Real Leaders and Inspiration: Takeaways From Entrepreneurship @ Cornell #ESHIP15

Cornell ESHIP cover photo

I had the opportunity to participate in Entrepreneurship @ Cornell last week. Besides it being enjoyable to get back to campus after a 15-year hiatus, I left feeling inspired by the people I met. This included my fellow speakers, attendees, the faculty and most importantly the Cornell students. Anyone worried about the state of America today and the next generation of leaders need only spend a week like mine to gain a renewed sense of optimism. More than anything, the drive to create new enterprises to solve new and old problems with innovative approaches and the sense that “no one can stop me” I got from so many individuals was gratifying. Cornell seems to be doing a better job than most university systems in coordinating across the various schools to support and encourage entrepreneurship. As Director of Entrepreneurship @ Cornell, Zach Shulman said, “I have 13 bosses. I report to all 13 Deans and they all support our activities.” The ability to cut across schools as diverse as Agricultural, Business, Hotel, Engineering, Industrial & Labor Relations, Law and support would be entrepreneurs regardless of their chosen field is powerful.

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Jay Walker ‘77, a keynote and founder of Priceline.com and Walker Digital put the entrepreneurial bug in perspective by calling it a “disease”. Do you have it? If you do, you can’t get rid of it. He also made a great point that you don’t build a company with a group of people who ALL have the disease. That would not be successful. You need a team that can build processes, and get things done. That certainly fits my experience. As I said to some of the classes, we are glorifying the entrepreneur this week and it is a great thing. However, one does not build a business with all entrepreneurs. One builds a business with a team of people with complimentary skills and ability to execute. Every visionary who can articulate the future and see what no one else sees, needs someone pulling back asking the questions: that sounds great, but how do we DO that? What needs to be in place to make it work? What about these problems?   One must have a balance and the how do you actually do what is being proposed way of thinking is critical.

Jay Walker @Cornell IMG_5313 Mayor Svante Myrick twitter exchange

Jay went on to identify 10 ‘superforces’ – Jay Walker shares 10 ‘superforces’ of the business future. At the opening night banquet, the superstar Mayor of Ithaca, Svante Myrick addressed the group. Mayor Myrick is truly a remarkable leader. He called all entrepreneurs the “annoying” people without whom, nothing would change. When I commented to Jay Walker that I’d like to see Mayor Myrick in higher office, he said something with which I immediately agreed… “We need fresh leadership doing good things at the local level. Let him do that now.” In the excitement for how good I think he is and his potential on a larger stage, its easy to forget that we need a whole bunch of Svante Myricks doing exactly what he is doing locally in this country. The Mayor and I got into a little twitter exchange after his talk above.

Tech Entrepreneurship Roundtable Prgm image IMG_5281IMG_5320IMG_5284 Smoke at Cornell - Hosp Roundtable

Leading into the celebration, I had the privilege of participating on the CHR Technology Entrepreneurship Roundtable at the Cornell Hotel School. This roundtable was of the highest caliber and I really enjoyed learning from and debating the latest developments in hospitality and how technology is affecting everyone’s businesses.   There are several people I met through the roundtable with whom I will remain friends far into the future. I presented the case for why today is better than any other time for new brands to reach their audience, which led the group to a discussion of the asynchronistic nature of startup/new brands vs large established brands. This applies to hotels and to beverage brands. The bottom line is using today’s technology, a new brand can communicate with its core following or “Tribe” directly, something that in the past was nearly impossible or cost prohibitive to do. Larger established brands have a much harder time competing at that level and by their very definition, cannot micro market as easily.

I also really enjoyed sharing stories of our entrepreneurial journey on the CEN panel on Friday with Panelists:
Jamey Edwards ’96, MBA ’03, CEO, Emergent Medical Associates
Carl Forsythe MBA ’82, President & CEO, Globe Composite Solutions
Smoke Wallin ‘88, CEO, Taliera

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Jamey and Carl both brought great perspectives as we took turns telling stories and engaging with the audience.

The Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship hosted two panel/socials that promoted a group of entrepreneurs interacting with students. Both of these were a lot of fun as I enjoyed the panels and students!

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Finally, I’ve had a half dozen follow up calls and discussions with student entrepreneurs since last week. These folks are pushing ahead with their various new ventures and represent the future of our country. I am pleased that I can play a small role in giving them input/guidance on their respective journeys.

