Entrepreneurial Mindset on Display During Winterim
In mid-January, nearly 30 Lewis & Clark students immersed themselves in the study of entrepreneurship and leadership through Winterim, a fast-paced and supportive experience where students collaborate in small groups to research, create, develop, and pitch a venture. More than 60 professionals—including a number of Lewis & Clark alumni—served as speakers, mentors, and judges during the weeklong program.
This year’s Winterim was conducted in a “hybrid style,” with both in-person and virtual events. The program featured two keynote speakers: Michelle Weise, who discussed the liberal arts and the future of work, and James Joaquin, cofounder of Obvious Ventures, who talked about the ethical underpinnings of designing a purpose-led organization. Throughout the week, students attended sessions on a variety of topics including idea generation, networking, personal financial literacy, telling your story, slide deck design, and the art of the sale.
The culminating event of Winterim is the annual pitch competition in which students present their start-up ideas. Eight judges, including leaders from the local business community, evaluate the proposals. Tony Abena BS ’86, L&C trustee, member of the Bates Center Advisory Board, and competition judge, generously donated $6,000 toward the cash prizes. Cliff Johnson, another competition judge, was so impressed by the caliber of the student pitches that he donated $750 on the spot for the third-place award.
“The pillars of our program–mindset, skill set, experiential opportunities, and networking–are all on display during Winterim,” says Chrys Hutchings, associate director of the Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “When you add an experience like Winterim to a liberal arts education, you provide a path for students to display courage, and you provide an easy way for employers to see these students will execute in the workplace.”
As someone who is not pursuing an entrepreneurship minor, I was worried that I would have a hard time understanding everything that would happen during the week. But once Winterim began, I did not feel lost at all. The program really met me where I was and helped me gain skills that I can use for my own major.
Winterim helped me learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur and provided me with skills I can actually use when I run my own business in the future. I especially love how this program helped me become a more confident speaker!
Winterim pushed me to be my best self under challenging circumstances. I learned a lot about my own abilities and what can be done with the right tools and support.
I was very hesitant about participating in Winterim. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, and sacrificing a week of my winter break did not sound the most compelling at first. However, after participating, I have no regrets … only that I wish I had participated in Winterim in previous years. It has been one of the most fun weeks of my life, and one that I will remember for many years to come.
I have never been the biggest fan of group work, but Winterim was different. We were able to use the skills we each brought in from the outside and also those we learned in the talks and lectures to come together and make a cool idea seem feasible. It was way more fun–and I was way more enthralled–than I expected. All of the people involved (speakers, mentors, staff) seemed so excited to be a part of the program and really gave us their all. I also met individuals I feel I can reach out to for professional support.
My biggest takeaway is that we are all so much more capable than we think we are. I was really nervous to participate in Winterim and doubted my ability to do what was asked of us. Now, I feel really empowered having accomplished all that we did in five days, and I am starting the semester with confidence. All of the workshops and mentors did an amazing job preparing us not only for our pitch but also for life. I feel hopeful now that I have been introduced to such an awesome network of people.
Pitch Competition Winners
First Place ($3,500 and a legal start-up package valued at $5,000 from Jibe Law): BlueberryMind
A subscription box (and/or stand-alone products) to bridge the generation gap between grandparents and grandchildren. Team members: Immanuel Harice BA ’22 (sociology and anthropology major), Jack Henderson BA ’23 (economics major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor), Francisco Perozo BA ’23 (environmental studies major/art and art history minor), Vanja Pesic BA ’22 (psychology and German major).
Second Place ($1,500): Store Next Door
Summer storage options for college students using neighbors’ unused space. Team members: Elijah Black BA ’23 (economics major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor), Isabella Blair BA ’22 (environmental studies major/political economy minor], Christian Gipson BA ’23 (physics/economics double major), Thairen Sivongsa BA ’22 (rhetoric and media studies major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor).
Third Place ($750): Actually Vegetarian
A curated monthly subscription box of instant vegetarian ramen. Team members: Adrian Aliwarga BA ’22 (rhetoric and media studies major), Blaise Harrison BA ’25 (undecided), Jens Martin BA ’22 (art history major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor).
“Best Understanding of the Problem” ($1,000): Bridging the Gap
A venture that creates a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) pipeline to help diversify the tech industry. Team members: Rakib Chowdhury BA ’22 (environmental studies major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor), Kyle Rauzi BA ’22 (psychology major/rhetoric and media studies and data science double minor), Anahi Rios BA ’22 (rhetoric and media studies major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor).
Teams Advancing to Statewide Competition
Two teams won entry to the InventOR Collegiate Challenge, a competition for college and university students from across Oregon who will go on to compete for $25,000 in prizes to fund their innovative ideas.
A children’s activity that combines growing a real-world plant with supporting digital activities. Team members: Shan Aladin BA ’23 (psychology), Katrina Kuzmina BA ’23 (rhetoric and media studies major/entrepreneurial leadership and innovation minor), Annabel Paris BA ’21 (mathematics major).
A delivery service that provides culturally authentic foods in an environmentally sustainable way. Team members: Mayumi Fulgencio BA ’23 (environmental studies major), Zakaria Kassim BA ’22 (computer science), Brayden Nomura BA ’23 (economics).
“The week was truly a triumph,” said Brian Detweiler-Bedel, director of the Bates Center. “I’m so proud of all our students who stepped up during this period of uncertainty created by the pandemic.”
Winterim is a program of the John E. and Susan S. Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Open to all class years and all majors, the Bates Center is designed to help students innovate as well as translate their liberal arts training to the workplace. Lewis & Clark students may also pursue a minor in entrepreneurial leadership and innovation, which has quickly risen to become the most popular minor at the college in terms of number of students.