UMD Alumni Entrepreneurs Discuss Career Success with Students
Five successful University of Maryland alumni joined on February 24, 2011 at
the Robert H. Smith School of Business to impart secrets of success to aspiring
student entrepreneurs at an event co-sponsored by the school’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
and Office of Career Services.
The panelists included:
The session was moderated by Dr. Jeff Kudisch, executive director of the Office
of Career Services, who summed up the panelist’s advice in three main themes: 1)
have a passion for what you do, 2) don’t be afraid to fail, and 3) network and make
During the question and answer session, panelists gave advice to students on
the job search – all of the panelists said that their companies were hiring. Kimmel
said that emotional intelligence is a very important factor that he considers and
that social media and marketing is a great differentiator for new grads. He encouraged
students to find a way to provide value immediately, whether it is in social media,
graphic design or making spreadsheets dance.
Gustave said that he looks for a self-starter who can wear multiple hats. He
wants someone who will stand out. Don’t ask what the working hours are – he wants
someone who is going to do anything to help out.
When asked about interview tips, advice ranged from “’Be a stalker’ to ‘don’t
talk too much.’” Kimmel said that one person contacted him for years about a working
with him and he finally hired him – you can stay in touch without being a stalker,
What about guidance for making the most of the college experience? Weiss encouraged
students to take risks now in a safe environment – “Try something different because
you don’t know where this journey is going to take you,” he said.
Port added that taking a class out of your comfort zone is a great idea and encouraged
students to be very involved in clubs and organizations. Kimmel said to travel abroad
and to network and go to as many events as you can to build up your connections.
Mandell and Gustave took it back to basics and said to take academics seriously
–you have to know how to read your company’s financial statements.
The panelists at the event were part of a fraternity together and their friendships
with each other and connection to the University of Maryland has remained strong
after nearly 20 years.
Alissa Arford, Office of Marketing Communications
Jon Gustave ’92, Founder and CEO, Klik Technologies
Jon Gustave is the Chief Executive Officer of Klik Technologies where he maps
the company’s strategic direction, promotes technology initiatives, and identifies
new vertical markets. He is responsible for innovations like "on line web exceptions"
and real time document images on the web, both of which revolutionized paper- based
remittance processing. Gustave has grown the company from a high tech local vendor
to a national powerhouse with nine capture locations throughout the United States.
Prior to establishing Klik Technologies, Gustave spent eight years as Vice President
of Graphic Service Bureau, now a leading resource for the production of monthly
statements for "Not For Profit" organizations, and for property tax bills for municipalities
throughout the country.
Wayne Kimmel ’92, Managing Partner, SeventySix Capital
Wayne D. Kimmel is a Managing Partner at SeventySix Capital, a company that invests
in early stage companies. Wayne is also a founder of ARTISTS & INSTIGATORS. Since
2000, under Kimmel’s direction, SeventySix Capital (formerly ETF Venture Funds)
has invested in several successful companies such as SeamlessWeb (acquired by ARAMARK),
Take Care Health Systems (acquired by Walgreens), and NutriSystem (NTRI), ranked
by Forbes as the best small company in the United States. Kimmel currently serves
on the Board of Directors of Organized Wisdom, Ryzing, meetMoi and KGRA Energy.
In 2010, The Power Shift honored Kimmel at its inaugural awards event, Preparing
to be Presidential. Wayne received the “Business Leader” Award, for his “commitment,
dedication, hard-work, ingenuity, & innovation.” Kimmel was a founding board member
of the Center for Financial Policy at the University of Maryland, and serves on
the boards of the Jewish Relief Agency, Powered by Professionals, and the National
Advisory Council for Widener University School of Law.
Paul Mandell ’95, Founder and CEO, Consero Group
Paul Mandell is the Chief Executive Officer of Consero Group LLC, which is a
startup dedicated to reforming the model of live events for senior executives. Prior
to founding Consero, Mandell founded and was the President of Clutch Group, Inc.,
which was acquired just two years following startup. The successor entity, Clutch
Group, LLC, was recognized as the top legal outsourcing company in the world by
the Black Book of Outsourcing under his continued leadership less than one year
later. Prior to Clutch Group, Mandell practiced law at Arnold & Porter LLP and Sullivan
& Cromwell LLP in Washington, DC, and New York, respectively, where he focused primarily
on antitrust and pharmaceutical litigation. Mandell serves on the Board of the Yale
Law School Fund, as well as the Board of Trustees of the University of Maryland
Foundation. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Government
& Politics at the University of Maryland.
Darren Port ’92, CEO and Founder, Powered by Professionals
Darren Port is the CEO and Founder of Powered by Professionals. Under Port’s
leadership, in nine years, PBP has started eleven charitable organizations. In 2007,
Port led one of the first charities he helped to create to reach their fundraising
goal of over $1 million in one year with no internal staff at the Foundation. PBP
has also placed over 1,500 volunteers and has raised donations totaling over $22
million for its clients. Port has more than 15 years experience in fundraising.
In addition to PBP’s clients, he has successfully raised funds and coordinated events
for organizations and companies such as the American Red Cross, Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation (JDRF), Make A Wish Foundation, Webstakes.com and Entrepreneurs
Organizations (EO). In addition to his experience with charitable and event fundraising,
Port has nine years of professional experience in sales and marketing, while with
the New York Law Publishing Company as the National Sales Manager and with Promotions.com
as a Vice President of Sales.
Lee Weiss ’91, Managing Partner, Family Endowment Partners
Lee Weiss is a founder and Managing Partner of Family Endowment Partners, LP.
Weiss has 17 years of investment management experience. Prior to FEP, Weiss was
the President of Fidelity Investment’s Family Office Business, Fidelity’s offering
for clients who have over $100 million in investable assets. Weiss launched the
business in October 2003 and built a team of over 200 associates. When he left Fidelity,
the business had $21 billion on the Family Office platform. Weiss was a member of
the Fidelity Brokerage Company’s Senior Management Team and Audit Committee and
a member of the internal management board for the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
which manages $3.5 billion in charitable assets for its grantors. Prior to Fidelity,
Weiss joined Merrill Lynch in 1992 as a financial advisor and led one of the fastest
growing and most successful financial advisory teams through 2000. In 2000, Weiss
created and led Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Asset Management Group in New
York City, responsible for asset management, banking, and financial planning for
Merrill Lynch’s ultra high net worth segment.