Villanova students reach ‘beyond ideas’

Bridget Nyland

Cutting their winter breaks short, many students participated in Beyond Ideas: The Art of Entrepreneurship last Saturday. The event was open to students of all majors and featured presentations from distinguished speakers on various relevant topics.

The event opened and closed with speeches by Kevin Nolan, a Villanova alumnus who started a highly successful house painting business.

In addition, Ed Wallace spoke during the hour lunch break.

Wallace has led many entrepreneurial ventures and played a key leadership role in the expansion of Vertex, Inc. from a $1 million business to a $100 million business.

This year, motivated by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from last year’s event, the day was extended three hours, and students had the option to observe another presentation.

Topics presented included “Going Beyond Ideas,” “Product-Based Business” and “Social Entrepreneurship.”

Many speakers were Villanova alumni and prominent leaders in their fields.

When developing the event, the committee crafted topics they thought would be relevant to students interested in entrepreneurship.

The committee then contacted Villanova graduates and personal contacts to arrange the speakers for the event.

Based on feedback from last year’s inaugural event, the committee added “The Nuts and Bolts,” which featured the top 20 things new entrepreneurs need to know.

“We took feedback from last year and crafted new presentations,” said Michelle Galloway, the business school’s associate director of professional development, who helped organize the event. “Besides ‘The Nuts and Bolts,’ we also added ‘Financing Your Future Enterprise.’ Both topics were very well attended.”

“The Product-Based Business presentation attracted me the most,” junior Joe Pawelczyk said. “I was able to talk to Steve Christini, the president of Christini Motorcycles, after the event, and it was interesting to hear him talk about market interaction, the current recession and other topics that wouldn’t concern most other mechanical engineers.  Because his business is small, he ends up doing about 80 percent business and 20 percent true engineering,”

Also new this year, a session was offered in which students with ideas could propose them to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs.

The session was widely attended and received positive feedback from both the students and the panel involved.

“The presenters were not only impressed with the quality of the event but the quality of the students and their ideas,” Galloway said. “The presenters kept asking about how they could be involved in the event next year.”

The event concluded with an hour-and-a-half social networking time where students could talk to presenters and other prominent business leaders. Attesting to the quality of the event, attendance increased this year, and many students expressed interest in taking part in the event next year.

“The program was good last year, but it was fantastic this year,” Pawelczyk said. “It hit all the points that I thought it should have.  There was variety and choice in the presentations that you could to attend, and many presentations ran more than once.  I hope that the Beyond Ideas Committee continues to expand the current program.”

The committee plans to continue the event next year and hopes to further improve the day.

They will be adding new topics so that students who attended the event this year will have something to look forward to.

They also encourage anyone with feedback or questions to contact them in the Clay Center at the VSB.

“We encourage students who participated this year to use the information wisely and turn their ideas into reality,” Galloway said. “We hope students who didn’t participate this year will look into the event next year and stretch their imagination into great new ideas.”