The Entrepreneur's Journey: Firsthand Experiences in Founding, Building and Selling Ventures - 1

Philip Benfey and Steve McClelland headshots

Philip Benfey, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Duke University
Steven McClelland, BSE, Executive in Residence, Pratt School of Engineering

Sponsored by Duke MEDx and Duke Engineering Entrepreneurship (EngEn)

7 - 10 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Registration is required
Attendance is limited to 75

If you have any questions or after registering you find that you will be unable to attend, contact Donna Crenshaw at

In this workshop, successful entrepreneurs will share their own stories. Beginning with invention and ending with a company sale, you will hear about the challenges and victories at each step of the way. Our speakers will tell you what went well and what they will do differently next time. Speakers will also discuss creating barriers to competition, building a team, financing their venture, developing their product, and ultimately exiting the venture.

This event will feature Phil Benfey, who will talk about his experience in agricultural biotechnology and Steve McClelland, who will talk about his experience in the software industry.

Philip Benfey is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Paul Kramer Professor of Biology at Duke University. Dr. Benfey received a Diplome d’Etudes Universitaire General (DEUG) from the University of Paris VI, and then went to graduate school at Harvard Medical School where he completed his thesis with Phil Leder in 1986. He performed post-doctoral work with Nam-Hai Chua at the Rockefeller University from 1987 to 1990 and was named an Assistant Professor there. In 1991 he started an independent laboratory at NYU where he rose through the ranks from Assistant Professor to Full Professor. In 2002, he moved to Duke University as chair of the Biology Department, a position he held for 5 years before becoming the Director of the Duke Center for Systems Biology. In 2007, he founded a biotechnology company — GrassRoots Biotechnology — which was sold to a multi-national firm in 2013. He then co-founded a second company — Hi Fidelity Genetics — which uses proprietary technology to monitor root growth in the field. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Steven McClelland is an Executive in Residence in the Duke Pratt School of Engineering. Steve is passionate about products and technology. He loves building teams and inspiring creativity. He co-founded a Boston-based internet consulting company that designed and built solutions for clients ranging from content management cache routing systems. He moved to San Francisco in 2004 to join a second startup — Citizen Sports. There he served in many roles, including head of engineering, chief architect, and VP user experience. Citizen Sports made mobile and social sports applications for iOS, Android and Facebook. Citizen Sports was acquired by Yahoo! in 2010 where he ultimately served as VP of product management focused on content and personalization. Steve joined Twitter in 2016 as Director of Product Management, managing product teams in on-boarding new customers, native and web clients, and publishing platforms.

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