It’s no secret that Boston University offers a robust array of resources to budding entrepreneurs — providing an especially unique opportunity for undergraduate innovators who, at BU School of Management, are immersed in business education from day one. Young entrepreneurs find support through the University’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC) and the School of Management’s award-winning undergraduate Cross-Functional Core*, a combination of courses focused on entrepreneurship and product development.
But what makes these assets truly unique, according to students and alumni, is not the accolades they’ve won or generous funding they make available — or even the rare combination of resources they incorporate thanks to the University’s broad community, encompassing the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Communications, and Arts & Sciences, among others. It’s the School of Management faculty championing these initiatives, whom students and alumni consistently credit with being invaluable career-shapers and lasting supporters.
Here’s a sampling of what both rising and established young entrepreneurs say about bonds they have built with Boston University faculty — and how these bonds have deeply influenced their motivation and success:
Ralph Shao (BSBA ‘09, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and International Management; and BA ’09, International Relations) & Dave Bisceglia (BSBA ‘09, Entrepreneurship and Marketing)
Founders, The Tap Lab social mobile gaming company and Mass High Tech
“Ralph and I started The Tap Lab in October of 2009, five months after graduation. Our goal is to raise the bar for mobile entertainment with games that invite our players to compete with real people, at real places, in real time. I met my Ralph through the BU Entrepreneurship Club, an organization that BU Professor Peter Russo and the rest of the ITEC team helped us create….
“We’ve seen firsthand that the professors and administration here really care about their students, both in the classroom and beyond.”
“Now, post-graduation, Ralph and I have continued to benefit from our relationships with BU faculty, the School of Management Undergraduate Programs Office, and the University administration as a whole. Our professors have given us invaluable guidance and insight while building our company. We’ve come back to campus many times to meet with them and to discuss our business plan as well as the many business challenges we faced early on. We’ve seen firsthand that the professors and administration here really care about their students and are very supportive of our efforts, both in the classroom and beyond. We’ve watched the entrepreneurship community at BU blossom over the past five years and look forward to staying involved for years to come.”
Joanna Alberti (BSBA ‘03, Marketing)
Founder, philoSophie’s® greeting card company; 2005 BusinessWeek “Best Young Entrepreneur Under 25”; 2007 CNN.com “Young People Who Rock”
“ITEC’s Beth Goldstein embraced my idea. She has been a mentor and friend, and her guidance has been a crucial factor in the success of philoSophie’s®.”
“When I graduated from Boston University, I had no idea I would become an entrepreneur. An internship and early graduation in January ’03 led me to a full-time position within advertising. But when I revisited my passion for illustration, I began the idea that became philoSophie’s®. I went back to BU to speak with the Entrepreneurship department, and specifically Professor Peter Russo. Professor Russo gave me great insight in starting a business and the resources to help develop a plan.
“He also introduced me to ITEC’s Beth Goldstein [ITEC Lecturer and Director, $50K New Venture Competition]. Beth embraced my idea and illustrations. She has been a mentor and friend to me since beginning my business in May 2005. Her guidance and expertise in both marketing and business development have been a crucial factor in the success of philoSophie’s®. Her honesty and approach to looking hard at both the numbers and opportunities within my business has contributed both to the growth of business and the confidence I have as an entrepreneur and business owner.”
Ben Cathers (BSBA ’06, Entrepreneurship)
Serial Entrepreneur and Founder, InstantSocial, a social media consulting company
“Many people I work with don’t feel that connection to their alma mater. It’s nice knowing I still have the resources of BU at my disposal and that I’m still part of the community.”
“My current venture provides software and consulting solutions for businesses of all sizes on social media. Our goal is to help companies, influential individuals, and organizations of all sizes and technical experience engage in social media. This is my fourth start-up. I created two when I was in high school and a third while a sophomore at BU. One highlight was when CNN’s Lou Dobbs show filmed me while I was attending class one day at BU and running a start-up.
“The Boston University faculty, and especially those at ITEC, have been an incredibly valuable resource for me. Professor Peter Russo is someone I consider a good friend and mentor. I also still maintain regular contact and seek guidance from professors Erik Molander and Ted Chadwick. ITEC has provided me advice and resources whenever I have asked and is an organization I still feel connected with. Many people I work with don’t feel that connection to their alma mater. It’s nice knowing I still have the resources of BU, SMG, and ITEC at my disposal and that I’m still part of the community.”
Jordan Jemison (BSBA ‘12, Entrepreneurship)
Current Student and Co-Founder, Student Care Storage
“Our company is in the consumer services industry, and our goal is to provide our peers in the Boston area with an assured and convenient end-of-year storage solution. Our first year of operation was last year, summer of 2010. We stored about 100 students’ belongings from the end of May to the beginning of September. We are currently in the process of expanding to 12 new colleges and universities in the Boston area, and also offering domestic and international shipping.
“This school has amazing faculty, with an enormous amount of experience to share…[When] Professor Molander told us we were now true entrepreneurs…it was one of the best moments of my life.”
“My partner [Jorge Colindres (CAS '12)] and I were very determined to start a business before we graduated college, because we both wanted to gain the experience. One of the reasons I came to BU was to learn how to start and run a business. This school has amazing faculty, with an enormous amount of experience and support to share. Professor Erik Molander played a huge role in the development of the business. He helped us tremendously; we look to him as a mentor.
“Two moments in particular I think I will always remember for the rest of my life: completing the business plan and getting our first customer. We went into Professor Molander’s office then, and he told us we were now true entrepreneurs because we got our first customer. It was one of the best moments of my life. I realized that I was living out my dream. Whenever we ran into a roadblock or needed some guidance, he would always have the solution. While he was always very supportive, he would also ask us difficult questions we had not considered before, and then he would try to help us come up with a solution.”
Sam Hellman-Mass (BSBA ’08, Finance and Entrepreneurship)
Co-Owner and Sous Chef, Barley Swine restaurant, Austin, Texas
“I would meet with a few of my professors every week to talk about life, work, and how to make a career doing what I wanted to do. Now, I’m living one of my dreams.”
“I had some great professors during my time at SMG. I would go to almost all of my professors’ office hours every week. I always learned better from talking to people than I did from books, so I would bring questions and talk with the professors about the material instead of studying by myself with a textbook. I remember toward the end of my senior year, when I was trying to figure out what to do after I graduated, I would meet with a few of my professors every week to talk about life, work, and how to make a career doing what I wanted to do. Now, I’m living one of my dreams: building a successful restaurant whose goal is to show people a great meal created with ingredients from local farmers.”
*The School’s Cross-Functional Core was recognized in both 2007 and 2009 with the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation honor from the National Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.