Co-keynotes to share value of Penn State Alumni Network

March 11, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With more than 700,000 alumni alive today, the Penn State network can play a pivotal role in helping fuel students’ career growth.

During Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, alumni J.T. Marino and Hunter Swisher will share how Penn State connections have helped them to become successful innovators and entrepreneurs during their co-keynote presentation, “Six Degrees of Penn State” from 7:15-8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23. Registration is not required for this virtual Zoom event.

Marino, a 2009 University alumnus, and co-founder of Tuft & Needle (T&N) and chief disruption officer of Serta Simmons Bedding, has been instrumental in redefining the sleep industry and retail experience through T&N’s rapid nationwide retail expansion, evolving product offerings, and acclaimed advertising campaigns. With a $6,000 personal investment in 2012, Marino and business partner Daehee Park grew T&N annual revenue from $1 million in their first-full year of business to more than $200 million.

When he was a student in the College of Engineering, Marino's professors connected him with fellow Penn State entrepreneurs and innovators, including David Rusenko, a 2007 graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology and founder and CEO of Weebly, and Matt Brezina, a 2003 electrical engineering alumnus and co-founder and CEO of Sincerely. These connections helped jumpstart Marino’s successful entrepreneurial journey.

Additionally, co-keynote Swisher, a 2016 alumnus and the founder and CEO of Phospholutions Inc., also used the Penn State network to his advantage. While he was a student in the College of Agricultural Sciences, he benefited from resources such as the Ag Springboard Competition, Summer Founders program and Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank to help him take the leap forward in his career and in business.

Recently, Swisher and Phospholutions raised up to $10.25 million through an investment round led by Continental Grain Company Ventures.

Bob Morgan, Penn State class of 1989, another successful Penn State alumnus, will moderate this keynote speaker session. Morgan is the founder and CEO of Talaria Media, a creative film and video production company based in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles that develops and produces a variety of motion picture, television, and digital media content for streaming, broadcast and theatrical release.

For more event information, visit https://startupweek.psu.edu/event-details/schedule/.

Last Updated March 17, 2021