By Mary Barrett ’14
Prospective business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered inside Siena’s Sarazen Student Union for a special celebration, the naming of the College’s first “Entrepreneur of the Year.” The award is given by Siena’s Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to a Siena graduate who has positively impacted his or her community and is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit and values of Siena College.
The inaugural “Entrepreneur of the Year” award was given to Transfinder Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Antonio Civitella ’91 (pictured above).
“Antonio is the epitome of a successful entrepreneur, especially a Siena College entrepreneur. He didn’t take the easy path but rather the one less traveled,” said Mike Hickey ’83, Siena College executive-in-residence and executive director of the Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “He took calculated risks and now Antonio, his employees, his customers and the community are enjoying the benefits of well-earned success.”
Civitella’s path toward owning his own business began while he was a student at Siena.
The computer science major landed a computer software internship with Schenectady-based management-consulting firm James Forth & Associates. Forth had reached out to Professor of Computer Science Tim Lederman, Ph.D. looking for someone with both computer skills and personal skills. “I immediately thought of Tony,” said Lederman who encouraged Civitella to take the position.
From there, Civitella successfully developed and launched the company’s flagship product, Routefinder Pro and worked his way up to become the Schenectady-based company’s vice president and chief operating officer. In 2000, Civitella purchased the company and became its president and CEO. He changed the company’s name to Transfinder to reflect its focus on products and services related to pupil transportation.
Civitella’s company has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States for seven consecutive years (2007-2013). Civitella is committed to keeping his successful company in the Capital Region. He built Transfinder’s $7 million headquarters in the heart of downtown Schenectady, a sign that the company’s future is here.
As he addressed the students in the crowd, Civitella told his personal story and quizzed the audience on the hit song from each significant year of his life and career, incorporating his love of music and personality with his noted success. Civitella said that it was an amazing honor and privilege to receive the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from his alma mater. “It is so rewarding to be associated with a college that has such a history and such a forward-focused future,” Civitella said.
Civitalla moved to the United States from Italy when he was a child. He attributes much of his success to the challenges he overcame, including learning to speak English, advice he received from his late-father and the education he gained at Siena. “I also took great business classes at Siena that taught me to have confidence,” Civitella said.
Civitella concluded his speech by encouraging Siena students to pursue something that they love. Students were inspired by his enthusiasm.
“I thought he was a really good speaker,” said accounting major Christiana Riccardelli ‘14.” Entrepreneurship is big here at Siena and as a computer science major they’re always encouraging it, so it was really interesting to hear him speak.”
Civitella recognized Siena’s entrepreneurial spirit as well, stating that “I am grateful to Siena College for a great education and great opportunities and I look forward to seeing the future entrepreneurs who will come from the school.”
Who knows? Perhaps there were future “Entrepreneur of the Year” winners listening to Civitella’s story and getting the motivation to pursue their passions, develop their ideas and launch successful businesses, just like this intern turned business owner.