Exuberant Princeton alumni and friends celebrate Princeton's contribution to the vibrant startup scene in New York City
The second day of the Tiger Entrepreneurs’ Conference, held in-person at Convene in midtown Manhattan on April 8th, 2022, was filled with a number of educational panels, workshops, fireside chats, and more on a range of different topics, from cryptocurrency and ethics to the arts and sports.
The event started with networking as early attendees had coffee and pastries provided by PEC. The conference officially kicked off at 9 am, with Executive Director of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, Anne-Marie Maman '84, welcoming the crowd. Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley, Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, also gave an official welcome to attendees.
Don Seitz '79, emcee for the conference, introduced the first session, which was a condensed version of the popular Princeton course “Entrepreneurship and Ethics: Making My Millions or Saving Society”. Dr. David Miller, Director of the Faith and Work Initiative and a lecturer in the Keller Center, gave a version of his dynamic class on entrepreneurship and ethics. The educational presentation included discussions on Dr. Miller’s research and the three modes of ethics as well as ways that founders can incorporate business ethics into their startups. Concurrently, across the hall, Dror Futter '86 and John Monagle '12 led a workshop on decoding the investor’s term sheet. The duo went over key concepts like which terms are negotiable, which terms are the most important to protect the interests of the founding team, and how to use terms in your Seed funding that allow for easier future funding rounds.
At 10 am, the stage moved into a discussion on the latest clean tech policy research by Princeton faculty and alumni, and the innovative solutions they have created that address climate change. Thomas Blum '80, moderated a discussion between Bill Leslie '94, Alex DaCosta '04, Lauren Bush Lauren '06, Tommy Gibbons '13 and Claire Wayner '22. In the engaging discussion, Claire also gave a quick summary of Princeton’s Net Zero America Project, which outlines how to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Across the hall, the workshop led by Jim Hao '12 from Reformation Partners talked about aligning the startup goals of a founder with their fundraising needs. He then took the discussion a bit further and discussed how to choose good first investors.
One of the keynote events of the conference was a fireside chat between Andrea Goldsmith, Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering and dean of Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Rodney Priestley. They discussed different aspects of the entrepreneurial momentum that has been growing on campus, including the new SEAS ‘neighborhood’ which has started construction. They also touched on several of the University’s research priorities to some of today’s greatest societal challenges, including in the areas of bioengineering, quantum computing, robotics and resilient cities.
At 11:55 am, a discussion on food tech, with a focus on the path to a sustainable food supply, was moderated by Princeton Associate Research Scholar Michael Thate, and included panelists, who are alumni founders and investors, Pae Wu '02, Tom Brennan '07 and Yossi Quint '17. The discussion included technological advances in the alt-meat space (including topics like cell-based cultivation, plant-based products, and fermentation.) Down the hall, Matt McCalpin '14 (COO at Janji) spoke to a full room as he led a workshop on starting and running a successful multichannel retail brand, drawing from his experience building a success story from his own multi-channel apparel brand.
There were many opportunities for networking, including during the quick thirty-minute lunch break. Discussions resumed with a talk on cryptocurrency between Ugur Koyluoglu *95, Derek Chan '10, Amit Mukherjee '10, Charlie Durbin '19 and moderated by Nick Judge – specifically, the discussion was on building, consulting, and funding token ventures, blockchain technologies, NFT strategies, and Web3 solutions.
An always popular panel discussion topic, VC and growth-stage trends and opportunities, drew a large crowd. This discussion, moderated by Jason Clark '04, was between three VCs investing in different market segments, Ben Lund '10, Caroline Rehfuss O’Connor '13 and Susannah Shipton '13.
Then, Majora Carter, a visiting lecturer in the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, delivered a keynote address on highlights from an undergraduate course she will teach in the spring. The course centers around her work in transforming lower-income communities into thriving, mixed-use local economies while giving opportunities to growth to traditionally oppressed populations. After the address concluded, there was an afternoon break featuring cookies from one of the startups that presented in the showcase the previous night, Rule Breaker Snacks.
To burn off some of the snacking, the next panel featured alumni in the sports industry, who talked about their strategies to innovate, attract new customer segments, and build their sports industry brands. John Mack ‘00, the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton, moderated a discussion between panelists Marc Ross '95, Hans Schroeder '96 and Crista Samaras '99. Down the hall there was a workshop by Rob Wolk '91, a founder and the co-chair of the fast growing and very active Princeton Alumni Angels, on the basics of becoming an angel investor as well as what it’s like to invest in Princeton and in startups in general.
The last two events happened concurrently. They were a fireside chat about Innovations in the Arts, presented in partnership with Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, led by Stephen Kim S92 and Mark Stevens '73. They discussed advances in the visual arts, with a focus on Princeton’s Art Museum and the ongoing renovations. And the final workshop of the afternoon, led by Jeremy Kestler '94, was on leading startups by creating a clear vision and developing a compelling reason to act urgently.
The eventful day ended with a closing networking reception with a musical performance from the Princeton Katzenjammers, the oldest co-ed a cappella group on Princeton’s campus.
Overall there were more than 250 people in attendance at all or some of the various parts of the 2022 Tiger Entrepreneurs Conference. This included over 100 students who came into NYC to network and learn from Princeton’s alumni and friends.
Princeton Entrepreneurship Council organizes similar alumni conferences every year across the country and an additional Reunions entrepreneurial conference on campus each year. This year’s Reunions conference will be held on Friday, May 20 and you may register at Eventbrite.
Watch recorded sessions on the NYC TEC 2022 page.