InterConnect Conference Connects Students with Successful Entrepreneurs

KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 17, 2020) — A newly formed Kennesaw State University student organization will soon connect students from across the country with successful entrepreneurs to share tips on how to thrive in a challenging economy.

The Kennesaw State chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) has joined forces with chapters at 10 other universities to host the InterConnect Conference, a free, completely virtual event that will be held April 19. InterConnect’s goal is to help students grow their professional networks while learning entrepreneurship best practices from a panel of business owners, leadership experts, and advisors.

InterConnect Conference 2020

CEO President Devan Sprayberry, a junior accounting major and business law minor in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, was inspired to create the event when he realized that college campuses moving to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic meant an entire class of seniors would be facing uncertainty when they graduate.

“I know a lot of people who are graduating, and this is a very weird time for them,” Sprayberry said. “I wanted to find a way for people to network with each other in a different way. We’re looking at connecting students with businesses as well as business-minded people to help with their endeavors and their future jobs; basically to help everyone’s future.”

Among the speakers who will present at InterConnect include:

  • Erica Wassinger, co-founder of The Startup Collaborative
  • Adam Alpert, CEO of Disruptor Records and Selector Songs
  • Kelli Kelley, founder of BrndMethod Media Group
  • Tina Hrabak, Director of Startups at Future Founders
  • Van Deeb, motivational speaker and author
  • Mitchell Johnson, founder of Camp Entrepreneur & ISR at Dell Technologies
  • Mary Clare Sweet, founder of the Lotus House of Yoga
  • Ellie Rome, certified health and lifestyle coach with Mindfulbellie

“I wanted it to include a lot of different types of speakers so that the attendees could potentially see themselves in someone else’s shoes,” Sprayberry said.

While the event started as something for Kennesaw State students, Sprayberry began reaching out to other CEO chapter presidents and found many were interested in contributing speakers and promoting it to their audiences. The conference is now a collaboration between students at Kennesaw State, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Nebraska - Omaha, Sam Houston State University, University of Tampa, University of Tennessee - Chattanooga, Georgia State University, Texas State University, and Bryant University.

Attendees will access the conference via the hopin virtual networking platform. The event will feature sessions on topics like Pioneering Through a Pandemic, Navigating Career Movies During a Recession, and Discovering and Creating a New Source of Income. Several networking sessions have also been built into the schedule along with a yoga break.

Students attending the conference can also enter to win drawings for more than $3,000 worth of professional services offered by some of the presenters. These include social media marketing services and startup advisory services. The winners must already have launched their business to qualify. 

The InterConnect Conference is the first initiative of Kennesaw State’s chapter of CEO. CEO is a national network of entrepreneurial-minded college students working together to inspire young people to start and grow their own businesses. Kennesaw State’s CEO chapter is housed within the Coles College’s Robin and Douglas Shore Entrepreneurship Center.

“I’m very proud of our students for taking a leadership role during this time of crisis and organizing this event for students across the nation,” said Dennis Loubiere, faculty advisor for CEO. “This shows the power of entrepreneurship to solve problems and positively affect society.”

Sprayberry, who is a former corpsman in the Navy for the marines who served for five years before suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, credits his time in the military with giving him the discipline to organize a large event like the InterConnect Conference.

“The military taught me how to lead from several different perspectives,” he said. “A lot of leaders like to lead from the back, the front, or the middle. Sometimes, I think you have to do all three.”

-Patrick Harbin