Saturday, December 15, 2007

Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University -- success!

We are pleased to report that Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University was a great success. We had 16 events in 6 days, and over 500 registered applicants. If you want the full scoop, check out the Entrepreneurship Week blog at

Thanks to everyone that helped support our inaugural Entrepreneurship Week!

More pictures at:

Saturday, December 08, 2007

eWeek Wrap-Up :: Thank You!

Thank you to all attendees, speakers, sponsors, supporters, advocates, and volunteers. The first Entrepreneurship Week at Duke was a success because of your help. With the feedback we've received during the week, the eWeek team is already beginning to plan a bigger and better eWeek 2008. Get ready!


Howie Rhee, Larry Boyd, Kaycee Shoemaker, Jeremy Welch, Jeff Clark, and Kimberly Jenkins

eWeek 2007 Co-Chairs

Day 6 - International Entrepreneurship Panel, Environmental Entrepreneurship Panel, and Closing Lunch

The first Entrepreneurship Week at Duke has come to a close. This morning there were three events: International and Environmental Entrepreneurship Panels and a Closing Lunch.

The International Entrepreneurship event featured Robert Taber, Vice Chancellor of Science and Technology Development at Duke Medicine. Mr. Taber is director of the Office of Science and Technology at Duke University Medical Center and he oversees patents and licenses for the entire university. He presented on the changing nature of entrepreneurship internationally, comparing the entrepreneurial ecosystems of China, Singapore, Italy, the US, and more.

The second event of the day was an environmental entrepreneurship panel moderated by Bob Clemen, Professor of Decision Sciences at Duke University, Fuqua School of Business. Panelists for the event included:
  • Marc Dreyfors, Duke MEM '92 - co-owner of Bull City Biodiesel, founder of Forests of the World and Greenway Transit, LLC
  • Lyle Estill - Piedmont BioFuels
  • Roger Harris - founder of Jungle Wanders ecotourism company and former team leader at Paradigm Genetics

The day closed with a lunch and closing remarks by the co-chairs Howie Rhee, Larry Boyd, Kaycee Shoemaker, and Jeremy Welch, and by Larry Robbins from the eWeek headline sponsor Wyrick Robbins Yates & Pontin, LLP.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Days 4 and 5 - Start-Up Job Fair, Undergraduate Capstone Speaker, Undergraduate Entrepreneurs Pitch Session, and Social Entrepreneurship Panel

The eWeek team put on four events Thursday and Friday.

The Start-up Job Fair connected local companies with graduate and undergraduate students. The start-ups from around the Triangle represented a wide range of industries, from biotechnology to Web 2.0. The event was sponsored by Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

Will Pearson, Trinity '01 and co-founder and President of Mental_Floss magazine, capped off the undergraduate events with a presentation about his experience starting mental_floss. This event was sponsored by Aurora Funds and Intuit JumpUp.

Thursday evening, undergraduate students pitched ideas and business plans created in classes this semester to a panel of judges including:
This event was sponsored by Aurora Funds and Intuit JumpUp.

On Friday, Christopher Gergen, founding partner of New Mountain Ventures, LLC, moderated a panel called "Launching Social Ventures." Social entrepreneurs on the panel included:
  • Brandon Busteed, Duke Trinity '99 - Founder and CEO, Outside the Classroom
  • Geoff Cramer, Duke WEMBA '01 - Founder and CEO, Futures, Inc.
  • Henry McKoy, UNC MBA '95 - Founder of OneVoice Institute of Business

Tomorrow is the last day of Entrepreneurship Week. There are three events: the International Entrepreneurship Speaker, the Environmental Entrepreneurship Panel, and the Entrepreneurship Week Closing Ceremony. See you there!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Day 3 - High School Pitch Session, MBA Entrepreneurship Panel, VC Speed Dating, Waitzkin Entrepreneurship Week Keynote

We're half-way through the week! Wednesday was our biggest day yet, with 4 events: the High School Pitch Session, an MBA Entrepreneurship Panel, VC Speed Dating, and the Waitzkin Entrepreneurship Week Keynote Speaker, Ernest Mario, PhD.

Early in the day, high school students from two local high schools, Riverside and Hillside, had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas. These high school students have been advised by Duke MBA students over the course of the semester, and these presentations were the capstone of their work.

At 2:oo PM at Fuqua, the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club hosted the MBA Entrepreneurship Panel featuring Jonathan Gindes, Fuqua Daytime '03, and Jed Carlson, Fuqua Daytime '05. Jonathan and Jed answered questions and gave advice to an audience of MBA students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial paths. The panel was sponsored by Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan LLP.

