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Duke’s StartupConnect Attracts Startups, Hundreds of Attendees

Pratt School of Engineering co-sponsors event that showcases entrepreneurial opportunities

Aspiring Duke entrepreneurs met with more than 20 startup employers during the inaugural StartupConnect event Thursday at Gross Hall. The event, which was open to Duke students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents, as well as invited guests from UNC, provided students with an understanding of the characteristics employers seek, as well as a realistic view of the job market and possible career paths.

StartupConnect began with a panel discussion featuring Duke alumni advising students seeking internships and full-time jobs in startups. Panelists included Damien Hoffman, founder and CEO of Wall St. Cheat Sheet, and Peter Fishman, Yammer's director of analytics.

Students listen to a representative from a startup discuss possible career paths.

Students also networked with representatives from startup companies such as SquadUP, RocketBolt, Dream Big Studios, Qnary, Organic Transit and American Underground, a nationally acclaimed startup hub in Durham and Raleigh.

"StartupConnect was a great opportunity for me because it exposed me to the vast network of Duke alumni who have involved themselves in entrepreneurial career paths," said Duke junior Veer Gangwal.

More than 400 students and invited guests attended the event, which was launched by students as a way to bring startup employers to Duke's campus and to showcase entrepreneurial opportunities that are not typically presented during traditional career fairs.

"When I attended Duke's career fair in the fall, I noticed how few startup companies were represented among the employers," said Janvi Shah, student event manager for StartupConnect. "There wasn't a convenient way for students to find job opportunities at startups unless they actively sought out the Duke alumni network or entrepreneurship programs."

The program was organized based on more than 600 responses to a survey conducted this past fall.

"We created StartupConnect to lower this barrier by enabling students to engage directly with startup employers. It's great to see so many students excited about this event and strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Duke," Shah said.

StartupConnect was hosted by the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, Pratt School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Career Center, UNC Minor in Entrepreneurship, Duke Start-Up Challenge and Duke in Silicon Valley, which brings students and employers together for networking and education.

For more information about StartupConnect, email