Working your way through a room full of ambitious Bay Area startup founders and funders could be an intimidating experience—unless, of course, the room is filled with fellow members of the warm and welcoming Dartmouth community.
The 2016 Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco on September 9 brought together more than 400 members of the Dartmouth entrepreneurial community, from leaders of some of the largest tech firms in the world, to students and young alumni eager to learn from those who paved a silicon path before them.
“This forum is all about the Dartmouth community,” said Jeff Crowe ’78 of Norwest Venture Partners, who created the forum four years ago to bring together Dartmouth entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. “It’s a high-quality entrepreneurship event melded with a Dartmouth reunion.”
Since the event’s inception, it has doubled in size with 428 people from the Bay Area and across the country attending in 2016.
“The San Francisco Forum has evolved very much like a startup,” says Jamie Coughlin, director of entrepreneurship and the DEN Innovation Center at Dartmouth. “After several iterations, growing the team, and assembling world class speakers, Jeff created something out of nothing, which is the epitome of entrepreneurship.”
Highlights included a demonstration of the artificial intelligence behind the Amazon Echo’s Alexa Voice Service by Jeff Blackburn ’91, senior vice president of business development and digital entertainment at Amazon; fireside chats with President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 and PayPal Chairman John Donahoe ’82; as well as sessions on legal tips for startups, how to bootstrap a business, and entrepreneurship in education.
Provost Carolyn Dever hosted an entrepreneurship, technology, and leadership panel featuring women from five decades of Dartmouth classes who offered perspectives on their careers and reflected on their shared Dartmouth experience.
“I think the liberal arts experience provides us with a way of thinking rather than just one particular skill set,” said panelist Maura Cass ’10 of IDEO. “The exposure to the variety is what really inspires us.”
The strength of the Dartmouth network was apparent throughout the event as people from Dartmouth, Tuck, Thayer, and Geisel came together throughout the day to support and mentor one another. New this year was “Office Hours,” which paired startups with three alumni mentors for one-on-one working sessions.
Mobile Virtual Player CEO John Currier ’79 introduced the audience to the mobile virtual player (MVP), a robotic tackling dummy that’s helping football teams increase performance and reduce injuries. The MVP, which made national headlines in 2015, was developed at Dartmouth with help from engineering students and at the urging of Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens.
At the conclusion of the Entrepreneurs Forum, Coughlin presented Crowe with the DEN “Game Changer” Award, noting that his contributions to the DEN community have been nothing short of remarkable.
Next year’s Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in San Francisco will take place on September 8, 2017.
View more photos from the Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum on Flickr.