THE FIRST INSPIRING INNOVATION WORKSHOP:
DEFINING HAVERFORDIAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Saturday, 10/1/16, 4:00-5:30 (Panel + Q&A) and 5:30-6:30 (Buffet Dinner),
All students interested in entrepreneurship, design, and innovation are encouraged to attend this event. Please refer to alums and their bios when applying. All featured alums on the panel have direct experience in entrepreneurship, innovation and design. Register by 9/25. Sponsored by Student Council.
To start working with Innovative Fords now please explore their home page.
Why get involved with the HAVERFORD INNOVATION PLATFORM (HIP)? Dorian, Yue, Ian, Tristan and Nathan from the HIP team explain why they got involved and why they think you should too:
My experience with business first came through the Whitehead internship program when I was given the opportunity to work at Presentation Testing, a small presentation consulting company in New York City. We, as consultants, provided larger companies with an alternative perspective for addressing problems that some businesses would consider “major roadblocks”. It was remarkable to me how important an outsider perspective can be in developing ideas and pushing projects forward. In many instances all it took was for a company to see itself through the lens of the consumer to understand what direction to go in. The role that we played in this process provided insight into the importance of seeking guidance from your peers in problem-solving.
I began to understand the importance and potential that Haverford has to offer for creative problem-solving. As an institution rooted in communal values, and ripe with intellectual passion, a willingness to cooperate with others, an enthusiastic acceptance of others, and an openness to new ideas and perspectives – all pillars of community that have drawn us here – Haverford is a well positioned institution to strongly encourage collaborative problem-solving among its students — these are not-so-coincidentally values that make for a perfect environment to develop and explore innovation. Yue, Nathan, Tristan, Ian and myself see Haverford’s exceptionally intellectually diverse, critical but thoughtful and accepting environment as an awesome place to work to develop a more entrepreneurially spirited dialogue among interested students.
I first came into contact with business and social entrepreneurship the summer of my sophomore year. Through the Whitehead internship program, I had the chance to work with Wash Cycle Laundry, a social-enterprise startup based in Philadelphia with a triple bottom line: profit, people, and the environment. I was exposed to the complexity and the intricacy of social entrepreneurship, and more importantly, the scope of work that a social enterprise is able to achieve. Then I had the opportunity to join the Business Initiatives Group (BIG) as one of the co-heads, and it led to me my partners Ian, Tristan, Nathan, and Dorian, with whom I got involved in the Haverford Innovation Program (HIP). I love the work we are doing, because it is first of its kind – creating a structure to connect the dots for problem-solvers on campus. Moreover, it allows students to realize their potential in different ways and make an impact for the community at Haverford and beyond. Our first workshop will offer a taste of what is possible as a Haverford alum, and subsequent workshops will open up a window for opportunities for Fords interested in everything imaginable. If you are passionate about something, come – there is space for you.
I don’t think of myself as a ‘business person’. My experience in the ‘business arena’ has been limited to helping to start a small nutrition and weight-loss business, working on and then assistance in creating a couple of small farm plots in Maine, and a resulting hard cider business – Portersfield Cider from Pownal, Maine. But I never saw this as ‘business’ – they were small ventures, and not very profitable – I saw them as special projects; a vision I could share with people whom I respected and knew I could learn from. My boss and friend David Buchanan, author of Taste, Memory and proprietor of Portersfield Cider, recognized that his community, this country, has lost diversity in its food, connection to its terroir, and has in many ways, forsaken the artistry of agricultural techniques in favor of standardization. I saw our work on the farm, and with the cider as addressing a problem, a lack, for our palettes, and for our larger community. I could share David’s vision. Growing over 150 heirloom apple varieties, many unnamed, and one in particular – the Harrison – previously thought to be extinct, we were uncovering a lost art of cider-making using traditional apples and techniques. I could stomach the fact that I wasn’t making as much money as I would have say bartending, because I could get behind what we were doing.
I became interested in developing a student-led Innovation Platform at the College after I spent my junior year as co-treasurer of Student Council with Tristan Pepin and together we restructured the finances and bookkeeping of the Student Activities Fund to make money better available at the end of the Academic Year for use towards important projects on campus.
