SVP Advisor Profile: David Oksman
I recently had the chance to speak with David Oksman ’03, a Babson alum, marketing expert, and one of this year’s Summer Venture Program (SVP) advisors. In his interview, David spoke about his love of entrepreneurship, Babson, and helping these startups. Here is an overview of our talk.
What is your role in the Summer Venture Program and within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Boston?
In the Summer Venture Program my role is to advise five amazing ventures on a day-to-day basis and support others as it relates to the marketing, branding, and e-commerce spaces. I approach the advisor role as a teacher, mentor, and supporter would. I want to be a resource for these rising entrepreneurs in a time where their businesses are just getting started.
In terms of the larger Boston ecosystem, I have worked in both the corporate and startup sector. Some of the big name brands I’ve worked for include Life is Good and Reebok. Even in these corporate environments, I like to tackle problems with an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. I also advise a handful of startups and currently serve as interim CMO of Sidekick, a venture founded by a Babson alum.
What excites you about the Summer Venture Program? What made you want to serve as an advisor?
I love the Babson community, specifically what lies in the heart of it—the startup community. Within SVP lies so many brilliant startups that constantly excite me every day. I wanted to give back to Babson as they gave so much to me during my time as an undergrad. Along with business, I have a passion for teaching. I wanted to help students craft and create their dreams, help them change the world, by sharing with them the things I’m good at. I am strong believer in the idea that nobody can do it alone – this ultimately lead me to serve as an advisor for these startups.
What advice could you give to teams participating this summer or any aspiring entrepreneur?
For the SVP startups, be true to your purpose. You got into this program because you cared about something deeply and wanted to solve a problem. You are going to be challenged and have to lay the basic foundations for your business. Although this many not always be exciting, have the conviction to see purpose in all that you do. For any aspiring entrepreneur, do not be afraid to ask for help. Be real and honest about what you know and don’t know, and most importantly, be open to finding people who can help you. Ultimately, it is about the journey, not the destination. Although cliché, the saying is true. Have fun along the way because one day you are going to get to the finish line and wonder where did the time go – make the journey as good as where you want to get to.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is about the creators, the builders. It is about those who see things differently and have a passion and focus to show others their point of view – whether that be through a new product or service or just a different way to approach a problem. You do not need a startup to be an entrepreneur.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
The world needs to realize that for profit companies could be the biggest drivers of social change. Things are changing. Let’s lift up humanity together.
What do you do for fun?
I have a 13-year-old son who loves soccer. For fun, we watch and play soccer together. I also love to be outdoors, run with my wife, and spend time at the beach by my cottage in Maine. Most importantly, I am an avid Boston sports fan.
Describe yourself in four words.
Optimistic, passionate, creative, and grateful.
Anything else people should know?
It is a gift to be able to advise these kids. I learn a lot from being around them and seeing them approach challenges. I am so thankful to be a part of their journeys.