These days an increasing number of Bowdoin students are asking the college to offer resources to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship here. Already a number of students are diving into this world. Last year, two students launched the Bowdoin Entrepreneurship Club and several others have founded new businesses, from apps to a campus food truck.
Now an alumna, with help from Career Planning, is organizing a series of fall workshops on start-ups in collaboration with enterprising alumni.
Arlyn Davich ’03, CEO/founder of PayPerks, has invited 13 alumni to speak at Bowdoin this semester. They come from many sectors — tech, venture capital, marketing, real estate, etc. — and will talk about several aspects of starting a business, from crafting and pitching a business proposal to forming revenue models.
To apply to the program, students must answer two questions: One, what problem do you think a business can solve? And two, what do you want to get out of the start-up series?
Davich first reached out to Career Planning to talk about launching an introductory seminar on start-ups, which she thought could be useful to and well-suited for Bowdoin undergraduates. “I think to be an entrepreneur you have to be flexible and just figure it out. More than anything liberal arts grads and Bowdoin grads in particular are taught how to adapt,” she said. Plus, she continued, “my Bowdoin education taught me how to learn about things. When you are starting a company, you learn about an industry and field, you create a hypothesis about why a new business would be good for that and you create a story.”
Both Davich and her brother, Eric Davich ’06, who is the co-founder and chief content officer of Songza, will team up with Sean Marsh ’95 to offer one of the workshops. All together, the program consists of four Friday afternoon sessions team-taught by small groups of alumni. Many more alumni have agreed to act as mentors for students, Herrmann said.
Davich said that she hopes that hearing Bowdoin alumni recount their stories will encourage students who are nursing big dreams. “After having heard the personal stories of several Bowdoin alums, I hope that students walk away inspired that they, too, can do it,” she said. “I hope that they feel the barrier to taking the first step to starting a business has been lowered.”