By Sarah Dinning ’20
Mondays for the College of Charleston’s Honors Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community (ELLC) class are filled with networking, knowledge, and most importantly, pancakes. On Monday, September 19, Steve Swanson joined the Honors ELLC’s “Funday Monday” for pancakes and discussion. Being one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Charleston area, Swanson was able to give some insight on the ups and downs of running a business.
Steve Swanson, a 1989 graduate of the Honors College, is the co-founder of Automated Trading Desk, a high frequency stock trading company that was sold to Citigroup for $680 million in 2007. Swanson now serves on various council and advisory boards at the College, as well as the co-chair of the College’s Comprehensive Campaign, and the founder of the Swanson Scholars program.
Swanson gave some advice to the Honors ELLC class as they pursue their entrepreneurial ventures and educational goals. When looking for people to work with, Swanson urged students to choose people who can “play in the sandbox” as well as have the smarts to do so. Meaning, just because someone is highly qualified doesn’t guarantee that they will be effective. Startups are shaky at first, and it’s better to let someone go than try to fix things that aren’t quickly repairable.
Swanson credits the College as an immense resource to achieving his success, as his challenging courses and Senior Thesis gave him some experience related to the types of computer models he would be using at ATD. Swanson told the students to make the most of their unique time at the College and to use some of its best and brightest resources, the professors.
“Reach out to the professors who are passionate about what they’re doing,” Swanson said, “Those are the professors who you will most likely find the most interesting opportunities with.”
The students finished the discussion with a Question and Answer session and an opportunity to eat pancakes with Steve Swanson. That’s how #FundayMonday is done in the College of Charleston’s Honors ELLC.