Mines Magazine

Mines alum returns to alma mater to support new ventures

Zack Bennett ’99 is founding director of Mines Venture Program and Beck Venture Center on campus
Portrait of Zack Bennett in front of brick wall
Cover of Spring 2024 issue of Mines Magazine
This story first appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of Mines Magazine.

By Cassidy Hannon, Special to Mines Magazine

Zack Bennett ’99 has always been an explorer, curious about the unknown and figuring things out on the fly. That’s certainly been his approach to starting new companies and in his new role as director of the Mines Venture Program and the Beck Venture Center on campus.   

Bennett grew up dreaming of space and becoming an astronaut. “Over the years, the things that drove me to want to be an astronaut—technology and exploration—manifested into being a technical entrepreneur,” he said.   

Bennett knew even before graduating from Mines that he wanted to build start-ups. However, he was graduating college just when the dot-com boom turned into a dot-com bust. He spent almost 10 years at American Express in New York, working as an engineer, management consultant and executive. While he was there, he managed and launched numerous internal startups, but eventually, he grew weary of the politics and bureaucracy of a larger company.   

Bennett’s first startup was Loop Logistics, a logistics management software company for international NGOs, of which he was the founder and CEO from 2012 to 2013. After that company shut down, he moved on to help a group of private equity investors build and operate a couple of well-funded startups. He then became the head of account management for the video platform, Idomoo. In 2014, he became the senior vice president of EVRYTHNG, a London-based internet-of-things startup, and was tasked with leading their first U.S. office. He then founded clean-energy trading company Abaxx Technologies. Bennett even worked for a time at TechStars in Boulder, Colorado, as a startup mentor.    

After this whirlwind of experiences, Bennett took a sabbatical to focus on the other aspects of his life he’d yet to fulfill. But it didn’t take long for him to want to return to his business roots.  

“When most entrepreneurs are done building startups the natural path is to become an investor. But I got restless—I couldn’t just sit back and be passive. I needed to build again,” he said.   

He wanted to pass his extensive knowledge of the entrepreneurial world—the dos and don’ts—on to a new generation of Mines students. He learned by trial and error, but he wanted to save future entrepreneurs years of experience—and that opportunity came available when he was asked to step in and run the Beck Venture Center and the Mines Venture Program.   

The Beck Venture Center and the Mines Venture Program are part of the university’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem. Together, this center and program will help Mines students, faculty and alumni successfully launch companies based on their breakthrough ideas, solutions
and technologies. 

“I want to bring life and magic to the building and program,” Bennett said.  

He wants to fill the building with investors and entrepreneurs alike on a campus with the most up-and-coming intellectual property and technology. There are already a few companies working in the space, most of which focus on the clean energy transition.   

Bennett attributes a lot of his success in the business world to the core values that Mines instills in their students. “Grit, it’s part of our DNA here at Mines,” Bennett said. “Building startups means working without a safety net.” He can’t think of a better group up to the task.  

 In the more than 20 years he worked as an entrepreneur, Bennett traveled back and forth from Silicon Valley to New York City, because there was never much of an entrepreneurial community in Colorado, he said. This new entrepreneurial programming will hopefully plant a flag in the state, Bennett said.   

“I feel so lucky to be back here and hopefully have a small influence on Mines, which had such a profound influence on my life,” he said.

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Mines Magazine

For Colorado School of Mines Alumni and Friends
Ashley Spurgeon, Editor
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.