Forty-five students spent the last few days of fall break learning how to take the big ideas they’ve developed as Bryn Mawr students and turn them into viable business opportunities.
The students were taking part in the second in an ongoing series of workshops that expose students to practical business and finance skills and concepts during the College’s fall, winter, and spring breaks.
“More than anything, to be a successful entrepreneur you have to see the big picture. That’s what Bryn Mawr’s students and the liberal-arts education they receive here are all about,” says Bryn Mawr Chief Financial Officer John Griffith, the person responsible for putting these workshops together.
Covering “The Basics of Entrepreneurship,” the two-day workshop was presented by Golden Seeds, a New York-based investor group that provides early-stage capital to female entrepreneurs.
“Women remain dramatically underrepresented in the finance fields, so to be able to partner with Golden Seeds was great for our students,” says Griffith.
Day one of the workshop started with an introduction to the concepts of entrepreneurship and the basics of starting your own business. An exercise in business-model creation required students to to identify a problem, create a unique solution, define the customer and asses various revenue models.
“Students quickly realized that business skills are not just critical for ‘for-profit business,’ but also support the inbuilt desire of Bryn Mawr students to give back to the community and to advocate for female empowerment” says Yashaswini Singh ’13, an economics and math double major who attended the workshop.
Among the ideas generated were business plans for a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the high-school drop-out rate for low-income female students and a plan to help fund female independent film producers to improve the way women are portrayed in the media and pop culture.
Students were joined at lunch by guest speakers Catherine Allegra ’84 and James Tanner, an alumnus of Haverford College. Allegra and Tanner are co-founders of Wall Street on Demand, a company that provides designs and develops websites, reports and financial tools for the financial-services industry.
“It was reassuring to hear Catherine talk about how she’s been able to use the education she received at Bryn Mawr to succeed in the business world and how Bryn Mawr, the honor code and the essence of self governance continue to shape her identity in the professional world as well,” says Singh.
The rest of the day was dedicated to learning concepts related to marketing and finance, such as market analysis, effective marketing strategies and analysis of financial statements.
For day two, students focused on learning about financial statements, capital planning for a small business, pitching to investors, and the challenges involved in selling a company.
“Although I came into the program not really knowing what to expect, I would say that I was thrilled with the knowledge I acquired in the entrepreneurship workshop,” says Rhianna Shaheen ’14. “I found that many of my interests, which originally seemed unsuited for the business world, could easily be applied to a business model based on my own hopes and aspirations.”
Day two also featured lunch with Jane Donohue, senior vice president of YouGovHealthcare, who received her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr. Thanh-Trang Hoang-Le ’13 Tweeted from the workshops and wrote, “Jane Donohue is the most energetic, awesome Bryn Mawr grad I’ve ever met.”
“This is the second one of these we’ve done, and putting current students in contact with alumnae who are able to share their real-world success and inspire the students to dream big has been one of the most important aspects of both programs,” says Griffith.
The Basics of Entrepreneurship workshop is part of a series of student education programs sponsored by Bryn Mawr’s Treasurer’s Office. The winter 2012 program takes place Jan. 9-13 and focuses on careers in management and management consulting. Students interested in attending can contact Sydney Coppola in the Treasurer’s Office scoppola(at)brynmawr(dot)edu .