Creating Opportunity

By Sharman Andersen

“The entrepreneurs that Babson educates create not only wealth but also a wealth of opportunities for others,” said President Len Schlesinger at the 2011 Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame dinner in Knight Auditorium. In his welcoming remarks, the president introduced eight alumni as Rising Stars and two new hall of fame members.

The 2011 hall of fame inductees, Mir Rahman ’00, cofounder and CEO of GEO TV in Pakistan, and Stephen Spinelli, MBA’92, president of Philadelphia University, illustrate the president’s point perfectly. While still in their 20s, both made a tremendous impact by empowering others—and have continued to do so.

Stephen Spinelli, MBA’92, and Mir Rahman ’00

Stephen Spinelli, MBA’92, and Mir Rahman ’00    Photo: Tim Morse

By 25, Rahman was cofounder and CEO of GEO TV Network in Pakistan, his country’s largest independent television broadcaster. When he appointed women as anchors on the news desk, he helped align the network’s corporate vision with social responsibility. Placing principle before profit, Rahman holds that media must play a strong role in democracy. The network broadcasts debates on religion and runs shows that satirize politicians, sometimes at great risk, given Pakistan’s restrictive political and cultural environment. In his acceptance speech, he said, “The truth, no matter how bitter, is always more powerful than a lie, no matter how sweet.”

Spinelli co-founded Jiffy Lube when he was just 24. During his 14 years at Babson, he chaired the Entrepreneurship Division and was director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. At Babson, Spinelli said he learned that “good managers are important—entrepreneurship is essential.” He ended his speech with a toast “to opportunity, to growth, to value creation, and to the very special and important Babson College.” The former vice provost for entrepreneurship and global management at Babson was named president of Philadelphia University in 2007. Now steering an institution that is more than 125 years old, Spinelli is preparing its students for success in the evolving global marketplace.

Professor Candida Brush, chair of the Entrepreneurship Division, director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, and holder of the F.W. Olin Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurship, summed up the presentations when she said, “Mir and Steve really showcase the essence of Babson graduates and what happens when you leave this place and go out and accomplish something that you care about.”

This was the second year that Babson also recognized a standout group of alumni entrepreneurs and their ventures as Rising Stars. All generating significant buzz in the marketplace, the companies share the requisite traits of being Babson founded or co-founded, fewer than 10 years old, and recipients of outside funding but not publicly held.

The Rising Stars are Richard Bottner ’07, Intern Bridge; Jill Cartwright, MBA’07, Go GaGa; Seth Ginsberg ’03, Global Healthy Living Foundation; Jason Jacobs, MBA’05, Run-Keeper; Christine Mosholder, MBA’03, The Furniture Trust; J.B. Schneider and Antonio Turco-Rivas, both MBA’05, P’kolino LLC; and Amma Sefa-Dedeh, MBA’09, One Hen Inc.