New Lester Center Director André Marquis Discusses Entrepreneurship

Haas School alumnus and technology entrepreneur André Marquis, MBA 96, began his new role as executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on Aug. 9.

Marquis brings a wealth of experience both starting and serving in executive positions for numerous technology and pharmaceutical ventures.

Marquis graduated from Berkeley-Haas in 1996 after co-founding Cybergold, an Internet advertising company that later went public and was acquired by MyPoints. He then founded and served in executive positions for several technology ventures, including, which was acquired by Amazon; the Chorus Business Unit at Eli Lilly and Company; and Amplyx Pharmaceuticals. Marquis most recently served as senior vice president of sales and marketing at the neuromarketing company Innerscope Research in Boston.

Marquis succeeds David Charron, who served as interim executive director of the Lester Center after Jerry Engel stepped in 2009 down following 18 years in the position. Charron was recently named executive director of the school-wide Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD), the new innovative leadership curriculum that Haas rolled out this fall.

Marquis recently shared a couple of insights with Haas NewsWire on entrepreneurship and on what the Lester Center has to offer to those who don’t plan to start their own company. Here are two questions for Marquis:

What was one of the first entrepreneurial lessons you learned?

When I worked at my very first job at the University of Pennsylvania, we developed software for physicians who make image based decisions. We made a great product. People loved it and we had it installed in all the top medical schools around the country–yet the business part was a complete failure. Learning that you could make an incredible product and still fail completely was what inspired me to go to business school.

How do you see your role and that of the Lester Center?

My whole career has really been about bringing together information and people, and that’s what we do at the Lester Center–facilitate education and foster a network of connections, by using the latest tools available in a rapidly changing world.

Even students who don’t see themselves launching startups have much to gain by engaging with the center. The nature of innovation is changing dramatically, with the number of people necessary to produce a major innovation getting smaller and smaller. Students can use their time at Haas and interaction with the Lester Center to understand how the world is changing, how what's possible is changing, and how the power of small groups to make these kinds of changes is increasingly important, even at large companies.