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Students to Learn from Best in Business at Entrepreneurship Startup Conference

November 6, 2013


Jason Zielke


Michael Hatfield


Scott Atkin


Mike Langellier


Jonathon Fruchte


Dustin Dubois


Jim Coles

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at Rose-Hulman with a group of students organizing the Rose Startup Conference that’s bringing successful entrepreneurs and innovators to campus this Saturday, November 9, to discuss the secrets of their successes.

In one of the remarkable success stories, a high-speed fiber-optics systems startup by alumnus Michael Hatfield was acquired by Cisco for $7 billion! He will be the afternoon keynote speaker at this year’s conference.

“We wanted to hear from the best, and were fortunate to once again attract some high-quality speakers this year,” says conference organizer Nick Birch, a senior mechanical engineering student. “This conference offers a great opportunity for students to get some great advice from people who have been successful in bringing their innovative ideas to the marketplace.”

Senior computer engineering student Bryce Filho has had summer internships with startup companies SolidFire Inc. and StandingCloud Inc. He aspires to start and run a company after graduation.

“Rose-Hulman encourages entrepreneurship throughout the curriculum, and has an invigorating startup culture through the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) organization,” says Filho, pointing out that the conference is free for Rose-Hulman students.

RISE members have organized the event that’s bringing together experienced entrepreneurs and young rock-star entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities and thinking. Panel and breakout sessions will cover topics on Why Entrepreneurship?, Funding and Growing, Pitching a Winner, Protecting Your Idea, and Resources for Entrepreneurship.

Learn more at

Watch the keynote speeches at 10:30-11 a.m. (Precise Path Robotics President/CEO Jason Zielke) and 1:15-1:45 p.m. (Hatfield) via our livestream or follow the conversation on twitter with #RoseStartup2013.

Hatfield, a 1984 electrical engineering and mathematical economics alumnus, is leading his fourth successful startup enterprise. He is president and founder of California-based Cyan Inc., a publicly-traded technology company that helps service providers and other network operators around the world scale their networks, reduce their costs, and accelerate service delivery. Previously, Hatfield founded Calix, a leading provider of high-speed access systems for communications service providers; founded Cerent, a leading provider of high-speed fiber-optics systems; and was a team leader for Advanced Fibre Communications, helping the company go from startup to becoming a publicly-traded enterprise. He has also had management roles at DSC Communications and Ameritech.

Zielke is leading an Indiana-based technology company that’s focused on the commercialization of automation for the outdoors, primarily concentrated in specialized software and sensor technologies. The company has raised more than $18 million in private investment and grants. In 2009, Precise Path Robotics launched its first product, a robotic greens mower for golf courses, and today is embedding its technologies into several products focused on the golf course market.

Prior to joining Precise Path, Zielke was an Innovation Fellow assisting in the development of projects for Rose-Hulman Ventures; founded Enjoin, a software development company; and consulted for numerous startup technology companies in the areas of product management, market positioning and finance. He also worked as an application engineer at Allison Electric Drive, where he helped successfully launch General Motors’ first hybrid technology platform. He earned a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering and master’s degree in engineering management at Rose-Hulman, and was named a Distinguished Young Alumnus of the institute in 2010.

Also passing along advice to students will be Scott Atkin, who founded Sagian, an Indiana-based technology startup, and reached the level of executive vice president at Beckman Coulter. He was responsible for business and product development, and oversaw the global engineering development organization that supported all product lines in regulated and non-regulated markets. Atkin retired in 2012 as president of Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and serves as an advisor to a healthcare focused private equity firm.

K. Ram Sundaram is a senior principal at X by 2 Inc. and has more than 25 years of experience in technology and business consulting. He is a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 company executives on their enterprise class technologies and multi-year strategies, and has a proven track record for conceptualizing business issues and opportunities into actionable solutions, and successfully implementing technology solutions for clients. Prior to starting X by 2, Sundaram played a leadership role in launching Cambridge Technology Partners’ Detroit operation and developing two other high-growth consulting ventures.

Other session speakers and panelists will feature:

  • Mike Langellier, successful entrepreneur and software executive who now serves as president and CEO of TechPoint, Indiana’s technology growth initiative.
  • Jonathon Fruchte, portfolio manager for Elevate Ventures, an active angel and seed fund investment firm that manages the State of Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund (21 Fund) and Indiana’s Federal Treasury SSBCI Program allocation (Indiana Angel Fund).
  • Dustin DuBois, a partner with Ice Miller whose practice concentrates in various facets of intellectual property and transactions. He also assists clients with complex legal issues including compliance with export control regulations, international privacy laws, and a host of other regulatory frameworks.
  • Jim A. Coles is co-chair of Taft's Intellectual Property Practice and an influential leader in technology and business issues. He has vast experience with all types of intellectual property and technology matters and helps clients determine the breadth and value of their intellectual property assets through audit services and strategies for protecting and exploiting those assets.
  • Yaw Aning is the co-founder of Sticksnleaves, a ruby-on-rails web and mobile application development firm. For the past three years, he has helped clients launch more than 20 new technology ventures for small startups and large enterprises.

Sessions are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Rose-Hulman’s Hulman Memorial Student Union.