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 http://www.dukeventuresproject.com/


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 http://www.eweekatduke.com/. 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 http://www.dukeevcc.com/

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 http://www.startupmatchmaker.blogspot.com/.

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. http://www.dukestartupchallenge.com/

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.

-Howie