January 22, 2018

Students Take a Deep Dive Into Entrepreneurship and Leadership

For 5 days, 30 Lewis & Clark students joined faculty and mentors to learn about entrepreneurship from the ground up, connecting their liberal arts training with tools for identifying problems and developing solutions. The driving philosophy behind Lewis & Clark’s Winterim experience? Leadership and entrepreneurship are lifelong mindsets.

Winterim, the annual weeklong entrepreneurship experience organized by the newly renamed John E. and Susan S. Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership, brings students, faculty, and volunteer mentors together to learn what it means to be an entrepreneur. Whether igniting in each participant a desire to start a venture (such as a business, social enterprise, or nonprofit) or simply helping them cultivate their problem-solving skills, Winterim creates leaders who bring about change for the better.

The 30 students hailed from all corners of the globe—from Bend, Oregon, to Kigali, Rwanda. Comprised of students from myriad life paths and academic disciplines, they had in common a desire to learn more about entrepreneurship. For some it was their first experience of its kind; for others, it was an encore experience building on earlier explorations. And for five very full days, they learned together, brainstormed together, and pushed one another to think both critically and creatively.

“I entered Winterim completely unaware of what the week had in store, but I walked out of the program more well-rounded, confident, and aware of the realm of entrepreneurship,” said Pamplin Fellow Jackson Thein BA ’18, a biochemistry and molecular biology major. “After going through the program I firmly believe that entrepreneurship and leadership go hand-in-hand with the liberal arts experience, and the skills that I gained throughout the program have broad applications that I will use in the rest of my life. Whether it is sitting on a nonprofit board, interviewing for a future job, or simply entering the world of business, I am certain that what I learned in Winterim will benefit me for years to come.”

With all eyes focused on the pitch competition on Friday, participants worked and talked through workshops on a variety of topics, including innovation, market research, productivity and decision making, communicating a story, personal financial literacy, and one led by Meredith Goddard titled The CEO of You: Liberal Arts and the Future of Work.

Breaking into groups of three, the students started their week off with an icebreaker: an Onion-style headline contest, where the winning submission was “Students Protest Campus Housing For Matching Roommates With Opposite Astrological Signs.” They met their mentors and their speakers —including alumnus Ben McKinley BA ’98, who facilitated the Art of the Sale workshop. He started out by telling the group about his days at L&C and how he met his future wife at a home football game. Through role-playing, he taught students how sales is part of every aspect of their lives and that they should strive to understand before being understood.

Students heard from prominent social entrepreneurs, as well. The event’s keynote speaker was Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of MercyCorps, a leading global humanitarian organization based in Portland.

And, in between generating startup ideas and putting together business plans, the students also heard from Lewis & Clark alumni who started businesses as students. One such guest speaker was Jeff Cruttenden BA ’12, who created a popular personal finance app, Acorns, while a math major six years ago. Jeff flew out from New York for two days to explain his app and his approach to connecting the liberal arts with entrepreneurship.

The "GetTurf" team -- Rachel Stone ’18, Matthew Telles ’21, and Nicholas Lombardi ’21 -- with pitch competition judge,  retired faculty member and life trustee John Bates.At the end of a stimulating and exhausting week, judges and mentors lauded the students’ drive and creativity. Internships and job offers were extended; lifelong contacts were formed. The winning team pitch was GetTurf, which styled itself as “the Airbnb of unused athletic fields and gyms to service the market of traveling sports teams.” The grand prize: a tour of product design and engineering firm (and mentor participant) Uncorked Studios, which will create an action figure of each team member.

“My general reflection on Winterim this year is that it was excellent,” said Joyness Byarugaba, a junior double majoring in economics and psychology. “Most of what I learned from this week are lessons beyond the entrepreneurship realm. Winterim set a tone for how I want to experience my year, communicate value, be productive, control my finances, and so forth. Winterim really challenged me and gave me a chance to build my confidence, experiences, and knowledge with and through others.”

Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership


(Photos by Renee Allums-D’Espyne ’18.)