Club Sparks Interest in Entrepreneurship

Taylor Fleming

Colgate’s liberal arts program generates well-rounded students with backgrounds in diverse dis­ciplines. Yet, at times, this broad focus can take away from im­portant specialization in certain areas of study or even rewarding career paths.

Specifically, Junior Bharad­waj Obula Reddy noticed that there was “nothing at Colgate for people who wanted to start their own business.”

For Reddy, however, these were not just observations. He saw the op­portunity to create something and, during the last semester, Reddy or­ganized and began Colgate first-ever Entrepreneurs’ Club.

Perhaps the most significant turning point for the club was when Reddy enlisted “Investing” Program Coordinator at the Cen­ter for Career Services Anne Clauss to take part in his creation. Clauss, who has a BSE from Princeton University in Aerospace Engineer­ing, an MBA from Harvard Busi­ness School and firsthand experience with entrepreneurship, appeared to be the perfect advisor.

Clauss even connected Reddy to a summer internship at the Colgate-associated Chenango Capital Firm. Through spending last summer at the venture firm, Reddy found him­self surrounded by entrepreneurs. He learned the ropes and, by summer’s end, was determined to bring en­trepreneurship to Colgate’s campus. After putting Reddy in touch with alumni, who continue to be outlets for potential funding for the club, and overseeing weekly meetings of the club, Clauss has continued to fill the role of advisor.

The first meeting of the Entre­preneurs’ Club caught major atten­tion on the Campus distributions list. Over 85 students attended and watched Reddy’s plans for the club pour out over a powerpoint presen­tation. The idea was to give on-cam­pus attention to business creation and ownership and to “provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs” by forming firsthand opportunities.

The opportunities of which Reddy spoke quickly became active endeav­ors. One such project, Alternative Food Service, was a business venture thought up and performed by the group. The idea was to buy food on credit from restaurants and even stu­dent chefs, sell to students and turn a profit. The event occurred three times in October and raised $2000 to go into an Entrepreneurs’ Club account.

As meetings continued, the club became an outlet for career guidance and connections within and beyond Colgate; students who worked with the club were interested in access to alumni and networking opportuni­ties. Thus, the mission of the group was expanded to include the club’s newfound meaning as an entrepre­neur-specific network. In fact, in the past semester alone, five accom­plished alumni entrepreneurs gave presentations to the club.

With the first project underway, the Entrepreneurs’ Club soon discov­ered its need for organization. During the last semester, a board was elected, which consisted of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and outreach and inreach coordinators.

This semester, the Entrepreneurs’ Club hopes to grow in three specific areas: workshops on topics such as web building and franchising; contin­ued entrepreneurial ventures and more networking opportunities. Some proj­ects that have already been discussed include “Good ‘Gate Food” which is a continuation of the alternative ser­vice; “To Your Door” which would be a campus-wide food delivery service; “Youniversity” which is a student-teaching-student initiative and “Ham­iltonian,” a service creating classified ads for the village and campus.

The group meets weekly and is searching for new members.

“From the multi-billion dollar Facebook to the home-baked Insom­nia Cookies, someone had an idea while in college and they had access to resources that helped them turn the idea into a successful venture.” Reddy said. “The Entrepreneurs’ Club is that resource for you at Colgate.”