want to thank my mother, Nina, for my success. She is an incredibly hard worker and taught me the value of taking calculated risks from a young age. She has also launched and run multiple businesses, imbuing in me a passion for entrepreneurship.

What would your theme song be? “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles, because I try to always keep a positive spirit even in the face of challenges.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Sail a yacht around Amalfi Coast, and see the Northern Lights in Iceland.

Favorite book: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Favorite movie: The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Favorite vacation spot: Miami

What are your hobbies? Reading, vintage shopping, rapping with friends, listening to music, hiking, playing basketball and soccer, discovering new restaurants

What made Brian such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Brian Mitchell is a self-described “data nerd, founder, and digital creative” who has had a significant impact on our community by leading or launching organizations such as HackCville, The Pioneer, and DCXP. My colleagues and I describe Brian as a modern-day renaissance man in the mold of our University’s founder, Thomas Jefferson – which is particularly appropriate given that Brian is one of our Jefferson Scholars. During his four years at UVA, Brian’s leadership has resulted in the hosting of high-impact public events, networking and startup trips, an online publication, and technology-related skill development for hundreds of his peers.”

Professor R. Ryan Nelson
Associate Dean,
Undergraduate Program



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