Tackling Classes, Exploring Cultures and Running a Startup While Studying Abroad

Ben Ford ’23 brought his entrepreneurial spirit with him while he studied abroad at Syracuse University’s London Center this past semester. As a marketing management student at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, Ford balanced classes, travel and work on his startup during the semester. 

At the end of his sophomore year, Ford founded Fundwurx, a new giving platform that uses technology to enhance the donor experience and makes giving to charities personalized, simple, and more enjoyable. Fundwurx’s vision is to modernize charitable giving and build the future of philanthropy for both donors and nonprofits. Ford has won multiple awards and has raised over $15,000 in non-diluted funding. Prior to Fundwurx, Ford created a company in his junior year of high school called Jersey Boy Apparel, which served as his first entrepreneurial adventure.  

“In the last four years of my life, I have essentially had two jobs — being a student and working on a business,” he says. 

Initially, Ford was unsure if he wanted to go abroad because of his responsibilities with his startup. He made the decision to spend his semester in London at the last minute. Once he arrived, however, Ford was excited about the experience. 

As Ford established a routine, he found that the time difference was to his benefit. He says, “My day as a student started off at around 9 a.m. (London time) and lasted until about 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. until the end of the day, I was an entrepreneur.” Ford mentioned at times he had to take calls as late as 11 p.m. in London as it was necessary for the development of the company. 

Being in London, on top of his “two jobs,” was a challenge but worth the experience. At times he had to draw the line, put down the laptop and enjoy traveling around Europe. During the semester, a few countries he was able to visit were The Netherlands, Spain, France, Morocco and Italy. 

Ford says, “Going abroad was an enlightening experience because I got to apply business but with a more global perspective. It made me think more cross-functionally about my own venture, especially in the abroad scene. I was able to keep the business mindset throughout my classes and travels, while also learning about different cultures and observing people from all walks of life.”

Ford is looking forward to spending his summer back in the United States where he is interning for Blackstone as a charitable foundation analyst in its New York City office. He is working in internal and external operations, as well as handling the LaunchPad program which deals with student entrepreneurship efforts across the globe. 

Additionally, Ford and his team are excited for Fundwurx as they begin their first pre-seed investment round in early June. The pre-seed funding will help Fundwurx obtain the capital they need to build the core beta product and convert prospective customers from their waitlist into real users. 

Ford says, “Whatever I end up doing and wherever my life takes me professionally, I want to use my skills and interests in marketing, data analytics and entrepreneurship to help make the world a better place and make an impact.”

Learn more about Whitman students and their experiences.

Anna Rooney