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Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center

Service Learning and Community-Based Research

StartupExperience Conference at Colgate University

By Nicholas Solano ‘14

In late October, ten Hamilton students travelled to Colgate University to participate in the StartupExperience, a social entrepreneurship workshop run by Henrik Scheel. The two-day intensive program enabled students to hone their entrepreneurial skills, which encompass creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and business planning. In addition to Scheel, a handful of Colgate faculty and staff helped coach and advise the participants.

Following a keynote speaker on the first morning, participants were broken into groups composed of both Hamilton and Colgate students. The groups’ objectives were to identify a social issue in New York State, brainstorm potential solutions, develop an organization around a for-profit model, and establish a business plan. The first day focused on ideation, which required students to devise a multitude of solutions, examine them from various angles, and select only the most feasible ideas. Scheel believes that
this process allows social entrepreneurs to address their issue most effectively.

The conference culminated in a “pitch competition”, during which students presented their ideas to a panel of esteemed judges. The students’ work addressed educational incentives, boosting the youth population in Central New York, and reducing the cost of
supplies for fish farmers, among other issues. Students were extremely enthusiastic about their ideas, and highly supportive of one another throughout the process. The conference provided a unique opportunity for participantswhether they want to
start their own business, or simply apply the StartupExperience model to an existing endeavor.

Social entrepreneurship stands at the confluence of social responsibility and market economics. Applying a for-profit model to social organizations makes them moresustainable. Relying on donations alone has become increasingly difficult over the past few years; social entrepreneurship helps to resolve this issue. As a result, someprestigious colleges and universities have responded with new social entrepreneurship programs. The Levitt Center, Career Center, and COOP are currently working with Hamilton Alumni to become one of those schools, and to provide students with a unique avenue to bring about social change.

The following students participated in the conference: Raymond Cudjoe ’14, Farzad Khosravi ’16, Hristina Mangelova ’16, Trang Nguyen ’13, Ujjwal Pradhan ’15, Jason Ross ’14, Nicholas Solano ’14, Tsion Agajie Tesfaye ’16, and Matias Wolansky ’16.