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The eLab: A Hub for New Ideas

February 09, 2015

Academic Director Brian Detweiler-Bedell (left) and Managing Director “MAK” Kaplan in the eLab.Academic Director Brian Detweiler-Bedell (left) and Managing Director “MAK” Kaplan in the eLab.

“Some students say they spend more time in the eLab than at home!” jokes Michael A. Kaplan, better known as “MAK,” managing director of Lewis & Clark’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Located on the third floor of J.R. Howard Hall, 
the new eLab offers a dedicated space for students and alumni to brainstorm entrepreneurial ideas and to receive feedback on existing projects. “The eLab is a great resource hub for transforming an idea into a reality,” says Kaplan.

The eLab includes a variety of features that 
emphasize and facilitate collaboration, including movable tables with dry-erase surfaces, wall-size whiteboards, and large-screen computer monitors. These elements have been particularly helpful to student Incubator+Launch Seed Fund teams, such as Intrepid Resource Management, whose members use Google Earth to locate discarded scrap metal to resell at a profit. “The eLab is a phenomenal area where we can brainstorm new ideas, discuss logistics, make calls, send emails, and have meetings,” says team member Erich Roepke CAS ’17.

Members of the Seed Fund team “PlanIt,” who are developing a calendar app that recommends curated local activities of interest by time and/or cost, agree. One of the team’s members, Scott Owen CAS ’17, was working in the eLab when he hit a roadblock. “I literally drew on every desk and whiteboard in the room, over and over, until an 
idea clicked,” he says.

But according to students, perhaps its best feature is MAK himself, who occupies an office next door. “The eLab gives us access to a real-life, successful entrepreneur, just a knock away,” Roepke says.

Kaplan emphasizes that alumni are also welcome in the eLab. “The space brings together people who are involved in all kinds of innovative and entrepreneurial journeys,” he says. “It allows all of us to expand our relationships and our reach in valuable ways.”

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—by Rebecca Lill CAS ’15

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