History of the Entrepreneurship Club

Photo of Mariana Jaramillo ’20

Mariana Jaramillo ’20 at the 2018 Grinspoon Conference

 

When Alessandra Massa ’19, Ariel Fry Demetria ’19 and Kate Meacham ’20 took their first entrepreneurship call with Rick Feldman, they knew their lives had changed forever. Here was a new way of learning, a new way of engaging with their academics. They knew that they didn’t want the entrepreneurship fun to stop inside the classroom — they wanted to promote this way of learning with as many people as possible. This is how the Mount Holyoke College Entrepreneurship Club began.

Alessandra, Ariel and Kate had been together on in a team in Rick’s Social Entrepreneurship class and when it ended, they wanted to continue their involvement in the field. Inspired by Rick’s class, Alessandra noticed that “there were so many events going on in the Pioneer Valley for entrepreneurship and no central club or organization for Mount Holyoke students to engage with the community, as well as in the events.”

There is a lot of support for the entrepreneurship community in the Valley. Alessandra and Ariel had heard of opportunities offered by Valley Venture Mentors and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Valley Venture Mentors is a structured mentorship organization where startups receive training and funding from successful entrepreneurs. The best way to get acquainted with Valley Venture Mentors is to go to one of its monthly meetings, where entrepreneurs pitch the startups they’ve been working on and receive feedback from the audience. In speed-dating format, one jumps from startup to startup, meeting new people each time.

After going on their own to one of these meetings, Alessandra, Ariel and Kate decided that, in order to make the environment a more inclusive space for all Mount Holyoke students, they needed to provide reliable transportation to the organization’s  offices in nearby Springfield. The way to do this was by becoming an official club and requesting a fleet van. Once they achieved this, they quickly began hosting monthly trips to the pitch meetings.

Ariel has benefitted from the entrepreneurship classes and extracurricular activities offered by the Entrepreneurship Club, and they have inspired her to take agency over her academics and design her own multidisciplinary major. She combined her many interests into a business/health/economics major, with a Spanish minor.

Kate benefited from the club by having a space to prepare for the entrepreneurship competitions in the Pioneer Valley that occur in the spring semester. She participated in the Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs during her sophomore year, placing first in the Conway Center Five-College category and winning the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s concept award for her business. She is now in Morocco expanding her knowledge of French and religion.

I joined the Entrepreneurship Club after my first class with Rick, Social Entrepreneurship. I was also very inspired and wanted to continue with everything I learned in that class. Now I am a communications intern for the entrepreneurships, organizations and society program and a member-at-large of the Entrepreneurship Club. The club hosted trips to many places, including Boston. Last spring I went on a trip there, led by Kate and hosted through the Entrepreneurship Club where we met with several alums involved with startups, business and entrepreneurship. In February 2019 the club will be going to Boston again and this time BookBub will be hosting us.

The Entrepreneurship Club is committed to building a bridge between Mount Holyoke and the plethora of entrepreneurial opportunities available in the Pioneer Valley. By hosting trips to Valley Venture Mentors and introducing students to the Grinspoon Foundation, the Entrepreneurship Club provides the tools necessary to take academic projects outside of the classroom and into the real world. Alessandra and Ariel continue being executive members of the club, with Rick as faculty advisor.