Entrepreneur’s Roundtable Event
Breeding Ground for New Business Ideas
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Updated: Sunday, February 6, 2011 22:02
What do you do when you have no capital, no official employees, and are running out of time to meet a deadline for a potentially life-changing order to Nordstrom? You invite the UCLA football team over to finish the order and pay them with beer and pizza. Although this solution may not work for every start-up company, it was the magical answer for Linz Shelton (MBA 1), the founder of the celebrity-adored handbag company, Cuffz By Linz.
Shelton was just one of seven amazing Stern entrepreneurs who participated in the Entrepreneur's Roundtable event on November 11. From fashion to e-commerce, social media to social venture, the breadth of talent of these seven Stern MBAs impressed everyone who attended. First, each entrepreneur described the trials and tribulations experienced when nurturing a start-up and enthusiastically shared the rewarding feeling that comes from founding a personal business. The passion in their voices was evident.
The event continued with engaging table discussions led by the seven speakers. Each table had a dedicated focus: team formation, funding, business development, product development, and available New York City and NYU resources.
Brian Rothenberg, founder of SkillSlate, a vertical search directory for finding individual service providers, weighed in with helpful hints about how to secure funds for startups, a task that can seem daunting to many. Rothenberg (MBA 2) recently secured $1.1 million in seed financing from Canaan Partners, First Round Capital and several angel investors and enlightened other students on how he raised the money.
Patrick Chen, MBA2 and founder of Popugamer, a web company that crowdsources user reviews of video games, said that his company was currently focused on growing its user base and evolving its product. He answered students' questions about product development and discussed critical steps involved in a product's market launch.
Brendan Dickinson (MBA 2) discussed his internship at Canaan Partners, a global venture capital firm that invests in people who turn visionary ideas into valuable companies (such as Rothenberg's SkillSlate). Dickinson's internship focused on Tremor Media, in particular, but he also had the opportunity to work on other portfolio companies. Considering Canaan has invested in some of the world's leading technology companies such as DoubleClick and Match.com, Brendan's insights gave roundtable participants a priceless glimpse of the venture capital world.
Bre.ad is an upcoming social media advertising service that will aim to connect celebrities with high quality brands and endorsements. Qing discussed the site's interstitial ad platform designed to showcase not only popular social icons but also individuals, charities and organizations.
MyCauseTV.com provides a digital media platform for cause-affiliated brands and products for non-profits and charitable for-profit companies. Olsen discussed team development, his fundraising process and the subsequent product launch, which included a successful video campaign for Project Vote. The campaign resulted in a YouTube/PBS media partnership and made the company cash flow positive.
Last but not least, YourCampus360.com develops next-generation multimedia applications that encourage constant interaction between educational institutions and prospective students. Tolka discussed how his team generated customers, cash flow and profitable operations while expanding its technology and client list to some of the top universities in the United States.
Part of the Entrepreneur's Exchange Club's mission is to provide an energized environment conducive to pursuing entrepreneurial paths. The club certainly succeeded with this fantastic roundtable session in putting on an immersive, informative event that not only showcased its very own seven superstars, but also allowed lots of other Stern students to join in the discussion, ask questions and seek advice about their own future startup. As the event concluded, the energy in the room was palpable and surely more than one new business idea had been hatched.