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Alumni Share Entrepreneurial Knowledge

by Benjamin Kimo Twichell Friday, April 13, 2012

Andrew Ferenci, Corey Capasso, and Dan Reich, three University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni and founders of Spinback, spoke at the Wisconsin School of Business and at a dinner for members of the school’s Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community. 

Spinback became successful when the team creatively found a solution for an unfulfilled market demand for social commerce—the growing notion that products can be sold effectively via social media. There was no way, however, to accurately track the relationship between quantities of product sold and social media involvement until Spinback. The company was sold in May of 2011 to social media giant Buddy Media, where the group still works together. 

At both speeches, the three UW-Madison alumni casually laid out their story and the path they took to get there. All three were filled with an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. Corey dabbled with eBay merchandising before moving forward to an eCommerce business. Dan organized a huge range of social events around Madison and Andrew hustled candy in kindergarten before starting a collegiate apparel company at UW-Madison. 

The trio gave nuggets of advice to students with entrepreneurial aspirations.  All three repeatedly urged students to start flexing their entrepreneurial muscles at a young age. They went onto say that the college setting is a perfect incubator for the growth of entrepreneurship. They explained how the lack of rent and other ‘adult’ responsibilities made startup ventures much less risky. 

Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a plethora of resources at hand and a confluence of youthful energy, which can assist getting anyone’s feet off the ground. Capasso emphasized not only the benefits of taking advantage of the proximity to teachers, but also other students with whom to partner and work. Ferenci also expressed that no venture is smooth sailing. From the outside, looking in on any successful company, it can appear as if the venture was ostensibly trouble free. After telling a story of a failed venture, Ferenci explain that in the scheme of things, other than lost time and money, it did not negatively affect him because he could just, “wake up the next morning and head off to class”.

In addition to starting young, the founders of Spinback advised future entrepreneurs to share their ideas. The worry that others will steal an idea should be a minor concern. To move an idea into a venture, one generally needs the support of others and the only way to make that happen is by sharing your concepts and getting others excited about them.

The bottom line: Go out there and do it. Tell everyone your ideas. When you fail, try again.

Benjamin is a Freshman and aspiring business student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison living in the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community. More of his writing can be seen on his music review website, The Metropolitan Jolt (