Creating a platform for students to passionately engage with personal projects in a longitudinal and enduring way seemed a worthy project as any.
I want students to be able to better engage with their interests – present, forgotten, or latently undiscovered, and sink their teeth into something that they love to do, something for them, and something for us too — for our community.
I am a Junior Linguistics major and Computer Science minor at Haverford College, from Waltham Massachusetts, and I’m the current co-President of the Student Council. My interests in developing a student-led Innovation Platform at the College began after I spent my sophomore year as co-treasurer of Student Council with Ian Andolsek and together we restructured the finances and bookkeeping of the Student Activities Fund to make money better available at the end of the Academic Year for use towards important projects on campus.
I’m working on a innovative project for Professor Schrier of the Chemistry department, the likes of which I hopes will be given more opportunities to flourish at Haverford and then grow beyond our campus through HIP.
Over the last several years I have engaged in activities, projects and businesses that some would consider to be “entrepreneurial”. But what does that really mean? Is there some sort of checklist that one should cross off in order to reach the “entrepreneur” status?
Well, if there was a stereotypical quick-list, I would imagine it would be something like this;
- Gregarious tech entrepreneur, with a billion dollar goal.
- Enrolled at some prestigious academic institution – who inevitably drops out.
- Silicon Valley. Where else?
- Unicorn. It’s all about the valuation.
Now this list can go on and on, but we’ll stop there for your sake.
As I ponder the stereotypical definition of “entrepreneur”, I realize that I do not fit this model. So where do I fit in? Does not having a clear career path mapped out when I visit my grandmother over winter break automatically make me the grandchild who got lost somewhere along the way?
While I’m sure that my grandmother will continue to love me regardless of my career choice, those questions do fill my head every day. So, what’s next and where do I go now?
For me, that is the exciting part. I have only the semblance of an idea.
The word “entrepreneur” stems from French, translating to “adventurer”, and this is what it really means — taking on new projects as they come along. This does not mean you have to create the next Google or Facebook, it means that, as any good adventurer does, you should listen to your interests and passions, and set out to do something new. The modern entrepreneur should always be looking to optimize existing systems he or she works within, or innovate to create new ones. Entrepreneurship isn’t limited to social, political, ‘business’ or professional spheres.
Learning how to be an entrepreneur cannot be circumscribed within the classroom, a book, or lecture. One’s’ willingness to think carefully and thoroughly about a problem with the courage to implement an actionable solution is crucial —entrepreneurship is an attitude.
If you don’t think you could ever be an “entrepreneur” – think again. A person’s ability to innovate is self-determined. But it isn’t ever that easy, is it? We all face the constant struggles and pressures inherent in balancing life. When you take on a new project, you must accommodate for working on your project, finishing your work for class, navigating the pressure to spend time with friends despite these commitments, making time to take care of yourself – exercise, proper diet, significant other… With all of that taken into consideration, is it really worth the extra commitment?
The truthful and honest answer is YES! It absolutely is, but only if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and take a strategically calculated risk. But, what if that risk is too much for the average Haverford student within our current environment and support structures?
What if there is a way to provide students the opportunity to take on innovative projects with support from the College?
We hope that The Haverford Innovation Platform (HIP) can be a part of the solution.
The Haverford Innovation Platform was formed to assist in the development and to support young innovators, so the balance between academic, social and entrepreneurial facets of life are more manageable, allowing students to effectively engage in both their studies and the projects they are passionate about. I know firsthand the everyday challenges of being a student with a project(s), which is why we are working to shape a program that will carefully complement the strenuous student lifestyle with supportive services, and structured learning opportunities in the form of workshops. We think HIP has the potential to inspire students and give them some of the tools they need to better engage with their passions, find the courage to dive into an exciting project, and then to be the change they want to see.
Haverford College is proud to teach some of the brightest student minds in the world, and we hope to play a role within this wonderful community, to push each other towards individual and community growth — starting right here on Haverford’s campus, with the talent and energy to flourish beyond.