Brittany Laughlin, BS ’07

General Manager, Union Square Ventures

As the child of a military family, Brittany Laughlin was raised largely in North Carolina but saw enough of the world to know that she wanted a big-city environment for her college experience. With a passion for the arts, NYU’s Tisch was a huge draw, but a convincing speech by then-NYU Stern Undergraduate College Dean Frederick Choi to a group of accepted high school seniors solidified her decision to come to New York to study both business and film.

“I thought the diversity of the student body was incredible,” Laughlin said. “People came from so many different countries and communities and brought with them the ideas and attitudes they grew up with. I tried to take advantage of all the opportunities – I studied abroad in Florence and was part of the Stern Marketing Society and Entrepreneurship Group.” It was through an internship that Laughlin landed her first job after graduation. She worked both her junior and senior years for American Express OPEN, which led to a series of full-time roles for the credit card company’s product line for small businesses. She elaborates: “Building new products and seeing them go to market was very cool. And I liked being close to small-business owners. Working with them made me realize that I wanted to start something of my own.” But as the world reeled from the 2008 market crash, Laughlin decided to stick with her day job while quietly pursuing other interests. “I worked on a film and at a solar company before I started a social-media-based travel company called Gtrot.”

As the economy improved, Laughlin was able to focus exclusively on Gtrot after receiving funding from venture capital firm Lightbank, a backer of Groupon. After two years, she left day-to-day operations after pivoting the brand out of travel into Boomerang, a B2B online gift card platform. Still brimming with new ideas and passions, Laughlin embarked on a new business plan with roots close to her heart. Inspired by the Navy careers of her grandfather, father, and brother, she founded Incline HQ, a training and networking resource for veterans transitioning from active duty. Incline takes vets who already have some degree of technical knowledge and puts them through an intense, eight-week course to make sure their skills are up-to-date and that they are plugged into the job market. 

Laughlin is now the General Manager of Union Square Ventures, an Internet technology venture capital firm. She enjoys helping build its network of portfolio companies and then connecting those businesses to each other. Laughlin values Stern for its similar ability to make connections among its community and credits the Stern network as a “great resource” in her entrepreneurial endeavors. Up next, Laughlin wants to carve out more time for travel, even though she has already conquered all seven continents, recounting, “I ran into [NYU President] John Sexton in Antarctica on a boat with 70 other people!” Though the most surprising trip may be the one she’s been on since graduation: “Five or six years ago I couldn’t have predicted this is where I would be today. It will be interesting to see where I am six years from now.”