Lessons Learned from the 2015 NYU Entrepreneurs Festival Keynotes

Starting a company is hard; having it succeed is even harder. That's why it's always great to hear from entrepreneurs who have already succeeded. We were so fortunate to have three NYU alumni and successful entrepreneurs, Mark Leslie (BA ARTS '66), Jason Finger (JD Law, MBA Stern '99) and Jonathan Wolfson (JD Law, MBA Stern '99), share their startup experiences at this year's NYU Entrepreneurs Festival. As Jonathan stated, there are so many resources and so much support available for aspiring entrepreneurs at NYU, and the Entrepreneurs Festival is a great opportunity to get involved. This year's Festival may be over, but it's never to early to consider getting involved for next year's event. Or stop by the Leslie eLab and learn about many other resources and ways you can join the NYU startup community!

And for those of you who weren't able to come to this year's Festival, not to worry! We recorded the entire interviews as well as a short 2-minute, post-keynote interview with each speaker.

Mark LeslieMark Leslie (BS ARTS '66) was the founding CEO of Veritas Software, a company that specializes in storage management software. He is an investor in many high tech start ups and serves as a member of NYU's Board of Trustees as well as the executive advisory board of the Entrepreneurial Institute. He and his wife Debra are also the benefactors of NYU's new entrepreneurship center, the Leslie eLab. Mark received a Bachelor of Science in physics and mathematics from NYU in 1966. During Mark's tenure as CEO of Veritas, the company grew from 12 to 5,500 employees globally, and from a revenue base of $95,000 per year to $1,500,000,000 per year.

In 2000, Veritas was the tenth largest independent software company by revenue, third largest by market capitalization and became a Fortune 1000 company. But Veritas was not Mark Leslie's first entrepreneurial endeavor, and not all were as successful as Veritas. As he told a packed Paulson auditorium at the Festival, after one of his ventures failed, "instead of sitting around and blaming everyone else, I thought about what I could do better and more successful in the future. I described it as being better not bitter....the reason I was successful in the future was what I attributed from my failures." To hear more of Mark's keynote, click here.

jason fingerJason Finger (JD Law, MBA Stern '99) was the co-founder and CEO of Seamless, an online food service that allows users to order food for delivery and takeout from restaurants through their web site or mobile apps. Jason and his team built the business into one of the most dominant and valuable marketplaces on the internet, and did so using less than $2.4m of invested capital. Jason served as CEO from 2000 when the company was founded until 2010. Today, he serves as an independent Board member, advisor and investor to numerous private companies, including ZocDoc, StartupHealth, and BlueApron. Jason received his JD/MBA from New York University and was designated a Stern Scholar. During his keynote at the Entrepreneurs Festival, Jason said "Make sure whatever you pursue you're very passionate about because starting a business is not always as glamorous as it might be made out to be." Hear more of Jason's keynote here.

Jonathan Wolfson (JD Law, MBA Stern '99) is the co-founder and CEO of Solazyme, a renewable oil and bioproducts company that produces sustainable, pure, high-performance tailored algal oils using fermentation for multiple industries. Jason co-founded the company in 2003, and grew it successfully into the business it is today. It has been a public company since 2011. In 2013, Jonathan was named by Forbes as one of the top twelve "Disruptors in Business." During his keynote at the Festival, Jonathan said of his experience as an entrepreneur, "There's so many micro setbacks along the way, that if you're overly concentrating your endpoint, each of those setbacks is going to feel a painful pull away from that...what you need to do is set very manageable near term goals that you can knock off on your way to get there...Important things are really hard. To take risks here is scary, but there is support here (at NYU)." To hear more from Jonathan click here.