2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Week at CMC a Winning Venture
The results are in and it looks like Entrepreneurship Week (April 7-11) across the 5Cs has staying power and in the words of one attendee is proof that “entrepreneurial energy is continuing to flourish in the CMC community.”
Co-sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) along with various organizations including the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI), Entrepreneurship Week featured a variety of events, including Athenaeum lunches with Dave Capper (inventor of toothbrush that plays pop tunes) and a panel of entrepreneurs that discussed how their diverse backgrounds brought them to become entrepreneurs, Start-up Fair, featuring student ventures across the 5Cs, and a student favorite, the Campus Improvement Idea Jam. The week concluded with the Innovative Startup Award (ISA) Final presentations and the 5C Hackathon.
“I think Entrepreneurship Week is a phenomenal opportunity for students as well as other members of our community, so I was thrilled that the combined efforts of the organizers, student entrepreneurs, panelists, judges and speakers were able to help bring that back again at this year’s events,” said Tyler Sonnemaker ’15, Student Director and Co-Founder of CIE and Managing Editor of CMC Forum. “I really enjoyed seeing students’ excitement while showcasing their ventures at the Startup Fair. Many of these students are working so tirelessly on building their companies that their efforts often fly under the radar, so it was great to have an opportunity for them to share with people what they’ve been doing.”
According to Janet Kiholm Smith, Von Tobel Professor of Economics at the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance and Director of CIE, more than 100 budding entrepreneurs participated at various times during the week, with many students attending several events.
Professor Smith said Entrepreneurship Week started last year as a joint venture between CIE and KLI as an effort to highlight student interest in entrepreneurship by giving students a chance to showcase their innovations and their own ventures (the Startup Fair) and to combine that with educational/networking opportunities for students and alumni such as workshops, panel discussions and the Idea Jam, among other things.
“The CIE’s goal is to provide opportunities for students to network with each other and with alumni,” she said. “The workshops and discussions provide students with the tools and analytical framework for evaluating their ideas for ventures and to improve upon them. An important outcome of Entrepreneurship Week is more collaboration among the students from CMC and from the other Claremont Colleges.”
Among the week’s highlights, Professor Smith cited a strong participation and collaboration from students across the 5Cs.
“For example, the team ‘Phoenix’ demonstrated their application of a gaming glove for the new Oculus Rift virtual reality “goggles” http://www.oculusvr.com/,” she said. “This is the company that was founded in Irvine and was just purchased at a huge price by Facebook. The students have a glove that interacts with the Oculus Rift. It is a CMC/HMC team. They also won the Innovative Startup Award Competition this year in the commercial track category.”
Another highlight was the Ath talks about the various paths to entrepreneurship. “That was co-sponsored by three institutes – CIE, Berger and Kravis – so we are getting a lot of collaboration across different groups on campus,” Professor Smith said.
The 2014 Innovative Start-Up Award competition was evidence of that kind of winning collaboration. Cash prizes of $12,500 were awarded to two teams to finance their ventures. Team Phoenix (John Shaughnessy, CMC ’14, Varun Kanwar, HMC ’15, Alex Melville, HMC ’15, George Posner, CMC ’12, Jacob Rosenbloom, HMC ’15) won the commercial award.
The social award champions, Team Zattaro (Vedant Jaitha, CMC ’14, Marcelo De Rada Ocampo, CMC-Columbia 3-2 major ’15, Marcelo Pereira) empower women in the Bolivian highlands through a line of designer footwear. The shoes, crafted from a unique blend of sheep and alpaca wool and constructed by rural Bolivians, are eventually sold for a premium at high- end retailers in New York. Zattaro pays close attention to its roots, using proceeds to developed educational programs and community improvement schemes back in rural Bolivia.
Adding another feather in the cap of CMC’s entrepreneurs was its winning team (Chad Newbry, Joe Newbry, Sean Adler and Remy Guercio) in the 5C Hackathon sponsored semiannually by Pomona College and a much-anticipated part of Entrepreneurship Week. An entirely student-run event, the Hackathon draws some of the brightest technical talent from across the five schools. This year the winning team was from CMC.
The CMC team’s winning entry was for ShotBot. Team member Chad Newbry ’14, Director of Venture Development at CIE, said that ShotBot “pours drinks that you can order from your iPhone. It uses Siri to recognize your voice which, in turn, activates a server that ShotBot is listening to.” To see a demonstration video of ShotBot in action, just click on the following link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/nsd8e0tlgbpav7a/2014-04-12%2009.07.23.mp4 Newbry estimated that hundreds of people competed in the event in which a trophy and iPads were awarded to each member of his winning team.
Sonnemaker summed up what Entrepreneurship Week has come to mean to the 5Cs and the CMC community at large.
“It provides value to multiple spheres of our community,” he said, “and unique experiences for students in particular. Students get incredibly insightful anecdotes from people with various backgrounds who have all been through the ups and downs of the startup world themselves. These stories can speak powerfully to those considering working not only at startups but also at companies that embrace innovation in their existing business models.”