Isabel Wyer ‘18.5 shares an interview with fellow student Rachael Salerno ‘18.5 about Midd Entrepreneurs, a J-term class for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Have an idea and don’t know how to bring it to life? Want to start a business or a non-profit but don’t think you have time? Well, we have the class for you. Middlebury’s Innovation Hub offers a J-term course for students who want to start their own business or non-profit. This class is called Midd Entrepreneurs.
The Innovation Hub loves to see its students take a risk and put themselves, and their ideas, out there. The course design of Midd Entrepreneurs is to build a business prototype and launch it into a market. In the class, you will engage with customers, experience what it is like to develop a start-up, and get credit for it! Classes include pitch practice and critique with help from Oratory Now (the public speaking group on campus). It also includes field trips to Burlington to see some successful local businesses. At the end of the course, students compete with their classmates in a pitch competition, judged by local entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and various mentors. Winners of the pitch competition will then represent Middlebury in the Launch VT Collegiate competition, competing against other collegiate Vermont startups for a cash prize.
To apply to Midd Entrepreneurs, students must submit a business proposal and discuss their idea with one of the visiting instructors from VCET (Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies). This year’s course will be taught by David Bradbury and Sam Roach Gerber. Visit go/entrepreneurs for more info and click here to apply! Applications are due on Friday, October 20th.
We have proof that the next big idea could be yours. Rachael Salerno ’18.5 took Midd Entrepreneurs last winter and I am here representing the Innovation Hub to ask her about it… read the full interview below:
I: When did you take Midd Entrepreneurs?
R: I took it during J-Term of my Junior year.
I: What made you decide to take it? How did you get involved?
R: So, I helped start a business with some friends called Share to Wear and we had been working on it all fall, and the Innovation Hub on campus brought it to our attention and said it would be a great opportunity to meet some older and more experienced entrepreneurs and get to work on it – and solely it – all of J-term. Which is awesome because it’s hard to start a business and take four classes.
I: So, you guys did have an idea before you started the program. Did every group in Midd Entrepreneurs have a plan? Were there some individuals or groups that did not have an idea?
R: Some people had ideas set in stone and some had a very vague idea that they applied with. You don’t need to have a concrete thing; some people change their ideas or join forces. It’s very flexible.
I: What are your highlights from Midd Entrepreneurs?
R: We took a fieldtrip to Burlington and actually went to some start-ups, like Dealer.com, and got to see some office spaces and talk to their founders and see how they made it happen.
I: What lessons and skills did you learn?
R: A lot about the basics of starting a business. We didn’t actually have a concrete business model and they walked us through that. It was really cool to have a mentor walk us through that every day and actually show us the best way to pitch. Oratory Now came in and helped us with our speaking skills.
I: Can you give us a little insight of what the classes are like?
R: The classes were not too early, which is awesome, but we did a ton of pitching. So, we had one business go at a time and they give us their best pitch at the time and we would critique it and tell them what we liked and what we didn’t like and then the rest of the class was a lesson like how to split equity, how to find a partner or how to price a product.
I: Okay and finally, where is Share to Wear now? (July 2017)
R: We won a MiddChallenge grant, so we had money to work on it all summer and we are in Burlington working at the Midd Entrepreneurs office, VCET, and expanding and doing as much as we can!
If you have any questions about the course, are seeking general advice about your idea, or want to learn more about the programming at the Innovation Hub, please email [email protected]
Visit go/innohub to learn about all of the exciting resources that Middlebury’s Innovation Hub has to offer. Follow @middinnovation and visit go/innonews to keep up to date with events, deadlines, program updates, etc.