MIKHAIL NAUMOV ’12: J/MS alum launches ‘green’ start-up for students

Mikhail Naumov speaks at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, where the GREEN Program won first runner-up.

By Jacqueline C. Lewis—

Mikhail Naumov, J/MS 2012, started an environmental travel and experiential education company out of his dorm room while managing a double major in Journalism and Media Studies and Business.

By the time of his graduation last May, the growing company was already becoming a leading international education brand.

“We came from humble beginnings,” said Naumov. But today, The GREEN program (Global Renewable Energy Education Network) has multiple offices in Philadelphia, New York City, London and Costa Rica.

The program works with more than 140 universities, including Rutgers, to bring students to Costa Rica, Iceland and Germany — for credit — to study renewable energy systems and learn to create them for other areas in need.

“This year, Rutgers became an official partner and has developed an exclusive Rutgers GREEN Program to empower students,” said Naumov, who resides in Philadelphia.

Naumov answers a question while sitting on an entrepreneur’s round table last fall at the Forbes Galleries in New York. Photos provided by Mikhail Naumov

The GREEN Program “allows students to get an inside look at the renewable energy and sustainability industries,” according to Naumov. While collaborating on innovative projects, students from around the world accelerate their careers and earn academic credit.

“I partied a lot, went to the football games, stuffed my face at Giovanelli’s and the Grease Trucks,  just like any other proud Rutgers student.”  — Mikhail Naumov

Naumov recently won first runner-up in The Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), a global competition of students running revenue-generating bus­inesses while carrying full college course loads.

“The caliber of contestants in this year’s Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards was absolutely incredible,” said Samer Kurdi, EO Global chairman. “These students, who have founded successful businesses while still in school, are changing industries, communities and the world, and they inspire all of us to become better entrepreneurs and global citizens.”

Naumov believes his business is on the cusp of experiential travel and education. As founder and director, he upholds the company’s vision and recruits team members to enhance growth.

He works collaboratively with co-founder and Rutgers classmate Melissa Lee and a partner in Costa Rica, Jean Paul. The business employs Rutgers graduates Brady Halligan, Joelle Zerillo, Ernesto Daset and Alex Tanenbaum.

Reminiscing about his time at Rutgers, Naumov recalled, “I partied a lot, went to the football games, stuffed my face at Giovanelli’s and the Grease Trucks, just like any other proud Rutgers student.”

While these are common memories for many alumni, Naumov’s undergraduate experience was far from ordinary.

Naumov started The GREEN Program with Lee and a classmate who had been traveling in Costa Rica in search of business opportunities.

“We registered the paperwork in our dorm room on College Avenue, and the rest is history,” said Naumov.

Naumov also played intramural soccer, was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, and served as founder and president of the Rutgers Entrepreneurial Society for two years.

“When I first arrived at Rutgers as a freshman in 2007, I immediately noticed a lack of entrepreneurial education available to students,” he recalled. “So I recruited a dynamic team of like-minded students, and together we created the Rutgers Entrepreneurial Society.”

Taking on more than most students, Naumov said, “It was challenging, but I like to move at a very fast pace and prefer to surround myself with people who can push me to be better and more effective in my role as a leader.”

Through his undergraduate experience he refined the skills necessary for a leadership role.

“College was a great experience,” said Naumov, “and J/MS helped me develop people skills and relationship building, which is incredibly important for an entrepreneur.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that presented themselves during my time at Rutgers and the mentors, professors and friends I had the chance to meet and learn from. We truly are an amazing academic institution and an ideal place to learn, discover yourself, and make things happen.”