Santander Programs

Grant Entrepreneurship Fellows Program

Santander Universities supports universities and students around the world to prosper, focusing on education and entrepreneurship. First Generation students can submit a business plan for a chance to win scholarship money or funding for a business venture. Applications and information are available at our programs page, or email

Pattie Diggin

. Undergraduate students who identify as first generation and are pursuing studies in Entrepreneurship can apply for the fellows program. Additional details at our programs page, or email

Pattie Diggin



Grant Business Idea Competition

Santander Universities supports universities and students around the world to prosper, focusing on education and entrepreneurship. First Generation students can submit a business plan for a chance to win scholarship money or funding for a business venture. Applications and information are available at our programs page, or email

Pattie Diggin

. Undergraduate students who identify as first generation and are pursuing studies in Entrepreneurship can apply for the fellows program. Additional details at our programs page, or email 

Pattie Diggin



Cottrell Center Entrepreneur in Residence 

Each year the Cottrell Center recognizes a successful West Chester University alumnus, alumna, or friend as the West Chester University Entrepreneur in Residence. The Entrepreneur in Residence visits the campus twice per year. S/he judges the Annual WCU Business Idea Pitch, addresses students in the spring and the fall, coaches students on their business ideas, and advises the Cottrell Center. The Entrepreneur in Residence program was launched in the 2010 and has been a valuable program offered by the Cottrell Center.

cottrell center group picture

2018-2019: Guy Fardone

Guy Fardone

Guy Fardone

CEO & Founding Partner, Evolve IP

Guy is a startup business founder and executive with proven experience leading highly successful technology companies with 5 to over 1,000 Associates and revenues from start up to over $300M. He has 20 plus years of tangible experience building organizations to achieve rapid revenue growth, long term sustainable profitability, high performance personnel management and operational excellence. He has a passion for building high performance work teams. 

Guy has lead over four dozen mergers and acquisitions from both buy and sell side in various industries and global geographic areas with revenues ranging from <$1M to over $100M in revenue. 

Guy currently provides the day to day leadership of Evolve IP and is a Founding Partner since company inception. He currently serves on several Boards of Directors and Strategic Advisory Boards of various tech companies, startups, non-profits, county agencies and various educational institutions.  Guy is actively involved in various Chester County boards and initiatives such as i2n, ITAG, CCEDC and VISTA 2025. He is actively engaged in and committed to helping drive the Philadelphia Area business community. He lives in Chester Springs, PA with his wife and 3 children.  In his spare time Guy loves family time, anything outdoors particularly biking, skiing and fishing and has 16 years of active involvement coaching youth football and most recently for the Chester County Crusaders. 

2017-2018: Debra Blair

Debra Blair

Debra Blair is one of New York's most respected interior designers. She founded Debra Blair Design in 1990. The firm provides a full range of design services for both residential and commercial clients, from concepts to complete installation. Debra and her staff focus on creating elegant, luxurious and livable interiors that are tailored to reflect the personalities and lifestyles of their clients.

Blair Design has clients in the New York metropolitan area, Charleston, and in the resort communities of Cape Cod, Nantucket, Kiawah Island and Hawaii. Commercial work includes the design of executive offices of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette; a book division of the Hearst Corporation; the Adelson Galleries; the new Members Reading Room at the New York Society Library and the executive penthouse apartment of Takashimaya, a Japanese luxury retailer.

Debra has been invited to participate in numerous design related charitable events and five designer show houses including the Kips Bay Designer's Show House in New York, 2002 and 2005.

Her outreach includes nine years as a member of the Board of Trustees at Lyndhurst, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in Tarrytown, NY; six years as a board member of the Decorators Club, a professional club of all women interior designers organized in 1914, and she presently serves on the board of trustees of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY.

2016-2017: Chris Heivly

Chris Heivly

Chris Heivlyis one of the nation’s leading experts in how to turn startups into multimillion-dollar companies. At a time when the nation’s economy is shifting from a reliance on large corporations to smaller, more innovative organizations, he has been dubbed the “The Startup Whisperer.”

For over 30 years, Heivly has worked at the highest levels for some of the world’s most recognized brands, including MapQuest, which was sold to AOL for $1.2 billion; Rand McNally, the worlds largest map publisher; and Accenture, the largest multinational management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company on the planet. He has also personally directed over $75 million in investment capital on behalf of these and other companies.

