Andrew Farah G’11, Shay Colson G’10 and Justin Breese ’08, G’10, all students in the Syracuse University School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) M.S. in Information Management program, come from varied backgrounds. They enrolled at SU to polish their resumes with a graduate degree, not to start a business. But they all had ideas.
“I have a writing and communications background,” Farah says. “Shay Colson has an undergraduate degree in the comparative history of ideas. Justin Breese is a technical guru and the only one who has a finance background. I didn’t study to own a business. I just realized that in a perfect world I would spend the days exploring my curiosities. Who can’t relate to that?”
It was dissatisfaction that brought Farah, Colson and Breese together, like-minded students frustrated with sitting in class, literally throwing out great ideas. Capesquared, the company they formed, grew out of their desire to put ideas into action in the real world.
Now Farah, with input from entrepreneurs in the community and from six college campuses, is helping to organize Emerging Talk, an event that will help entrepreneurs find resources in the community and other entrepreneurs who have started a business and have lessons to share. Emerging Talk offers opportunity for creative individuals to meet others with great ideas and the knowledge to put their thoughts into action.
“When we began planning this event, we held a cross-campus, cross-disciplinary meeting with both students and administrators,” Farah says. “During the meeting, we struggled to answer the question, ‘What’s valuable to a student with an idea?’”
But once the formal meeting concluded, “We looked down the long meeting table, and there at the end were the student entreps … making deals,” Farah says. “Emerging Talk is recreating that atmosphere–a place where students, investors and business owners can meet on a more level playing field and simply have a conversation.”
Emerging Talk will be held on Wednesday, April 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the Syracuse Technology Garden. Students from SU, Le Moyne College, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Onondaga Community College, Cayuga Community College and Morrisville State College will converge to gather information and resources to help them act on their ideas. The event is open to the public. Anyone with a business idea, a current business or an interest in the entrepreneurial scene in Central New York, or who is a resource to businesses is welcome. Attendees are asked to register at http://emergingtalk.com/. Along with discussion, the event will include food, cash prizes and iPad giveaways.
“We are very excited to host Emerging Talk, bringing together student entrepreneurs from throughout the region to exchange ideas, learn of opportunities, meet interested community members and investors, and have some end-of-semester fun centered on entrepreneurship,” says Paul Brooks, vice president of entrepreneurship programs at the Tech Garden.
Students at Emerging Talk will compete for prizes that include website development, a public relations campaign, incubator space and legal advice. Prizes have been provided by local businesses and organizations that are eager to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Central New York.
“Syracuse has many resources to help entrepreneurs get started and grow,” says Bruce Kingma, SU associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation. “So we’re throwing a party to bring all the necessary ingredients together to really stir up entrepreneurship in our region.”
Although Emerging Talk is a conversation, it’s not just about talking; it’s about what happens afterward. “If you get the right people in the same room, things start to happen,” Farah said.
Michael D’Eredita, assistant professor at the iSchool, is excited about Emerging Talk and has a keen interest in helping student entrepreneurs succeed. He established the Student Start-Up Accelerator Program to give students a hands-on academic experience to put their ideas to the test. “I think the key to this event will be the ongoing discussion and venture creation that emerges in the years to come,” D’Eredita said. “There is so much potential to build a life around your passion in Upstate New York, both before and after graduation, and do it with like-minded people striving to do the same.”
Organizing Emerging Talk has already proven invaluable, as Farah meets entrepreneurs on campuses and in the community to exchange ideas and lessons learned. This is the spirit and atmosphere that innovative individuals will walk into at Emerging Talk on April 28. “By doing, we learn,” Farah said. “Maybe one day when we’re all doing we can live for five days of the week instead of two.”
Emerging Talk is made possible, in part, by Enitiative. Enitiative is funded by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, Mo., focusing on entrepreneurship in the arts, technology and neighborhoods. To learn more about Enitiative, visit http://www.entrepreneurship.syr.edu.