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How to establish a student innovation community across institutions

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About SEED

Elliot provided us some great advice on how to spread entrepreneurship on campus. He started SEED, a club dedicated towards helping startups network and grow their business.

After gathering a core group of students dedicated towards SEED, Elliot began networking with professionals in the area to come speak to events that they held. This served as a token of reward for people to come to his events and eventually join his clubs. Many times, he would invite startup founders and SEED students would help generate ideas for their business. The club has since then expanded into entrepreneurship and marketing.

Since the club wanted to focus in on a few key elements, they split into a few subgroups: Art UP was marketing and video creation while Start UP was focused on business strategy and pitching. By aggregating students of various talents, SEED began to play a critical role in the success of students involved in the club.

Elliot also mentioned that they talked to professionals in the center to rent of spaces for them to hold their meetings. Today, they meet weekly at an outside Freelancing space. At these meetings, the different clubs that SEED helps manage come to together to help think of new ideas on how to better promote the startup space on their campus. Since students who attend these events have experience in skills ranging from the Adobe suite to engineering, it is the perfect ground for students to network and leverage each other's skills to grow their startup.


To help fund his club, Elliot asked local companies to provide mentorship. He stated that it was essential that they ask for mentorship before donation, as this had a higher response rate upon first contact with the entrepreneur. Contacting these entrepreneurs came by networking with University professors and alumni. By getting founders to come speak at his weekly meeting is a Ted Talk like style, he was able to form a strong bond with the professional. He suggests that with all individuals you meet, it is critical that you thank them for their time and support. Continue growing a relationship with them by asking about current projects they’re working on/internships they have available for students to help out. Another great place to network with individuals is at local accelerators and incubators.

Creating Student Interest

In order to get people involved, it’s best to hold an event where students wantto go to. To do so, Elliot mentioned that he held parties and posted flyers across school to raise awareness of his club. When students came, he recommended that holding contests (such as a $25 gift card) is a great incentive for student retention. To grow a successful club, it is best to have a team of 5-10 dedicated students.

Another incentive Elliot suggested would be to ask professors to give students extra credit for participating in hackathons. Thus, this would create a win-win situation where students not only enjoyed the time they spent coding, but also earned a reward out of it. In another example, he helped host pitch competitions where students could pitch their idea in return for cash prize to invest in their student. As a result, many students became eager to join. It is critical, he states, to always find a way to create a win-win situation.

Final Thoughts

In sum, Elliot recommends that it is best to start off small, focused on one key problem you are trying to fix on campus. It is best to incentivize the events as well so that it helps facilitate student interest in the organization. By aggregating students of different interests, it works best in the student's favor as they can bounce ideas off one another and provide resources and help to one another's startup. At the same time, networking is critical, so always be on the lookout for local events to meet with founders and don’t be scared of cold calling/emailing people. And most importantly, it is best to have a core group of students dedicated towards helping build the club.

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By: Robin Bonatesta, Neil Gandhi