2016 Advent

Babson Center's Entrepreneur-in-Residence brings artistic talent to high-tech

B/w thumbnail
Patrick Comer, C'96

Patrick Comer, C’96, founder and chief executive officer of Lucid, LLC, a technology company that provides digital marketing services, will be Sewanee's 2016 Humphreys Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

Join him for his lecture, "All the World’s a Stage: Sewanee to Serial Entrepreneur," at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Convocation Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The Humphreys Residencies are a major program of the Babson Center for Global Commerce.

Comer’s lecture will trace his career path from Sewanee to Lucid.

Lucid, founded in 2010, is not a brand name among consumers. The firm’s customers are those companies and organizations that carefully analyze their advertising and marketing decisions based on findings from market research and "big data."

The company, based in New Orleans with major offices in London and New Delhi, operates three interconnected technology platforms: Fulcrum, Federated Sample, and Proof.

Fulcrum is an online marketplace platform that enables direct connections between market researchers, consumers and businesses. Federated Sample delivers project management services for research projects using the Fulcrum platform. Proof uses internet cookies to track digital advertising and marketing campaigns so that firms can  improve their marketing efforts in real time.

Lucid has also launched, in cooperation with the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, an experimental presidential election tracking poll using the same research techniques that it provides to Fortune 500 companies.

After graduating from Sewanee as a theatre arts and music major, Comer went to New York, where he planned to build a career in professional theater, but the sudden emergence of the internet in the late 1990s soon lured him and his brother Walton, C’98, into launching an e-commerce company.

That company, like most others launched in those heady days, was not successful, but his experience in the nascent world of dotcom euphoria was sufficient for him to be recruited to join another dotcom company called govWorks.

The trajectory of govWorks from Silicon Valley darling to collapse was chronicled in an oft-viewed documentary called “startup.com.” After the company’s demise, Comer enrolled at Columbia University. He earned an MBA in 2003, moved to California, and initially focused on developing market research tools for the entertainment industry.

In a 2010 interview, Comer argued that Sewanee’s emphasis on the liberal arts rather than narrow vocational skills is what’s needed in a world where the rate of change continues to accelerate. And, he added, Sewanee grads “know how to think, how to communicate, how to learn something quickly.”

Comer has more connections to Sewanee than most: he was born while his father, Fletcher, C’68, T’75, was a seminary student.

In addition to brother Walton and his father, his mother, Judith, T’08, is also a Sewanee alumna. His wife, Christina Vial Comer, C’95, is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. And Comer’s great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Innes Overton Adams, graduated from the University in 1875 and was also a University Trustee.

Comer's parents recently retired from active parish ministries, and they live part-time in Sewanee.

Comer was instrumental in the creation of Sewanee’s business education program and was a founding member of the Babson Center’s advisory board.

While on campus, Comer will meet with students and teach classes. The Humphreys Entrepreneur-in-Residence program is sponsored by the Babson Center for Global Commerce and is endowed by David, C' 79, and Debra Humphreys of Joplin, Missouri.