The Journey, Not The Exit

By Evan Bayliss C’16

One Friday recently a friend suggested that I check out a brown bag lunch sponsored by the Wharton Alumni Relations Council and Alumni Relations. A Wharton alumnus named Joe Meyer was going to be talking. On a whim, I decided to go. That whim may very well have changed the direction of my life.

Joe Meyer is a serial entrepreneur and Wharton MBA—he was the CEO of HopStop.com, recently acquired by Apple. I walked in knowing only this, and honestly expected to understand about 2% of a talk coming from a man capable of successfully building multi-million dollar companies from scratch.

Joe spoke about his experiences running and working in startups, and what I heard was refreshing, inspiring, and powerful. He described the entrepreneurial life: there is no easy way in entrepreneurship, it is a struggle and a journey, but entirely worth it for those who can stomach the risk and extremes. He was unwaveringly supportive of learning on the job as the best form of education for an entrepreneur.

It was amazing to hear from a successful entrepreneur that great grades are not necessarily the key to success and jobs: there is no substitute for performing in the real world. Joe’s talk changed my mindset about entrepreneurship. I was convinced that only the brightest people in the room could be entrepreneurs. Joe let me see it’s really courage, emotional stability, and perseverance that define a good entrepreneur. The ability to weather the storm and learn on the fly can trump an MBA. Walking out of that room, I thought about my future differently—with entrepreneurship at the top of my mind.

Besides the business side of his life, Joe talked about family and opened up about how entrepreneurship has changed his lifestyle. What was most moving for me: the journey matters most, not the exit—so enjoy the journey. That goes for businesses, for jobs, and for life in general. Especially at Penn, we focus so much on getting to the next step that we can all too easily forget to appreciate and cherish where we are in the moment.

I’m glad I followed that whim and went to hear Joe Meyer speak. Thanks to him, I see opportunities all around me now, to be an entrepreneur in business and in life.

Evan BaylessBio: Evan is a Penn sophomore studying Science, Technology, and Society. He hopes to work in startups or innovative corporate functions after he graduates. As the founder of PennConnect, he has dabbled in managing a club and concept from scratch – more information can be found at http://pennconnect.us/.

Godspeed Clare…

By Emily Cieri

If you are one of the hundreds and hundreds of students that Clare Leinweber touched during her ten year tenure at Wharton Entrepreneurship, you too will feel a bittersweet pang at learning she’s left the nest. The good news is that she’s not gone far—and in her new position, she’ll have an even bigger impact with our alumni.  Clare is now Director of Alumni Relations at Wharton External Affairs, and we are so happy for her.  But before we let her go I wanted to try to sum up the impact that Clare has had in her decade at Wharton Entrepreneurship.

Clare NY
Clare in Times Square for the NASDAQ bell ringing

Throughout her tenure at Wharton Entrepreneurship, Clare’s steadfast and laser focus on supporting student entrepreneurs has never wavered.  She always put our students first, making connections for them, providing exceptional learning opportunities, and performing countless introductions to alumni.  At this point most of the alumni she was introducing to our current students knew her when they were students.

Since 2006 Clare has incubated and grown the Venture Initiation Program. When she assumed responsibility for VIP it supported just eight ventures annually. Over the past eight years she has grown the program to now supporting almost 100 ventures, with dedicated advisors, a strong educational workshop series and networking events that introduce students to a tremendous network of powerful professionals. Probably the most meaningful addition has been the development of the VIP community itself, that is now strong with current and alumni members. Clare developed a complementary VIP at Wharton ǀ San Francisco that supports both the Executive MBA students and students from Philadelphia for the Semester in San Francisco.  Since 2006 she has worked with over 500 student ventures!

Clare also developed the Wharton Venture Award that provides $10,000 grants to students who forgo traditional internships to build their own business.  I feel this program has had a dramatic impact at Wharton by legitimizing the entrepreneurial career path.  The Wharton Venture Award both acknowledges the importance of building businesses and provides students with recognition and validation for their tremendous work.

I could go on and on about the impact Clare has had on the Wharton Entrepreneurship Alumni Dinner, or this very blog, which she was instrumental in starting, but I’ll stop here. For our alumni reading this post I’m sure you have your own stories of how Clare touched your heart and changed the course of your entrepreneurial journey.

Godspeed Clare – We look forward to our new relationship with you as you continue on your journey.