By Lauren Anderson
Engaging students in more than 200 mentoring sessions with 20 entrepreneurs each year, Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs’ Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program is one of the School’s most popular. And now it has an expanded location: Wharton | San Francisco, where it will tap into the West Coast’s thriving entrepreneurial community.
Through one-on-one 30-minute sessions, the Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program (EIR) gives current students and recent alumni the opportunity to meet with successful entrepreneurs to discuss their ventures, solicit advice and expand their professional networks. Unique to EIR at Wharton | San Francisco, some sessions are coupled with a small group discussion, in which all student and alumni participants can engage with the visiting entrepreneur, and with each other.
Officially kicking off EIR in San Francisco this May was serial entrepreneur Gordon Campbell, Executive Director of Techfarm Ventures. More recently in residence was Joseph Ansanelli, W’92, who visited in mid-July. Ansanelli founded his first company, Trio Development, while a Wharton undergraduate, and has since cofounded and led two other companies, Connectify and Vontu. Vontu became the market-leading provider of Data Loss Prevention solutions and was acquired by Symantec in 2007 for $350 million. Describing his desire to participate in EIR, Ansanelli says, “Mentorship is so valuable, and I have been fortunate to have had some great mentors. There are so many great ideas and as with great athletes, having a great coach can make a significant difference in a company’s long-term success.” While he recognizes the current economic environment as “massively challenged,” he encourages others to seize the moment: “Now is a phenomenal time to start a company.” EIR is helping the many entrepreneurs coming from Wharton | San Francisco to do just that.
Jon Soberg, WG’09, is in the process of launching a venture he started while in the MBA Program for Executives. His company, TrustedCircles, is an exclusive community of executives with MBAs that connects people to help them reach their goals. He described the EIR program as “invaluable.” “The leaders have made themselves extremely accessible, and we are directly benefiting from their experience, wisdom and hands-on advice,” Soberg says. “It’s a wonderful forum for exchanging ideas.” Adds Mike Maszy, WG’10, another participant in the EIR program: “It’s quite clear that Wharton | San Francisco itself is a burgeoning center of innovation.”