Meeting Presented Many Opportunities – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Meeting Presented Many Opportunities

An article in the Finger Lakes Times last week noted the tremendous opportunity the Global Venture Capital Congress presented to HWS students selected to host delegates:

“As power players in the venture capital industry from across the world and even a Nobel laureate congregated at the Colleges Sunday and Monday to discuss the issues and opportunities facing their industry, HWS students got the chance to be an integral part.”

Among the students who took part was Sarah Cummings ’11, who was quoted, “This was a really great opportunity for me to learn about these people who are at the top of their industry.” The article went on to state Cummings said that “the conference was an unrivaled networking opportunity.”

The conference was also an opportunity to showcase Geneva and the Colleges to people from around the world, according to Hobart alum and conference organizer, Terry McGuire ’78, The National Venture Capital Association Chairman Emeritus and co-Founder of Polaris Venture Partners. He is quoted, “The reason it was wonderful to have it here was my recollection of the Colleges, which was that it was just a lovely place. My biggest worry was that we were going to have rain because I knew everything else would just shine. But then also the people … the students blew them away.”

The full article follows.


Finger Lakes Times
SEEDS FOR SUCCESS: Colleges host venture capitalism gathering
Organizer works to showcase Geneva

Sean McCracken • September 18, 2010

GENEVA — Internships and networking opportunities aren’t uncommon for college students.

But earlier this week, a handful of Hobart and William Smith students got the networking opportunity of a lifetime when the Colleges hosted the inaugural Global Venture Capital Congress.

As power players in the venture capital industry from across the world and even a Nobel laureate congregated at the Colleges Sunday and Monday to discuss the issues and opportunities facing their industry, HWS students got the chance to be an integral part.

Venture capitalism is an industry built around providing initial investments or seed money to new businesses. It often revolves around new technologies or innovations.

Delegates from 12 different organizations on every continent except Antarctica were paired with students who acted as ambassadors.

The event was organized and brought to HWS by Hobart alum Terry McGuire, the chairman emeritus and co-founder of the National Venture Capital Association and a co-founder of Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, Mass.

McGuire, whose wife is a William Smith graduate and a member of the Colleges’ board of trustees, said he wanted to use this new event as an opportunity to showcase HWS and Geneva, and many of the delegates seem to have responded positively.

“The reason it was wonderful to have it here was my recollection of the Colleges, which was that it was just a lovely place. My biggest worry was that we were going to have rain because I knew everything else would just shine,” McGuire said. “But then also the people … the students blew them away.”

While Geneva might not be an obvious destination for a high-profile international meeting of this sort, McGuire said it ends up working out better than some of the typical destinations.

“It wasn’t in London or New York or Berlin,” McGuire said. “This is a wonderful place to capture people and capture their focus in a setting where they feel free to talk. The whole venue worked out perfectly for us.”

McGuire said the industry has traditionally been U.S.-based but has been becoming increasingly global in recent years.

“It was an interesting combination of discussions, but what has not ever happened before is we as geographic industries have never gotten together,” McGuire said.

He said he believes this particular event is the only conference in the world that widely covers the experiences and ideas from the industry. The conference dealt with things such as public policy issues, particularly in Europe where legislation is being considered that would place greater restrictions on the industry than anywhere else in the world.

Sarah Cummings, a William Smith senior, was chosen as one of the ambassadors because of her previous experience interning for organizations like J.P. Morgan and Bloomberg.

Cummings is a dual major in art history and an individual program called “China in the Global Economy.” She was assigned to work with the delegate from the Chinese Venture Capital Association.

That delegate could not make it to the event but took part via Skype video conferencing.

Cummings also worked with the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, a group based in Washington, D.C.

“This was a really great opportunity for me to learn about these people who are at the top of their industry,” Cummings said, noting that the conference was an unrivaled networking opportunity.

One of the highlights of the event was a talk by Nobel laureate and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Phillip Sharp.

Cummings said she relished the opportunity to take in the knowledge of a Nobel laureate and said his speech showed her how intertwined the industry is with faculty at a school like MIT.

Next year’s capital congress is slated to be in Jerusalem thanks to lobbying from the Israel-based High Tech Industry Association, but McGuire said he won’t close the door on it eventually returning to HWS in the future.

HWS President Mark Gearan said the Colleges have as big a presence in venture capitalism as any other school, including heavyweights such as Harvard.

Gearan said the event was born out of McGuire’s vision to help Geneva and HWS.

“To have this kind of inaugural congress brings credit and focus to Geneva, our area and obviously the Colleges,” said Gearan. “So many of [the delegates] have said to me -and they’re well-traveled as you’d imagine – but the gentleman from Ottawa was saying he’d love to come back to the Finger Lakes. It was very interesting.”