 

Cheers

Smoke

 

Smoke Wallin Vanderbilt Address – 2008

I came across this video of my address at Vanderbilt back in 2008.  I had tremendous feedback from this from those in the audience.  I thought I’d share…

 Vanderbilt University – Alumni Weekend 2008  J. Smoke Wallin the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus and incoming President of the Vanderbilt Owen Alumni Board introduced by Jim Bradford, Dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.  Smoke addresses students, faculty, staff and prospective students on what matters in life, business and friendship.  He reflects on some difficult experiences.

Wine 2.0 Announces Launch OF 2008 Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition with Vator.tv

 

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2007 Winner Crushpad Received $9 Million Investment, Credited Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition With Providing Added Exposure 

To Investment Community. This Year’s Competition Expects To Partner With Investment Group To Sponsor 2008 Competition With $250K Seed Round Funding To Winning Company. 

 

  SAN FRANCISCO, CA, October 03, 2008 /24-7PressRelease/ — Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry, announces the 2nd Annual Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition with partner Vator.tv. Last year’s winner, Crushpad, a personal winery concept received $9 million in a Series B investment and credited the Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition with providing added exposure to the investment community.     

“The 2007 Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition gave Crushpad a big boost of awareness within the investment community. It opened up a lot of doors for us, and ultimately we ended up with multiple investment options and were able to do the type of investment round that best suited our needs,” said Michael Brill, CEO, Crushpad.

This year’s competition is open to companies utilizing technology in the wine space and interested in raising investment capital. Presenting companies can upload a video pitch to the Vator.tv community and competition judging panel. This year’s judging panel is made up of leaders in the legal, wine, technology and investment communities and includes:

• Alan Citron, Executive, Buzznet and former GM at TMZ.com,
• Bowen Osbourn, M & A, Demand Media
• Richard Rosenblatt, CEO, Demand Media, former CEO of Myspace.com.
• Gary Vaynerchuk, star of Wine Library TV,
• Steve Venuto, Partner, Orrick,
• Heidi Roizen, Founder Skinny Songs and former partner at Mobius Venture Capital,
• J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman, Wine 2.0, CEO Taliera Holdings, Chairman/Founder eSkye, Co-Chairman Wine Industry Technology Symposium, President of the Vanderbilt Business School Alumni Board and Former Chairman of WSWA

“Given the global economic challenges we face, never has it been more important than now, for creative individuals to take entrepreneurial risks. The Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition is a fantastic opportunity for start-ups involved in the wine industry to vet their plan, network with like-minded entrepreneurs and raise their profile with the right investors,” said J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman of Wine 2.0. “We are pleased to partner with Vator.TV and these excellent judges to create a world class competition,” continued Wallin.

“Vator.tv has new business ventures joining our network every day. The wine space is experiencing as much activity and interest among start-ups and investors as anything we have seen. We are excited to partner with Wine 2.0 for the second competition after such a great turnout last year,” said Bambi Francisco, Co-Founder and CEO of Vator.tv.

The 2008 Wine 2.0 Business Plan Competition will run through April when the winning company will be announced at Wine 2.0 San Francisco, it can be found at (www.vator.tv)

About Wine 2.0
Wine 2.0 is the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry. Wine 2.0 focuses on the next generation wine consumer and breaks down the barriers to learning about, experiencing and enjoying wine. Wine 2.0 events feature the newest generation of emerging technology companies, services and communication tools that are changing the world of wine. (www.winetwo.com)

About Vator.tv
Vator.tv is the leading social media and networking site focused on emerging technology companies and private investment trends. Vator.tv allows startups to share their own narrative in their own voice in video and text, and enables others to follow those stories from one single dashboard. VatorNews is Vator.tv’s newsroom, where anyone can create their own channel to deliver news and information about high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship.
Vator.tv is located in San Francisco, CA. It launched in June 2007 and is funded by angel investors, including Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Richard Rosenblatt, former Chairman of MySpace, Georges Harik, former Google executive who helped build Google’s AdSense technology and Paul Buchheit, founder of FriendFeed, and creator of the first version of Google’s Gmail.
Bambi Francisco is Vator.tv co-founder and CEO. She was a syndicated columnist and correspondent covering internet and emerging technology trends an investments across the public and private sectors for Dow Jones MarketWatch. Vator.tv is an extension of Bambi’s passion to give investors an edge by exposing opportunities at the earliest stages. This is a focus she’s had throughout her career. In 1995, Bambi created, launched and produced three shows for CNNfn, one of which was “Capital Ideas,” a show on innovation focusing on IPOs and deals.

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