Part II

Further exploring how millennials are building the entrepreneurial community I spoke with Sheena Lindahl and Michael Simmons, co-founders of Empact.

Sheena and Michael founded Empact in 2006 to bring entrepreneurism to college campuses and beyond. Sheena recalls when colleges were the only game in town. Now there are an abundance of shared work spaces, incubators and accelerators.

Every year, 100 entrepreneurs are honored at Empact Showcase. To qualify for this distinguished honor, entrepreneurs must be 35 or younger and have companies with a minimum of  $100,000  annual gross revenue. Talking with Sheena and Michael, I learned that the average EBITA is slightly above $5 million. Collectively, Empact honorees to-date, employ over 10,000 U.S based employees. Advertising and marketing, software, and media are Empact’s leading industries. Women represent 17% of this year’s honorees.

Empact entrepreneurs are from all over the country. Sheena commented on how Empact’s supportive network connects entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and industries, “They come together and they are not alone. Finding their tribe at Empact they try to make small steps forward. We encourage entrepreneurs to speak about their highs and lows and how they address their issues, problems and solve them.”

Michael continued to describe the importance of shared experiences, “Often it’s just about the ability to talk out loud. Vulnerability is important for people to engage with and not be afraid of. We learn from each other”.

Empact is represented by a range of business categories. To illustrate this, Michael gave the example of Danielle Fong, founder of Berkeley-Based Light Sail Energy, a renewable energy system that transfers compressed air into heat energy. Danielle started her Phd at Princeton when she was 17 and exemplifies thinking on a large and holistic scale.

Another company he mentioned is Chicago-based Context Media, an interactive media platform that connects health information between patients and physicians. I met Context Media co-founder Shradha Agarwal last year at Empact when she was honored as the top female entrepreneur. Context Media is rapidly on the rise and currently employs more than 100 people.

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