Honored at the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Dinner are, from left, Frank Cannone, Patrick Burd (Emerging Entrepreneur Award) and Bryan Jakovcic.
In a celebration of Seton Hall University's vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, alumni innovators Frank Cannone, J.D., '91 chair, Corporate Group, Gibbons P.C., and Bryan Jakovcic, '09, president and owner, Fusion Health, were inducted into the university's Entrepreneur Hall of Fame on October 28. More than 160 alumni, entrepreneurs, students and faculty attended the 13th annual Entrepreneur Hall of Fame induction dinner at Maplewood Country Club. John Fanta, '17, commentator, host and reporter with FOX Sports and the BIG EAST Digital Network, served as master of ceremonies.
The Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Stillman School of Business hosts the annual Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Dinner to honor Seton Hall's most successful alumni trailblazers. "These innovators and problem-solvers – the real entrepreneurs – create new ideas, products and services that better our society," said Joyce Strawser, Ph.D., Dean of the Stillman School of Business. "We celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments, as well as the power of the Seton Hall network and the amazing things that we can accomplish when Pirates support other Pirates."
The night included awarding the annual Emerging Entrepreneur Award to Patrick Burd '18, founder of Classic Soccer Cleats. Burd, who played varsity soccer at Seton Hall, turned a hobby into a $1 million online global venture that sells vintage soccer cleats. Classic Soccer Cleats boasts over 5,000 customers in more than 50 countries.
Susan Scherreik, Director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said the 2021 Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Dinner was especially important because its honorees pointed up that there are many different entrepreneurial paths to success. "Frank and Bryan are incredible role models for our students, both in terms of their varied career successes and as exemplary servant leaders," she said.
Indeed, Cannone's induction into the 2021 Entrepreneur Hall of Fame marked the first time that the university recognized an "intrapreneur" – a leader within a company who promotes innovative thinking and strategies – for this prestigious honor. An exceptional intrapreneur at Gibbons P.C., one of the nation’s largest and most innovative law firms, Cannone has built one of the region's top corporate practices, which has advised on thousands of transactions totaling billions of dollars in value. Cannone led the Gibbons corporate group to high-profile recognition by DOW JONES Private Equity Analyst, National Law Journal, and Law360. An honors graduate of Boston College and Seton Hall's School of Law, Cannone is listed in Best Lawyers®, New Jersey Super Lawyers, and Chambers USA. "Entrepreneurial skills are critical to leaders in all organizations and professions," noted Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President, in her welcome address.
Jakovcic, who built Fusion Health from a college startup into the ninth fastest growing private company in New Jersey, praised his Stillman education for providing him with a strong foundation. "The faculty care about the students and they work with you to understand the concepts that they are teaching. I am amazed at how often I apply those concepts in the real world," he said. With over 100 employees, Fusion Health has been recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. Additionally, Fusion has been named a "best workplace" by Fortune magazine and earned a Great Place to Work Certification. Further, Jakovcic received an Ernst & Young New Jersey Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2020 and is an NJBiz 40 Under 40 winner.
Adding to the excitement of this year's event, the Center presented the University's first NFT awards to Cannone and Jakovcic, who also received the traditional Hall of Fame trophies and proclamations to commemorate the occasion. Verasoni Worldwide, an integrated marketing communications firm based in Summit, NJ., minted the two NFTs and donated them to the event.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital collectibles that can be traded and collected on blockchains using cryptocurrencies. Seton Hall University is among the first institutions of higher education to incorporate this novel technology into an awards program. An NFT cannot be duplicated since each token has identifying information that is unique.
Entrepreneurship Board Chair Abe Kasbo presents the University’s first NFT awards to Hall of the Fame honorees.
"The NFT Hall of Fame awards are an important display of how The Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship continues to stay on the forefront of innovation," said Abe Kasbo, founder of Verasoni World and Chair of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Board of Advisors. We are proud to be a connected hub for a life-long community of leaders, learners, educators, mentors and doers who serve the next generation of students in the spirit of the mission of Seton Hall University," Kasbo continued. "These NFT Entrepreneur Hall of Fame awards represent Seton Hall's commitment to honoring creativity and innovation for years to come," Scherreik added.
NFTs are best known for being bought and sold on NFT marketplaces. NFTs were initially mostly utilized for the tokenization of artwork and digital collectibles, and Christies and other art auctioneers have sold them for millions of dollars apiece. NFTs are growing in other use cases, such as in-game assets, music files and domain names among others.
Stillman students Karina Agarwal and Darren Dort were recipients of entrepreneurship scholarships awarded at the event. Agarwal, a sophomore, is enrolled in the Accelerated Dual Degree B.S. (Economics) / J.D. program. Dort is a senior majoring in Business Management and Entrepreneurship.
Cannone, Jakovcic and the many other alumni entrepreneurs in attendance praised the annual Hall of Fame Dinner celebration for the support it provides to the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Dinner proceeds fund scholarships and student entrepreneurship programs. "We are well on the way to putting Seton Hall on the map as one of the premier universities that fosters the entrepreneurial mindset," Jakovcic said.