WANTED: [you fill in the rest!]
On a regular basis, the U of R community asks us how to find teammates and fellow innovators. To give everyone a space to contribute, we have created the Entrepreneur Connector: an interactive wall that allows you to share what you need and/or what you are willing to give.
Inspired by the entrepreneurial spaces at universities like Harvard and MIT, our Connector wall serves as a touchstone for those who want to get involved, but may not know how to get started. Jot down your information for a short project or fill out a sheet to seek someone to co-launch your new venture… whatever you are looking for, you can find it on the Connector.
Click around on the picture below to learn more!
Want to make your mark?
Head over to Dewey Hall, right outside of room 1-211!
Meliora: A New Idea for Romanian Entrepreneurs
Each fall, the Ain Center welcomes visiting faculty from Romania to explore entrepreneurship. Dragos Vintila, a member of the 2017 cohort, talks about his time in the states and the relationship between formal education and learning via experience.
Read the blog post here.
Meliora: A New Idea for Romanian Entrepreneurs
You learn, you try, and you apply. Education is continuous. We always strive for more, but reading every book ever written about rock climbing is nothing compared to reaching your first mountaintop. Nonetheless, that challenge would be impossible without some beforehand knowledge. Theory and practice are both required for success. Similarly, the gears of the entrepreneurial ‘engine’ work best when they are all nurtured. When we talk about entrepreneurship, we talk about knowledge, education, economy, innovation, R&D and people coming together, discussing and collaborating. The one thing I think is different and exciting in the United States and their entrepreneurial system is how these are all connected. Learning happens in classrooms and conference rooms. You discuss business plans with your partners and with your teachers.
There are countless ways one can learn about entrepreneurship. One of them is experiencing the U.S. way of life. Essentially a society developed by businesspeople and entrepreneurs, it is bright, bold and fascinating. I have had the pleasure of being a Fulbright-RAF award winner and spent one semester at the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. We participated in classes, attended business meetings, had wonderful discussions and traveled around the country for a while.
Being a teacher myself at the Ovidius University of Constanta, Romania, I have had the opportunity of placing myself both in the students’ and the professors’ seats during lectures. Here, the educational process is based on dialogue and is completed by self-study. The bibliography is flexible and most ‘assignments’ represent team projects with actual real-world applicability. The feedback is rich and valuable, and there are moments when you feel like you have transcended the lecture and landed in the middle of a business meeting. Students also have frequent mentor meetings, where they communicate with affluent businesspeople, hear their success stories, previous failures and advice for their future endeavors. It is an environment that stimulates, engages and fascinates everyone, inside and outside the University.
Furthermore, we took part in the pitch sessions at Excell Partners, where entrepreneurs present their design, concept and business approach, and gather the feedback and critique of the board. These weekly meetings gathered professors from all fields of study at the University of Rochester to discuss, analyze and eventually finance private ventures. As visiting professors, this was an invaluable process and learning experience, evaluating enterprises from diverse domains (e.g. medicine, navigation) while understanding the development strategies of American companies, allowing all that fit the criteria to participate, while choosing to finance only the best ideas and business plans.
We also had the opportunity to travel, visiting landmarks like Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall, as well as other prestigious institutions like the MIT Innovation Initiative, the Harvard Innovation Lab, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs. We met inspiring people, had productive discussions, visited magnificent places and ate mountains of pancakes each morning – providing energy for the day. Everything is connected.
Dragos Vintila was one of six Romanian professors in 2017 to receive a Fulbright-RAF research grant to learn about entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester. Vintila is an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Ovidius University of Constanta. His research focuses on structural stability, safety analysis, spatial planning, and – of course – entrepreneurship.
MLP @ Social Enterprise Conference (SECON)
Members of Meliora Launchpad, a University of Rochester club dedicated to exploring entrepreneurship, attended the Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard University.
Learn about their experiences here.
MLP Travels to
Social E’ship Conference
By Sidhant Ahluwalia and Angela Zou
From February 10th to 11th, Meliora Launchpad (MLP) – one of the University’s undergraduate entrepreneurship organizations – attended the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. Six of MLP’s eight executive board members (Sidhant Ahluwalia ’18, Sharfuz Shifat ’19, Sara Anis ’19, Marc Haddad ’21, Cherine Ghazouani ’21, and Angela Zou ’18) had the pleasure of attending this conference that garnered entrepreneurs from across America. The conference’s mission “to educate participants about Social Enterprise’s potential in solving the world’s most pressing problems and to inspire meaningful discussion around the key challenges with the field” focused on four pillars – build, scale, fund, and innovate.
Altogether, Meliora Launchpad members attended over twelve workshops and receptions with speakers from Google, McKinsey & Company, and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Workshops included Early-Stage Startup Funding: How to Land Your First Investment; Pitch Competition; Innovating Solutions in Emerging Markets; and Universal Basic Income: What Is It Good For? Marc Haddad, Public Relations Chair, stated, “I am someone who has a lot of ideas about what to do and how to be entrepreneurial, but I don’t know how to execute them. They told us the methods of how to successfully market the idea, how to go on with it and actually start executing.” He went on to say that at the University of Rochester, everyone has a vague idea about what entrepreneurship is, however they are not familiar with the right way to execute; this conference tackled all aspects of this. MLP’s Vice President, Sharfuz Shifat exclaimed, “It was an inspiring atmosphere, out of my usual bubble, in which I was able to dedicate my whole weekend for entrepreneurship. It opened my horizons to explore the various aspects of entrepreneurship.”
The members of Meliora Launchpad didn’t hold back on networking with panel speakers. During the conference, they also met with University of Rochester alums, Max Goodman ’12 and Alysha Alani ‘15 , who claimed that it was great to see the University and the Meliore Launchpad take such initiatives. MLP’s Marketing Chair Angela Zou said, “Even though the conference was themed for social enterprises, there was a takeaway for everyone”. Ahluwalia, who also serves as a campus ambassador for Venture Capital firm GroundUP ventures, claimed that he picked up on great tips for reviewing pitches and hopes to encourage students to learn more about public speaking and presenting ideas.
Moving forward, Meliora Launchpad would like to bring this spirit to campus and focus on developing social entrepreneurship learning for students. Because of the gap mentioned by Haddad (of students having the idea of entrepreneurship but not being able to go forward with these ideas), Meliora Launchpad will strive to be the platform to equip students, relay what was learned at the conference, work with them and put their ideas out there on the market. Shifat declared, “I believe Launchpad will be able to apply the learning from the conference, and build the entrepreneurial potential of undergraduate students here at the University of Rochester.”
Sidhant Ahluwalia is a member of University of Rochester’s Class of 2018. He is working toward a Bachelors of Arts degree in Computer Science, track in HCI. A student in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, Ahluwalia is also a campus partner for GroundUP Ventures and co-founder of Meliora LaunchPad, an entrepreneurship club for innovative students.
Angela Zou is a member of the University of Rochester’s Class of 2018. She is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, with a focus in Marketing. With experience in advertising and marketing, Zou strives to promote entrepreneurship across campus, through Meliora LaunchPad.