The theme of the inaugural Business Opportunities to Success Summit (BOSS)—which will be held Thursday, December 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, is “Mastering the Pivot.” The event is open to entrepreneurs, executives, researchers, students, business professionals, and investors.

The theme recognizes that innovators and entrepreneurs routinely encounter a difficult question along the path of entrepreneurship: If the business climate is shifting, do I stay the planned course, or pivot to achieve success? To help answer this critical question, more than 75 Capital Region-based business and academic leaders will participate in BOSS. Each will spend five minutes sharing concise, candid insights on what experience has taught them.

“For more than 180 years, Rensselaer has been at the forefront of originality in teaching and learning. Our focus on ‘entrepreneurship across the curriculum’ is a reflection of this,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Today, education in entrepreneurship continues to thrive across all five Rensselaer schools. Our faculty, students, and staff actively embrace a culture of discovery, innovation, and collaboration. They invent, design, build, and start new companies in the communities that surround us. The Business Opportunities to Success Summit will enable Rensselaer to reaffirm our commitment to innovation and technological entrepreneurship in the region, and highlight the productive partnerships that we have developed with academic institutions, industry, government, and other entities that promote entrepreneurship.”

“Whenever individuals or groups endeavor to solve a problem, create something new, change their lives, or change the world in any meaningful way, they will encounter the need to ‘pivot,’ that may require them to change course,” said James Spencer, director of the Rensselaer Technology Park and the Emerging Ventures Ecosystem incubation program. “Whether as a technological entrepreneur, researcher, small shop owner, student, business professional, or whatever—pivoting is the core element of progress and achievement that one has to go through in order to transform a promising concept into a profitable company.”

Additional speakers include: Rick Whitney, CEO M+W Group; Steve Ellis, founder and CEO of Who Say; Michael Hickey, former president of MapInfo; Etransmedia co-founders Vikram Agrawal, M.S. ’02, president and CEO, and Vikash Agrawal, M.S. ’98, chairman; Tobi Saulnier ’84, CEO of 1st Playable; Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power; Sinclair Schuller ’04, CEO and co-founder of Apprenda; and Amy Johnson, president of Capstone Inc.

“In my 20-year experience as a serial entrepreneur, I’ve learned that new venture incubation is a process of discovery—not a place—but it is still important to bring all the key players together in an open forum where aspiring entrepreneurs, researchers, students, and professionals can share experiences and information and then engage,” Spencer said. “I believe that by discussing real-world challenges and solutions, the presenters will reveal how they ‘pivoted’ to prosperity through seven key stages that every successful startup and eventual business works through, whether they realize it or not.”

The topics and format of the event are based upon a user-friendly “Innovation and Commercialization Framework,” providing participants with a roadmap designed to move an entrepreneur or innovator from idea conception to startup and eventual business growth. The roadmap will serve as a visual how-to guide to help individuals to determine critical activities typical of the different stages of growth and where to access key resources a business needs at various stages along the path to prosperity.

The fee for the general public is $100 and $35 for students. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, visit or call (518)720-8324.

To learn more about Emerging Ventures Ecosystem, go to