Senate unanimously backs support for entrepreneurs
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 03:04
At the final Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate meeting of the semester on April 15, the body unanimously (23-0-0) passed two resolutions that address entrepreneurial initiatives and resources at Tufts.
The first resolution, “A Resolution Calling for the Creation of the Tufts Innovation and Ideas Mentorship Program (‘The Incubator’),” calls for the creation of a physical infrastructure and mentorship council made up of Tufts faculty, alumni and area business leaders to support and help students’ entrepreneurial ideas. The resolution was submitted by junior Senator Meredith Goldberg and Trustee Representative Josh Kapelman, a senior.
The second resolution, “A Resolution Calling for an Entrepreneurial Initiative and Environment for Undergraduates at Tufts University (‘The Initiative’),” calls for the creation of an environment — such as a lounge, living space or work facility — that supports students’ entrepreneurial initiatives. The resolution was submitted by Kapelman and junior Albert Nichols, the president of Tufts Entrepreneurs Society.
Kapelman described “The Incubator” as a mentorship council that will advise student entrepreneurs on how to launch their ideas.
“In the business world, no one really cares about a student’s ideas because they don’t have a track record,” Kapelman said. “We have to figure out how we can create an ‘A-Team’ made of students and backed by industry professionals, professors and people with a track record of performing. That’s how the idea of ‘The Incubator’ came to be.”
“Five years down the road, as [the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service] is for citizenship, we’ll create something for entrepreneurship,” Kapelman said. “You can’t just throw money at someone and say ‘OK, now be successful.’ You have to give them mentorship and put together an advisory committee. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Kapelman, who founded two start-up companies before matriculating at Tufts, plans to use his industry experience to help other students realize their own ideas.
Kapelman enlisted Goldberg’s help to co-submit the resolution for “The Incubator.”
“My mom was the director at the [Entrepreneurial Leadership] department at Tufts, so the ideas of Tufts and entrepreneurship were very linked in my mind,” Goldberg said. “I had the background with the Senate and [Tufts Entrepreneurs Society], so [Kapelman] wanted advice about how to push it forward and not only get the support of the Trustees but get support within the Tufts community as well.”
The two resolutions are part of an ongoing effort to create a collaborative environment that will foster student entrepreneurship at Tufts.
Nichols co-submitted the resolution calling for “The Initiative” with Kapelman in hopes of creating a social and residential space for budding entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas and build networks with like-minded students.
“We hope to create a residential environment in which students are encouraged to create businesses and cool ideas that will improve Tufts and the world,” Nichols said. “There are thousands of students at Tufts who are working on their own projects, and it’s time that we leverage each other to accelerate the individual projects that we’re working on. We’re focused on creating that environment as part of the undergraduate experience.”
The next step for both projects is contingent upon the support of the Board of Trustees. Kapelman, who acts as a liaison between the Senate and the Board of Trustees, anticipates that the projects will be successful.
“Right now, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program is going through a big transition,” Kapelman said. “Director Pamela Goldberg left, so throughout the year the program has been interviewing new applicants. One of the things that the Board of Trustees said to the Provost was ‘We’d like to add [‘The Incubator’] as one of the things we look at when we hire this new person.’”
In light of the Senate’s unanimous passing of both “The Incubator” and the Initiative, Kapelman urged students to consider entrepreneurial training as a core aspect of professional life.
“It’s really important to understand that entrepreneurship is not business,” Kapelman said. “It touches every place in your life: It creates you, it makes you a leader, it develops you as person.”
Nichols also emphasized that entrepreneurship does not solely entail beginning business ventures.
“Our biggest thing is to encourage all students — whether you’re a musician, a computer scientist or you’re studying international relations — to take an entrepreneurial approach to what you do,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a business, you don’t have to start your own company, but just say, ‘I can do it myself, I can do it better, and I can use the smart people around be to create the world we live in.’ That’s what we believe in.”