On Wednesday, the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the third annual Entrepreneur@NU conference, an event that celebrates entrepreneurship at Northwestern and the greater Chicago community. This year’s theme was “Pivot for Success.” It was also the first Entrepreneur@NU conference since the passing of the Farley Center’s benefactor, James Farley, a 1950 Northwestern graduate who died last August at the age of 84.
Gary Kremen (McCormick, ’85), the founder of Match.com, kicked-off the event with an hour long keynote. Kremen was then followed by a first round of breakout sessions: leading entrepreneurs spoke to what defines a good value proposition, how to negotiate the proper channels necessary for winning consumers, and how to cultivate customer relationships once you have them. After a short break, there were three more panels, on customer segments, revenue streams, and key partners.
Lunch afforded conference goers the opportunity to go to either a roundtable discussion with area VCs, or participate in a clinic that delineated the components of a Business Model Canvas, a concept developed by Steve Blank.
Those convening for the afternoon session were treated to a second keynote speaker, Nikhil Sethi (’10). Sethi developed the advertising platform Adaptly as a Northwestern senior, a company that has since raised millions in VC and works with partners like Kraft and Pepsi. Sethi’s speech was thus the appropriate segue for the day’s capstone event, the final round of the Northwestern Venture Challenge.
Six Northwestern born and bred startups gave twenty-minute presentations with the hope of winning part of the $34,000 in prize money. JiveHealth, the winners of the 2013 Partnership for a Healthier America End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge, captured the top prize. JiveHealth was followed in the voting by LicenseBuddy, a team that will be incubated in the same DreamIt Ventures program that produced Sethi’s Adaptly. Centripid Medical and Chisel tied for third.