Alumnus Wiley Cerilli (left) speaks with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian during Ohanian's book tour event at the University earlier this week.
By: Hailey Temple
Student Entrepreneurs at Syracuse University had the opportunity to share their ideas and speak with entrepreneurs, including Constant Contact’s Wiley Cerilli, at the School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) ICE Box. The ICE Box is a newly redesigned space on the second floor of Hinds Hall for student entrepreneurship activities.
Cerilli was visiting Syracuse University to speak alongside Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as a part of their iSchool-sponsored event The Making of Internet Entrepreneurs. Ohanian is touring colleges across the nation promoting his new book Without Their Permission and inviting alumni, like Cerilli, to speak about Internet freedom and his experiences with entrepreneurship.
Cerilli, who attended the iSchool from 1998 to 1999, left Syracuse University to pursue his passion for entrepreneurship in New York City. He created SinglePlatform, a listing and management platform for small businesses. SinglePlatform achieved major success and Cerilli sold his startup for $100 million to Constant Contact, where his is now Vice President.
Cerilli and other Syracuse alumni, including BrandYourself’s Patrick Ambron, visited the ICE Box to meet with student entrepreneurs and see the latest demos from companies including Centscere, QueueCode, Platypus TV, Golden Gear, and Compas. After learning about the startups and visiting the iSchool’s newest facility, he was surprised by the developments the school had made since his time as a student. “I wish I had something like this while I was here, where I could continue studying while starting my own company. The iSchool is taking a great approach to entrepreneurship – offering a more hands-off approach while providing the support and resources they need” said Cerilli.
Billy Ceskavich, Co-Founder of Compas and an iSchool senior, found Cerilli’s advice and experiences comforting as a budding entrepreneur. After having lunch and demoing his project to Cerilli, he felt inspired by the entrepreneur’s story. “It’s great that the iSchool helps us make personal connections and speak to entrepreneurs who understand what we are going through. He helped me understand the importance of focusing on one idea and being great at it rather than tons of things and just being okay,” said Ceskavich.
As for Cerilli, he continued to highlight the importance of spaces like the ICE Box and the Student Sandbox that allow students to grow and interact while building their companies. “Being the CEO of a company can be a lonely, so being surrounded by people in spaces like this make you feel a little less crazy through the process. The resources, advisors and philosophy the iSchool offers is empowering these students and allowing them to kick and scratch to find success.”