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Meet the New Managing Director of the Entrepreneurship Center

October 21, 2013

Michael Kaplan comes to Lewis & Clark with more than 20 years’ experience in law, business, and entrepreneurship. He is also managing principal and cofounder of Revenue Capital Management, a venture capital fund. Kaplan holds degrees in economics and law and has lectured on entrepreneurship at several universities.

How does entrepreneurship fit with the liberal arts?

Extremely well! Entrepreneurship is built upon exploration, discovery, and collaboration. Entrepreneurial endeavors that improve our lives are inseparable from all that the liberal arts teach. This is true whether the aim is to start a new company or nonprofit or to create innovative ways to further the work and achievements of an existing organization. This is a big part of why I’m thrilled to join the wonderful Lewis & Clark community as part of the Center for Entrepreneurship team.

How do you define “entrepreneur”?

Being entrepreneurial is far broader than “starting a business.” Entrepreneurs make our lives and the world a better place. The best entrepreneurs focus on impact before fortunes.

Entrepreneurship needn’t be intimidating. Learning to be entrepreneurial can actually be pretty straightforward. What do you care about? What do you know? Who do you know? What do they know? What can you try to do with the answers to these questions? Answer these five questions and you are squarely on the entrepreneurial path!

What are the priorities of the entrepreneurship center?

The college’s goal is to provide an entrepreneurial hub where coursework and cocurricular activities add to our students’ abilities to create their best futures. The entrepreneurship center aims to encompass and model all that Lewis & Clark teaches: leadership, innovation, risk taking, adaptation, teamwork, and moral decision-making. Under the leadership of President Barry Glassner and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tuajuanda Jordan,the center is committed to being collaborative and active. I’m delighted by the number of substantive conversations I’ve already had with faculty, alumni, trustees, and other members of the community, and I’m interested in connecting with many more stakeholders.

What courses are available this year?

This fall, the Entrepreneurship Academic Director Brian Detweiler-Bedell and our faculty steering committee (the E-Group) launched the center’s first core course, Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It’s being taught collaboratively by Steven Goebel, director of the law school’s Business Law Program, and Michael Olich, associate professor of theatre. In the spring, the center’s second core course, a practicum focusing on topics such as finance, marketing, and business modeling, will be led by Brian and me.

What about activities outside the classroom?

In addition to continuing the highly successful Winterim program and Venture Competition, we will be offering new cocurricular activities both on and off campus. These initiatives are being developed around a three-tiered model: observation, experimentation, and demonstration. Students will be offered a wide variety of formats—ranging from fireside chats with entrepreneurs to opportunities for putting their coursework into practice with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The aim is to allow students to explore what it means to be entrepreneurial in a manner that fits their present interests and needs.

Will alumni and other community leaders be involved?

Absolutely! We are hoping to engage many members of the Lewis & Clark community, and also the community at large, to help us establish a program based on best practices. For example, over the next year, we plan to appoint several highly accomplished individuals to the Lewis & Clark Entrepreneurship Board of Advisors.

What do you do in your spare time?

What’s spare time? Just kidding (sort of). I love to read fiction and nonfiction (and sometimes trying to figure out which is which). I’ve been messing around with photography forever. Tennis has been messing with me for almost as long. My wife, Jan, and I both enjoy hiking. Last year, we walked 220 miles across Scotland (which, aside from a few wee blisters, was a fantastic way to see the country and meet great people).

What did you aspire to be when you were a kid?

Taller. My first driver’s license, at age 16, pegged me at 4 ́10 ̋. I was standing on the tip of my toes.

Do you believe an entrepreneurial mindset is inherited or learned?

Some students may be more natural entrepreneurs than others, but everyone can be entrepreneurial. It’s about learning how to turn possibilities into realities. And students of the liberal arts are among the best qualified for taking entrepreneurial journeys that can enrich all of our lives. Lewis & Clark’s Center for Entrepreneurship is aiming to do all it can to prepare its students to go wherever their hearts and minds lead.

Read more about Entrepreneurship at L&C.

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