Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Extreme Entrepreneurs create buzz for Lehigh’s Eureka Series of Student Competitions

The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour will be making its second visit to Lehigh University on September 22, 2008. The free, half-day workshop will run from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Whitaker Auditorium and is open to the Lehigh community and the general public.

Anyone interested in participating should RSVP online.

The tour coincides with the official kickoff of Lehigh’s 2008-2009 Eureka Series of Student Competitions, a set of entrepreneurship contests that now includes the new Social Venture Creation Competition for Student Entrepreneurs.

Passion, purpose, and prosperity

The first collegiate tour of its kind, the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour has been featured in The New York Times and TV news broadcasts on ABC, CBS and NBC. The popular series of workshops was launched in 2006 and has since held 47 events in 25 states.

The Lehigh event will feature a several successful young entrepreneurs. Among them is Michael Simmons, a co-founder of the tour who was recently profiled by BusinessWeek magazine as one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25.”

In the past few years, he has won three “entrepreneur of the year” awards from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Fleet, and the National Coalition for Empowering Youth Entrepreneurship.

Tim Marks '04, G'06, co-founder of EcoTech Marine, will be a panelist during the event. Marks and colleague Pat Clasen ’04 were the 2002-03 grand prize winners of Lehigh’s Joan F. & John M. Thalheimer ’55 Student Entrepreneurs Competition.

Also on the agenda is Jason Duff, founder of Community Storage & Properties, Ltd., a creative real estate development company. Duff started his entrepreneurial career at age 10 and was named Ohio’s youngest Realtor® at age 18. The workshop will be moderated by Arel Moodie, founder of the Web site ThePlaceFinder.com.

Participants in the program will be treated to a panel discussion, a planning workshop and a speed networking session.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, the best time to start a business is when students are in college because it harder not to meet expectations—and far easier to exceed them,” says Sheena Lindahl, co-founder of the tour and author of All or Nothing, Now or Never: The Student Success Manifesto Life Planning Guide. “And in the case of Lehigh students, the university does a great job of providing so many resources that support youth entrepreneurship endeavors.”

The slate of competitions

Those resources appear on a new Web site that was launched this past summer by Lehigh. Along with an introduction to Lehigh’s entrepreneurial infrastructure and the university’s community partnerships, the Web site also walks through the 2008-2009 Eureka Series of Student Competitions. The series features:

• The Joan F. & John M. Thalheimer ’55 Student Entrepreneurs Competition for innovative ventures and early stage business plans,
• The Michael W. Levin ’87 Advanced Technology Competition for student innovators who need additional capital to move their early stage technology venture to the next level, and
• The Social Venture Creation Competition for Student Entrepreneurs, a new contest for those who want to make a difference and drive social change in their communities.

“We’re excited about the level of enthusiasm that Lehigh students have for these competitions,” says Lisa Getzler-Linn, director of the Eureka Series of Student Competitions and associate director of Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development program. “Not many universities are able to offer the amount of resources and opportunities that Lehigh makes available for its students. It’s simply a great environment—one that we’re thrilled to see our students take advantage of.”

The popular competitions have increased in size over the past few years. Last year’s record-high number of participants led to the creation of an in-house innovation bootcamp, organized by Lehigh’s Small Business Development Center.

The deadline for this year’s entries is Monday, October 27.

For many, the competitions led to the development of thriving companies. Grand prize winners from the 2004-2007 Joan F. & John M. Thalheimer ’55 Student Entrepreneurs Competition have all gone on to launch successful start-ups, each of which is headquartered in the Lehigh Valley. Last year’s top award winner, Geordie Keeler ’09, is pursuing the development of his G-paK backpack.

“Lehigh’s Eureka Series of Student Competitions provides creative opportunities for student entrepreneurs to leave their footprint on their communities,” says Lindahl. “The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour is the perfect match for these competitions and can help provide both inspiration and practical advice for Lehigh students who are ready for the challenge.”

The tour is presented by Ventureport.org and is co-sponsored by Inc. Magazine and Operation Enterprise.

--Tom Yencho

Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2008

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