City Hall Startup: Nabil Shadman's Philly Co-op

Nabil and Mayor Nutter

Philadelphia City Hall’s marble columns and iconic tower are more likely to bring to mind a medieval castle than a hotspot for startup entrepreneurship, but LeBow junior Nabil Shadman’s first co-op gave him a different perspective. Nabil landed his first co-op, a partnership between Drexel’s ExCITE Center and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) only three months after the latter’s founding. Inspired by a similar model in Boston, City Hall’s newest office was charged with spurring innovation by focusing on small, low-cost projects that could improve the civic space.

Nabil applied for the position because it provided the perfect blend of the public sector experience he sought and the non-profit knowledge he had gained volunteering in his home country of Bangladesh and sought to expand.

Nabil first came to the United States as a part of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program to attend classes in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, a town with less than 4,000 residents. While he loved the real world approach to education he encountered at Ladysmith High School, he also knew he’d feel more at home at a big-city university that could match the vibrancy of Dhaka, his hometown and Bangladesh’s capital.

After choosing Drexel based on the advice of friends and his own research, Nabil took note of Philadelphia’s growing entrepreneurial vibrancy and through his co-op, took the opportunity to directly influence it. During his time at MONUM, Philadelphia entered the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge. Nabil’s role in preparing the required proposal involved researching and identifying the most pressing issues facing the city and starting conversations about how startups might tackle them.

His work paid off, as the city’s application was selected as one of five grant winners. The money helped fund FastFWD, a partnership focused on “creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to collaborate with cities to source, cultivate, and deploy solutions to pressing problems facing cities across the country.”

After experiencing the launch of a newly innovative branch of city government, Nabil took a second co-op as a financial analyst at Sunoco. Currently in his junior year, he’s serving as the events director for the Drexel Economics Society and continuing to explore his passion for world travel. He recently added Nepal to the list of places he’s trekked; while there he visited Kathmandu and took a flight around the peak of Mount Everest.

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