10/22/2004

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Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934

Helzberg Diamonds former president to address new KU entrepreneur group

LAWRENCE -- The former president of Helzberg Diamonds, who founded a nonprofit organization to encourage and support budding entrepreneurs in Kansas City, will address participants in a new University of Kansas program that brings together students interested in innovation, business and technology development.

Barnett Helzberg Jr. will speak about his Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Spahr Engineering Classroom in Eaton Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. Students and faculty, especially those in the sciences and engineering, are encouraged to attend. Visitor parking is available at the garage near Allen Fieldhouse.

The lecture is sponsored by the KU Entrepreneurship Thematic Learning Community (E'ship TLC), a joint effort of the KU School of Engineering and the Office of Technology Transfer & Intellectual Property

Helzberg led the Kansas City-based family jewelry chain, founded in 1915, from 1963 until 1995, when he sold it to Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett. Helzberg had taken the firm from 15 stores to more than 145 stories in 23 states. When it was sold, Helzberg Diamonds was the third-largest jewelry store chain in the nation.

Helzberg later wrote a book, "What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Developing a Highly Successful Company."

The Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program was inspired by Helzberg’s 23-year mentoring relationship with Ewing Kauffman of Marion Laboratories. It is dedicated to developing and nurturing mentoring relationships between knowledgeable business veterans and established entrepreneurs.

The program involves a three-year commitment. About 15 entrepreneurs are accepted and matched with a mentor each year. About 100 people participate as mentors, entrepreneur-students or supporting contacts.

Learn more about E'ship TLC at http://eship.engr.ku.edu>, or contact Lisa Friis, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, at (785) 864-2104; or Jim Baxendale, director of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property, at (785) 864-7783.

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