IST grads, students explore San Francisco start-up scene

The second annual Start-up Week, which was held at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) March 18-23, 2013, featured more than 25 entrepreneurs from trailblazing companies such as Weebly, Reddit and Songsplit, who networked with students and dispensed advice on starting and growing innovative technology-based companies. Several IST students decided to foster the connections established with the entrepreneurs and educate themselves about the field of entrepreneurship by embarking on a trip to San Francisco, Calif.

Adam Krempasky (IST '13), Adam Stavely (senior IST major), Hoss Hewitt (IST '13) and Chase Miller (senior SRA major) are visiting San Francisco the week of May 13-17 to get a first-hand look at start-up companies such as Weebly, Sincerely, Socialcam and Zynga. The trip is made possible through the Pomanti Family Student Travel Fund, which was initiated in 2008 by Catherine Pomanti, principal at KPMG in Harrisburg, Pa., and an IST Advisory Board member, and her husband, Thomas. The initial principal of the fund, $25,000, was pledged to Penn State with the purpose of providing monies for IST students to “attend the top conferences relating to the information sciences and technology field.”

Krempasky, who served on the IST Start-up Week committee, says that during Start-up Week, he and the other students spoke with Chris Fanini (IST ’12), CTO and co-founder of Weebly, a web-hosting service that features a drag-and-drop website builder. The company was originally founded by CEO David Rusenko (IST ’07) Fanini, and COO Dan Veltri (Smeal ’07).

“We expressed interest in learning more about what (Fanini) does in order to guide us in our decision-making,” Krempasky said. “He encouraged me and a few other students to come to San Francisco in order to get a better idea.”

Initially, Krempasky said, he didn’t think they would be able to afford it. Shortly after, though, he learned about the Pomanti Family Student Travel Fund that is used for students who wish to pursue educational endeavors.

“I knew that this trip to San Francisco would be extremely beneficial for myself and the three other students who were interested,” Krempasky said.

“I also knew it would be a great opportunity to learn more about the entrepreneurial world and provide feedback to the College of IST so that they could make next year’s Start-up Week even better.”

Krempasky, who has accepted a position as a technology development program associate for PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, says that the San Francisco trip is an opportunity to “see another side of life after graduation.” Other benefits of the trip, he said, include promotion of the Pomanti fund for future use by students interested in similar ventures, and the ability to network and promote the College of IST and Start-up Week to other entrepreneurs who may be interested in participating.

“Anything we can do to enlighten other students and ourselves is definitely a path worth taking,” he said.

Krempasky, Stavely, Hewitt and Miller have created a website to provide live updates to individuals who are interested in seeing what they are doing on their trip. Their experiences will be documented at www.ourstartupweek.weebly.com.

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Last Updated August 28, 2013