Students Learn To Launch Start-Ups

Capitalizing on the spirit of the national corporate-sponsored “EntrepreneurshipWeek USA,” the six-month-old Harvard College Entrepreneurship Forum (HCEF) has organized three campus-wide discussions this week in support of students’ commercial creativity.

The first discussion, “Student Entrepreneurs: Staging a Company in Between Classes,” held Monday, centered on the practicalities of becoming an entrepreneur at Harvard—namely what students can do to meet challenges they face while pursuing their enterprise ideas.

The informal discussion was facilitated by Vice President and co-founder of HCEF Michael Segal ’09 and included alumnae who were on hand to share their real world wisdom with students.

Beardsley Ruml II ’64, computer programmer and entrepreneur, advised eager students at the forum that it is not the brilliance of the idea that counts, but rather the work that students are willing to put into the idea.

The most common issue raised by students at the event was a lack of financial backing, which often inhibits entrepreneurs from developing their ideas.

Several students present, however, said that, with HCEF’s help, they had found grant programs that provided them with the money to actualize their ideas.

Acting as a networking liaison for students with entrepreneurial aspirations is one of HCEF’s primary aims.

“What we try to focus on as an organization is pooling all the resources at this institution and the alumni base,” said Nimay K. Mehta ’09, co-founder and president of HCEF. “We don’t have much of the expertise to help with these ideas ourselves, but we can put you in touch with people who know the answers.”

In this vein, Wednesday’s networking event called, “Web Start-ups: Finding Great Developers and Designers” will pair entrepreneurs with those proficient in web development and design.

For those who have an inventive idea in the works, Friday’s “Entrepreneurship Forum Idea Competition” promises $150 prizes for the top four ideas.

Segal said that this week’s events, and entrepreneurship in general, are not just for profit-seeking individuals.

“The forum is not just for people interested in business,” Segal said. “Everybody has ideas...the world runs on new ideas.”