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“If your 15-year-old wants nothing more than a personalized video message from Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce,” said Erin Gasch, Senior Director of External Relations at Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Duke I&E), “you turn to this company.”

Hands around the room shot up. “Cameo!” someone shouted when called on.

“Excellent!” Gasch said cheerfully.

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Chris Ryan, Founder of Silverquicken
Chris Ryan MBA ’00, Co-Founder of Silverquicken

She was conducting a quiz-style warmup, prompting attendees at Duke I&E’s recent networking event to guess famous companies founded by Duke alumni—including Cameo (Steven Galanis ’10 and Devon Townsend ’12), Duolingo (Luis von Ahn ’00), Melissa & Doug (Melissa Bernstein ’87), and Fullsteam Brewery (Sean Lilly Wilson MBA, MPP ’00).

The event, held in Duke I&E’s new Luby Family Bullpen at The Fuqua School of Business, brought together more than 50 Triangle-area entrepreneurial Duke alumni and parents  to forge connections, share advice, and learn more about Duke I&E. It also featured live pitches by five alumni who shared a summary of their ventures and ways the Duke community could support their success.

“To see this diverse and incredibly accomplished community come together was truly energizing,” Gasch said. “Not only is everyone eager to share resources with those who are actively pursuing ventures, but the connections that were made will spark new ideas and collaborations.”

“It was wonderful to be back on campus,” said Lorie-Ann Lee ’99. “It provided a great opportunity to network and foster connections with other alumni entrepreneurs, and I enjoyed exchanging ideas with this exceptional community.”

Lee was among the alumni who pitched their featured ventures to the group:

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Lorie-Ann Lee
Lorie-Ann Lee ’99, Co-Founder of Camping Adventures Made Possible (C.A.M.P.)
  • SiteBridge Research, Inc is helping community-based physicians and their practices, often left out of clinical research, with support to engage in clinical trials and reach more diverse patient communities. (Chris Komelasky MBA ’09)
     
  • The MigraineFox YouTube channel offers self-massage demonstrations, soothing talkdowns, and product recommendations to help reduce pain and enhance comfort for fellow migraine sufferers, along with personal vlogs addressing the challenges and strategies for thriving while managing chronic pain. (Lindsay Parker A.M. ’11)
     
  • Alyza Kitchen strives to bring fresh, vibrant, Israeli-inspired breakfasts to the Triangle through weekly meal kits. The business also educates younger consumers on gardening and culinary practices with cooking classes centered around planting, cultivating, and harvesting vegetables for flavorful and nutritious meals. (Gil Robinson MBA ’18)
     
  • Silverquicken Education provides educational enrichment programs for K-8 kids, fostering problem solving, creativity, and teamwork through after-school clubs, in-school curricula, and home-based kits. With a reach of more than 1,000 students in 55 schools across 18 locations, Silverquicken aims to help kids become Solvers, Creators, and Leaders, offering an essential supplement to standard education. (Chris Ryan MBA ’00)
     
  • Camping Adventures Made Possible (C.A.M.P.) is a social media company that shares information and inspiration on camping and outdoor adventures geared towards people of color through photos, videos, and written content. (Lorie-Ann Lee A.B. ’99)

“The event was fantastic!” said Chris Ryan MBA ’00, who co-founded educational game company Silverquicken with co-founder Leslie Kerner MBA ’01. “It reminded me of something I loved so much about Fuqua when I was a student: Team Fuqua, and more broadly Team Duke. Everyone wants to be helpful. Many folks came up after [my pitch during the event] and offered specific ideas and contacts, and I’ve been in touch with several of them since. And during the event I felt I could walk up to anyone at any point and introduce myself. It was a fabulous example of the extended team that we’re all a part of.”