Heivly currently serves as one of two managing directors of The Startup Factory, the largest seed investment firm in the Southeast. Under his leadership, the firm has made 35 investments in just three years in emerging technology companies. More than 60 percent of TSF’s portfolio has gone on to raise follow-on capital, more than double the industry average for similar investment programs.

Heivly has become a sought-after speaker and go-to source for media. He has been quoted in major national and international outlets such as Forbes, Inc., the Washington Post, TechCrunch, Crain’s Business Journal, Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, the Financial Post and the Montreal Gazette, and has appeared in major-market TV stations across the U.S. Because of his stature in the startup world, he was heavily featured in the documentary Startupland, which showcased the world’s most renowned entrepreneurs and startup experts. He is a contributing writer for, the nation’s leading entrepreneurial magazine for entrepreneurs and business owners, and has a significant following for, his own highly respected blog that offers brutally authentic commentary on startups and the startup community.

He just released Build the Fort, his much-anticipated book about how to take the lessons you learned as a 10-year old and on applying those lessons to starting anything. His book was inspired from a widely acclaimed TEDx talk in 2014. The book focuses on the months leading up to the decision to start a company and those first three critical months of getting your idea off the ground. His insights are being applied in multiple realms, from any individual with a dream, to startups and companies that aspire to be more innovative, to emerging entrepreneurial communities.

2015-2016: Eli Kahn

Eli Khan

The Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center is privileged to introduce Eli Kahn as its 2015-2016 Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Eli Kahn founded E. Kahn Development Corporation (EKD) in 1994.

EKD is a privately held real estate firm specializing in the acquisition, re-positioning, and development of commercial, industrial and multi-family real estate throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. The firm’s expertise has helped transform numerous underutilized and often environmentally challenged properties into vibrant business and community centers throughout the region. EKD’s ability to identify market trends early in the real estate cycle has put the company at the forefront of the smart growth revitalization of the area’s oldest towns and boroughs. EKD manages a portfolio of approximately 5,500,000 square feet of commercial, industrial, retail and multi-family investment properties. In addition, the firm has over 600,000 square feet of transit-oriented mixed use projects either planned or under construction. Prior to forming EKD, Eli was the Director of Marketing & Leasing for J. Loew & Associates, a Chester County based real estate development firm.

Eli earned his B.S. in marketing from West Chester University.

2014-2015: Janice Leone

Janice Leone

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center is proud to announce Janice Leone as its 2014-2015 Entrepreneur in Residence. Ms. Leone graduated West Chester University with a degree in Psychology.

Janice Leone is the president and principal of Corporate Interiors. Ms. Leone has designed and developed a service profile that is the envy of the tri-state area. Primary services ranging from delivery, installation and reconfiguration to storage/asset management, refurbishment activities and office relocation are the backbone of Corporate Interiors and the reason clients trust an organization that focuses on longevity rather than short-term gain.

She has been featured in the Philadelphia Business Journal and Smart Business – Winter 2014. Corporate Interiors has recently been awarded the Top 25 Women Owned Business in the yearly Philadelphia Book of Lists. In addition, The New Journal named it a Top Workplace among 24 others in Delaware.

2013-2014: Matt Jesson

Matt Jesson

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center is proud to announce Matt Jesson as its 2013-2014 Entrepreneur in Residence. Mr. Jesson graduated West Chester University with a degree in Marketing.

In 2004 Mr. Jesson transitioned the focus of his lawn cutting business "Jesson Landscaping" into Green Lawn Fertilizing, Inc. Green Pest Solutions was launched in April of 2012. Mr. Jesson is President and Owner of Green Lawn Fertilizing and Green Pest Solutions, which is a regional lawn, pest and termite service provider. The company services South Eastern, Pa, the state of Delaware, as well as, Central and South New Jersey.

The company was recently presented with the Inc. 5000 award in Inc. magazine, which ranks the fastest growing 5000 companies in the nation. Mr. Jesson was also honored by The Philadelphia Business Journal in the class of 2013, as a "Top 40 Under 40", which highlights young professionals in the Delaware Valley for outstanding success and contributions to their community.

