Northwestern hosts entrepreneurial conference featuring workshops and speakers


athan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Entrepreneurs speak at the [email protected] conference Friday. The annual event brought entrepreneurs from across the country to Evanston.

Eli Panken, Reporter

Northwestern hosted a conference Friday which focused on the up-and-coming in the entrepreneurial world and opportunities for college students.

The event, called [email protected] and themed “Next Frontiers,” was hosted by the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in partnership with student group EPIC.

About 130 participants attended the conference at Norris University Center, with 90 percent of attendees being undergraduate and graduate NU students. [email protected] offered five distinct tracks for NU’s budding entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Marketing, Design Thinking, Students/Researchers Becoming Entrepreneurs, Corporate/Venture Intrapraneurship and Women in Entrepreneurship. The conference’s two keynote speakers were Ben Parr (Weinberg ’08), former editor-at-large of the news blog Mashable, and Norbert Riedel, president and CEO of the neuropharmaceutical company Naurex, Inc.

SESP senior Josephine Lee, student coordinator for the Farley Center and former EPIC co-president, said the conference was a success because of its small setting.

“Everyone was able to participate and the conversations had in workshops were very intimate,” Lee said. “There was a high value to all that was discussed and I think students got way more out of this conference than they imagined.”

Lee, who has been involved with the Farley Center for three years, was enthusiastic about the conference’s keynote speakers, Parr in particular.

“Ben was nice enough to volunteer to come out from San Francisco to promote our conference. He fits right in with the theme of the event,” she said. “Ben is always looking to see what is on the rise in the world of entrepreneurship and has such a keen eye for what can succeed.”

Parr spoke toward the end of the conference about his time at Mashable, as well as his current entrepreneurial pursuits. His book, “Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention,” will be released in early 2015. His talk was followed by a question-and-answer session where attendees asked questions about the future of social media and technology.

McCormick sophomore Roy Yu, a member of EPIC, said he was impressed overall with the event, but said he wished more students had attended.

“A lot of what was said in workshops linked pretty nicely to what I’ve been learning in my classes,” he said. “I just wish the conference was marketed better to students because I know there are other students who would be interested in this sort of thing.”

One of those interested students was Lauren Straus, a Weinberg senior who is working on a startup herself. She is a participant in a NUvention course, a two-quarter project in which students work to create a web-based business. Straus said the conference was both intriguing and important.

“It was great to hear all of the ideas in workshops and the keynote speakers were both enjoyable and insightful,” Straus said. “From the perspective of someone working on a startup, this conference was an important networking opportunity and a good chance to learn about what’s on the rise in entrepreneurship.”

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