Two new entrepreneurs’ groups, one for students and one linking Colby’s resources with a broader community network, were announced in September by the Career Center.
The Colby Entrepreneurial Alliance offers a one-year sequence of workshops and skill-development activities to give students tools to get started as entrepreneurs. As of the Sept. 23 announcement, 31 students had signed up for the alliance, said Director of the Career Center Roger Woolsey.
The Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network is a consortium that links Colby students, alumni, the Career Center, and Alumni Relations with community institutions and resources including economic developers, local governments, successful area entrepreneurs, and other schools.
Together the two initiatives are generating enthusiasm on and off Mayflower Hill. Both were described at a Sept. 23 kickoff dinner for the Colby Alumni Network (CAN) weekend.
Speakers there included Kenneth Young ’68, executive director of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. “Colby provides a cachet, resources, a beautiful venue, a supply of talented young people,” Young said, speaking for central Maine economic development professionals, “ ... and we provide a sort of a learning laboratory.”
Mark G. Johnson ’96, who sold his startup web project to Conde Nast and is now senior director of travel web magazines for Conde Nast Digital, concluded: “You either are [an entrepreneur] or you’re not, and it would have been nice to figure that out at Colby.” Brandon Pollock ’10, one of two entrepreneurs who started the Blue Reserve bottle-less water cooler company while still in his senior year, credited Colby alumni, administrative offices, and professors for Blue Reserve’s successful launch.
Michael Duguay, director of development services for Augusta, Maine, suggested that the network and new efforts to nurture entrepreneurs are a paradigm change for economic development in the region. He joked that the old model was “aggressively waiting for the phone to ring,” and said, “We’re on the edge of something new and very, very exciting.”
When Natalie Collins ’97 pressed network organizers to include social entrepreneurism in the mix, Career Center Director Woolsey said a social entrepreneurs’ club being started at Colby had 75 prospective members and that he looked forward to collaboration between the social and business entrepreneurs on campus.
The Morning Sentinel published a story Sept. 25 about students involved in the entrepreneurs programs.