October 15, 2001

Entrepreneur of 2001 Inspires Future C.U. Leaders With Lecture

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Recently-chosen Cornell Entrepreneur of 2001, Jeffrey Parker ’65, delivered his address last Friday to a full house at the Statler Auditorium.

The Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise Program (EPE) elected Parker — who has founded, co-founded or been the CEO to more than a dozen successful companies and two venture capital firms — because of his many business successes and his dedication to Cornell University.

His companies include First Call Corporation, a financial global research network, and CCBN, an investor relations distribution network.

In his lecture, Parker said that the award first came as a surprise because he helped to found the program that elected him and because, he says, that he has so much fun doing his job that it is almost unfair that he get an award for it.

His speech was directed towards, “students and would-be entrepreneurs,” he said.

Parker spoke about the myths and realities of entrepreneurship, about his company, CCBN and about what he calls the “rules of the road.”

Most entrepreneurs come from homes where family members were not entrepreneurs, have good but not phenomenal ideas, start later in life after they had acquired skill and contacts in their decided field, and do not take unreasonable risks, according to Parker.

In a private interview at the awards dinner honoring Parker on Thursday, he gave similar advice to aspiring Cornell entrepreneurs.

“My primary advice would be to try to take the early part of your career and build skill sets that will help you when you’re finally off on your own,” he said.

He also warned not to go off on your own too early.

The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year is selected by a panel of four alumni, three faculty members and two students — one graduate and one undergraduate.

Prof. David BenDaniel, a member of the selection committee, believes Parker was chosen because of his “remarkable business intuition and insight,” his contributions to Cornell, and his “high moral character,” he said.

At Cornell, Parker received a B.A. from the College of Engineering in 1965, a Masters in Engineering in ’66, and an MBA in ’70.

“It’s great to be a Cornellian and it’s great to receive this award,” Parker said upon receiving his award Thursday from President Hunter Rawlings III.

Archived article by Sara Katz