So what exactly is cultural entrepreneurship? Everyone had a different definition. But if you ask me, cultural entrepreneurship is being able to acknowledge that the arts are an important part of society, and finding a way to creatively present an art form to other people so that you can make a living off of it, and so that others can appreciate and connect with it as well.
The Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group of New York City held its second networking event of the year at Bryan Cave on Wednesday evening, July 23. The evening was a great success, as many alumni and students attended. Professor David Chu, Director of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-Business Adviser, also attended the event.
Many thanks to those who participated on the panel, including Michael Barrett ’84, CEO of Millenial Media, Chris Nace, ’06 VP Executive Search at Connections NY, Colin Cunningham ’09, Manager at Axial, and moderator Andrew Cialino ’10, Senior Account Executive at Axial. A hearty thanks goes to Patricia Werner ’97, Counsel at Bryan Cave LLP, who hosted the event at the law firm. Patricia is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group of New York City, along with Daniel Barrett ’93, Andrew Cialino ’10, Colin Cunningham ’09, and Chris Nace ’06.
The alumni panelists focused their insights on leveraging one’s network effectively in the technology sector. With today’s growing tech space, whether pertaining to startups or to the field in general, it is important to understand industry basics. More importantly, both students and alumni should know how to recognize and utilize technology’s benefits in an entrepreneurial way.
The panelists addressed various issues under this umbrella topic, such as how to secure a job in the tech industry, how to reach out and successfully network within the field, and what kinds of tactics both students and alumni may leverage when acclimating themselves to the tech sector.
As always, this networking event successfully fostered that famous Crusader spirit and alliance, as alumni and students were brought together under the same passion for entrepreneurship. The goal of these events is to further the mission of HCEG of creating more entrepreneurial relationships, so that the Holy Cross community is not only a group of “men and women for others,” but also a community of men and women for each other.
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies
While the event cultivated that classic Holy Cross spirit, the evening’s host, Bob Allard ’91, proved most energetic of all, with his insights on Servant Entrepreneurship: How to Survive in a Not-Just-for-Profit World. The Managing Partner of ExtensionEngine LLC explained how “Servant Entrepreneurship” is in fact NOT an oxymoron, but rather a strategy that all successful business gurus recognize and utilize.
Allard placed significant focus on the benefits of networking, giving anecdotes and valuable advice that have aided him in the ongoing process of entrepreneurship. He explained how it is often “who you know” along with (and sometimes more important than) “what you know” that will help you succeed in business. However, Allard took this philosophy one step further to note how it is also “who you help” that will lead you to success. He explained how “paying it forward” in the world of networking will come full circle — a sort of entrepreneurial “karma,” per se.
After Allard’s discussion of “Servant Entrepreneurship,” the alumni and students returned to more networking fueled with even more enthusiasm than before, as his insights gave more purpose to the event. Alumni Tom Brennan, CFO of AbilTo, Inc and Ray Jorgensen, Co-Founder & CEO of Priority Management Group, Inc. (PMG), also helped to facilitate discussion regarding these topics of entrepreneurship and networking.
Many thanks to those who helped in organizing this successful event. A big thank you to Bob Allard ’91, Tom Brennan ’86, and Ray Jorgensen ’91 for facilitating such valuable discussion of entrepreneurship during the event.
It is always an honor to host such successful alumni at events that bring together a variety of stories and passions, as each attendee is linked with the same drive of entrepreneurship and Holy Cross identity. The connections made during these events are instrumental in furthering the HCEG mission of creating more entrepreneurial relationships. Our goal is to foster the Holy Cross community as not only a group of “men and women for others,” but also a community of men and women for each other.
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies
Last evening’s First Annual Shark Tank competition, sponsored by the Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group and Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies, was a resounding success. With registration somewhat uncertain right up until the event started, no one in the room was totally sure what to expect, but by the end of the night the feeling was unanimous – these Holy Cross students had some really great ideas!
The night kicked off with pizza and soda and the room was filled not just with competitors but spectators who showed up to see what their classmates had managed to come up with for ideas. Seniors Andrew Coury and Ed Pesce, co-chairs of the HC Entrepreneurs Group on campus, were in charge of planning this event and they recruited quite an esteemed panel of alumni judges to give feedback – both positive and negative – to the student teams participating. These judges included: Mary Moran ’77, Patrick Sansonetti ’93, John Schiffmann ’82, Chris Stephenson ’97 and Bryan Sparkes ’04.
Unlike the television version of Shark Tank, the HC competition didn’t involve a lot of yelling but that didn’t stop the judges from asking critical questions and really challenging the students to think about how, exactly, their business would work.
In all, there were 5 pitches – two teams and three individuals – and the ideas included a dorm delivery service where students could order necessities and have them delivered in under an hour, a service to help people more successfully embrace the tailgating experience, an autodetailing company that would come to your home or work to clean your car, and a video game where the player assumed the character of a dog and faced “dog-like” challenges.
However, at the end of the night, it was freshman Ben Kaplan who walked away with the $100 prize for the top idea. Not only had Kaplan clearly spent a great deal of time thinking about how, exactly, his idea for a new social media platform would work but he had already come up with a clever acronym for the name of the product and had a logo. (Specifics are being omitted because Kaplan is in the process of working to actually get this idea off the ground and this blogger doesn’t want to be accused of “over sharing”!) To give you an idea of how impressed the judges were with Kaplan’s presentation, let’s just say that when he was awarded top prize one of the alumni judges offered him the chance to get in a room with real investors and do a formal pitch.
The other great thing about this event was not only did the students give impressive presentations, but the alumni all took the opportunity to use their professional experiences to give the students in the ro0m insight and advice on how to go about launching a successful idea. One of the favorite take aways from the night was Chris Stephenson’s advice on how to make $1 million: “Figure out how to make $1. Then do it one million times.” Sounds pretty simple, right?
Overall, a great night. The level of excitement was definitely high as people left the competition and lots of people indicated that they are looking forward to seeing this grow into an annual event at Holy Cross. If the ideas that keep coming in the future are as strong as last night’s, there’s no doubt that Shark Tank will become even more competitive and, hopefully, attract a growing number of students to take the risk, come up with an idea and participate.
Thank you to all the judges, student participants and spectators for taking the time to come out and we’ll see you again next year for Shark Tank Round #2.
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies
Yesterday kicked off the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop and one of the things the students definitely learned was that working a full day (they started at 8:30 am and were busy until 7 pm) is challenging!
Peter George ’81 started off the week talking about how to start and build a business. He was accompanied by Geoff Oblak and Gary Kramer. The students’ challenge for the day: work with their teams to come up with an educational app and then pitch it to the day’s three executive teachers who were acting as Venture Capitalists.
While all the teams came up with interesting ideas, two teams were ultimately rewarded funding: Michael Biggins ’16, Claudia Bechtold ’15, Maggie MacMullin ’16 and Michael Tucker ’14 came up with the idea for BookChat, an online database for professors to post excerpts of readings and where students can engage in online discussions. Nolan Kiernan ’15, Matt Devine ’15, Brendan McGill ’14 and Sophie Haggerty ’16 came up with the idea for SyncroNote, an online note taking software with an audio recording technology. I’m not going to include too many details, in case any of these teams decide to really run with the idea, but the judges were all impressed.
Stay posted for updates on the rest of this week’s workshop. Today’s topic is “Using Culture and Values to Build a Sustainable Business”. Currently the students are split up in groups prepping for a debate on whether culture should be a primary or secondary concern in companies. We’ll see who comes up with the most persuasive argument…