10 teams of entrepreneurs, 10 VCs, 10 tables. One hour for students to mix it up, pitch their ideas, and get feedback. The event was hosted by the 9th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge and sponsored by Hughes Pittman & Gupton LLP.

The day ended with the Waitzkin Entrepreneurship Week Keynote Speaker, Dr. Ernest Mario. Dr. Mario has 40 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, and has served as CEO of Glaxo, Alza Corporation, Apothogen, and Reliant Pharmaceuticals. In his presentation, Dr. Mario elaborated on the various leadership roles of his business career and explained to the audience that "...entrepreneurs cannot be afraid to fail." The event was hosted by the Master of Engineering Management Program at Pratt and the Division of Student Affairs.

Tomorrow is the Duke Start-Up Job Fair, the Undergraduate Capstone Speaker ( Will Pearson, founder and president of Mental_Floss magazine), and the Undergraduate Entrepreneurs Pitch Session. See you at the events!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Day 2 - Undergrad Panel and Entrepreneurship Mixer

Two days down. The Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Panel featured three great speakers and the Entrepreneurship Mixer at Tyler's drew quite a crowd.

The undergrad panel in Griffith Film Theater featured three current or former students from Duke (listed left to right from photo):
  • Breck Yunits, Trinity '07 - co-founder and CEO of
The three provided valuable insight into their experiences founding and running start-up companies while students, fielding questions about protecting ideas, NOT writing a business plan (at least initially), maintaining passion and energy when growing the company, and how Duke prepared them for their current leadership roles.

The Entrepreneurship Mixer was held at Tyler's Taproom at the American Tobacco Complex in Downtown Durham. Week attendees snacked on finger-food, had a few drinks, and had even more laughs while chatting about business, Duke, the Triangle, the eWeek at Duke events, and more.

Tomorrow is a big day full of events - the High School Pitch Event, the MBA Entrepreneurship Panel, Venture Capital Speed Dating, and the Keynote Speaker, Ernest Mario, PhD.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Day 1 - Tech Showcase, Opening Speaker and Kick-Off Party

Day one was a success and a great opening to the week!

The first event of the day was the Technology Showcase hosted by Duke's Office of Licensing and Ventures (OLV) and sponsored by Hutchison Law Group PLLC. The event was held in the Kirby Winter Gardens at Fuqua, and attracted a crowd of VCs, independent investors, inventors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, students, and faculty.

After the Tech Showcase, Aerie Pharmaceuticals presented in Faculty Hall. Aerie is a biotechnology company developing new therapies for sight-threatening diseases of the eye and is based on innovations from the labs of David Epstein, MD, Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, and Eric Toone, PhD, Professor of Chemistry.

At 6:30, Howie Rhee opened the kick-off party and shared the stage and mic with Chris Lynch from Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, the headline sponsor for the week, and eWeek co-chairs Larry Boyd, Jeff Clark, and Jeremy Welch. Jeff spoke briefly about Duke University's entrepreneurial roots and the bright future ahead. Chris Lynch followed with a few words about his firm and their history of support for entrepreneurs from Duke.

Tomorrow is the Undergrad Entrepreneurship Panel and Entrepreneurship Mixer at Tyler's Taproom. Check out the eWeek at Duke homepage for a schedule of events for the rest of the week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The website is up!

Check out the website. Rather than just being the Save the Date, I have updated it with the schedule and other relevant information.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Encouraging Entrepreneurship

Hi everyone,

Welcome to our inaugural Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University! I hope this will be the first of many Entrepreneurship Weeks.

The idea for Entrepreneurship Week came in August, when I was thinking about putting together a Conference at Duke on Entrepreneurship. I was looking at Stanford's entrepreneurial offerings and happened upon their Entrepreneurship Week website, It turns out that the Kauffman Foundation, which is the non-profit that encourages entrepreneurship everywhere, had held a big "EntrepreneurshipWeek USA" event in early 2007.

I immediately knew this was the event I wanted to take on, and with Jon Fjeld, Barry Myers, Larry Boyd, Kimberly Jenkins, Jeff Clark, Bob Taber, Matt Nash, Chris Gergen, Rose Ritts, Kaycee Shoemaker, Jeremy Welch, Kathy Beckett, Tiffany Hogan, Kirsten Nicholas and many others, we began the process of putting together Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University!

We are officially one month away from the beginning of the Week (it starts on December 3rd, 2007). We've got most of the major pieces in place and it's going to be a great week!

I hope you will join us. It is a "New Day" for Entrepreneurship at Duke!

