Entrepreneurs from throughout the country joined with Cornell alumni, students, faculty and staff Nov. 7 in New York City for a daylong conference, “Beyond the Horizon,” hosted by Entrepreneurship at Cornell.
Business leaders, including Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, talked about the strategies and vision that helped make their companies successful.
“When someone asks me if they should be an entrepreneur, I tell them ‘don’t do it,’” Ulukaya said. “It will push the limits of every single boundary you have – physical, relationships, mental, emotional.
“But after all that, if you still come back and know that you have to do it, then you’re in the right place and you need to be an entrepreneur.”
Ulukaya said he founded his company out of a desire that everyone have access to delicious, healthy food. Validation came for him when he got a call from a buyer for ShopRite Supermarkets (one of his first stores), who said, “I don’t know what you’re putting in this yogurt, but I can’t keep it on the shelves.”
From a factory that has grown from five employees to more than 2,000 today, Ulukaya said Chobani brought changes to an industry that hadn’t seen innovation for 30 years.
“As an entrepreneur, you have to be the person who can see and manage the details, but also look into the clouds to see the long-term vision,” he said.
Speaker Kegan Schouwenburg, CEO of Sols, told the group how her idea for custom-made insoles was born from her own discomfort while she worked for a 3-D printing technology company.
“I thought that there were companies out there solving all of these major problems of the world and yet my feet hurt,” she said. Her interests in 3-D printing led her to explore ways technology could make a difference in the physical world.
“The evolution of 3-D printing allows every maker also to be a manufacturer,” she said. Applications range from prosthetics to helmets to shin guards to braces, she said.
“I look forward to the day when our bodies exist as a scan on our computers and we can buy things that are specifically made to fit us,” she said.
This is the third year for Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s New York City event.
Danny Brundage, M.Eng. ’74, came to the summit to meet potential partners and investors.
“Last year I met the founders of a startup, and I’m still involved in that company,” said Brundage, founder and president of Clarity Learning Solutions in Arlington, Massachusetts.
John Galinato ’67, MEE ’68, who has hired interns through Entrepreneurship at Cornell for several years, connected with a potential business developer for his company, Build-it-Yourself, as well as possible new hires and customers.
Galinato’s company matches children ages 8 to 13 with art and engineering students at major universities to solve problems incorporating artistic and building elements.
Ariel Wang ’15 was one of more than 100 Cornell undergrad and grad students to attend the summit.
“I always meet interesting people and enjoy hearing their stories,” said Wang, CFO of Student Agencies, a student-run company that operates Big Red Shipping & Storage, Hired Hands Moving Co., the Cornellian Yearbook, Campus Promotions, TakeNote and SAI Properties.
During one of the speeches, Chrysan Tung ’11, a buyer and merchandise planner for fashion designer Malia Mills, heard about new technology to track foot traffic. She immediately texted it to her boss.
“Working in small business, it’s really important to create and network with like-minded people,” Tung said.
Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.