Seminar series aims to motivate entrepreneurs, stimulate local business development

Have a business idea you're interested in making a reality? A Nov. 20 seminar in the new Entrepreneurship Seminar Series in the East Hill Office Building will focus on tips and strategies for getting an idea ready for market.

"Idea Validation and Opportunity Assessment" will feature Ted Julian, ILR '89, a tech entrepreneur who has launched successful startups in software, hardware and professional services.

The seminar series, launched in April 2009 by nine Cornell organizations, brings experts to campus with practical advice for faculty, staff, students, local businesses and other aspiring entrepreneurs. It focuses on business topics including team building, market validation, intellectual property, business formation and operation, and customer acquisition.

The series is part of a broader effort to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make innovative ideas into commercial successes, said Steve Golding, senior consultant to President David Skorton.

"As one of the state's leading research universities, Cornell produces new and emerging technologies with the real potential for generating cutting-edge and exciting new commercial applications," Golding said. "To take advantage of these possibilities, we need management skills and entrepreneurial spirit along with the necessary financial resources. Developing and fostering all three at Cornell will make Ithaca a leader in the state's mission to successfully compete in the new global innovation's economy."

The series also provides networking opportunities. "A lot of business success comes from meeting and connecting with a network of other successful business people," said Zach Shulman, senior lecturer of entrepreneurship at the Johnson School. "We want to make establishing those connections easy, satisfying and productive."

The first event, "Building the Team," was held in May and featured Risa Mish '85, J.D. '88, a professor at the Johnson School who teaches critical thinking, problem solving and leadership; and Pam Strausser '87, a consultant from the ILR School who teaches and consults with faculty on issues of leadership, governance and conflict resolution.

The second session, "Intellectual Property Horror Stories," was held in September, with David Rickerby, a partner and the head of the technology transactions and licensing group at Choate, Hall and Stewart, LLP; and Jonathan Schaffer, a current student at the Johnson School who previously worked as a patent examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The series includes about two events per semester. Future events include "Today's Business Plan & Raising Money" in February 2010 and "Startup Killers" in April. The series is also available as a webinar.

To register or for more information, visit

The series is sponsored by Entrepreneurship@Cornell, Entrepreneurship@Johnson, the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization, the Office of Land Grant Affairs, the Cornell Economic Development Administration University Center, the Community and Rural Development Institute, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell Information Technologies.

Becca Bowes is a writer for Entrepreneurship@Cornell.

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