Rip Van Wafels — Brown Student Cooks Up Success

Fans of Silicon Valley know that every prop is a signifier or visual joke of some sort, most of which are aimed at coders, programmers, VCs, IT geeks, patent attorneys, gamers, and such. So I know that when Dinesh unpacks a box of Rip van Wafels from his grocery bag, it means something! I just don’t know what. But I don’t think that Brown alum and stroopwafel magnate, Abhishek Pruisken, should care.

While attending Brown, Abhishek Pruisken found himself missing the traditional stroopwafel he enjoyed back home in Amsterdam — so he decided to make his own. A decade later, the product of his dorm-room epiphany can be found at more than 12,000 Starbucks locations across the country. In a talk, Pruisken shares his entrepreneurial journey, from hyperlocal startup to national success. RSVP required.

I still remember the day that a young Mr. Pruisken — he now goes by ‘Rip’ apparently — still a student at Brown (’10), walked into Blue State Coffee where I worked, with some free samples and was quickly given space on our counter. It did not hurt that he was quite charming and personable, but his wafery-thin, sandwich cookies turned out to be super tasty and satisfying. He showed us how the stroopwafel can be placed over a hot drink, warming it and softening the syrup.

On Friday, the public is invited to join the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Abhishek Pruisken as he shares his entrepreneurial journey, from dorm room to cornering the American stroopwafel market. I don’t know if Abhishek can teach an audience how to be handsome and charming, but I know that none of that would have mattered if his product hadn’t been yummy and unlike our other baked goods. Neither Blue State nor Starbucks gives up valuable counter space just to be nice, but it sure was easy being nice to Abhishek.

So how did his product end up on the excellent Silicon Valley? The following press indicates it was no accident: “You can find Rip Van Wafels in over 12,000 Starbucks locations and leading tech companies across the country.” Smart guy.

Go here for event info. RSVP required.

Noon, Friday, October 12, Crystal Ballroom, Alumnae Hall, 194 Meeting Street, (directions)

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