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February 12, 2009

Despite economic crisis, Stanford event emphasizes entrepreneurial spirit

With daily headlines about bank bailouts and the country's shaky financial future, this may seem like a lousy time to take any business risks.

But if all you see are warning signs, you're likely to miss a good opportunity, says a Stanford group trying to encourage entrepreneurship even in the face of an economic crisis.

"It's true that we're in an abysmal economic situation, but there's probably never been a more important time for entrepreneurship," said Theresa Lina Stevens, head of marketing and communications for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. "We want people to think about leveraging their resources and doing what they can to be innovative, because job offers aren't just falling from trees."

Troubled markets be damned, Stanford is hosting its third-annual Entrepreneurship Week beginning Feb. 18. Kicking off with an address from President John Hennessy—who turned his own knowledge of computer science into a computer business—the eight days of events include a job fair and workshops on how to pitch ideas to venture capitalists, how to move a product from prototype to market and how to get involved with social innovation businesses that focus on philanthropic causes.

With the exception of a few events, including a "James Bond Casino Caper" that only 35 people will be invited to, most seminars and workshops are free and open to the Stanford community and general public.

Started in 2007 as part of the launch of National Entrepreneurship Week, the Stanford event is sponsored by the STVP and 14 other campus groups that foster entrepreneurial skills among students who often look to the nearby Silicon Valley startups for inspiration.

"Entrepreneurship is sort of in the water around here," Lina Stevens said. "Students will just hang around with each other and explore business ideas. There's an atmosphere here that encourages people to take risks."

And even with such doom and gloom eclipsing the economic forecast, Lina Stevens doesn't expect the Stanford community to watch as opportunities pass by.

"There's no question it's dismal out there," she said. "But that doesn't mean there's no hope. I don't hear students moaning and groaning about the economy. They're still talking about their ideas and how to pursue them. It's going to be the entrepreneurial thinkers who make change happen in this world."



Adam Gorlick, News Service: (650) 725-0224,


Theresa Lina Stevens: 415-203-1800,


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