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Undergraduate, 2023
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Undergraduate Found Her Passion for Social Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation Through EEE Program

Marin Grillo


  • Undergraduate

For me, the choice to pursue entrepreneurship was life-changing,” she says. “It widened my scope, and I was soon seeing an approach that was judged not necessarily by profit but by creating real solutions.

Like any good entrepreneur, Marin Grillo ’23 has always been willing to pivot in the direction of opportunity. From deciding on what college to attend, to choosing the right major and, ultimately, graduating with the skills needed to pursue a fulfilling career, Grillo has followed her entrepreneurial spirit every step of the way throughout her education at the Whitman School and Syracuse University.

When the California native began her college search, she did not want to attend “anywhere where it was cold,” but once she visited Syracuse University, she “fell in love with the school spirit” and never looked back. Grillo enrolled at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs as an international relations major, as she wanted to work in the nonprofit sector and create solutions that benefitted communities. But that was during an election year, and Grillo quickly became disillusioned with the tension created by a number of global political issues. She soon discovered that her interests veered more toward social entrepreneurship and the idea of creating sustainable solutions to problems faced in the community. This led her to the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) at the Whitman School, while also minoring in information management and technology.


While working on her degree, Grillo had the opportunity to participate in a few entrepreneurial ventures. One was a retail platform start-up with alumnus George Santacroce ’69 (VPA), CEO at Reel-T, an interactive video solution for the residential real estate industry. This was a fulfilling experience that taught her about sales, investor relations, business development, data analysis and ways to build a strong foundation.


“For me, the choice to pursue entrepreneurship was life-changing,” she says. “It widened my scope, and I was soon seeing an approach that was judged not necessarily by profit but by creating real solutions.”


In addition, she worked on a number of student projects through the University’s Blackstone Launchpad and was active in the Women’s Network; Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity; ENACTUS; and the Panhellenic Council where, as the director of philanthropy, she used some of her entrepreneurial skills to help coordinate the collection of food, medical supplies and other necessities sent to help those in war-torn Ukraine.


According to Grillo, Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice John Torrens was her “biggest mentor and best inspiration.” “He walks the walk and talks the talk,” she explains, noting that she first took his Entrepreneurship Deal Making and Negotiations class during a Winterlude session held during the pandemic. “We learned not only how to negotiate salaries but how to showcase our own talents, skills and ideas. After that, I went out of my way to take as many classes from him as possible.”


Grillo graduated this spring and was selected as a Whitman Scholar, a competitive and prestigious designation for students who have shown a high degree of engagement and leadership at the School. “I was truly honored to be a Whitman Scholar and grateful for all the opportunities that the School and the entire University gave to me,” she says.


Now, she is ready to start making the most of those opportunities by combining her passion for entrepreneurship and her technology skills in New York City at FIGMA, a start-up in the design space that helps others create everything from websites to logos with its interface design tools. (The company recently announced it will be acquired by Adobe, opening up many new and exciting opportunities.) Grillo will start in tech sales and hopes to pivot eventually into product management, so she can have input on strategy and innovation within the company.


“Entrepreneurship teaches you the foundation of every aspect of business., Through the program, you learn elements from all the functional areas such as accounting, finance and so on, but most of all, EEE teaches you critical problem-solving—the No. 1 skill you need to succeed anywhere,” she explains. “It’s a creative outlet where you test out different ideas. Entrepreneurship combines my passion for creativity and innovation with being successful and capturing an audience. It’s really a holistic area of study, and I’m so glad I found my way to EEE at the Whitman School.”

Tagged As:

  • Undergraduate

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