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05-02-2011

Clarkson University Young Entrepreneur Program Takes Stake in Student Businesses in Lieu of Tuition

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/mturcotte.jpg .]

Clarkson University has established a Young Entrepreneur Award program, which will identify a limited number of entrepreneurially-minded prospective students annually, who have demonstrated success in operating business ventures.

Matthew S. Turcotte (left), CEO of North Shore Solutions and full-time Clarkson University student, with Marc Compeau, director of Clarkson’s Center for Entrepreneurship.The award recipients will have an opportunity to attend Clarkson through a combination of merit-based financial aid and the acquisition by the University of an ownership interest in their business ventures in lieu of tuition payments. 

The unique initiative is in furtherance of the educational mission of Clarkson, which has a long-standing tradition of educating successful entrepreneurially-minded business leaders who understand how to grow a business, harness innovative technologies and seize opportunities in the marketplace.

Clarkson’s Center for Entrepreneurship provides steady counsel throughout the young entrepreneurs’ undergraduate experience and identifies resources within the University and regional community that will help develop their skills, technical innovations and networks to commercial opportunities.

Businesses that have used the center’s services have an 85 percent success rate, compared to the national average of just 45 percent.

During their first year on campus, the Young Entrepreneurs are also matched with alumni to provide mentorship and professional guidance.

“We take our outreach to entrepreneurs to a new level well beyond the more common incubator infrastructure for groups of students and individuals wanting to start a new venture,” says Marc Compeau, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “In addition to creating a large support network of business professionals from all walks of life and coursework designed to increase their success, our approach with Young Entrepreneur awardees is unique in the way we partner with them by exchanging tuition discounts for equity in the early-stage firm.”

Based on a standard contract the University has developed for this program, the entrepreneurs will negotiate a final tuition bill and ownership stake agreement with the Center for Entrepreneurship that is appropriate for the business they are building.

Clarkson’s goals are simple: 1) to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit across campus that is inherent in the students who already choose Clarkson and enhance learning opportunities for all students by including practicing entrepreneurs in classrooms and living communities; and 2) to encourage investment in the future leaders of the global marketplace.

The Young Entrepreneur are  responsible for other out-of-pocket costs incurred in connection with attendance, including, but not limited to, housing, meals, books, supplies and other similar items.

Meet Young Entrepreneur Matthew S. Turcotte, CEO of North Shore Solutions and Full-time Clarkson Student

Matthew S. Turcotte, 18, of Clayton, N.Y., is the first student to participate in Clarkson University’s Young Entrepreneur Award program and has enjoyed his role in building it with the University.

He has been a business owner since he was a junior in high school and now is growing his Web development firm while earning his degree in innovation and entrepreneurship as a full-time student in the School of Business.. 

After meeting Turcotte at a regional technology conference last spring, Clarkson President Tony Collins felt that the young entrepreneur fit the profile of the Clarkson student.

 “What caught my attention was how passionate Matt is about his business,” says Collins. “We attract both faculty and students who want to bridge research discovery and technical innovation with enterprise. He is exactly the type of student who thrives at Clarkson University.”

Turcotte started his own business, North Shore Solutions, when he was a junior in high school to provide Web design and hosting services to local businesses in his hometown.

He describes his experience with Clarkson as exceptional. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I feel fortunate that I attend a university that is as passionate about my business as I am and is so supportive,” says Turcotte. “Clarkson delivers on its reputation to defy convention.”

As a Young Entrepreneur Award recipient, Turcotte has office space on campus, in addition to the mentorship. He is able to plow what would have been his out-of-pocket tuition expenses into his business and is currently expanding his base of customers. 

“It has been exciting to work with Matthew and help him grow his young business,” says Marc Compeau, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “The real challenge is forcing him to also embrace the typical college experience. I have had to limit Matthew to one formal meeting on his company a week and I also require that we spend part of that meeting talking about academics and his social life. Matthew has done a great job of finding time to be a student, not just a young entrepreneur.”

Turcotte has recently been matched with two Clarkson alumni mentors: Marty Roesch ’92, founder and chief technology officer of Sourcefire (NASDAQ: FIRE), and John Zdanowski ’89, co-founder and CFO of PixelFish, Inc. the leading provider of online video advertisements for local businesses

Roesch was the author and lead developer of the Snort Intrusion Prevention and Detection System, the world’s most downloaded intrusion detection and prevention technology with more than 4 million downloads to date.

Zdanowski serves as an investor, board member and advisor to a number of rapidly growing high technology companies. He serves on the board of RentJuice Inc, is an advisor to Movoto Inc. and Swish Data Corporation. Prior to that he was the CFO of Linden Lab, the creator of the virtual world Second Life and also took Market Leader (NASDAQ: LEDR) public as its CFO.

Turcotte will spend time with Roesch and Zdanowski this summer for additional mentorship and support.

Compeau is currently helping Turcotte expand his business into the Adirondacks as he begins the process of growing his young company’s market share. The need for a stronger Web presence for businesses in the Adirondacks has made Turcotte passionate about the expansion.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative for businesses to have a presence on the Internet,” said Turcotte. “Times are changing, and the conventional methods for finding businesses through phonebooks are disappearing as the Internet takes a dominant role. As someone who founded his own company in 2001, having Marty and John as mentors is already helping me think well downstream from where I am today.”

Turcotte is also working to expand his current offering of services, which now include website design and development, logo design, Web hosting, online marketing and consulting to other young start-ups. 

Turcotte’s near-term goal is to turn North Shore Solutions into a leader of Web design services in the Northeast within five years. “With Clarkson’s support the sky is the limit,” says the young entrepreneur.    

Turcotte successfully completed his first year at Clarkson and was named a Presidential Scholar both semesters. One of his hobbies is climbing the high peaks of the Adirondacks. To date, he has climbed 36 out of the 46. Turcotte is also the author of From Main Street to Mainstream: The Essential Steps to Launching your Small Town Business online, which is available on Amazon.com.

To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson, visit http://www.clarkson.edu/entrepreneur. To learn more about Turcotte and his business, visit http://www.northshoresolutions.com.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Matthew S. Turcotte (left), CEO of North Shore Solutions and full-time Clarkson University student, with Marc Compeau, director of Clarkson’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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