Titans of entrepreneurship, industry to conclude Penn State Startup Week

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a weeklong celebration of ingenuity and inspiration, Penn State Startup Week will culminate with a series of keynote speeches from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Alumni Hall on the University Park campus. This high-profile event will bring together top entrepreneurs and innovators from across the country to share their stories and to inspire students, faculty, staff and community members.

By tying together the week’s interdisciplinary workshops, student pitch competitions, networking events, and speaker sessions, Friday’s event will provide the concluding push for aspiring entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.

“The excitement surrounding Invent Penn State continues to grow, and events such as Startup Week are a critical way to bring the community together,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “The culminating speaker series, featuring business leaders, pioneers and Penn State alumni from across the country, will be a powerful opportunity to learn from the nation’s leading entrepreneurs and innovators.”  

The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. with an opportunity for guests to connect with the day’s speakers through an informal meet and greet. Pizza and Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream will be served. Guests can also register for prizes, including gift cards and Startup Week promotional items, which will be live-drawn throughout the afternoon.

At noon, 1979 Penn State alumnus Jerome Griffith, CEO and president of Lands’ End, will kick-off the presentations. He will discuss his strategy to leverage the rich heritage of Lands’ End, and to drive growth and profit opportunities for all aspects of the global brand while remaining true to the brand’s core values and customer base. "I'm thrilled to be a part of Penn State Startup Week and the University's growing commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship,” Griffith said. “Through programs like Startup Week, students will benefit from the tools, training, experiences and mentorship that are crucial to starting and growing a company.”

At 12:45 p.m., Eric Franchi, a 1998 Penn State alumnus, will take the stage for his presentation, “Lessons Learned Building a $100 Million Startup.” As the co-founder of Undertone, he helped the digital advertising company grow from a bootstrapped startup in 2001 to an enterprise with more than $100 million in revenue and 300 employees. “I am honored to be speaking at Penn State Startup Week and look forward to educating and inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future,” Franchi said. "It has never been a better time to create or join a startup.”

At 1:30 p.m., a panel featuring a diverse array of thought leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs will share insights about what they wish they knew before starting their businesses. The group of panelists include: Anne Zummo Malone, a 2001 alumnus and chief of schools for AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.; Jake Poliskin, who reports directly to Mark Cuban, interfacing with portfolio companies’ CEOs and growing partnerships with large retailers; Jake Stein, the CEO and co-founder of Stitch, a data warehousing service built for software developers; and Richard White, CEO and founder of UserVoice, a product feedback management software.

At 2:15 p.m., David Rusenko, CEO and co-founder of Weebly and a 2007 Penn State alumnus, will discuss how he grew his drag-and-drop website creation business from a class project in the College of Information Sciences and Technology to a tech giant with more than 100 million monthly visitors.

The event will conclude with a presentation by Steve Huffman. As the CEO of Reddit, the fourth most highly trafficked website in the United States, and the co-founder of Hipmunk, a travel search site, Huffman will share his experience in launching and leading two successful startups.

Friday’s keynote presentations will be livestreamed on the Startup Week website. Participants can interact with speakers and ask questions by following @PSUStartupWeek on Twitter and using #PennStateStartup on social media.

Twelve academic colleges and administrative units organized events during Penn State Startup Week, including the College of Agricultural Sciences, Smeal College of Business, College of Communications, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Information Sciences and Technology, Information Technology Services, College of the Liberal Arts, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Outreach, and Eberly College of Science.

Media Contacts: 

Erin Cassidy Hendrick

Marketing Communications Specialist, College of Information Sciences and Technology

Last Updated April 19, 2017