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Whitman to host Youth Entrepreneurs of Syracuse (YES) Conference

October 28, 2008

Amy Mehringer
(315) 443-3834

Amy Mehringer

The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University will launch its first-ever Youth Entrepreneurs of Syracuse (YES) Conference on Nov. 8. This full-day event, scheduled to take place at the Whitman School, will teach and inspire Central New York young adults ages 13-25 who are interested in entrepreneurship.

The Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership has estimated that more than 65 percent of 14-19-year olds are interested in starting a business, as compared with about half the general public. Whitman's YES Conference will explore the unique obstacles, demands and challenges that young entrepreneurs face when creating ventures. The conference program combines special youth-tailored sessions and presentations by inspirational role models as well as by young entrepreneurs who have successful ventures and can give advice to their youthful audience.

Inaugural YES Conference speakers include:

  • RJ Sherman, an entrepreneurship major at SU, and owner of Charles River Web Connections, and;
  • John Groat, president and founder of Holy Shirt!, a custom clothing and novelty company that has sold products to Russell Crowe, Alanis Morissette and Michael Phelps;
  • Michael Carriere, CEO and founder of Zapdot Interactive, LLC, a software development company that focuses on the gaming industry, and a former winner of the Syracuse University Panasci Business Plan competition;
  • Jason Duff, an entrepreneur who began his career at age 10 and became Ohio's youngest realtor at age 18; he created the Community Storage & Properties Ltd., which currently operates more than 800 self-storage units at four locations, numerous commercial and residential rentals, and more than 300 outdoor advertising displays in Ohio;
  • Michael Librizzi, a Whitman alumnus and owner of, which applies the connectivity of social networking sites to the local search and communication needs of small business and consumers throughout the country;
  • Rahim Fazal, a 26-year-old successful businessman and dot-com millionaire; he is also an advisor to the Extreme Entrepreneurship Education Corp. in New York City, an organization helping young people realize the value of entrepreneurship through education and outreach;
  • Dan Couladis, a certified facilitator of the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and a current Whitman MBA student;
  • Kyle Corea and Adam Gold, owners of Funk 'n Waffles, a Marshall Street restaurant that serves its own brand of delicious food and funk music ; and
  • Brooks Fiesinger, a website developer who became an entrepreneur at age 12 and who currently owns Paranoid Production Designs Inc., which consults on and produces software applications, computer programming and website development.

The YES Conference is intended to educate and inspire local high school, college and even middle school students who have a passion or an interest in entrepreneurship. Content throughout the day will focus on various topics that will allow conference participants to learn about the business world and to recognize and act on their own intrinsic entrepreneurial potential.

"Entrepreneurship is one of the single most important factors in a dynamic and vibrant economy," says Melvin T. Stith, dean of the Whitman School. "In today's economy, young people's best opportunities may very well lie in the fulfillment of their entrepreneurial dreams. The Whitman School is committed to ensuring that Central New York youth get the support they need to accomplish their goals. "

For more information or to register, visit or contact Lindsay Wickham, Falcone Center events coordinator, at or (315) 443-3550.

Media inquiries may be directed to Amy Mehringer, Whitman communications manager, at (315) 443-3834 or

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