By Lacie Blankenship
The Center for Entrepreneurship (C4E) hosted the 4th annual Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference (VEC) in February 2022. Over 1,000 members of the entrepreneurial community attended VEC in person at the Student Life Center on Vanderbilt’s campus or virtually through online streaming services.
“One of the highlights of the year for me is the Vanderbilt Entrepreneurship Conference,” says Michael R. Burcham, Faculty Director, C4E. “What an opportunity to foster an entrepreneurial community of entrepreneurs, investors, alumni, and our students who aspire to create businesses and bring innovation to the marketplace.”
In partnership with the Owen Venture and Entrepreneurship Club (OVEC) the C4E curated a lineup of local entrepreneurs, renowned company founders, expert investors, and start-up partners that spoke on the reality of creating and building companies, and empowerment, and overcoming adversity.
“VEC had an amazing lineup of panelists, speakers, and keynotes,” says Liz Rogers (BM’11), Founder and Creative Director at Anacrusis. “One of the most exciting things of being an alum of such an incredible organization is to see the resources that this center and conference is providing to young entrepreneurs and founders.”
Keynote speakers included gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast and New York Times best-selling author, Shawn Johnson East, NFL athlete, Redirected podcast host, Andrew East (BA’14, MBA’15), and Co-Founder, President, and CEO of CardioNXT, Inc., Jerome Edwards (MBA’04). Mark Harris (BS’03, MBA’10), the founder of 4 companies including Concert Genetics and HeroWear, kicked off the conference as the first speaker. Other speakers included Managing Partner and Founder of FINTOP Capital, Joe Maxwell (MBA’94), COO and CPO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, John Murdock (MBA’16). To view the full speaker and panelist lineup, click here.
In addition to speakers and panelists, VEC featured a student pitch competition with 5 teams representing Vanderbilt Business, the Chemical Engineering Department, and the College of Arts & Sciences. Corey Johnson and Chris Kinney (both MBA’22) won with their business concept, CareEco.
Other participating students were Wenitte Apiou (BE’22) with Daedalus, Max Mona and Adam Jace (both MSF’22) with ESGi, Christal Hector and Nathan Youssef (both MBA’23) with TuneHatch, and Drew Horseman (EngD’24) with Solar Aqua Flex.
The Wond’ry helped conclude the 2022 VEC by hosting an after-party.
“Vanderbilt and Nashville are uniquely perfect for entrepreneurism,” says Kendra Kawala (BA’13), Co-Founder and COO of Maker Wine. “Vanderbilt students are known not only to be brilliant, but also social, driven, and care about the impact they have on the world. I am so excited to be a part of bringing this ecosystem together.”
“It was awesome to see the supportive community that we have here for entrepreneurs and the start-up ecosystem that Vanderbilt can bring together,” says Alan D’Adamo (MBA’22). “It’s something that has been one of the best experiences during my time at Owen, and I look forward to continuing the tradition after I graduate.”