Graduate Student, Coast Guard Search and Rescue Pilot, and Entrepreneur; Meet Nick Leiter

Hello, my name is Nick Leiter and I am a graduate student at the Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) of Public and International Affairs. I am also a military officer and helicopter pilot with a plethora of leadership and operational experiences over 13 years of active duty service. I will be developing my startup company, Uproot in the Keller Center’s eLab Accelerator program this summer.

In addition to my military interests I have always had the entrepreneurial bug; however, I came to Princeton with no knowledge of its growing entrepreneurial community. I was amazed to find a vibrant program led by a team of passionate and dedicated faculty. In my first semester, I attended a dozen workshops and participated in a thought-provoking class at the WWS that has rocked my world; Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation taught by Keller Center Entrepreneur in Residence, Brian Trelstad and Visiting Professor, Ben Jealous.

I had just attended a Keller Center workshop on creativity that was facilitated by Keith Sawyer. I have always associated creativity with being artistic and assumed that as a left-brained individual, I would never be creative, but Keith spoke about creativity as being a trait that is nurtured through deliberate and consistent actions. He stated that one method is taking two uniquely separate concepts that one wouldn’t normally associate together and blending them for new solutions. Around midnight that evening the idea of pairing the share economy to the residential mortgage industry and the military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move system popped into my head.  I mapped out much of the framework for the first iteration of the concept in that moment.

Today’s active duty military members move, on average, every 3 years from one base to another. After years of serving their country, a service member’s long-term financial security is significantly disadvantaged due to the pressures the military relocation system has created that discourage them from purchasing real estate. I am passionately working on the solution to this problem: an online platform that allows military families to turn each move into a real estate investment. I believe I can create a six-figure nest egg for each active duty family over the course of a career as well as an attractive investment opportunity for institutional investors.

I am seeking advisors from the alumni community with experience in real estate financial technology, real estate investment banking, the mortgage industry and block chain technology, especially those with a military connection (family member, ROTC, veteran, etc.). I am also seeking student team members from Princeton to join Uproot in the eLab this summer. Economics or ORFE grad students passionate about real estate and entrepreneurship or experience in real estate investment banking as well as undergrads majoring in economics, ORFE, and COS with a passion for entrepreneurship or a military connection are highly encouraged to contact me at nleiter@princeton.edu.

Active duty service members and their families make many sacrifices to serve our nation. As long as I have anything to say about it, the ability to build wealth through homeownership will no longer be one of those sacrifices.