Powerful Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs


(l-r); Frances Zelazny co-founder and CEO of Anonybit; Riki Franco, founder and CEO of Prime 6; Tamar Shenkar; Dr. Maria Blekher, founder and director of YU Innovation Lab

Three successful entrepreneurs provided 62 undergraduate men and women (representing 18 majors) with practical advice about the risks and rewards of striking out on one’s own in the world of business in a panel discussion hosted by the YU Innovation Lab on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Riki Franco (founder and CEO, Prime 6), Frances Zelazny (co-founder and CEO, Anonybit) and Tamar Shenkar (described as a “Gen-Z entrepreneur”) began with a 45-minute meet-and-greet where students peppered the three women about the nuts and bolts of turning entrepreneurial dreams into profitable realities.

Students speak with Riki Franco and Tamar Shenkar.

During the panel discussion, Franco, Zelazny and Shenkar expanded on what it takes to start up a dynamic startup enterprise, never sugarcoating the pitfalls awaiting anyone bold enough to create a business from scratch (especially when one is young and inexperienced) but also detailing techniques and strategies to help one avoid the hazards and amplify the opportunities.

Deep in discussion with Tamar Shenkar.

A 20-minute Q&A allowed the audience to ask more targeted questions of three presenters.

“As a female student exploring marketing and entrepreneurship opportunities, both in the United States and in Israel, it was so valuable to be able to hear from women who took their inspired ideas and successfully ran with them,” said Sarah (Fruma) Silver ’23SB, who is majoring in finance and marketing). Jesse Weinberg ’22SB was impressed by their “entrepreneurial journey”: “They all had unique and different stories which made the event so interesting.”

“I had a wonderful time speaking to the students, sharing the story of Prime 6 and my entrepreneurial journey,” said Franco. “They were very engaged and had insightful questions. I hope that my experience resonated with them, especially the women in the crowd.”

Shenkar agreed. “I was honored to be able to share my experiences and insights with the enthusiastic students,” she observed, “reiterating the message that dreams can be pursued regardless of age or life stage.”

“One of my greatest joys as a female entrepreneur,” said Zelazney, “is sharing my experiences with the next cohort. Even as I focus on my latest venture, Anonybit, listening to the students share their hopes, dreams and passion for the businesses they want to build and the directions they want to go was very inspiring. It was an honor to participate.”

Dr. Maria Blekher, director of the Innovation Lab, was extremely pleased by both the turnout and quality of the interactions. ““Our panelists came from diverse backgrounds and brought together valuable lessons they collected along their careers,” she noted. “They shared valuable insights based on real-life experience and professional tips on the best ways to develop and build entrepreneurial mindset. Events like this are in line with the Innovation Lab’s mission to promote and develop this mindset and these skills among YU students.”