February 19, 2001

Business Symposium

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Aspiring businessmen and entrepreneurs gathered in the Johnson Graduate School of Management last Friday to hear eminent venture capitalists, financiers and attorneys during the inaugural Entrepreneurships and Venture Capital Symposium.

The convention was hosted by Cornell’s Entrepreneurships and Venture Capital Club (EVC).

The symposium was the site of numerous panel discussions and workshops wherein business incubation specialists, intellectual property attorneys and venture capitalists provided students in the business school with insight into business and career opportunities that will become available in the coming years.

Students were given the opportunity to question an array of experienced business professionals who participated in informational discussions which lasted throughout the day.

The speakers, many of them Cornell graduates, came to provide students with their personal success stories and preparatory tips for surviving and succeeding in the business world. Dr. T. Forcht Dagi, a neurosurgeon-turned-venture capitalist and managing partner of Cordova Ventures, was the keynote speaker of the symposium.

“I don’t know that much about venture capitalism, but a lot of the speakers here today definitely have a stronger perspective and experiences,” said Sandeep Soorya grad. “Dr. T. Forcht Dagi gave a brilliant speech about how companies should evolve and about venture capital exit strategy,” he said.

In addition to Dagi, the speakers at the symposium hailed from well-known venture capital firms, including Crystal Internet Venture Funds and McGovern Capital LLC.

The panelists conversed with students about the inner-workings of internet ventures and traditional venture capitalist processes.

“The intention here is to provide a venue whereby the Cornell students, faculty and staff can better understand the inner-workings of funding companies, venture capital and to see these processes as a viable opportunity for the future,” said Greg Hubbell grad, the EVC symposium chair.

“We just want to establish the demand for this event, which should foster similar initiatives in the future,” Hubbell said.

Apart from allowing students to question entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, the symposium also acted as a venue at which students could forge professional contacts with successful Cornell graduates.

“The key element to this symposium is that everyone here has a Cornell connection,” said Brian Silver grad. “This makes things more effective, and there’s a stronger sense of trust that comes with that Cornell connection.”

Visiting businessmen and graduate students both looked at the symposium as an opportunity to maintain a relationship between the University and Cornell graduates in the finance industry.

“Business cards and resumes have definitely been passed around, which is typical of venues such as these,” said Rich Marin ’75, co-founder of B2B-Hive, an Internet incubator.

“But most importantly, contacts and ideas are shared,” he said.

John Jaquette, Jr., executive director of Cornell’s entrepreneurship and personal enterprise program, emphasized the importance of leveraging the “Cornell connection.”

“These business people are sources of advice and success. Cornell is one of the strongest institutions with alumni loyalty,” Jaquette said.

The range of speakers present at the symposium cut across a variety of age, cultural and professional barriers.

“It’s always challenging to imagine how things will turn out when you put a variety of people in a room together, but things went well,” Hubbell said. “The speakers were unbelievable. The information and open sharing was incredible. The speakers were candid and had a lot of insight to share.”

Many panelists said that they were trying to inspire students in entrepreneurship and careers in venture capital in settings both formal and informal.

“It was the aim of many speakers, including myself, to be able to provide an opening — a window at the business school level — which is important,” Dagi said.

Comparing Ithaca to places like Silicon Valley, Marin expressed his belief that the business school has strong growth potential.

“Obviously the whole topic of entrepreneurship and venture capitalism is vital to Cornell,” Marin said. “I would like to see Ithaca and Cornell become a hub for entrepreneurship and commercialization of intellectual property that’ll benefit the University and the community.”

The symposium was open to all students and aspiring business professionals from within the Cornell community.

Archived article by Sai Pidatala