Terrence “Terry” Hicks ’73, Vice President of the Investment Group For Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, is the keynote speaker for the Jonathan R. Lax ’71 Conference on Entrepreneurship. Responsible for all of Ben Franklin’s investment activities, Hicks also co-founded the Minority Angel Investor Network, an angel group that invests in high growth minority owned companies. Hicks earned a B.A in Economics from Swarthmore College and an MBA in finance from LaSalle University.
The speech, “When You’re Finished Changing, You’re Finished” – Entrepreneurship in the Current Economy, will kick-off SwatTank, Swarthmore’s first business plan competition. Co-sponsored by Career Services, the Dean’s Office, the President’s Office, the Center for Innovation and Leadership, the LAX Conference for Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship Club.
12:03 Terry Hicks is here, in Sci 101. The room begins to fill up with alumni, students, and family, all dressed in fancy clothing with name-tags.
12:09 President Chopp thanks alumni, family and the Lax family. She asks the room to take a moment silence to remember Francies Lax, a supporter of this conference, who died in January. Her sons graduated from Swarthmore.
12:11 President Chop introduces Terry Hicks. Last summer, he worked closely with Career Services, in which current students participated in a summer internship with many of the companies part of Ben Franklin’s portfolio. Due to the success of this partnership, Terry and Career Services will be offering internships again this summer.
12:14 “Hello Swarthmore! Hello Swarthmore! I can’t believe it’s been 40 years!” An energetic Terry walks up. He says how change is part of Entrepreneurship’s DNA. If the entrepreneur is not willing to change, the entrepreneur will wither away and die.
12:16 “In a way, entrepreneurship is managing the unpredictable.. so change is available.” Hicks pulls up a picture of him at his Swarthmore graduation in 1973, to describe change.
Describing the picture: “I thought I was big stuff…I had an afro about 12 inches long. In order to get the hat on my head, we literally had to use bobby pins. I was very anxious in this picture to get the cap off my head.”
12:23 “Being from Swarthmore I can really make a difference.”
12:26 Client #1 Hicks talks describes: James Murdock, one of his clients at Ben Franklin, attended Swarthmore for 1 semester in 1975. He built a prototype solar dryer. But the price of oil fell, so there was no use for solar energy.
“He made his company Endless Pools. If you’re on an airplane and open up a magazine, you’ll see his product, a swim in place pool with motorized current. But it was too expensive! So he made “Fastlane”, a kit to make existing pools. He reacted to the market! So the idea really catches on.”
12:28 “So why do I bring this up? Murdock adapted to change. He changed his management style, and stopped being controlling and sharing his responsibility. He’s staying attuned to new tastes, and is bringing out an underwater treadmill soon!”
12:30 Hicks moves on to talk about his Client #2 – Meet Brad. Your typical American guy. 40 pounds overweight, low energy, high cholesterol. He came home to PA to reevaluate his life. He saw the documentary “Eating”.
12:31 “It’s an interesting documentary. Watch it on a Friday night when you have nothing to do. You’ll probably give up eating after watching it.” Brad changed to a plant based diet and lost weight! Brad creates Brad’s Raw Foods!
12:33 “Who eats Brad’s foods?” Only a few people in crowd put up hands. ” Put up your hands! Find them, they’re at Whole Foods, only 7$ a bag.” Brad embraces change. He is continuously innovating. He creates Brad’s Raw4Paws out of the kale stalk he was throwing away. “We project that Brad will double his revenue by next year.”
12:36 Hicks describes situations requiring change – changes in economy, changes in technology, changes in regulatory environment, anticipating or responding to competitors.
12:38 He moves on to talk about his organization. BFTP provides capital, business support, and works to connect companies with universities and research institutions to accelerate their technology. “We impact the capital need at earliest stages, when money is really tough.”
12:45 ” You guys still awake?” Hicks asks crowd. Everyone laughs.
12:47 He talks about funding in minority companies. In the beginning, entrepreneurs have FFF (Friends, family and the fools). Everyone laughs again! He wanted to bridge gap between FFF and Venture Capital funding for minority companies. So he put together an angel group that could feed deals to larger venture capital groups. First meeting was in November 2004.
12:50 ”We are still the only organized angel network in the country with minority focus.” (www.minorityangelinvestornetwork.com)
12:53 “We love these kids (Swatties who did internships last summer). And I’m not even saying that because President Chopp is sitting right here. Is anyone here who did the internships?” Swattie Chris Fortunato raises his hand. Hicks asked him how his experience was at Essential Medical. Chris says it was great and very hand-on!
12:56 Hicks moves on to talk about Swarthmore’s contribution to entrepreneurship.
“I thought I wanted to be a Music major. I even tried out for the musical. Then I wanted to be Modern Languages, then Political Science. I needed that time to explore in an interdisciplinary way what I wanted to do. That approach is really relevant to entrepreneurship.”
12:58 “Swatties are outside the box thinkers! That thinking is important. But I mean, I want my accountant to be an inside the box thinker.” The room fills with laughter, again.
1:00 Hicks goes over the heightened attention to entrepreneurship. Philly Tech Week is coming up! April 20-27 (phillytechweek.com)
1:01 “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity.” Out of the mouth of Peter Drucker. The speech ends.
1:02 Members of the audience ask questions (mostly Alumni ask) about investing, changes in technology and policies on intellectual property. Hicks responds and really has a conversation with those that ask.