TERRE HAUTE —
The spirit of enterprise was a rising force last weekend on a college campus known for innovation.
For fans of the sport called business, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology played host to some big league names as part of its inaugural Rose Startup! Seminar. From executives to owners, dozens of business leaders from the technology sector gathered on campus to talk to students about launching a company.
Organized by the new Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) club, the student-run event on Saturday drew more than 200 participants from universities across the state. RISE co-founder Wilson Kurian admitted that a lot of work went into making the event a reality.
“There were a couple nights where I thought, yep, this is what it’s going to be like,” the future entrepreneur laughed.
On the RISE
Chad Conway, a senior mechanical engineering student from Massachusetts, will spend this week interviewing with Ford Motor Co. and Tesla Motors before meeting recruiters at BMW. Certain he’ll get a job with a leading manufacturing company before graduating in December, he hears the call of the wild.
“I have a lot of different opportunities, but I’m also going to stay involved in the entrepreneurial community,” he said during a break-out session.
With the help of fellow seniors Kurian and Victoria Zheng, Conway launched RISE after driving through a snow storm to attend a similar workshop at Wabash College in Crawfordsville last year. Upon his arrival, he recalled being surprised at the number of Rose-Hulman alumni involved there.
“Why not here?” he asked about Rose-Hulman, noting the willingness he and others had to drive to attend such an event. RISE was formed shortly thereafter, and work toward this conference was begun.
Zheng, a computer science and software engineering major, serves as the club’s chief technology officer.
“That’s what they call the secretary,” she laughed.
But, as she explained, the group takes its mission seriously, and as computer-savvy engineers, the members designed their own downloadable iPhone app for the event, complete with speaker biographies and schedules.
Originally from Beijing, China, Zheng said she’ll interview with both Facebook and Google this week, hopeful of landing a job in Silicon Valley, home to some of the most successful start-ups in America. Whether she stays in America will depend on career opportunities, as she ultimately hopes to find financial backing for her own business. While her contacts through Rose-Hulman are largely American, she said some investors are willing to start the business here and then send it to China for implementation and development.
Meanwhile, like Conway, she doesn’t have a specific venture in mind; rather, many ideas swirl about the conversations of college students.
“We just think about things we wish we had when we do things,” she said, describing potential software applications involving music and messaging.
Talking about ideas and how to implement them is part of the excitement, Conway remarked.
“I love the energy and how fast start-ups can move,” he said, expressing his intent to do independent work on the side after securing a full-time job in manufacturing.
Bill Kline, dean of Innovation and Engagement, agreed the students had shown considerable entrepreneurial spirit in launching such a program.
“All together, it’s been a great success,” he said.
Among the event’s sponsors was Indianapolis law firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP, with intellectual property attorney James Coles serving as a participant.
“I think this is an excellent program,” the 1969 Rose-Hulman alumnus and trustee said during one of the breaks.
An electrical engineering graduate himself, Coles worked at McDonnell Douglas while attending law school at night. In addition to himself, he brought an attorney who specializes in financing and organizing start-ups. Other participants included business leaders and Rose-Hulman graduates who own their own companies.
“Many of these guys started businesses while they were in engineering school, while they were at Rose,” he said, crediting real experience as an important element of the discussions.
Lots of people have great ideas, but knowing how to move a product to market, reach a customer base and grow the operation is another matter, he said. People with good ideas can usually get the financial backing needed, but the question typically comes down to whether or not people will buy the product.
The school didn’t have such a club in the 1960s, he said, adding he’d have enjoyed it while a student. But back then, most graduates wanted an engineering job with a large corporation. The culture has changed over the years, and now students want to be their own boss. With more than 200 participants involved, he said the demand for such discussions is apparent.
Session panelists included Yvette Kendall, the president of Shevinci Innovations and inventor of the E-Book Reader; Gerald Rea, CEO of Scottsburg’s Stray Light Optical Technologies; and Jeff Ready, CEO of Scale Computing.
Ready, a 1996 Rose-Hulman graduate, started his first company, Terre Haute Internet Services, in the school’s basement. He sold it in 1998 and next founded Aureate Media, which later became Radiate Inc., which boasted annual sales of $20 million before its sale. In 2004, he sold another of his start-ups, Corvigo, to Tumbleweed Communications for $41.5 million, staying on as a marketing executive until launching Scale Computing, which has twice been selected to Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.
“He’s Rose-Hulman’s poster child for entrepreneurs,” Kurian said.
During a break, Ready said the school’s commitment to entrepreneurs is relatively new and very valuable.
“There’s a huge amount of energy and interest in entrepreneurship compared to when I was here,” he observed, recalling that groups such as RISE didn’t exist back then.
That aside, a lot of great companies have been started at the school, he said, encouraging students to be passionate about their goals.
“It’s more of a lifestyle than a career path,” he said.
And it’s a lifestyle Yujie said might appeal to him someday. A sophomore from Shanghai, China, he said his father owns an engineering services company there.
“I want to experience this in America, and probably start my business in China, if I can,” he said.
But the population of China makes competition fierce. And whereas 30 years ago its market was dominated by foreign brands, Chinese companies have come a long way in reclaiming it, he said.
In the meantime, studying in America helps him foster relationships and improve his English. Participating in groups such as RISE make for good experience, and he said he’s interested in carrying the project forward for a repeat conference next year.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inaugural Rose Startup! Seminar draws dozens of business leaders from tech sector
TERRE HAUTE —
The spirit of enterprise was a rising force last weekend on a college campus known for innovation.
