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Discover Lasell

Do More, Learn More, Be More

April 03, 2019

Lasell College's de Witt Hall teemed with excitement and energy on March 20 as students, faculty, and guest speakers gathered for the inaugural School of Business Day. The student-led conference included two keynote speakers, industry-specific breakout sessions, a career fair, networking session, and Shark Tank-style startup pitch contest.

The pitch session was judged by a panel including Kathryn Ellis, director of economic development for the city of Newton; Debbie Raisner, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Newton Innovation Center; Lasell professors Bruce McKinnon and Stan Buchin; and Jeff McNeil, cofounder and CEO of Qeepsake, a software platform that he pitched on the ABC show in 2017.

Lasell students Alexandra Barlett '20 and Carlos Hernandez '19 were named first and second place winners, respectively, and received small business grants to pursue their startup plans.

Barlett's company, a joint venture between her and colleagues at Olin College of Engineering, is a digital platform for interpersonal engagement on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The app - Connect MV - is "being designed in collaboration with the business owners who will use it to make sure that we hit the mark and create something that efficiently solves their pain points," said Barlett, noting that those frequently include not feeling connected with tourist customers.

With $2,000 in funding from their win at School of Business Day, Connect MV's team will spend the upcoming summer setting goals for the app's development and launch.

"The opportunity to present the business idea in front of such a well-respected panel of judges" was a highlight for Barlett. "Their feedback was great, and I will work with some of them as I continue the project," she says.

The day's activities were put into place by Associate Dean Missy Varao and student coordinators William Gillis '19, Allyson Parabicoli '20, and Cecelia Costa '20, who aimed to help their peers "discover the endless opportunities that can come from the value of education and networking," according to the event website.

"School of Business Day is about making the choice to do more, learn more, and be more ... It is an opportunity to take one's education and career path one step further," the website stated.

The event utilized an app for each student to manage their selected panels and breakout sessions. Within the platform, students uploaded professional photos and resumes and connected ahead of time with employers on site for the day's career fair. 

Keynote remarks were delivered by entrepreneurs Charlie Collins, founder of Vision Dynamics and CEO of Charlie Collins International, and Michael Ketchen '06, owner of Commonwealth Collective, LLC.  Sessions on the business of sport, coding, the challenges of startups, and personal branding were peppered throughout the day.