Whitman and Partner Host Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Surviving Family Members of 9/11

Members of the surviving families of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks gathered in July at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Education Center in New York City to take part in an entrepreneurship bootcamp hosted by Tuesday’s Children and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, as well as Whitman’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program.

Whitman’s John Torrens, professor of entrepreneurial practice, was inspired to hold the entrepreneurship bootcamp after co-chairing a regional conference for the Young Presidents Organization last September when he toured the 9/11 memorial. While on the tour Torrens spoke with development members about the various organizations associated with the memorial, including Tuesday’s Children. The organization offers support to surviving family members of the 9/11 attacks.

“The memorial was very powerful, and compelled me to take some sort of action,” said Torrens. “When you are there you can feel the gravity and the importance of the site and all it stands for. I thought of things I could do that would be of unique value. The idea of providing entrepreneurship education for Tuesday’s Children seemed like a perfect fit.”

John Torrens teaching members of the surviving families of 9/11.
John Torrens teaching members of the surviving families of 9/11.

Twenty members of the surviving families of 9/11 attended the bootcamp. To assist with the bootcamp Torrens invited Whitman alumni, Trace Cohen, managing director of New York Venture Partners, and Olga Litvinenko, president and founder of Olga and Company, both entrepreneurs local to the New York City area.

A group photo of some of the bootcamp attendees.

“During the bootcamp, we focused on how to take the ideas participants have and turn them into business opportunities,” said Torrens. “The alumni met with small groups during breakouts to help members articulate and refine their ideas.”

Participants also learned what makes for a good business opportunity and how to finance a start-up. To Torrens having the chance to meet and help members of the surviving families of 9/11 turn their dreams into reality was an unforgettable experience.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said Torrens. “Everyone has their story of where they were on 9/11, but everyone in that room had a uniquely personal story that was very emotional.”

He hopes to continue offering the bootcamp in the future.

Arielle Spears