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Watch: Student Entrepreneurs Network with Seasoned Pros at Annual Lax Conference

Terrence Hicks' 73 and Rebecca Chopp

Terrence Hicks' 73 and President Rebecca Chopp at the 2013 Lax Conference for Entrepreneurship

Terrence Hicks '73 opened the 2013 Lax Conference for Entrepreneurship with a keynote address, "'When You're Finished Changing, You're Finished' - Entrepreneurship in the Current Economy." Hicks, who earned a B.A in economics from Swarthmore and is now the vice president of investments for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, addressed a packed lecture hall in the Science Center on how the current economy has motivated entrepreneurs to be more creative, adaptable, and nimble than ever.

After the keynote, conference participants broke into discussion groups where they discussed a series of topics including how to identify funding sources for new ventures, the latest entrepreneurial trends in sustainability, and 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 business, marketing, technology, and development, among other fields.

Chris Fortunato '14
Chris Fortunato '14 discusses his prototype for the Rise Desk.

This year's conference also launched Swarthmore's first SwatTank, a business plan competition for students moderated by Shalom Saar '74, a senior lecturer at MIT and owner of the Center for Leadership Development. Hicks joined fellow judges Iqbal Quadir '81, Joe Turner '73, and Karen Meidlinger to evaluate three projects: The Cocoon Youth Empowerment Program, a nonprofit dance-based program presented by Jalisa Roberts '13 (the ultimate winner); a compact standing/sitting computer desk converter by Christopher Fortunato '14; and a web-based men's fashionable shoe line by Kyle Pierce '14, Chelsea Hicks '14, and Ian Anderson '13. More coverage of SwatTank can be found in the April 2013 issue of The Bulletin.

The annual Lax Conference for Entrepreneurship honors Jonathan Lax '71 and is funded by the Jonathan R. Lax Fund, an endowment created by his bequest in 1996. At Swarthmore, Lax followed his entrepreneurial spirit and created a mutual fund in his room in Hallowell Hall. In the 1990s, he founded Marketing Audit, a market research and consulting firm in Philadelphia.

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