W&L Holds 3rd Annual Entrepreneurship Summit
By Christian von Hassell '16 Nearly 90 alumni returned to Lexington for W&L’s 3rd Annual Entrepreneurship Summit on September 26-27th. Organized by Professor Jeff Shay – along with the Venture Club – the Summit is the hallmark event of W&L’s entrepreneurship program.
After a Friday morning breakfast for all the attendees, Dan Birdwhistell ’01, along with Al Dominick ’99 and Kelly Dyer ’98 kicked off the festivities in Stackhouse Theater with their session on leveraging social media. Except for a lunch break, the day was filled with sessions on a variety of topics, including intellectual property, raising capital, and the best ways to hire – and fire.
Platitudes were sparse as alumni delivered tangible advice. For some in the audience – like Matt Wallace – such advice might truly help their business succeed. A 2006 Graduate, Matt and his wife, Kori, are trying to reinvent ketchup, with ‘Chups. The Wallaces received their initial funding through a Kickstarter campaign – a process on which Matt delivered a presentation. The Wallaces are now working out of Union Kitchen, a D.C. food incubator, as they try to take ‘Chups to the next level.
On Saturday morning, alumni pitched their current projects to the audience. Certain students in the audience were watching eagerly, as the student pitch competition immediately followed. Sophomore Md Azmain Amin won first prize with PolyGreen Bags, an attempt to replace plastic bags with organic materials.
Saturday afternoon featured talks on accounting, intellectual property, strategic and design thinking, as well as a panel of women entrepreneurs. In addition to the strong alumni participation, over 300 students turned out for the Summit, a mark of the entrepreneurship program’s recent growth.