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Start-up Week Networking ReceptionI must confess that I’ve had a number of sleepless nights, concerned with how well Start-up Week 2.0 would go.  After all, the inaugural Start-up Week last year generated much excitement, sparked energy from the visiting entrepreneurs, students, faculty, and staff, and set a high standard for all subsequent events. For the first Start-up Week, it was both a blessing and curse that we only had a few weeks to plan everything, from conception through completion.  I simply didn’t have enough time last year to be worried, and since it was the first event, there was no comparison bar.  By contrast, for Start-up Week 2013, we had six months of planning and high expectations to exceed the previous year’s event. I shouldn’t have worried; the IST team made this Start-up Week 2013 a huge success.

The IST Start-up Week committee and support team included: Joyce Matthews, Maureen Kilian, Chris Milito, Julie Coughlin, Madhavi Kari, Kathy Wiest, Melissa Hicks, Brandon Wagner, Emilee Spokus, Jenn Stubbs, Jenn Bury, Stephanie Buck, Nicki Yankoski, Kelly Bryan, Stephanie Koons, and Ed Glantz.  This team was supported by IST faculty who graciously opened their courses as a venue for our visitors to provide lectures, working exercises, panels, and Q&A sessions.  In addition, a number of IST students acted as student ambassadors and dynamic concierges for our visiting entrepreneurs.

The events of this past week were extraordinary.  The week began with a presentation by Rod Murchison of Tripwire and proceeded throughout the week with lectures and interactive events by:

  • Todd Bacastow ‘05, DigitalGlobe
  • Tikhon Bernstam, Scribd and Parse
  • Matt Brezina ‘03, Sincerely
  • Brennan Burkhart ‘99, Redkite
  • David Carlino ‘09, NSAi and Redspin
  • Erik Davidson ‘08, ‘10, Buzby Networks
  • Keith Deaven ‘90, Mediabarn
  • Rajiv Eranki, formerly of Dropbox
  • Chris Fanini ‘12, Weebly
  • Heather Gay, Mediabarn
  • Rick Grazzini ‘75, ‘93, GardenGenetics
  • David Hua ‘04, Sincerely
  • Steve Huffman, Reddit and Hipmunk
  • Justin Kan, Exec, TwitchTV, and Justin.tv
  • Jimmy Mesta ‘09, Redspin
  • Bob Morgan ‘89, MorganFranklin
  • Rod Murchison ‘91, Tripwire
  • Bryson A. Nobles ‘04, SongSplits Solutions
  • Thomas Petrini, Evive
  • David Rusenko ‘07, Weebly
  • Michael Seibel, Socialcam
  • Paul Silvis ‘06, SilcoTek
  • Pamela Sorensen ‘94, Pamela’s Punch
  • Mark Tufano ‘09, Brightly Digital
  • Dan Veltri ‘07, Weebly
  • Kathleen Warner ‘14, Innoblue
  • Ethan Wendle, DiamondBack Automotive Accessories

This year, IST collaborated with Penn State’s College of Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, and the Smeal College of Business to bring more speakers and event-goers to the week-long celebration.  Details of the activities and events can be found at the website. The week ended with a Hackathon, which was covered by Chris Velazco on TechCrunch. I was very impressed by the dedication of our IST team as well as by the openness of our speakers who readily shared advice for young entrepreneurs as well as personal stories about their life journeys.

The volume of event coordination, marketing, and IT support needed to carry this out was immense. The attention to detail was impressive and was evident to all the speakers and participants. I recognize this has been a six-month process and that the IST team contributed many, many hours to coordinate and execute such a high-profile event. I am certain our college will see long-term benefits in the important areas of branding, development, and recruitment. #ISTstartup is a brand that is going to stick.

Thanks again for all who participated and worked so hard to make Start-up Week 2013 a huge success.

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