Every person, every company: striving to diversify the entrepreneurial community
The newest addition to Cornell’s entrepreneurial community is already working with students to expand participation opportunities.
Nancy Almann ’83 joined Cornell’s Blackstone LaunchPad mentorship program as co-executive director in the fall and has worked closely with five new student ambassadors to spread the word about Blackstone’s offerings.
“We’re here to help people grow a business, whether they’re trying to formulate an idea, or are in the middle of their business, or need venture capital or assistance,” she said. “We are here to help them in any way we can.”
Blackstone LaunchPad grantees and collaborators: Back row, from left: Jessie Greenstein, Chloe Yun, Nancy Almann, Shiv Goel, and Felix Litvinsky; Front row, from left: Faith Han, Yubing Yang
In addition to mentoring and consulting, Blackstone LaunchPad offers opportunities to participate in networking and educational events, as well as access to global online resources, applications, software, tools, courses and discussion groups. It works in 46 schools in the US and Ireland.
Almann spent 15 years at AT&T before moving into healthcare and founding businesses in nutrition consulting and dog training.
“It’s energizing and motivating to be back on campus and working with super bright, highly motivated students every day,” said Almann. “You have fantastic ideas.”
One of Almann’s goals was to increase diversity among the students involved in Cornell’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is where student ambassadors come in.
Shiv Goel ’26 and Jessie Greenstein ’25 are two of the five ambassadors. As members of the Social Business Consulting Group, Almann asked them for help in bringing a more diverse group of students into entrepreneurship.
“There are all kinds of barriers for students who want to become entrepreneurs,” Goel said. “The idea of entrepreneurship is daunting — you’re championing a business that might not work.”
Therefore, Greenstein said her goal is to demystify what it really means to be an entrepreneur.
“Our message is that you don’t have to be an economics major or have a big business idea to be an entrepreneur,” she said. “Maybe you just want to be your own boss, you want to be creative.”
Knowing that emails and flyers may not reach the students they are looking for, Ambassadors take a more personal approach – reaching groups of students, speaking to individuals in their own networks, and spreading the word through social media that students frequent, including Instagram and possibly TikTok.
“We really cater to all students,” Bernstein said. “Everyone at Cornell has something unique and special to offer.”