Bowdoin Entrepreneurs: Ambitious Students Set Up Entrepreneurs Club

Zack Leman, Julian Huertas, Zach Albert, Bernie Clevens, Romeo Ibanez, Alden Drake, Brock Cassidy, Ivy Xing and Ruben Martinez

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.”

17 comments to Bowdoin Entrepreneurs: Ambitious Students Set Up Entrepreneurs Club

  • I am “all in” and eager to give you all the help I can. Ted Fuller ’61

  • Don Doele '59

    How can I help out? I’m here in Brunswick and have broad business experience, having run my own small consulting firm and consulted with many different companies in many business fields. My experience is both as a general consultaant, career consulting and retained executive search.

    Don ’59

  • Bob Spencer '60

    Son, Carson J. Spencer’92, was a very successful entrepreneur, who at age 29 launched a risk management company (with a Colby grad)that was producing well into seven figures of annual revenue with 12 employees by the time of his death at age 34.The Spencer Family and his friends/colleagues started a college scholarship program for promising entrepreneurs in partnership with Junior Achievement/Rocky Mountainin in 2005 and more than $70,000 has been awarded to date.I think this would be a good idea for the Alumni Council to pursue in funding internships for Bowdoin prospects. I would be in.

  • great start, looking forward to being involved

  • Shaun Gagnon '2005

    Happy to help any way i can!

  • Class of 2000, happy to help in any way possible. Have been helping the DC entrepreneurship community as well as enjoying the Georgetown University (MBA ’10) entrepreneurship culture. Currently advise startups and am launching my own company this Winter.

  • Kevin Mullins '07

    I would be happy to help as well. I am currently at a PE firm and was part of a team that founded a healthcare services company with 14 locations in TX.

  • We really appreciate all of your support! If you would like to get in touch with me to learn more about our work, feel free to email me at ribanez@bowdoin.edu. Thank you so much!

  • I applaud the intent–making things is fun!–but I can’t help but feel that Paul Graham, in his latest (brilliant) essay, is correct–better to immerse yourself in first-order interesting things, rather than “entrepreneurship” per se.

    When you study entrepreneurship directly it’s easy to get bogged down in organizational trappings, rather than the real core–making cool shit. Better to acquire an awkward combination of nuts-and-bolts building skills–learn to program–and in-depth knowledge of stuff that you find irresistibly fascinating, completely aside from any practical application. With time and luck that might form the protean core of something good to build.

    The essay, which you should read immediately if you haven’t, is here.

  • Bruce Singleton

    This is great! I’m very interested – how do we connect with alums who are interested in helping other alums? I’m starting a wine business in China, and would welcome inquiries, support, or contacts from my fellow Bears. I’m also willing to share my experiences. Thanks! Bruce Singleton, ’84, bmcmsingleton@yahoo.com.

  • Dr H C (Bud) Jordan

    I am a retired biophysicist/entrepreneur. After a stint as a cancer researcher I surrendered to my entrepreneurial instincts and founded what I believe was the first database company, now known as Experian.
    If any of your group is interested in the adventures of an old fart, I would be happy to share my experience.

    Phone 207-721-0710

  • Vin DiCara

    Contact me if I can be of help. I am a Brunswick resident, Class of 1972, who works as a trainer/consultant in the financial sector. I have been my own “boss” for twenty five years, during which time I have reinvented myself on many occasions. I have worked with numerous entrepreneurs, some successful and some not.

    Would love to know more of what you are doing and whether I can be of assistance. The College is a fifteen-minute walk away for me so it would not be an inconvenience to meet with someone at Bowdoin.

    Vin DiCara
    607-4129

  • The Maine entrepreneurial community would love to intersect with your organization! I run the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, which is part of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative here in Maine – we’d love for you to intern at cool Maine companies. I’m also Vice Chair of the Maine Angels investment network, which has been very active in the last 18 months. Sandra Stone is Chair, and a Bowdoin alumna. I’m also connected with other Maine college entrepreneurial efforts – there’s one at UMaine and one at Colby, plus an incubator at College of the Atlantic, and a strong program for solo entrepreneurs at Southern Maine Community College. On the social entrepreneur side of things, Chris Speh (also Bowdoin alum) is chair of Common Good Ventures. So welcome to the community!

  • Alden Drake

    Romeo and I really appreciate all the suggestions and willingness to help us with our club. Please feel free to email us at ribanez@bowdoin.edu or adrake@bowdoin.edu

  • As Don Gooding indicated, Maine Angels is the private equity investment network for Maine. We are a membership organization of accredited investors, actively involved not only in vetting, coaching and investing in early stage companies and growth oriented, scaleable innovative businesses, but along with SEGF (Small Enterprise Growth Fund) host “Calling all Entrepreneurs” coaching sessions in late February as part of “National entrepreneurship Week” (usually right on the Bowdoin Campus! for an opportunity to connect with investors, service providers, and successful entrepreneurs.) Always interested in disruptive new business ventures and helping to facilitate connections.

    Sandra Stone ’77
    Chair, Maine Angels

  • Congrats on starting the group. I founded and run the Bowdoin Club of Asia which has upwards of 250 members and hosts events in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. The group works closely with BASIC and BCAN and we have been running an internship/job program for the past six years placing 15-20 undergrads and recent grads in internships and full time jobs mostly in startups and companies run by alums across China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Sean Marsh was instrumental in getting me to start this up nine years ago.

    In any case I also happen to be a venture capital investor and on the steering committee of Angelvest an angel investing group in China. More at angelvestgroup.com

    Let me know how we can help in terms of internships etc. I’m at wbean23 at gmail dot com and please join us on Facebook at “Bowdoin Club of Asia”

    Regards
    William Bao Bean ’95
    SingTel Innov8 Ventures LLC

  • Hi gang. Please invite startupportland@gmail.com to your club’s events. I’ll post your events to our calendar. Check out our website at http://www.startupportland.com. We curate a calendar of startup-related events in the Portland area.

    Cheers!

    Johann

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