Howie Rhee
Co-Chair, Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University

Monday, October 22, 2007

90 Days Update

It's been almost 90 Days at this role, and it's time for an update.

First of all, it has been a total blast working here at Fuqua and at Duke, and I feel lucky to be surrounded by such great people. Especially our "Entrepreneurship Team" at Duke, which includes Jon Fjeld, Wes Cohen, Bob Taber, Barry Myers, Rose Ritts, Jeff Glass, Larry Boyd, Melda Uzbil, Wendy Kuran, Matt Nash, and many others. I feel great about the direction we're heading.

There are a number of initiatives we are working on, and I'll just list them here briefly:

1) The Duke Ventures Project. This is an innovative and creative project led by Jon Fjeld to connect Startups, Students, and Academic Research, into one cohesive project. I won't go into too many details, but we are running our "beta" of this project right now and have high hopes for this project. More at

2) Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University. I am co-chairing this with Larry Boyd (CERC). We are having a good time and this is going to be a fun event. We are scheduled for December 1st to December 8th, 2007, and more info can be found at Next year, we're going to join the larger Global movement that Kauffman is pushing with Global Entrepreneurship Week. Thanks to Jeff Clark, Kimberly Jenkins, Kaycee Shoemaker, and Jeremy Welch for leading this effort with myself and Larry.

3) Student Counseling. One thing I heard from students is a desire for more student counseling with respect to entrepreneurship and venture capital. We have responded by making ourselves more available, and proactively reaching out to students. Student response has been positive. We have used a survey to learn more about our students interests, and created various opportunities to connect including Walk-In Hours in the Fox Center and a Startup Support Group.

4) Engagement with the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club (EVCC). Back in 2004, a few of us young alumni realized some of the challenges the EVCC faced year to year and we formed the Alumni Advisory Board. It worked out well, and the club grew stronger. Now I'm looking forward to taking the club to that next level. I'm fortunate to be working with Jen Artabane, Josh Payne, and Mike Midgett, who are all talented and dedicated. Also, we have some great First Years. Check out

5) Matchmaking Startups with Students. In many of my interviews with students and startups, I realized that there was a need for better mechanisms for connecting. I considered several ideas to facilitate this, and so far what seems to be working is publishing the opportunities online. So far, student feedback has been a little mixed, but mostly positive. Check out

6) Engagement with the Duke Startup Challenge. The Duke Startup Challenge has been around for nine years, and has gained some recent strength and consistency with Mike Pisetsky's three plus year involvement. With a strong set of co-presidents, Kris Irwin, Hylton Kalvaria, and Steve Allan, they are poised to do excellent things this year and create the infrastructure for future years to succeed. I am working along side Barry Myers in providing energy and support to this great activity.

7) Entrepreneurial Fellows. This program let's students work on projects of their choosing and present their findings in a structured way. This is a new initiative that is meant to capture on the intelligence and creativity of our transient (two year) students, by allowing them to complete "strategic" projects that will help the Center. We have received a positive response from students and I look forward to the results at year-end.

8) Expanded Entrepreneur Affiliates program. Using some contacts that have been developed over the last few years, we are expanding our Entrepreneur Affiliates program to include more members of our community. I expect we will increase our Affiliates program by 50% over the next year. We are also improving Alumni participation in this program.

We have more things in the hopper, but I would say this covers a majority of the efforts we have been involved in so far. It's been a busy and exciting time, and I look forward to the development of these initiatives over this and future academic years.

In summary, I am thrilled to be here, and feel I am very lucky to work with so many great people and students. Together, I believe we will create something meaningful and important.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome to my blog

Hi there,

Welcome to my blog. I am beginning this blog at the same time that I am starting my position as the Managing Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Fuqua School of Business of Duke University.

As both a Fuqua student in 2002-2004, and having worked at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) in the Research Triangle entrepreneurial community from 2004-2006, I have come to realize what a great opportunity we have at Fuqua and at Duke for being one of the top entrepreneurial programs in the world.

Unlike many programs around the world, we are lucky to have the rare combination of 1) a great MBA program, 2) great technology in the engineering and medical schools at Duke, 3) close proximity to an entrepreneurial center in Research Triangle Park, 4) decent investment capital, and 5) close proximity to two other world-class universities in UNC Chapel Hill (rated 28 by US News) and NC State University (rated 85 by US News).

With these assets as a backdrop, we are working on creating one of the best Entrepreneurship programs. This supports Fuqua's goal to create the Best MBA program in the world.

Through this blog, I plan to communicate interesting observations as we construct and re-construct our program.

Thanks for stopping by and let's have some fun.