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Priorities:Elon University Faculty Project

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Project Name: Elon Innovates!

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Alyssa Martina

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

We don’t have a lot of student entrepreneurs with high-tech startups at Elon, but we do have many student-run small business ventures and student creatives in our community. It would be helpful to support them through a small fund. This would allow us to support students typically underrepresented in entrepreneurship.

Description

Our Center would like to establish a fund, called “Elon Innovates!” to support students who may not self-identify as entrepreneurs but who have small businesses or work in the creative space. Currently, we provide publicity for them but we’d like to do much more.

Students would apply to receive an award of up to $1,000, which could be used toward establishing their business or furthering their creative activities. This support would help them focus on reaching their entrepreneurial or business-minded goals. We will also connect these students and “Creatives” with mentorship, coaching, and connections from experts, alumni and others.

This program would facilitate students being able to invest in their own self-development, launch and grow their ventures, and accelerate their entrepreneurial journey in their own unique way.

Our goal is to support students from backgrounds and/or identities which are typically underrepresented in entrepreneurship but who display the passion and characteristics of an entrepreneur even if they don’t see themselves as such. This would amplify innovation on our campus.

Stakeholders served

  1. Student (and eventually alumni) Creatives
  2. Underrepresented students who have small businesses or possibly larger ventures
  3. Student-run/Alumni-run shops or services (i.e., non-”creative” products/services)

Key Milestones

  • December 2020: Get buy-in and ultimately approval from administration. Start fleshing out program and creating a slide deck for donors. Begin building interest and excited about this initiative. Identify strategic partners and collaborators. Build enthusiasm from Advisory Board members and other influencers
  • March 2021: Raise funds for this program. Identify how many students can take part in the first cohort. Ten possibly (?) and start to raise funding for this group and for the future. Possibly apply for grant funding.
  • June 2021: Start to promote the program to our students and potential students; gain excitement and build momentum with students over the summer. Focus on lots of social media and publicity around this initiative. Also reach out to potential coaches and mentors, experts and other stakeholders as well as alumni. Also create an application and a webpage to elicit interest and allow applicants to apply.
  • September 2021: Launch of Elon Innovates! Application Process Begins. Application process must be established. Hold informational workshops and other events to encourage students to apply. Create a committee to vet applicants and choose the first cohort. In background, built a webpage for the incoming cohort.
  • December 2021: First cohort of students have been selected, are awarded funds, coaches and mentors. Send out press release around the initial cohort and launch a webpage on them. Set up a schedule to meet with each student in the cohort on an ongoing basis.
  • March 2022: Showcase (physical and/or virtual) of student-led businesses supported by program. Celebrate the first cohort and begin the publicity for recruiting Year Two’s students.

An Innovation Portfolio

We will create a slide deck to share with potential donors; we will have another one for a workshop for students interested in applying to Elon Innovates! For students in the cohort, we will provide worksheets such as the Opportunity Canvas, the Ideation Canvas, other Design Thinking tools to help the students. We will use Social Media, including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, etc. to promote the students on a regular basis. We will host get-togethers for them to work together and to meet subject matter experts, mentors and coaches. For the end-of-year Showcase, we will create a full program and program book that will highlight, celebrate and amplify the students involved. More materials will evolve as we move into this initiative which we will happily make available to the community.