Eduardo Sienra-Lempeke ’21 and Spencer Tu ’21 relaunched the Oberlin Entrepreneurship Club, which will host Oberlin’s first-ever Startup Weekend, September 21-23.
What does it take to become an entrepreneur? And what resources and tools are needed to embark on an entrepreneurial path?
Second-years Eduardo Sienra-Lempeke and Spencer Tu took an appropriately entrepreneurial approach to answering these questions and, with the help of a few other interested students, launched the Oberlin Entrepreneurship Club (OEC).
Once an active student-run organization on campus, over the past few years the club had become idle. So, with the encouragement of Bara Watts, director of entrepreneurship, the students reinvigorated the club in February 2018.
The club’s mission is to “create platforms and events in order to generate business and financial access for everyone in the Oberlin College community,” and it has been successful in doing just that.
After just four months of being recognized as an official campus club, the group assisted the Center for Innovation and Impact (which was known at the time as the Creativity and Leadership Project) to organize LaunchU 2017-2018, which awarded $37K in seed funding to winners. It also helped the Center for Innovation and Impact by organizing three InnovationTalks, connecting approximately 80 students with entrepreneurs in STEM fields.
Oberlin’s student body was primed and ready for the club’s reemergence, according to Sienra-Lempeke.
“Oberlin is known for its proactive and ahead-of-its-time student body. We wanted to make the most of that energy, mindset, and ambition to help students to create projects that will positively impact our community and themselves. In short, [we wanted to] materialize that unique value shared among Oberlin students.”
The club meets weekly to discuss how it can provide resources and tools to empower entrepreneurs in the college, and it has great aspirations.
“In the short-term, I want the club to be more inclusive each day. We believe that diversity is the key to the success of every team,” says Sienra-Lempeke. “In the long-term, my biggest dream is that the club could reach every member of our community and provide quality resources [that] empower everyone to become the best version of themselves.”
For Tu, cochairing the club allows him to meet new entrepreneurs and make connections that provide him with inspiration. “As a leader of the club, I get the chance to interact and learn from those who are more experienced; therefore, I can learn to be a better entrepreneur and business person.”
Sienra-Lempeke’s heavy involvement is rooted in his enthusiasm for social good. “I'm interested in how technology can make a positive impact on our society by giving people access to information, quality health, and education. Even though I do not know yet what specific idea will take me to my ambition, I decided that I could start down the path by providing resources and tools to help Oberlin students achieve their goals.”
The pair’s commitment to the club’s success hasn’t waned over the summer. Between the hustle and grind of their own internships and summer programs, the two have also been planning Oberlin’s first-ever Startup Weekend , an intense extravaganza of entrepreneurial thinking.
In just 54 hours, Startup Weekend participants will get a glimpse of startup life. Through the support of mentors, investors, and company co-founders, participants will chose a business idea, form teams, and build a real company, all culminating in a pitch at the conclusion of the weekend.
Organized by Techstars , a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, Oberlin’s Startup Weekend, held September 21 through 23, is intended to enhance the Oberlin experience by encouraging student participants to come up with ideas to improve the college and city. All students are invited to participate.
When reflecting on the Startup Weekend events and OEC’s involvement, Sienra-Lempeke is clear that the weekend’s intended goal isn’t all work and no play. “[We want] to create an atmosphere that will allow students to develop the best project possible and have fun at the same time.”