- Local & Bistate
Lane restrictions next week on U.S. 41 at Shelburn
SHELBURN, Ind. – Motorists should expect minimal delays because of lane restrictions for U.S. 41 in Sullivan County next week as the railroad company makes repairs to the rail crossing 1.2 miles north of Shelburn.
Reputed Mafioso tip triggers new Hoffa body search
OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The FBI saw enough merit in a reputed Mafia captain’s tip to once again break out the digging equipment to search for the remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, last seen alive before a lunch meeting with two mobsters nearly 40 years ago.
UPDATE: Parke County homicide victim identified
ROSEDALE — The victim in a Parke County homicide that occurred last week has been identified as Kathryn A. Bays, 55, of Rosedale.
Court lets walk-out fines against House Democrats stand
INDIANAPOLIS — House Democrats who had to pay more than $100,000 in fines after they walked out of the Indiana Statehouse won’t get the help they sought from the Indiana Supreme Court.
Vigo County Jail Log: June 18, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Back home again: Items from vaudeville stage and Terre Haute native sent to Historical Society
The staff at the Vigo County Historical Museum are excited about the arrival of priceless items used by Terre Haute-native Rose Fehrenbach and her husband, Edward Pierce, to promote their Vaudeville acts in the early 20th century.
Husband charged in Archer homicide
Terre Haute Police have found local reports of domestic violence between a Terre Haute man and his wife, whose body was discovered wrapped in a tarp and dumped in an Ohio ditch.
National Road panels dedicated
Rewind to the mid-1800s, when the trotting of a horse and buggy on National Road could be heard alongside the voices of people heading west, searching for opportunities.
Pence sets agency priorities
Following a directive from Gov. Mike Pence, state agency heads are reorganizing some of their top priorities to better reflect the first-year governor’s “roadmap for Indiana” plan for improving the state’s economy, infrastructure and health.
Another I-70 traffic snarl: Three injured in two related crashes
Three people were injured Monday afternoon from a pair of crashes on Interstate 70 that temporarily closed the highway and diverted traffic into Terre Haute.
Terre Haute man still hospitalized after scooter/car crash
A Terre Haute man remained hospitalized Monday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after his scooter struck a car early Saturday on Wabash Avenue at 25th Street.
Overpass repairs causing Interstate 70 lane restrictions
Repairs to the Frye Road overpass in southeastern Vigo County has caused a restriction to the left lane of Interstate 70 between the 13- and 14-mile markers, about two miles east of the Indiana 46 exit.
Indiana woman condemned for killing at 15 is freed
A woman who was sentenced to death at age 16 for taking part in the torture and murder of a 78-year-old Bible studies teacher was released from an Indiana prison Monday after growing to middle age behind bars.
Grant will let Vigo Library evaluate map collection
The Vigo County Public Library has received a $2,000 grant to evaluate its historic map collection, a library official announced Monday.
Four juveniles caught on elementary school roof; one injured jumping off
Police say a juvenile was lucky to have suffered only a broken leg after jumping from the roof of a Vigo County elementary school – dropping about 30 feet to the ground.
Farmersburg man sentenced after guilty plea in rape case
A Farmersburg man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to a rape that occurred at his parents’ residence in May 2012.
Still no information being released on Rosedale homicide
No new information was being released Monday afternoon concerning a Rosedale homicide.
Woman condemned for killing at age 15 freed from Rockville prison
INDIANAPOLIS — A woman who was sentenced to death at age 16 for taking part in the torture and murder of a 78-year-old bible studies teacher was released from an Indiana prison today after growing to middle age behind bars.
UPDATE: All lanes of I-70 now open
All lanes of Interstate 70 in Vigo County are now open — as of 4:15 p.m. — after multiple crashes shut down the eastbound lanes temporarily this afternoon.
Quinn signs into law tough fracking regulations
CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation giving the state the nation’s strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling.
BREAKING: Arrest made in Archer homicide
A Terre Haute man has been arrested and charged with felony murder and altering the scene of a death in the homicide of his wife, Kayla Herchelroath Archer.
Frye Road Overpass work to restrict lanes on I-70
VIGO COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the Frye Road Overpass construction will restrict the left lane on Interstate 70 between the 13- and 14-mile marker, beginning June 17. This lane restriction will be in effect for 24 hours a day for about two weeks.
Vigo County Jail Log: June 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, based on jail records.
Fathers take time out to spend quality time with children, grandchildren
A big, circular white cloud rose up through the tall atrium as Mike Woods held his 4-year son, Nathan, Sunday at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
On Friday, hit the park and raise funds for skateboarders
The On-board United Initiative — O.U.I. for short — has scheduled an all-ages fundraising event Friday in honor of national Go Skateboarding Day.
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Sentencing law could benefit juveniles
Monica Foster is a longtime public defender who’s been pushing uphill in the legal system for a long time. So, when she says the General Assembly is making progress protecting the rights of the disenfranchised, it’s worth stopping to listen to her.
Mastering the art of Gardening
The Wabash Valley Master Gardeners group gathered over the weekend to marvel at each other’s gardens on its annual garden tour. The event was a chance for master gardeners to showcase their labor of love, meanwhile sharing stories about their plants.
RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS: June 17, 2013
The Vigo County Health Department inspected the following food establishments May 28-31:
Lawn mower fire destroys barn
A lawn mower that caught fire was cited as the cause of a fire that destroyed a single story barn Sunday in the 2000 block of North Chamberlain Street, said Harold Osborn, assistant fire chief of the Lost Creek Township Fire Department.
Wabash Valley residents vie for spot on Wheel of Fortune
Ellen Fujawa of Zionsville wants to be on the popular syndicated Wheel of Fortune game show.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Lane restrictions next week on U.S. 41 at Shelburn