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Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group Hosts Inaugural Entrepreneurship Summit

Students and professionals crowded into the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group's inaugural Entrepreneurship Summit Sunday afternoon.
Students and professionals crowded into the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group's inaugural Entrepreneurship Summit Sunday afternoon. By Jennifer Z. Liang
By Francesco Efrem Bonetti and Jennifer Y. Song, Contributing Writers

More than 300 students and professionals gathered at the Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Summit Sunday afternoon.

Hosted in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, the conference featured a variety of VC firms and startups, 15 panels, and two networking sessions. The event attracted a range of attendees from around Boston, including high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals.

HUVCG Co-President Edbert Wu ’24 and Director of the Entrepreneurship Summit Michael Oved ’25 opened the conference by introducing the group’s history.

“We were founded in 2018,” Wu said. “And back then, we only had about 10 people. Now we’re proud to say we have over 40 members on board positions, 500 startups in our network, and over 50 VC firms that we have relationships with.”

The first keynote address was a conversation between Steve Fredette and Sarah C. Leary ’92. Fredette is the co-founder of Toast, a restaurant management software company. Leary is the co-founder of Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods.

Fredette shared his early entrepreneurial experience in college when his company, Wickedparty.com, competed with the beginnings of Facebook.

“We had 20,000, 30,000 different college students across the city. And then when Facebook came out, it just spread way faster,”’ Fredette said. “It was a much better brand.”

Leary touched on her career path after graduating from Harvard as an Economics concentrator. Instead of entering investment banking or consulting, Leary chose to work at Microsoft, still a small company at the time.

“I think one of the most important things from that experience was the quality of the people that you work with,” Leary said. “I met incredible people who understood how to start companies, how to build them, and formed the type of tight bonds that you have in your working relationships.”

In a series of panels, experts covered topics ranging from launching startups to adopting a growth mindset. Jadyn K. Bryden ’21, vice president at VC firm XFund, discussed the growing interest of investors in non-technical founders.

“We support lateral thinkers,” she said in reference to XFund.

“You don’t need to be a CS major to be a good founder,” Bryden added.

Attendee Mani A. Chadaga ’25 said his hope in attending conferences like these is “to get inspired by bigger entrepreneurs.”

“We were just talking about some gems to take at Harvard to free up more time to do startups,” Chadaga said of his conversations with conference attendees.

The summit also attracted students from beyond the College.

Edwin Yang, a freshman at Northeastern studying electrical and computer engineering, said he learned about the event from the university’s Business and Innovative Technologies Club. Yang also said he had a chance to ask Fredette, the co-founder of Toast, about “building a brand and e-commerce.”

Sunday’s 6.5-hour conference also featured two networking sessions for attendees to interact over beverages and hors d’oeuvres.

“Our thanks go out to all our speakers, sponsors, and of course, our team members for making the event as successful as it was," Oved wrote in an emailed statement Sunday night.

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