SMU Names Mak to Lead Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship

The institute is the oldest academic entrepreneurship center in the world, providing essential insights and connections in the world of entrepreneurship, from blockchain to venture investing.

SMU Caruth

Simon Mak has been named the third executive director of the SMU Cox Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, which went into effect Oct. 1.

Founded in 1972 by the Caruth family of Dallas, the institute is the oldest academic entrepreneurship center in the world. It provides essential insights and connections in the world of entrepreneurship, “from blockchain to venture investing,” according to its website.


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Mak has a degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and and MBA in Finance and PhD in applied science from SMU. He was also previously the institute’s associate director, so he already has important plans in mind for the future. 

“We want to build out the infrastructure to be more intentional in encouraging student startups at SMU Cox—both undergrads and grad students and also students in our certificate class who are from the local Dallas community—and especially tech startups in partnership with the Lyle School of Engineering,” he wrote to Dallas Innovates via email. 

Mak said the founding mission of the institute is to “encourage students from 8 to 80 to give it a try.” So, he and his team plan to double down on this, moving forward.

“On a personal note, this new role will definitely stretch me,” he says, “but it actually brings me back to my entrepreneurial roots as I now have a business that I am responsible for growing and managing.”

One way is in growing the global entrepreneurship programs already in place, like hosting students overseas so they can apply what they learn about entrepreneurs back in the United States. The center also sponsors the bimonthly Southwest Venture Forum, where aspiring entrepreneurs can meet face-to-face with potential investors, and conducts the annual Dallas 100 Awards that honor the fastest-growing privately held local companies.

And, the institute’s programs include: an eight-week certificate program covering everything from business plans to social media entrepreneurship, a blockchain program that explores how to develop the business model of the future, and the Cox MBA Venture Fund, which allows students to manage investments to fund select startups developed by Cox students and alumni.

“I follow the paths blazed by [former directors] Dr. John Welsh and the legendary Jerry White,” Mak said in a LinkedIn post. “It’s also cool to continue the tradition of the center leader being an engineer—mechanical, electrical, and now back to mechanical engineering.”

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