2012-2013: Howard Lubert, PhD

Howard Lubert

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center at West Chester University recently announced Howard Lubert, PhD as its 2012-2013 Entrepreneur in Residence. Howard is the Founder and Managing Partner of SafeHatch LLC and the Co-Founder and Area President of Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic.

As Managing Partner of SafeHatch LLC, Lubert leads the corporate advisory and business acceleration services of the Wayne, PA based firm. Dr. Lubert brings his unique mix of technical and private equity related experience with Safeguard and other VC and Angel Investment related funds to SafeHatch. Prior to founding SafeHatch, he helped create the eBusiness consulting service line at Deloitte and Touche and led teams in various Inter/Intranet technology engagements. At Safeguard Scientifics he formalized the due diligence process and executed technical due diligence reviews. Dr. Lubert also developed successful channel marketing programs for many high tech firms including Novell and IBM and served as the Chairman of an international trade association for the networking technology industry.

In addition to his role as Managing Partner of SafeHatch, Howard is the Area President of the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic Region. Keiretsu Forum is the world's largest and most successful Accredited Investor - Private Equity Community with over 850 accredited/angel investor members throughout twenty-three chapters on three continents. Since Keiretsu Forum's founding in 2000, its members have invested more than $300m in over 275 companies in software, telecom, health/life sciences, biotech, real estate, mobile applications, Internet, consumer products and other high growth areas.

2011-2012: Gary Daniels

Gary Daniels

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center is proud to announce Gary Daniels as its 2011-2012 Entrepreneur in Residence. Mr. Daniels is a 1975 graduate of West Chester University who was a professional golfer before becoming the youngest number one agent in the 120 history of Travelers.

Mr. Daniels went on to become one of the founding members of The Creative Financial Group. Mr. Daniels' primary area of expertise is developing financial and business succession strategies for entrepreneurs with estates valued at $10 million and more. In this capacity, his clients include some of the area's leading entrepreneurs in the construction, manufacturing, wholesale distribution and food industries.

Mr. Daniels is a member of the Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia Estate Planning Councils; a ten-year qualifier of the Top of the Table; a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table; and a former instructor of the Life Underwriter's Training Council. A recognized authority on business succession planning, Mr. Daniels frequently addresses professional organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.

2010-2011: David Gansky

David Gansky

The Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center is proud to announce David Gansky as its 2010-2011 Entrepreneur in Residence. Mr. Gansky graduated West Chester University in 1988 with a degree in Marketing Management. Upon graduation, he founded and served as CEO of US Maintenance Corporation.

Over a period of 20 years, Mr. Gansky built this ground-floor operation into the largest provider of maintenance services for national retail chains in the United States, with revenues in excess of $500 million. During his tenure as CEO, US Maintenance expanded into numerous new service areas and acquired several major companies. In 2006, Transfield Services purchased US Maintenance.

Mr. Gansky retired from the company in 2008 to form Longport Capital, L.L.C. and become its managing partner. Longport Capital is a private equity firm that focuses on small to mid-sized companies in the eastern United States. Longport Capital seeks majority equity in firms with long-term potential for growth and profitability. In exchange, the company provides the investment equity, strategic direction, and hands-on operational expertise essential to helping companies realize their full value. Mr. Gansky also serves on the Business Advisory Council for West Chester University.


PA State System Start-Up Challenge Competition

PASSHE State System Start-Up Challenge

West Chester Business Idea Competition

West Chester University Business Idea Competition


Updates regarding West Chester University's 8th Annual Business Idea Competition

  • The top 6 ideas from each track will be invited to participate in a “Virtual Fast Pitch Competition”
  • Teams will be asked to submit a 2-minute video “pitching” their idea to a panel of judges.
  • The scores from the Virtual Fast Pitch Competition will be combined with the scores from the online Business Idea Competition submission and the top two teams from each track will be invited to participate in the 2020 Business Idea Pitch.


The 8th Annual BIP will be held in Fall 2020. Information on date and location will be sent once we can make the appropriate arrangements.

