On Friday, April 10, Colgate University will begin its fourth annual Entrepreneur Weekend with a panel conversation with five “all-star entrepreneurs.” Among these will be actress Jessica Alba, rapper MC Hammer, Warby Parker Co-CEO and Co-founder Neil Blumenthal, BuzzFeed President Greg Coleman and Rent the Runway CEO and Co-founder Jennifer Hyman.
Although well-known as a Golden Globe-nominated actress who starred in movies such as Honey and Fantastic Four, Alba is also a founder and chief creative officer, activist and author. Founded in 2011, her startup, The Honest Company, sells eco-friendly products for babies and families. According to Business Insider, The Honest Company raised $70 million over the last year and is valued at nearly $1 billion. Alba was named in the top 20 of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Entrepreneur of the Year at the UK Glamour Women of the Year Awards and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition, Alba also supports charities such as Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, ONE, Habitat for Humanity and Project HOME. In her New York Times bestselling book The Honest Life, Alba provides advice for parents to foster safe, healthy lives for their families.
Three-time Grammy winner MC Hammer is known for his hit records “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit” but is also a web mogul, spokesman and activist. He was the co-creator of a dance website called DanceJam.com, which was dedicated to dancing video competitions, techniques and styles. He also started Alchemist Management, which manages, markets, promotes and brand-builds for mixed martial arts fighters. Most recently, he launched WireDoo, a search engine designed to compete with major search engines like Google and Bing. Hammer has also been featured as a speaker on social media and business at top colleges and universities, including business schools at Stanford and Harvard.
Blumenthal launched Warby Parker in 2010 in the Venture Initiation Program of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The company designs prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses in-house and sells only directly to customers, therefore significantly lowering the cost of glasses. For every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, the company pays for the production of a pair of eyeglasses for VisionSpring, a nonprofit for which Blumenthal previously served as director. VisionSpring specializes in training low-income women in developing countries to start businesses selling affordable eyeglasses. Blumenthal was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in the Business by Fast Company, one of Crain’s “40 Under 40,” part of “The Next Establishment” by Vanity Fair and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Before becoming president and member of the Board of Directors at BuzzFeed, a social news and entertainment company, Coleman previously served as President of the advertising technology firm Criteo, President and Chief Revenue Officer at the Huffington Post, President of Platform-A at AOL, Senior Vice President of the Reader’s Digest Association and President of U.S. Magazine Publishing. At Buzzfeed, Coleman is responsible for the management and growth of all facets of the business, including sales, creative services, marketing, ad products and business development. In addition, Coleman is an adjunct professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Hyman’s Rent the Runway is a retail industry company which makes designer dresses and offers accessory rentals. As CEO and Co-founder, Hyman oversees the company’s marketing, technology, products and analytics. As of December 2014, the company has raised $114 million in venture capital funding and currently has over four million members and over 250 employees. Rent the Runway has been named by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management as one of the best places to work in New York State. Hyman was named one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology, an Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” New York Area Regional finalist and one of Crain’s “40 Under 40.” Prior to her work on Rent the Runway, Hyman ran an online advertising sales team at WeddingChannel.com and was an in-house entrepreneur at Starwood Hotels. She is also a member of the Women in Business Board at Harvard Business School.