To encourage a stimulating exchange of ideas about launching new businesses, Alden Drake ’15 and Romeo Ibanez ’15 have formed an entrepreneurs’ club on campus with the help of many other students and alumni.
“For more than two hundred years, outstanding entrepreneurs have graduated from the College,” Ibanez said. “From the founder of one of the world’s most important rating agencies, Standard and Poor’s, to Reed Hastings’s Netflix, Bowdoin’s graduates have consistently revolutionized the world in every field that they have touched. … What Alden and I sought to do was something very simple: to provide a place for [future entrepreneurs] to begin learning about entrepreneurship.”
The Bowdoin Entrepreneurship Club will both introduce students to entrepreneurial strategies and concepts, and encourage them to focus with like-minded students on one of four specific fields: retail, biotech, finance and web/hardware/social media. During meetings, students are encouraged to bounce start-up ideas off of one another.
“Each one of these groups is led by two to three student leaders, who are dedicated, easy to talk to and want to pursue these fields in the future,” Drake said. “Romeo and I could not do this without them.”
Meanwhile, each group has at least two alumni contacts who’ve been in the field for at least six years. “We are trying to build a network of alumni and others who will help form this group and are willing to assist in any way they can,” Drake said.
Bowdoin Trustee David Brown ’79 and Sean Marsh ’95 have agreed to be available as advisors to the group. “I have a passion for Bowdoin and a passion for entrepreneurship,” Marsh said. “If I can help both of these to grow symbiotically it is a no brainer for me. … Having a student organization that gives students a forum for learning and discussion around this topic and leverages the collective knowledge of the Bowdoin ecosystem (and beyond) strikes me as a worthwhile endeavor.”
Drake and Ibanez’s entrepreneurial group has about 120 student members, not including the student leaders of the subcommittees: Zack Leman ’15 and Ruben Martinez ’15 in biotech; Zach Albert ’16 and Julian Huertas ’16 for nonprofit/retail; Ivy Xing ’15 for web/social media; and Bernie Clevens ’15 and Brock Cassidy ’15 in finance.
Drake said she and Ibanez want to encourage students to think as entrepreneurs but not to abandon their education. “Our goal is not to leave college,” she said. “We want them to feel safe and comfortable to talk about ideas, and see if they’re worth pursuing.”
Brown said he believes college is a foundation for successful entrepreneurship. “I’ve always believed that in the end entrepreneurship is applied liberal arts,” he said. “Bowdoin people are good leaders if they’ve gone through the crucible and continue to be lifelong learners. … A lot of Bowdoin values can find expression in entrepreneurial fields.”
The entrepreneurs’ club will also bring speakers on campus who could speak about topics such as how to build business plans, when to approach venture capitalists or what it means to be entrepreneur. “We’re slated to have Dr. Peter Drake shortly after returning from winter break,” Ibanez said. “Bill Farley should be here in the middle of February and Kara Boudreau of JPMorgan Chase will be doing a joint presentation with her husband, Richard Hurd, who is the chief investment officer at Mayo Capital in March.”
“We’re trying to make a community,” Drake said. “We’re trying to connect kids like us who want to talk about this stuff but don’t know where to turn.”