Entrepreneurship at Cornell recently named Barry Beck ’90 as the recipient of the 2023 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which will be presented by Chancellor Martha Pollock at Cornell’s annual Entrepreneurship Gala on April 14.
Beck, who studied industrial labor relations, has founded several companies, including Tower Systems, a chain management store company, and dental technology platform Evenly. Most notably, he founded the cosmetics brand Bluemercury in 1999 with his wife, Marla Beck.
Entrepreneurship at Cornell has honored alumni annually since 1984. According to Debra Mosch, assistant director of entrepreneurship at Cornell, a committee of faculty and alumni generally evaluates between 20 and 40 candidates each year. Past winners include Sanford Weill ’55, former CEO of Citigroup, and Niraj Shah ’95 and Steve Conine ’95, founders of Wayfair.
Mosh also stated that selection criteria include successfully running or starting a business, contributing to the business in a way that inspires others, using business skills to enrich humanity, and demonstrating integrity.
Bari has a general desire to empower students to start businesses at an early age. He is very passionate.
Beck currently sponsors the Marla and Barry Beck Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, which provides $5,000 awards to Cornell students to work on entrepreneurial projects over the summer.
Beck could not be reached for comment, but shared his achievement on LinkedIn.
Outside of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, EaC provides a variety of support to Cornell students and alumni. This program works with students from all colleges – not just business students.
“The key thing about this office is that it is completely academic,” said program director Zachary Shulman ’87 JD ’90. We serve students from across campus – graduate, undergraduate, any school or college.
Shulman added that the most successful student businesses are usually made up of students from across the university majoring in different disciplines.
Moesch, who has worked with EaC for 34 years, noted that the program has grown extensively over time.
“When I started my program, it was just in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Mosh said. “Gradually we brought other colleges and schools on board to make it truly university-level — it’s grown massively.”
Students are eligible to apply for the EaC Summer Internship Program, which places them in small companies across the country. In addition, student businesses can compete for the annual Business of the Year Award, which offers a $5,000 cash prize.
“We tell students that the best time to start a business is when they’re a student,” Shulman said. “If it fails, they’re still students, so there’s really no downside risk,” he continued, adding that he encourages students to balance their business with their schoolwork.
Entrepreneurship at Cornell also offers the eLab program. According to Shulman, students apply during the fall semester and, if selected, take a half-credit course. The following spring, they take a three-credit course in which they attend boot camps and receive mentoring help to develop and launch a business. This year, participating students will showcase their work on April 13, the first day of Cornell’s Celebration of Entrepreneurship.
On the alumni side of the program, the Cayuga Community was launched last year, connecting alumni in groups to discuss work, business and personal interests. Shulman said the program is looking to continue to grow and create new products and services in the future.
“Cornell has a rich history of entrepreneurship,” Shulman said. “This program really ensures that entrepreneurship spreads across campus.”