A pioneering force for student entrepreneurship at the University of Washington grabbed a share of the spotlight at the 2019 Angel Capital Expo hosted by Keiretsu Forum. Former Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship director Connie Bourassa-Shaw received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her “meaningful, lasting impact to the ecosystem.” She retired from the Buerk Center in 2017 after nearly two decades of growing student entrepreneurship on-campus and creating connections regionally with partners like Keiretsu.
“Connie really helped set the foundation for students to take innovation and roll it into a business coming out of UW,” said Keiretsu Forum Northwest President Brianna McDonald. Bourassa-Shaw accepted the award by pointing out how students are fundamentally different from your average first-time entrepreneur who typically starts something at the age of 39.
“Students embrace entrepreneurship because they want to prove their idea can work no matter how plausible it is or how little resources they have. That’s the beauty of student entrepreneurs at the University of Washington. They are so sure that what they are working on is important and has value, that they will spend an ungodly amount of time to make it happen.”
Bourassa-Shaw capped off her speech with a simple message to the hundreds of angel investors who gathered for the annual Angel Capital Expo: “If any of you receive a call from a student, please meet with them at least once.”
Keiretsu Forum is “the world’s largest angel investment network” and works in concert with worldwide fund partner Keiretsu Capital. The latter was co-founded by Foster School of Business graduate Nathan McDonald, who serves as Keiretsu Capital CEO and Managing Partner. McDonald is also a key organizer for entrepreneurial alumni events and a huge supporter of Connie and the Buerk Center.
“It’s terrific to be able to recognize the pillars in our community and Connie is definitely someone who has set up the UW and it’s entrepreneurship program for long-term success,” said. “Taking entrepreneurship courses back in the late 90s (at UW) helped get my spark going. And today, the UW and its entrepreneurship program continues to be a rocket ship ready to take off.”
Recent data collected by the Buerk Center paints a significant portrait of success. Over the last ten years, the Buerk Center has served more than 750 student-created companies. Those companies have gone on to raise more than a quarter of a billion dollars in investment funding. For more information on how the Buerk Center inspires students of all majors and disciplines, please visit startup.uw.edu.