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 By Eric Weld  Date: 10/11/12 Bookmark and Share

Smith Entrepreneurs Invited

Draper Business Plan Competition Kicks Off Oct. 15

Entrepreneurs abound at Smith, as countless flourishing businesses run by alumnae attest.

But what potential start-ups are brewing on campus now, taking shape in students’ minds, destined to become the next Fortune 500 listing?

To help foster that potential, the Center for Women and Financial Independence is launching the Draper Business Plan Competition, a $20,000 contest made possible by a gift from high-profile venture capitalist Tim Draper.

The competition will kick off on Monday, Oct. 15, with a talk, “Is the Next ‘Facebook’ Growing in a Smith House?” by Debby Farrington ’72, founder and general partner of StarVest Partners, a New York City-based venture capital firm.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Neilson Browsing Room. A reception precedes Farrington’s talk at 4 p.m.

The Draper Business Plan Competition will invite students to submit their entrepreneurial ideas October 15 through April 15, 2013. First prize is a $10,000 award, plus a full scholarship to Draper University of Heroes, a 10-week program in Silicon Valley that nurtures entrepreneurs through the business-creation process, with mentoring and coaching from experts.

Tim Draper, known for his free-spirited approach to venture capital (and sometimes referred to as “the Riskmaster”), created the Draper University of Heroes for likeminded entrepreneurs who are willing to think and create beyond convention. Draper’s wife, Melissa, graduated from Smith in 1977, and his mother, Phyllis, is a member of the Class of 1953.

Farrington, who will join the Smith College Board of Trustees next year, was named to the Forbes Midas 100 list of top venture capitalists in the United States in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Her firm, StarVest Partners, invests in expansion-stage, technology-enabled business services companies with a focus on software-as-a-service, ecommerce and Internet marketing. Farrington served on the board for key business investments, such as Fieldglass and Insurance.com.

Following her graduation from Smith, Farrington completed an MBA at Harvard Business School. She also serves as a member of the President’s Advisory Council and Investment Committee at Smith, as well as a board member of the Harvard Business School Club of New York, and a board member of Opportunity International, a leading international microfinance organization.

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