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11-18-2011

Clarkson University Alumna Entrepreneur Honored at White House

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/whitehouse1.jpg .]

Clarkson University alumna and trustee Amy E. Castronova was honored at the White House yesterday for her accomplishments as an entrepreneur and her positive influence on the American economy.

Clarkson University alumna and trustee Amy E. CastronovaThe entrepreneur, who is president and CEO of Novatek Communications Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., spoke at a ceremony during which the Empact100 list of the country’s top young entrepreneurs were recognized.

During her presentation, the 2004 graduate of Clarkson’s engineering and management program pledged to mentor every student in Clarkson’s Young Entrepreneur Program.

“The Young Entrepreneur Program is a very innovative and unique program pioneered by Clarkson University that gives incoming students the opportunity to attend Clarkson through a combination of merit-based financial aid, as well as the University’s acquisition of [partial] ownership in that student’s business venture, in lieu of tuition -- and all of this in addition to the education and the training,” said Castronova.

“We are very grateful to Amy and other Clarkson alumni entrepreneurs for their enthusiastic support of the students in this new program,” said Marc S. Compeau, director of the Clarkson’s Reh Center for Entrepreneurship. “They are enabling us to take the students to a new level, well beyond the more common incubator infrastructure for those wanting to start a new venture.”

Students interested in studying entrepreneurship at Clarkson University can find out more at http://www.clarkson.edu/entrepreneur/students.html .

Castronova’s own journey as an entrepreneur began as a 20-year-old sophomore at Clarkson, when she purchased Novatek Communications, a successful technical writing and training company.

“My mother started the company in 1989,” she said. “She had recently passed away following a brief illness. I opted to purchase the company after her death. To some extent I had grown up with the company. My parents often discussed her business over dinner, so I was aware of the services it offered.”

When Castronova took over she had one immediate challenge: how to manage a company and still get her schoolwork finished. “I inherited an excellent staff that was willing to work with me,” she said. “The first thing I did was delegate control of all the day-by-day operations. The financial management and strategic planning I held on to. Big meetings were held during school vacations and summers were spent in the office. I juggled the work during the school year and kept two separate e-mail accounts.”

Castronova graduated from Clarkson in 2004, and by 2006 she was named an Up and Coming Business Woman in Rochester. In 2007, the Rochester Women Presidents Organization named her a Rising Star, and in 2008, she was the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year awards at the district, state, and regional levels from the U.S. Small Business Association.

Today, Novatek Communications employs 35 people in the Rochester area. The company helps medical device manufacturers become launch ready. As the audience expert, Novatek creates product documentation and training that proactively averts service issues and improves sales traction. Read more about Novatek at http://www.novatekcom.com .

The Empact100 list was created by Empact, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, Opportunity International, Global Entrepreneurship Week, and the Startup America Partnership. The 100 companies on the list are responsible for contributing over 2,500 jobs and over $374 million in revenue. Read more at http://www.empact100.com .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: The White House video feed of Amy Castronova’s presentation. The Clarkson University alumna and trustee was honored at the White House for her accomplishments as an entrepreneur and her positive influence on the American economy.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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