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Startup Seminar Ready to Inspire Student Entrepreneurs

October 26, 2012

Successful entrepreneurs, inventors, venture capitalists, and intellectual property experts passed along advice about what drives success at the first student-organized Rose Startup! Seminar held Saturday, October 27, at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

             RISE Co-Founders

Student Entrepreneurship Leaders: Chad Conway (ME '12) (right) and Wilson Kurian (CSSE '13, RISE CEO) co-founded the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) Club to encourage students to make their startup ideas a reality.

This daylong event quickly surpassed its original registration limit, and drew over 220 people from throughout the Midwest. Attendees included college students, faculty and staff members, coming from Rose-Hulman, Indiana University, Purdue University, Butler University, University of Southern Indiana, and Indiana Wesleyan University, as well as many recent Rose alumni. Entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and venture capital investors also participated.

"The high interest in the event definitely proves that there are a large number of students interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Further, there are a lot of folks interested in helping students realize those dreams," stated event organizer Chad Conway, co-founder of the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) club. He is a senior mechanical engineering major from Duxbury, Mass. "I hope that the energy created during this event will inspire students to explore entrepreneurship," he said.

Rose-Hulman's Hulman Union building was filled with a Who's Who list of Indiana's young entrepreneurs, including Matt Hunckler, president of Verge, a community of Midwest software developers, entrepreneurs and startup investors; and Rose alumnus, Jeff Ready (CS '96), CEO of Scale Computing, twice selected to Forbes' list of America's Most Promising Companies. Scale Computing announced this week another $12 million investment in capital funding to support its high-tech ventures. Hunckler and Ready were the keynote speakers for the seminar.

Participating as session panelists were Elizabeth (Strohm) Kozman (ME, 2002), associate director of strategic and commercial development for BioStorage; Beau D'Arcy (ME, 2003), partner of B2 Entertainment Group and founder of Effortless Efficiency, which provides simple and affordable paths to create energy efficient homes; Yvette Kendall, president of Shevinci Innovations and inventor of E-Book Readers; Jon Speer, managing partner of Creo Quality, which supports life science startup companies; and Bradley Schwer, partner of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP who focuses on business advisory services and general corporate counseling.

Other panelists included Elizabeth Hagerman, Ph.D. (CE, 2000), vice president of Rose-Hulman Ventures and a former new product development official with Baxter Healthcare; Gerald Rea (OE, 2003, recent winner of the Distinguished Young Alumni Award), chief executive officer of Scottsburg's Stray Light Optical Technologies; Anthony Broadnax (CE, 1989), president of northwest Indiana's Broadnax Enterprises; Nick Mahurin (ME, 1989), chief executive officer of Terre Haute's InfraWare; Michael Shepard, managing director of Rock Castle Partners; Dustin S. DuBois (CHE, 1992), partner for Indianapolis' Ice Miller law firm who specializes in intellectual property; Jeremy Clarke(SE/CS, 2009, president of Vortex Web Solutions; and James Coles (EE, 1969) also represented Taft Stettinius & Hollister at the conference.

In addition, to the panels there were breakout sessions focused on giving the attendees hands-on learning. The topics included idea creation and idea pitching. Denver Hutt, executive director of Indianapolis-based Speak Easy, led these breakout sessions.

"We worked really hard to make this event really fun and educational for all of those that attend," Conway said.

The Rose Startup! Seminar, was sponsored by Exact Target, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Rose-Hulman's Department of Engineering Management, and Rose-Hulman's Office of Career Services.