Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Series

The Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation believes that experience can often be the best teacher. This series brings nationally known entrepreneurs to campus to share their entrepreneurial journey with students, faculty and staff. Speakers not only will provide their insights in a large audience setting, but will also participate in classes or small student discussions while on campus.

Upcoming Speakers

November 6, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Peplow Pavilion, Frank Shankwitz, founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, will share the startup challenges he faced while building one of the world's most beloved social ventures. No advance registration required, and free to attend.

Previous Speakers

Spring 2017: On April 24, 2017, Gene Landrum, originator of the Chuck E. Cheese concept of family entertainment, was presented with the Entrepreneur of the Year award. Mr. Landrum explained how he originated and grew one of the country’s most beloved restaurant concepts.

Spring 2016: Craig Culver, founder of Culver’s Restaurants, addressed the campus and the general public on April 18, 2016. Mr. Culver shared his startup story and the obstacles he had to overcome to build the company.

Fall 2015: Dave Alwan, President of Echo Valley Meats, and two-time contestant on ABC’s Shark Tank, addressed students, faculty, and the general public on November 4, 2015. Mr. Alwan presented a behind-the-scenes look at what really happens on Shark Tank, and explained how he negotiated an investor deal with Mark Cuban. 

Fall 2014: Former Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder of the Komen Foundation, and the Race for the Cure, addressed the campus and general public on November 4, 2014. Ms. Brinker shared her experiences in launching and growing a social entrepreneurship organization dedicated to curing breast cancer.

Spring 2014: Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of Barefoot Wine, discussed how they transformed wine into something fun and accessible to the common man. 

Fall 2013: Founder of Redbox, Michael DeLazzer, explained how he disrupted the movie rental industry, through innovation and hard work.

Spring 2013: The inaugural speaker, Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline.com, discussed the obstacles he faced in growing Priceline.com into a dominant force in the travel industry.