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Duke I&E Appoints Ezra Kucharz As Enrico Entrepreneur In Residence

Published: 4 weeks ago | 0 comments

The Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative is excited to announce the appointment of Ezra Kucharz as the 2017-18 Enrico Entrepreneur in Residence.

As the Enrico Entrepreneur in Residence, Kucharz will advise and mentor undergraduate students pursuing entrepreneurial projects in digital media, especially in the entertainment and sports industries. He intends to invite industry practitioners to Duke’s campus to share their expertise with students and will teach a course in sports entrepreneurship in the spring. The Enrico Entrepreneur in Residence position was made possible by a gift from Duke I&E advisory board member Aaron Enrico (T’93).

“Duke is beyond fortunate to bring Ezra Kucharz aboard,” said Kip Frey, interim director of Duke I&E. “Ezra is an extraordinary entrepreneur and industry thought leader, and our students will benefit greatly from his outstanding expertise and mentorship.”

Kucharz has more than 20 years of wide-ranging media experience, from founding his own startups to building businesses within companies as a corporate “intrapreneur.” His most recent roles were at CBS, where as president of local digital media, he transformed the network’s business model by integrating the digital and radio platforms, boosting revenue. During the last year of his seven-year tenure at CBS, Kucharz moved into the role of special advisor to the CEO, where he advised on several high-profile CBS initiatives.

Kucharz entered the entrepreneurial world in 1995 while at Duke pursuing a science PhD, after a job at NASA inspired him to become an astronaut. While working on projects related to the then-nascent Internet, as well as research in artificial intelligence and medicine, Kucharz mentioned to his friend, Duke Basketball legend Quin Snyder, that he’d love to incorporate sports with the Internet.

Soon, Kucharz was sitting down for a meeting with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who hired him to get Duke Basketball on the web. Kucharz co-founded a company called Total Sports, with Duke as his first client. Within six months, the company was creating websites and live stat casts for more than 25 schools across multiple conferences. The company was so successful that Kucharz never finished his PhD – instead, he earned a Master’s of Science and became an entrepreneur.

“Duke holds a special place in the genesis of my own career, providing a serendipitous opportunity to become an entrepreneur and an early adopter in the digital revolution,” Kucharz said. “Now, having the benefit of 20-plus years of experience building companies within companies and transforming legacy platforms, I could not be more excited to return to Duke to mentor and teach the next generation of digital media business leaders.”

Kucharz has been teaching on and off at universities across the nation for the past 15 years and advises startups and media companies around the globe, sitting on several boards.

“Ezra has been a trusted mentor and advisor to me for more than a decade,” said Hooman Radfar, a partner at the startup studio Expa. “His perspective and invaluable insights, especially as they relate to startups, helped lead to many of the successes I’ve experienced professionally. These young Duke students are fortunate to have access to someone like him at this stage in life.”

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