Carol Curley, WG’81, creates a lasting family legacy while supporting space for student innovation.
As an early-stage investor, Carol Curley, WG’81, knows the importance of spaces that encourage creativity, innovation, and collaboration. She also knows how those spaces create meaning and memories.
That is why she chose to memorialize her grandfather by naming two “pin-up studios” in Tangen Hall — the University’s new home for student entrepreneurs — currently under construction at 40th and Sansom streets in University City.
“My grandfather, Henry J. McCue, not only encouraged me to pursue higher education, but also funded my college education,” Curley said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have a space named for him that was filled with students and their dreams?’”
The ambitions of Penn and Wharton students is what first dazzled Curley when she judged the Wharton Venture Awards in 2013. “I was blown away is the best response,” she said.
Since then, Curley has joined Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship’s advisory board, judged several Startup Showcases, and presented for students in courses and capstones. Naming student spaces is just one more way to strengthen her connection to Wharton.
The studios will be modern co-working spaces where student teams can work, make, discuss, and create. “It sounded like it would be a very social space that is welcoming to everybody. That was really important to me,” Curley said.
Curley has been investing in and advising early-stage companies for more than 20 years, focusing on women-led ventures and those with a technology and finance orientation like healthtech, software-as-a-service, and fintech.
“Most businesses fail because of a lack of execution … One of the reasons investors like me focus a lot on the team — sometimes even before the idea — is to get a sense of whether the team can understand what it takes to move the business forward.” – Carol Curley, WG’81
Many schools are fast pursuing entrepreneurship on campus. However, Wharton’s additional focus on finance and analytics means that students learn how to turn ideas into reality and bring them to scale. In Curley’s experience, scaling is less about the idea and more about execution.
“Most businesses fail because of a lack of execution,” she said. “They can’t get the app launched, they weren’t able to understand the client’s needs. One of the reasons investors like me focus a lot on the team — sometimes even before the idea — is to get a sense of whether the team can understand what it takes to move the business forward.”
Curley said her connection to student entrepreneurs at Penn will endure for years to come. “I will continue to be involved with the mission of entrepreneurship,” she said. “I see that as an important distinction for the University.”
Learn more about Wharton’s evolving campus and innovative spaces for Wharton and Penn students.