Alumni share their experience and perspective with Fairfield's emerging entrepreneurs on developing strong businesses.
Coming off the heels of a successful StartUp Showcase last April, the annual Shark Tank-style entrepreneurship competition, StartUp teams spent the summer further developing their businesses as part of the Fairfield University Entrepreneurship Lab (FUEL) Summer Fellows Program. During two separate visits to NYC, several StartUp team members visited alumni at their companies: Brand New Matter, Ceros, ClearVest, and R/GA. The visits were organized by Chris Huntley, PhD, associate professor and program director of Fairfield StartUp.
“Entrepreneurs, especially young ones, are notorious for needing to do things differently, which can make the experience of starting a company pretty lonely,” said Dr. Huntley. “Thus it is critical that our StartUp students spend time with experienced entrepreneurs who can tell them what comes next, after the Showcase when the crowds clear and the real work begins. Fortunately, we have a whole community of alumni entrepreneurs to draw on.”
Julian Ashong ’17 of Africa Requests, Seamus O’Brien ’20 and Abigail Sakati ’20 of Tempas, and Emily Yale ’18 of Trees of Life, participated in the first trip last month. The first stop was to Ceros, an interactive content marketing software company, where the students met Dan Fahy ’06, Keegan Forte ‘07, AJ Lawrence ’08, and CEO Simon Berg. Dan Fahy kicked off the visit with a presentation about the company’s history and where they are now. The StartUp teams pitched their businesses and the Ceros team provided feedback, making recommendations about how to tackle potential roadblocks and giving advice for future steps.
Later that afternoon, students made their way to meet entrepreneur-in-residence Gene Mauro ’92 at R/GA Ventures, a division of R/GA that works with early-stage startups to provide financial capital, creative capital, and client relationship capital to increase a startup’s chances of success. During the visit Mauro shared his expertise in digital marketing strategy with the StartUp teams.
"The trip to NYC was a fantastic experience. I met very talented alumni, toured a think tank, and got to reconnect with the rest of the StartUp teams,” said Emily Yale. “Meeting with the rest of the StartUp group always gives me the propulsion to push Trees of Life forward to the next milestone."
The second trip took place earlier this month when Kyle King ’20 of Blink and Seamus O’Brien ’20 of Tempas visited alumni at Brand New Matter and ClearVest. While at Brand New Matter, a company which provides business engineering, capital formation, and strategic advisory services to entrepreneurs and management teams, King and O’Brien met managing director Brian Harniman ’94.
“I was happy to host two of the StartUp teams,” said Harniman. “I loved seeing their enthusiasm when they talked about their businesses. Tempas and Blink are looking at solving very interesting problems. I'll be watching them to see what happens next!”
King and O’Brien ended the day with a tour of ClearVest, a financial technology company that provides a web-based portal for wealth advisors, family offices, and high net worth investors to execute private investments. Managing director Peter Murrugarra ’00, a mentor of the StartUp program, talked about ClearVest’s business model and how they work with clients.
As the summer winds down, the StartUp teams will return to campus soon where they will continue to participate in Fairfield StartUp. Save the date for next year’s Showcase on April 26 at the Quick Center.