Advice from Alumni
Lou Volpe Urges GSM Graduates to Listen
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist shares career advice
from BU Today
View the video on Bostonia’s website.
Lou Volpe has spent much of his career successfully building technology start-ups in the Boston area—ArrowPoint Communications, GeoTel Communications, and Parametric Technology. As keynote speaker at the 2011 Graduate School of Management convocation, held at Agganis Arena on May 2011, he reflected on his career, offering graduates what he described as a series of “life lessons.”
Drawing on decades of working with dozens of companies, Volpe (GSM’78), now a managing partner at Kodiak Venture Partners, told the graduates that it’s critical to make strategic, not tactical career moves. “When choosing your career moves, always optimize working for great people in great companies. They will challenge you, develop you, help you in becoming great business leaders,” he said.
The entrepreneur and venture capitalist also urged students to seek advice and opinions, to listen, and to focus on reality, not optimism. “Share honest, accurate, achievable information with high integrity,” Volpe said. He also urged his audience to embrace change, and to learn from their failures. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We’ve all had them. However, it’s critically important to understand why your solution didn’t work and how you could have done better.”
Volpe has contributed a great deal to SMG over the past 10 years, donating his time and talent with special lectures and guest appearances, as well as funds, in support of entrepreneurship education at the school. Using his years of experience with start-ups, he wants to help other entrepreneurs get started.
A judge for the annual New Venture Competition since 2000, Volpe has been an important part of the Entrepreneurship@BU mission. He also contributes regularly to the Office of Technology & Development’s Ignition Awards, guiding BU faculty members toward commercialization of their products.
Lou Volpe Photo courtesy of Commencement Photos, Inc.
“It’s important for me to share the advantage of my experience with others to help both the school and the entrepreneurial community to prosper,” Volpe says. “Boston University does a great job at that too, so they make it easy.”
Volpe moved from the entrepreneurial side to the venture capital world in 2000, when he became a managing partner at Kodiak Venture Partners. As an investor looking at new technology ideas every day, he says the most important factors for him in choosing what to fund are the entrepreneurs themselves: their passion, their knowledge, and their understanding of the market.
In 2008, Volpe was given SMG’s Harry Morgan Award for his generous contributions to the entrepreneurship program, and in 2009, he received the SMG Distinguished Alumni Award. “I love the thrill of entrepreneurship,” he says, “and feeling like every morning you can wake up and make an impact on the company you are running.”