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Start@Shea Hosts Second Annual Solstice Conference

Start@Shea, the student executive team of the Boston College Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship, hosted its second annual Solstice Conference from Sept. 23 to 24.

“The main goal of the conference is really to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as showcase all the BC has to offer to the broader community,” said Luke Calhoun, co-leader of the conference and CSOM ’25.

The event featured interactive workshops, an Ideathon, panel discussions, and a keynote from Caitlin Reimers Brumme, the CEO of MassChallenge—a non-profit organization that works to develop start-up companies.

“We wanted people who were really going to be able to speak about a lifelong career in entrepreneurship,” Calhoun said. “[Brumme] was a founder and works directly with a lot of founders, and MassChallenge has done some amazing, really cool work.” 

Brumme highlighted the importance of being confident in one’s ideas and abilities, citing her experience as a young, female entrepreneur in a male-dominated space. 

“I remind myself every day that you have a right to be in this room, regardless of whether you have a track record yet or not,” she said. “Innovation is about the confluence of diverse ideas and the outliers. And so sometimes, it’s awesome to be an outlier.”

Brumme said she tries to use her platform as a female CEO to inspire other women.

“There is so much opportunity for all individuals with great ideas to have the access, the opportunity for success, and so if I can play a small role in that… as a female leader in that space, then that’s a great thing.” 

Chris Carrabes, co-marketing lead of Start@Shea and CSOM ’25, moderated the conversation with Brumme. 

“I think entrepreneurship itself kind of encompasses that idea of you have a right to be in this room,” he added. “No matter who you are, or what idea you have, no matter what, you’re allowed to be in the conversation because you’re trying to build something. I think that’s what makes entrepreneurship special.”

Brumme said her entire career has been centered around her passion and interest in the intersection of society, business, and purpose. 

“[MassChallenge] was an incredibly exciting opportunity to do two things,” Brumme said. “One was to join an organization as it was going from phase one to phase two of life and help imagine where it could go next. And then second in my personal career was to get closer to entrepreneurs.”

According to Brumme, the key to success is for a leader to ensure that every individual in an organization feels connected to their company’s mission and empowered to make decisions within that organization. 

“It is a huge responsibility and a huge challenge to carry a mission and a vision with the level of clarity and purpose that not only motivates the world around you, but also your team,” Brumme said. “And so that’s a constant work to communicate what we do, why we do it, why it matters, with more and more simplicity.” 

Brumme also offered many pieces of advice to the audience, one of which was the idea of leaning into hard conversations.  

“There is nothing more important than being really good at having hard conversations and being able to sit down with a colleague and provide really direct feedback,” Brumme said. “Being able to push back on someone in a way that sort of engages dialogue, not defensiveness … and tries to navigate friction.” 

Brumme ended the talk by saying to pursue your goals, you have to find balance between going after a mission and making sure not to burn out too early. 

“Life is longer than you think … it will unfold in beautiful and mysterious ways,” Brumme said. “And so knowing what’s important to you, staying open and curious, is what’s more important than trying to get yourself on the path that feels right for you.” 

September 28, 2023