Speaker’s Bureau
Featured Speaker

Ben Nelson
Founder and CEO

Minerva Founder, Chairman, and CEO Ben Nelson is a visionary with a passion for reforming higher education. In 2011, while building the Minerva concept, Nelson was the Executive Chairman of RedBeacon until its sale to Home Depot in 2012. Prior to RedBeacon, Nelson spent more than 10 years at Snapfish, where he helped build the company from a startup to the world’s largest personal publishing service. Serving as CEO from 2005 through 2010, Nelson began his tenure at Snapfish by leading the company’s sale to Hewlett Packard for $300 million. With over 42 million transactions across 22 countries, nearly five times greater than its closest competitor, Snapfish is among the top e-commerce services in the world. 

Prior to joining Snapfish, Nelson was President and CEO of Community Ventures, a network of locally branded portals for American communities.

Nelson’s passion for reforming undergraduate education was first sparked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he received a B.S. in Economics. After creating a blueprint for curricular reform in his first year of school, Nelson went on to become the chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE), a pedagogical think tank that is the oldest and only non-elected student government body at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ben nelson portrait mirrored flipped
Biographical Highlights /
  • Visionary Entrepreneur 
  • Former Executive Chairman of RedBeacon
  • Former CEO & CFO of Snapfish
  • Wharton Graduate

Photo: Peter Prato

Topic One

Rethinking Higher Education in the Digital Age

Ben Nelson’s frustration with his own undergraduate experience led to a determination to reform and develop a new approach to higher education. In this keynote, Ben will tackle important questions and spark discussion. How can we hold accountable all educational institutions to fulfill their responsibility to prepare students with the intellectual foundation and practical skills that will serve them as graduates and in the jobs of the future? How might we ensure higher education nurtures critical wisdom, so that graduates are prepared to make the decisions of consequence needed to create a better world for us all?

Universities today are under an enormous amount of criticism and pressure -- and much of it is justified.  The educational system we have come to accept is one with a more lackadaisical approach than those in the past. Many educational institutions still adhere to the structures and models developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, instead of evolving in response to new challenges and changing needs. With the accelerating costs of higher education and the rising demands for an educated work force, our educational models must adapt and advance if we are to secure a brighter future.

Topic Two

Entrepreneurship: Skill or Luck?

Some entrepreneurs credit talent and hard work for their professional achievements, while others attribute their successes to luck. Ben Nelson believes that his entrepreneurial journey is based on luck. However, luck is not purely random. Ben believes that luck is really the combination of two factors: the ability to see opportunities, and the actions associated with it. Successful entrepreneurs are aware of their surroundings and intentionally decide to act on a given opportunity; they have faith that they have the skills to make it happen. In this inspiring talk, Ben will discuss how he has created his own luck by observing past patterns and making informed choices at the right time.

Past Engagements

Contact Minerva if you are interested in booking Ben Nelson for an upcoming speaking engagement.