Center for Entrepreneurship

Mobile Industry Entrepreneur Selected to Lead Center of Entrepreneurship

by Karen Doss Bowman

CFE Director Patrick McQuown giving a talk

SUMMARY: JMU College of Business names mobile and Internet media pioneer Patrick T. McQuown as executive director for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Serial entrepreneur Patrick T. McQuown has joined JMU’s College of Business (CoB) as executive director for the Center for Entrepreneurship. A pioneer of the mobile services and online media industry, McQuown started his first company, Proteus, in 1996, working out of his dorm room at The George Washington University. 

“I was kind of a computer dork, and the Internet was an emerging technology,” jokes McQuown, who started the company with $1,000 and no outside funding. “I thought there was really something there.” 

McQuown left his job as a federal investigator within the Division of Enforcement at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to focus on Proteus full time. The company grew into a mobile media industry leader and was first in the world to create an application that allowed users to send short text messages from a Web site to a handset. Among other accomplishments, McQuown and Proteus created text-polling for the highly acclaimed television show American Idol.  

“Before that, you basically couldn’t text,” says McQuown, who sold Proteus to Japanese carrier SoftBank after eight years. “That’s what started it all.” 

McQuown’s second startup, SinglePoint, raised $50 million in venture capital. The company deployed the two largest-ever messaging campaigns: one for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and one for Obama for America. SinglePoint was subsequently sold to the European mobile company Ericsson.

Most recently, McQuown was a principal and co-founder of Silca Partners, a company that partners with select venture capital firms to conduct due diligence for possible investments. He also was an adjunct professor at Brown University and Providence College.  

At Brown, McQuown led students in a case study to determine whether Uber drivers are entrepreneurs. McQuown became an Uber driver for the summer, logging more than 500 rides, and guided students through interviews with 110 active Uber drivers. They concluded that “the entrepreneurial aspects the company touts … don’t hold true for the vast majority of Uber drivers.” 

McQuown, who also has taught at Georgetown University and was Entrepreneur in Residence for the Yale Entrepreneur Institute, is passionate about guiding budding entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. He is ready and excited to help JMU students, faculty and staff develop their own successful business ventures. McQuown sees his role at JMU as his newest venture.

“I want students and faculty to know that If they are able to identify their passions and build out ventures that will solve problems based on those passions, the Center for Entrepreneurship and I will support them,” says McQuown, an avid cyclist who has participated in bike races at Massanutten and Skyline Drive. “We will believe in them and give them the tools, the mentorship and the structure to assist in that journey. There’s almost nothing more rewarding, career-wise, than doing that. I can attest firsthand that [being an entrepreneur] is unlike any other career endeavor.”

Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2019

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