Getting startups ready for liftoff
Brad Treat, MBA '02, entrepreneur-in-residence
A new program at Cornell encourages students, faculty, staff, and alumni to scratch that entrepreneurial itch. Brad Treat, MBA '02, has returned to campus to become Cornell's first Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).
The EIR program is a university-wide resource created and sponsored collaboratively by the Johnson School and Cornell's Center for Technology, Enterprise, and Commercialization (CCTEC) www.cctec.cornell.edu. The position will engage a revolving succession of alumni entrepreneurs serving one-year terms.
Treat was a logical choice to be the university's first EIR. As a student, he teamed with Engineering Professor Toby Berger (now emeritus) and Aron Rosenberg '02, then an undergraduate in electrical engineering, to found SightSpeed, which has since become a leading video telephony software company. Under Treat's leadership, the company raised the millions of dollars in venture capital needed to launch its global communications initiative. SightSpeed now ships with more than half the world's webcams, and, at 250 million minutes per month, is in use in every country in the world.
"In my new role, I found I have been working on making a lot of connections between students, alumni, and others who might have a certain skill set or technological expertise but lack a great business idea," says Treat. "I am also working to connect entrepreneurially minded business people with some of the exciting new technologies that are being developed at Cornell and are now ready to go to the next level."
Zach Shulman, director of the Johnson School's Entrepreneurship at Johnson program, was instrumental in recruiting Treat for the role. "Brad was the perfect candidate to launch the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program," Shulman says. "The SightSpeed team used class work, connections, resources, and alumni to launch the company. Now Brad is actively working with others to do the same."
An example of the resources available to budding entrepreneurs is the triad of services offered through Entrepreneurship at Johnson: consulting through BR Incubator; venture capital through BR Ventures, a student-run venture capital firm; and legal assistance through the BR Legal program.
CCTEC technology manager Scott Macfarlane worked closely with Brad to launch SightSpeed, and was thrilled to recruit him back as the EIR. "Brad and his team took full advantage of university resources," Macfarlane says. "And now he can share his firsthand experience with others. He has been meeting our most promising technologists, both in Ithaca and at Weill Medical. Due to his involvement, many of the startups based on these technologies are moving forward rapidly to form cohesive and exciting companies."
As for his own entrepreneurial goals, Treat isn't done yet. "SightSpeed was a lot of fun and is going to be a huge success, but now I am working on the next big thing." When asked for more information, Treat only gives a coy "Stay tuned!"