Weebly, a web-company worth millions and one of TIME Magazine’s 50 Best Websites, got its start in a Beaver Hill apartment by Penn State alumni only six years ago.
David Rusenko, Class of 2007, and Chris Fanini, co-founders of Weebly, were among those present at a networking session with some of Penn State’s most successful IST Alumni, a culmination of the College of Information Sciences and Technology’s Start-Up Week.
On Thursday evening, students and faculty had the opportunity to mingle and network with successful start-up entrepreneurs and enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Julie Coughlin, director of communications and outreach for the College of IST, said this networking session was a way for students to connect with and learn from some of Penn State’s best, as well as showcase young entrepreneurs.
Lion Launch Pad, a business accelerator program for student entrepreneurs, co-hosted the networking session.
Students ranging from freshmen to graduates attended in hopes of learning something from the successful alumni.
Evan Friedenberg (freshman-information, sciences and technology) said he came to the event hoping to speak with Steve Huffman, co-founder of reddit.com.
Friedenberg also said the idea of being a part of a start-up company is awesome, though he isn’t thinking about starting one any time soon.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, as part of the Start-Up Week speaker series, Rusenko spoke about the creation of Weebly during a presentation to IST students.
He stressed that being successful in an entrepreneurial endeavor is a long process and doesn’t happen overnight. At one point, 14 months after starting the website, Weebly founders had less than $100 in their bank account, Rusenko said.
But success did come, and now, six years from its inception, 2 percent of all websites on the Internet are hosted by Weebly.
Rusenko also spoke about the perks of starting a small web-based business, such as setting his own hours and having twice-weekly massages and yoga with the whole staff.
Coughlin said events such as Start-Up Week are a way to get students moving with their ideas.
“This really encourages students to take risks and take chances,” Coughlin said. “If you have an idea [for a business or product], now is the time to act on it. Just go for it.”
The final event for Start-Up Week begins at 5 today.
Hackathon, a 24-hour software development competition, features a $1000 grand prize and will be judged by the founders of Weebly, Reddit and Mulu.