Lax Conference for Entrepreneurship
The Lax Conference is named after Jonathan Lax '71 and funded by the Jonathan R. Lax Fund, an endowment created by his bequest in 1996. Jonathan's interest in starting companies began in his bedroom while he was a high school student. There he started Haddonfield Research and Manufacturing Company, a corporation registered in the state of Delaware. While at Swarthmore, Jonathan followed his entrepreneurial spirit and created a mutual fund in his dorm room in Hallowell. In the 1990s, he founded the Marketing Audit, a market research and consulting firm in Philadelphia.
The keynote speech at the 2013 Lax Conference was given by Terrence Hicks '73, Vice President of the Investment Group for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. In his address, titled "'When You're Finished Changing, You're Finished'--Entrepreneurship in the Current Economy," Terry discussed how the current economy has motivated entrepreneurs to be more creative, adaptable, and nimble than ever.
Discussion topics at the conference ranged from identifying funding sources for new ventures to the latest entrepreneurial trends in sustainability, and from tapping into your entreprenerial spirit to how to keep abreast of new innovations in technology. Alumni panelists spanned the years 1986 through 2004 and offered insights based on their experiences in the fields of business, marketing, technology, and development.
This year's Lax Conference also launched Swarthmore's first ever SwatTank, a business-plan competition for students. Beyond the competitive aspect, SwatTank is designed to be a learning experience, giving students the skills they need to take an idea from a thought to a fully-fledged business. Jalisa Roberts '13 won for her non-profit, The Cocoon Youth Empowerment Program.