Global Entrepreneurship Week



Date Time Event
Monday, November 18 12:00 - 1:00 pm CEO Hosts Student Entrepreneurs Lunch @ BPMC 318
Monday, November 18 1:00 - 2:00 pm Entrepreneurship Minor Information Session @ BPMC 318
Tuesday, November 19 8:30 - 1:00 pm Women's Entrepreneurship Conference: "Navigating The Journey" An educational conference focused on starting, growing and exiting a business @ Alumni & Foundation Center 
Wednesday, November 20 8:30 - 11:30 am

Keiretsu Forum MidAtlantic Monthly Meeting via Zoom 
Wednesday, November 20 11:00 - 11:50 am GIS Day Speaker @ BPMC 101
Wednesday, November 20 3:00 - 6:00 pm How to Go from Idea to Execution Workshop with Roger Osorio, Executive Coach, IBM* @ Sykes 115
Thursday, November 21 12:30 - 1:45 pm Guest Speaker, Sue Wheldon, Non-Profit Founder, UniteforHer @ BPMC 101
Friday, November 22 10:00 - 11:00am Entrepreneurship Minor Information Session @BPMC 318

Register for GEW Events

For more information visit the Cottrell Center Home page.

Collegiate Entrepreneurship Program

WCU Entrepreneurship Club, A Chapter of CEO

Entrepreneurship Clubs Mission

To create a community of aspiring high performing professionals who work together to turn ideas into reality. 

CEO's Vision

To serve more than 400 colleges and universities helping students achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and goals. CEO provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities, events, chapter activities and conferences to help start businesses.

Benefits of CEO at WCU

  • Join CEO Today!
  • Access to a network of global/national collegiate entrepreneurs
  • Access to live webinar's featuring successful entrepreneurs
  • The Collegiate Entrepreneur newsletter, published quarterly and online
  • Chapter speakers, business start-ups, teaching entrepreneurship, internships
  • Communication on entrepreneurial challenges through the CEO online Social Networking Community
  • Student entrepreneur competitions, including the elevator pitch at the national conference
  • Chapter development support
  • Leadership training
  • Membership in member-exclusive Entrepreneurship Club Facebook Group
  • Chapter Awards

Contact Information

Cassidy Williams, CEO WCU Entrepreneurship Club President,

Dr. Edwin Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center

318 Business and Public Management Center

Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic Fellowship

About the Forum & Fellowship


The Keiretsu Forum is the world's largest private equity investor group. The Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Keiretsu Forum hosts a fellowship program to engage MBA students and law school students in the private equity due diligence process. The program provides a valuable opportunity for graduate students to gain practical experience, learn about private equity and the due diligence process, and expand their network.

The Due Diligence Fellows attend the monthly screening and Forum meetings held in Philadelphia, where they observe the entrepreneurs' presentations and participate in the discussions with the chapter's investors. Fellows identify the projects which interest them, are assigned to a due diligence team led by a Forum member, and assist with the due diligence process.

To prepare for the fellowship, the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic President, Howard Lubert, conducts a workshop on due diligence including the Forum's rigorous due diligence process. The Fellows also receive continuous training and feedback from the due diligence team members and the chapter leaders throughout their fellowship.

The Fellowship provides a great opportunity to gain firsthand experience in private equity.

For more information, call the Cottrell Center at 610-425-5000 ext. 3456 or email 




Lean LaunchPad Experience 

The Lean LauncPad experience is designed to assist teams in the startup of their business. We use the Business Model Canvas to help teams search for and develop a viable business model. Existing companies execute a business model, startups search for one. Lean LaunchPad participants learn a hands-on process designed to create scalable startups, a process that uses an evidence-based methodology. The Lean LaunchPad does not guarantee that startups will suceed, but it does guarantee that if they follow the process, they will be less likely to fail. The program is based on the I-Corps program, a program that has tripled the success rate of companies receiving commercialization grants. 

Successful companies learn, discover, and execute. An important aspect of the Lean LaunchPad is sharing ideas, discovery, and execution with fellow participants. During weekly meetings, participants "bounce" ideas off each other and share what they have learned and discovered. If you are not comfortable sharing your ideas, discovery, and execution with others, this program is not for you.

Application Information

The Lean LaunchPad program is open to anyone in the mid-Atlantic region who is considering starting a new business or is in the early stages of starting a new business. There is no charge to participate in the program. 

Applications are by teams of three and are highly competitive.


The Lean LaunchPad program has been postponed until FALL 2020. Questions or Concerns? Contact the Cottrell Center at 




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