Student Agencies Foundation was a lead sponsor of the first annual Student Run Business Association (SRBA) Conference held this spring at Harvard University. Student Agencies is a founding member of the SRBA, which was formally established this March with a mission statement of providing “the resources and pathways for student-run business programs to grow and best support their student entrepreneurs.” Kyle Karnes (’91), CEO of SAI, is serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SRBA, playing a leading role in its development. Other founding members include Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), The Corp (Georgetown University), Blue & Gold Ventures (Marquette), Loyola Limited, Student Holdings (Northwestern University), Penn Student Agencies (PSA), and Princeton Student Agencies. SAI’s role as a founding member provides a platform to serve as a mentor to less established SRBs that are still developing. The first SRBA conference provided a phenomenal opportunity for like-minded student-run business managers, presidents, and alumni to hear from one another and learn about each other’s agencies through engaging panels, workshops, and networking sessions. In addition, there were several keynote speakers in attendance who shared their personal insights on entrepreneurship and management.
Assistant Manager of Campus Promotions Kaela Olsen (’22) remarked about the conference, “Being there surrounded by such driven, ambitious, and motivated students was really invigorating. The collaboration and conversation between students who were running similar businesses was really inspiring, and a lot of new ideas came out of it. We all left the conference with fresh perspectives, a sense of community among like-minded students, and an exciting revitalization.” Editor in Chief of the 2019 Cornellian Yearbook Grace Rieflin (’20) gave her own presentation, sharing about how the yearbook was first acquired from Cornell in 2007 and how SAI benefits from having the Cornellian as a subsidiary. Speaking in front of different SRBs that both did and did not have yearbooks, it was interesting for her to capture a mix of perspectives and to give her own advice about how other agencies could go about starting or acquiring their university’s yearbook as a subsidiary. There were also several SAI alumni that had the chance to speak on a panel. 2018 Director of Marketing Gabrielle Zacky (’18), 2018 Director of Strategy Zac Goldman (‘18), and Tara Sarkar (’17), Editor in Chief of the 2017 Cornellian Yearbook spoke about what they gained from SAI and how their experiences have helped them so far as they have graduated and moved on into to their professional careers.
SAI managers and alumni alike had the privilege of hearing from keynote speaker Andy Cunningham, notable entrepreneur and marketing executive. Andy spoke about her fascinating career path and experience working for Steve Jobs at a young age to market the launch of the Apple Macintosh in 1984. She also covered more foundational topics such as marketing strategies and tools which will be useful for student-run marketing subsidiaries such as SAI’s Campus Promotions. Another remarkable speaker was Larry Cheng, current Managing Partner of venture capital firm Volition Capital and Harvard Student Agencies alumnus. Larry gave a keynote speech about providing early funding for Chewy.com, a pet supply ecommerce startup which eventually grew to a valuation $3.35 billion and was acquired by PetSmart in the largest ecommerce acquisition to date. His perspective about perseverance and grit when running a business was especially inspiring to all of the young professionals at the conference.
SAF is proud to be a sponsor and founding member of SRBA and is excited to further expand the organization going forward.