SVP Advisor Profile: Dan Towvim
The Blank Center is excited that Dan Towvim is a part of this year’s Summer Venture Program as a program advisor. Dan is currently Senior Director of eCommerce and Digital Marketing at Sonesta Hotels. Aside from his marketing expertise in display, paid social, loyalty programs, CRM (just to name a few), Dan is also cognizant of customer segmentation/analysis, product design/development, and branding. It was a pleasure to chat with Dan and to have him share some of his thoughts about SVP and what he considers as entrepreneurship.
What is your role in the Summer Venture Program?
My role as an advisor in the Summer Venture Program is being a resource and a coach. Oftentimes what this turns into is to helping teams prioritize their time, stay focused on their tasks, working through problems, and also using my networks to help them make connections. Ultimately I think that’s what will help people get the most out of this program while they are here.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
I define entrepreneurship as building something new. That can be a new company, or a new idea. Or it can be in a big company, where it requires passion, creativity, and motivation to get work through the problems and obstacles that comes with bureaucracy.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
I think the world needs entrepreneurs who are creative and innovative, so they can solve problems in the world and ultimately make people’s lives better. Oftentimes, those are things that are harder for big companies to do organically. It’s up to entrepreneurs to push for that creativity. The way I describe these problems vary: it could be social issues or it could be designing products that are easier for people to use. But overall, we need the entrepreneurs to move things forward and be the driving force of our society.
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
My tips would be to believe in what you are doing and don’t give up. By nature, you are breaking new ground, which is going to be tough, have big obstacles and be demoralizing at times. But I think the challenge is to stay focused, be diligent, and be creative. I think another big part for entrepreneurs is to build a network and then take advantage of it. I don’t think any successful entrepreneurs can grow their business alone without talking to anybody else. Good entrepreneurs are able to leverage their networks and are willing to get feedback and resources from others.
What do you hope this year’s Summer Venture Program teams will get out of the experience?
I would hope what they get out from the program is to move their business forward this summer. I think the best way for them to do that is to use the resources that are available to them during the program. Whether it’s the advisors, directors, other teams, or the educational sessions. I hope they can take full advantage to whatever is available to them and use those resources to solve the problems that they have when they walked in to this program. For a lot of the teams, they are still struggling with where their businesses’ are going to go; what industry they should focus on. I know several of the teams, even in the last four weeks, had to pivot as they learn more about the market and the industry. I think these changes are all natural and the teams can make these changes a lot faster at this environment by leveraging different resources. The other thing I wish they could get out from this program is that through this ten week process, they will hopefully take away with them the tools and lessons on how to address the issues they have encountered. Wherever they are down the road, they might run into these same challenges. They will then be able to think back to the processes they’ve followed and the resources they’ve utilized and apply the same lessons when they are on their own.
What excites you the most about the Summer Venture Program?
The opportunity to work with some amazing students. I have been so impressed by the passion, creativity, and the ideas that people are wrestling with, and how flexible they have been when trying to solve problems. There definitely were struggles while pivoting, but they just embraced the changes. It’s really exciting for me to work through these problems with them to address the challenges, and frankly, it gets me excited about doing my own work and looking back on things with a different perspective. I’ve personally found working with this program very energizing.
Please describe yourself in four words.
Diligent, optimistic, loyal and creative.
What do you do for fun?It seems that most of my free time is spent taking my kids around to various activities. They certainly keep me and my wife busy. However, we also love to be outdoors, go to the beach, and go out to eat (sometimes without the kids!).