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“Times of economic uncertainty, like today, often spur the creativity and innovation that will drive the country out of the economic malaise,” said Kellogg Professor Steven Rogers, who delivered the opening address at the May 26 Kellogg Alumni Entrepreneur Conference.

Kellogg Professor Steven Rogers

Rising above the market

The Kellogg Alumni Entrepreneur Conference recognizes entrepreneurs who are prospering despite a poor economy

By Scott Whitaker

6/21/2010 - Contrary to popular thought, entrepreneurs can thrive in the midst of a tough economy. In fact, those honored at the May 26 Kellogg Alumni Entrepreneur Conference are living proof.

At the conference, themed “Revenue Generation on a Budget,” several outstanding alumni entrepreneurs were recognized with awards in four categories: 

  • Rising Entrepreneur: Kenneth Williams '98, owner and CEO of The Shred Authority, Inc., which provides document destruction, storage and other privacy-related services. 
  • Social Entrepreneur: Donnita Travis '95, founder and executive director, By The Hand Club For Kids, an after-school program with an emphasis on academics and a commitment to nurturing a child’s “mind, body and soul.” 
  • Supporters of Entrepreneurship: EMP-67, the inaugural class of Miami-based Executive MBA students, pledged $118,000 to support case studies through the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice. 
  • Master Entrepreneurs: William Angrick '95 and Jaime Mateus-Tique '95, founders, Liquidity Services, Inc., a leading online auction marketplace for surplus and salvage assets.

More than 250 Kellogg alumni and friends attended the conference, which was sponsored for the sixth year by Doug Cook ’98, owner and president of Feldco. The daylong event featured panels on brand building, new product development, market trends, angel investing, and entrepreneurship in services firms.

“Burger King, BusinessWeek, RadioShack, and Microsoft are just a small sample of the companies who were founded during recessions or bear markets,” said Steven Rogers, director of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice, who offered the opening address at the conference. “History has shown us that times of economic uncertainty, like today, often spur the creativity and innovation that will drive the country out of the economic malaise. Job growth in the next few years will come from the Inc. 500, not the Fortune 500.”

During their keynote address, Angrick and Matues-Tique described the growth of Liquidity Services Inc., a leading online auction marketplace for surplus and salvage assets. Angrick and Matues-Tique said that the idea for the company was hatched in the Kellogg School’s Entrepreneurship & New Venture Formulation class and became a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ (LQDT), after an IPO in 2006.

The conference concluded with a marketing session led by Clinical Professor of Marketing Tim Calkins and the Kellogg Cup, an annual student business-plan competition.