Excitement at PEC’s Reunions conference reflects strong and increasing interest in entrepreneurship at Princeton

Written by
Wright Seneres
June 22, 2023

Over 400 attendees packed the Friend Center for the Reunions 2023 Tiger Entrepreneurs Conference and Startup Competition, bringing a hum of excitement for the day’s schedule of timely panel discussions, entrepreneurial skill-building workshops, and the annual Startup Competition.   

With ChatGPT constantly in the news and entrepreneurs in all industries facing an uncertain investment climate, sessions on generative AI and venture capital were especially popular. Also attracting great interest were workshops on customer discovery and product:market fit, and best practices for startups to target and pitch to family offices. The conference also included an example of an undergraduate entrepreneurial class taught at Princeton.

The annual PEN Startup Competition was another lively affair, with enthusiastic attendees meeting with 16 startups during the morning showcase and hearing pitches from finalists Afriex, Flux Marine and Museum of Virtual Arts (MoVA) in the afternoon. Flux Marine, an electric outboard motor startup represented by co-founders Ben Sorkin ‘17 and Jonathan Lord ‘18, won audience choice. Afriex, a global payments platform represented by Head of Product Eugene Baah ‘02, won first place, which included $3,500 in cash plus meetings with venture capital firms.  

The great excitement among the conference attendees of alumni, students, faculty and friends to learn and connect carried throughout the day, all the way through to the closing networking reception. 

Chris Kuenne conducts masterclass with five students

Chris Kuenne ‘85 led a lively discussion among a slate of his former students from his Keller Center course “High Tech Entrepreneurship” and the audience in the Friend Center auditorium on the Harvard Business School case study on FreshTec.

Edward Tian speaks at panel discussion

PEC Associate Director Don Seitz ‘79 moderated a fascinating panel discussion on generative AI with graduate student and AI startup founder Mayank Agrawal, Princeton computer science teaching faculty Ruth Fong, Keller Center Faith & Work Initiative Director David W. Miller, Professor of Computer Science and incoming Director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy Arvind Narayanan, and GPTZero founder Edward Tian ‘23.

Three panelists in discussion

Emily Sharples, the Class of 1969 Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) Program Director at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, moderated a discussion by Kelly Park ‘25 and Asher Joy ‘23 about their experiences in social impact during their various summer internships. PICS is now part of a new and broader Princeton initiative called LENS (Learning and Education Through Service), designed to enable every Princeton undergraduate to have the opportunity to participate in a paid service internship.

Stephen Shueh giving workshop

Stephen K. Shueh ‘97, founder and managing partner of Roundview Capital, gave a workshop on “How to Pitch Your Startup to Family Offices”. 

Genevieve Bellaire giving workshop in full classroom

Genevieve Bellaire ‘11, founder of Realworld, gave a workshop on “How to Perform Customer Discovery to Find True Product:Market Fit”.

Kyle Corcoran moderates panel discussion

The always popular venture capital panel discussion during the Reunions conference had special popularity in the context of the current and uncertain economic climate. Moderator Kyle Corcoran ‘03, Managing Director, Head of Disruptive Commerce & Technology Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley, was joined by Joy Marcus '83, co-founder and general partner at The 98, Ita Ekpoudom ‘03, partner at GingerBread Capital and Luke Armour ‘13, founder of Chaac Ventures.

Craig Arnold and Tom Meyer in fireside chat

Princeton’s Vice Dean for Innovation Craig B. Arnold, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Nassau Street Ventures Managing Partner Tom Meyer ‘87 engaged in a fireside chat on a wide range of topics in entrepreneurship at Princeton.

Judges and first place winner at Reunions pitch competition

Eugene Baah '02 of Afriex (second from right) poses with the PEN Startup Competition judges Youri Lee '18, Lauren Bender, Cornelia Huellstrunk, Mayra Ceja '03 and Tom Meyer '87 at the Reunions 2023 Tiger Entrepreneurs Conference.

For more information on events and conferences by PEC, visit our Events page.

Thanks to Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network for their collaboration on this year’s event. If you want to help organize a future panel discussion or workshop, provide space for an event, or participate as a speaker, please reach out to Don Seitz ‘79 at [email protected].

Photos by Wright Seneres.