Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Washington and Lee Hosts 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Summit in Virtual Format The Entrepreneurship Summit will take place online on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2–3.

Screenshot_2020-09-28-W-L-Entrepreneurship-Summit Washington and Lee Hosts 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Summit in Virtual FormatThe 9th Annual Entrepreneurship Summit

The 9th annual Entrepreneurship Summit will take place at Washington and Lee University on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2–3, 2020. The summit is open to all students in a virtual format this year and will provide multiple opportunities to network with alumni entrepreneurs from various industries.

All members of the W&L community are welcome to attend the virtual event and are encouraged to register online. Zoom meeting information will be sent to all registered attendees via email before the event.

The summit began in 2012 with a program attended by 32 alumni and 48 students. Last year, more than 125 alumni and 250 students registered for the event. The dynamic annual program attracts students and faculty across all disciplines and brings in alumni from a variety of industries.

Jeff Shay, Rupert H. Johnson Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Washington and Lee University and director of the Connolly Center for Entrepreneurship, works with the alumni Entrepreneurship Advisory Board (EAB) and the Connolly Entrepreneurship Society (CES) to develop the program. Shay has coordinated the event since its inception.

“The pandemic presented new challenges, especially considering that one of the key elements of the summit is the opportunity to interact face-to-face with other entrepreneurs,” he said. “Discussions with the EAB and CES confirmed our assessment that we wanted to hold a virtual summit in order to keep the program’s momentum moving forward. Similar to the challenges entrepreneurs faced, we made many pivots to assure that the program fits the virtual medium.”

Friday morning of the summit begins with “COVID POP: Perseverance, Opportunities and Pivots.” A panel of alumni entrepreneurs will discuss how they have managed to navigate their way during the global pandemic. Panelists will include Luke Doiron ’00, the co-founder and EVP of Strategic Business Development for Discovery Life Sciences; Abhinav Kapur ’08, co-founder and CEO of Bikky Inc.; Reagan Kerr ’10, principal planner of Reagan Events; and Chip Mahan ’73, CEO and chairman of the board at Live Oak Bank. Kinsey Grant ’17, business editor and podcast host at “Morning Brew,” will moderate the panel.

On Friday afternoon, “The Next Frontier and the Disruptors Blazing the Trail Ahead” will focus on entrepreneurial opportunities of the future with alumni in various fields including big data, medical technologies, artificial intelligence, energy, financial markets, biotech and clean technology. Blair Garrou ’94, managing director at Mercury Fund, will moderate the panel discussion. The panel will include Tim Brooks ’80, managing director at World Wide Technology, Inc.; Stephanie Lind ’92, the founder and chief strategy officer at Elohi Strategic Advisors; Allie Long ’11, senior director of clients solutions at AbleTo, Inc; Reuben Munger ’95, founder and managing partner at Vision Ridge Partners; Ben Swinburne ’97, managing director at Morgan Stanley and Elizabeth Robertson ’01, director of operations at Interstellar Technologies Corporation.

Saturday morning will open with the Student Pitch Competition, during which current W&L students will have two minutes via Zoom to pitch their business plans to alumni judges and compete for cash prizes.

The Alumni Pitch Session will follow in Saturday’s program with alumni entrepreneurs pitching their startup or idea to an audience of experienced entrepreneurs. Alumni who have previously pitched their businesses at the annual Entrepreneurship Summit will also provide updates on their efforts.

Saturday will also have two breakout sessions. Virtual attendees will have the opportunity to visit rooms assigned to the Alumni Pitch Session presenters or other general networking rooms.

“Early registrations show that we are still attracting a strong turnout from alumni and students,” Shay said. “Interestingly, in addition to many familiar alumni from past summits, this year appears to also be attracting many new attendees. We are looking forward to a strong turnout and to another great summit.”

To view the full schedule and register, visit wluesummit.com.

Questions about the entrepreneurship program? Contact Jeff Shay, Rupert H. Johnson Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurship and Leadership, at shayj@wlu.edu.