Thank you CMC Magazine for featuring an article about CIE in the Winter 2012 issue! Click here to view the CMC Magazine Winter 2012 issue online, or read the article here:
“Ideas–– especially really good ones–– are born at all hours, and having the right resources, including people who can offer valuable advice and direction, can be the difference between an executed idea and a dream that stagnates. At CMC, the new, experimental Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is designed to champion a new crop of CMC business leaders, and lead the way for new ventures coming out of The Colleges.
The Center is being led by Janet Smith, the Von Tobel Professor of Economics, under the auspices of the Dean of the Faculty, the Kravis Leadership Institute, and the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.
“We would like to see Claremont McKenna at the center of entrepreneurship at The Claremont
Colleges,” Smith says. “This involves providing a variety of resources to encourage and support
young entrepreneurs, including clinic experience, workshops, fast-pitch events, team building events,
entrepreneur-in-residence programs, as well as an enhanced curriculum with courses that make
students ‘venture ready,’” she said. “Our goal is to engage students from all majors and from all of
Smith was on last September’s steering committee that guided the evolution of the program.
Committee colleagues included Hilary Appel (Podlich Family Professor of Government and George
R. Roberts Fellow), Brock Blomberg P ’13 (Peter K. Barker ’70 Professor of Economics and George
R. Roberts Fellow), Eric Helland (Robert Lowe Professor of Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow),
Gary Evans (HMC), Jay Conger (the Henry R. Kravis Research Chair in Leadership Studies), and Sarah
Smith Orr (executive director of the Kravis Leadership Institute). Students on the committee included
Tyler Sonnemaker ’15, Julian Mackie ’15, and Miles Bird ’13, as well as students from Pomona College
Smith says the Center’s development was a highly collaborative process, involving administration as
well as students and faculty. “It leverages the terrific programming and co-curricular opportunities
available at the Robert Day School and the Kravis Leadership Institute,” she says. It is also using
students in the role of co-directors of the Center, sharing in its operations and direction.
Although the essence of what makes a great entrepreneur hasn’t changed much over the years, Smith
says ways into the market have been transformed.
“What we’re seeing is a difference in the level of importance that technology has in start-ups, and in
understanding and exploiting network economies,” she says. “A lot of what is going on now, in the
early stages of entrepreneurship, is human-capital focused. It means a highly successful start-up
can be very small— an individual or a few individuals can collaborate on something as revolutionary
She’s also noticed a climb in social entrepreneurship–– businesses, she says, that have profit
potential as well as clear social value.
The new Center will support both social entrepreneurs, as well as traditional entrepreneurs of all
stripes. The goal is to ignite a community of young business leaders, and help them ideate further.
As start-ups have become a hot topic the past few years, particularly in Los Angeles and New York,
the Center is an ideal place for current CMCers looking to build new ventures (or think about them)
while in school.
The Center is operating in a two-story, renovated cottage on Mills Avenue and Sixth Street, just south
of Ducey Gymnasium. Student leaders envision the location to be used in many ways including:
- Ability to reserve space for organizations and ventures
- Structured events (idea generation, lunches, speakers, and workshops)
- Open for general use
- Mentoring program
“CMC has a long tradition of entrepreneurial students and supportive alumni, and we hope to build on
that tradition,” Smith said.
Keep an eye out as CIE continues to get more active on campus!