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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

PITT-BRADFORD HOSTING ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEKEND FOR STUDENTS

Basecamp master teacher Brandolon Barnett, a 2007 Pitt-Bradford graduate, entrepreneur, angel investor and author.

BRADFORD, Pa. -- Aspiring entrepreneurs will learn how to make their ideas a reality during an intensive weekend for students of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and contestants in the Harvey L. Golubock Business Competition.

The weekend, sponsored by Pitt-Bradford, Halloran Philanthropies and the Bradford Area Alliance, will be an accelerated entrepreneurship experience for those interested in working on solutions to social or other issues. 

The Oct. 22-23 event is being run by the Watson Institute, an organization devoted to developing the next generation of entrepreneurs with programs that range from three days to three years. Watson has brought its Basecamp comprehensive weekend to 16 cities around the globe, often in partnership with a university or corporation. The Pitt-Bradford Basecamp was the brainstorm of Brian Fernandes-Halloran, executive director of Halloran Philanthropies.

Founded in 2007 by Fernandes-Halloran’s grandfather, American Refining Group owner Harry Halloran, the Halloran Philanthropies aspires to foster business as a driving force for positive social and economic change. Harry Halloran’s business, American Refining Group, owns an oil refinery in Bradford, putting him and Bradford in touch with community anchors such as Pitt-Bradford and the Bradford Area Alliance, a group of local leaders in business, industry, education and health care.

One of Halloran Philanthropies’ priorities is supporting social entrepreneurship projects that use principles of entrepreneurship for positive social impact. Developing social entrepreneurs is the goal of Watson’s Basecamp.

“I feel like worlds are colliding for me,” said Fernandes-Halloran, who has been involved with both the Watson Institute and Pitt-Bradford. “I’m excited about the reception this idea has gotten at Pitt-Bradford.” Halloran Philanthropies will underwrite Watson’s costs for the institute, making it free for those attending.

Rick Esch, interim president of Pitt-Bradford, said, “I like the idea that this could be a launching pad for some of the ideas that are generated during this weekend event. We’re really excited about working with the Watson Institute and the community on this project.”

What, exactly, happens during an “intensive entrepreneurship weekend”? Students and community members will begin the weekend by identifying an issue that they’re passionate about. Guided by the Watson staff, they will work in groups to begin forming entrepreneurial ventures to address a concern.

Throughout the weekend, the groups will work with local business leaders who have been trained by Watson Institute to be mentors. Later, students will be inspired by a Master Class Teacher – a successful entrepreneur and Pitt-Bradford alumnus, Brandolon Barnett ’07, who helped develop Salesforce.org’s Philanthropy Cloud, an online platform to help people select charities for donations or find organizations that need volunteers.

Barnett is also an angel investor and has been involved in start-ups for an art rental service, a digital showroom for small fashion designers and a firm that allows individuals to start their own charities.

By Sunday afternoon, the teams will have honed their ideas into presentations to make before a panel of judges. The judges, in turn, will select a winning team and one individual to win prizes – fully paid trips to other Watson events where the budding entrepreneurs can refine their ideas.

Local mentors and judges for the weekend were recruited by the Bradford Area Alliance, through its executive director Carolyn Boser Newhouse ’86. “The Bradford Area Alliance is tremendously committed to this and appreciates that so many of our community leaders have stepped up to help,” Newhouse said.

More information is available at watson.is/basecamp-pitt-bradford/.

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