By Amanda Garris Ph.D. ‘04
By summer 2016, student entrepreneurs will have a new home—eHub—with locations in Kennedy Hall and Collegetown.
“This is something that students are demanding across university campuses,” said Zach Shulman, director of Entrepreneurship at Cornell. “It’s not just smart on our part. Students have companies they want to start, and they need the space to do it. They can’t do it in their dorms or departments, so we need a serious, dedicated space.”
The $4.5 million eHub has been propelled by alumni, who have contributed the majority of the funds for the project. The coalition of collaborators includes Entrepreneurship at Cornell, the Student Agencies Foundation, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and the School of Hotel Administration.
The facilities will move Entrepreneurship at Cornell one giant step closer to its goal: When students think of entrepreneurial universities, they will think of Stanford, MIT and Cornell, and “not necessarily in that order,” according to Shulman. Current students agree that eHub is a game-changer.
“It may be surprising to people that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to have access to this resource—I wish it had been around when I was a freshman,” said Rosie O’Regan, a senior in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “Entrepreneurship is more a mindset than anything else, and you can see that in the many startups right on campus.”
The space will be home to programs sponsored by Entrepreneurship at Cornell, including several existing organizations: eLab, a business accelerator program offering intensive mentorship to student companies and their management teams; Student Agencies Inc., the nation’s oldest student-run business group; and POPSHOP, a community of entrepreneurially minded students. Dyson senior Gabe Polsky has spent many hours in POPSHOP, building business ideas of his own.
“It’s great to have a group of people come together, bringing their passion for creation and making things happen from all across the campus,” Polsky said. “One of the challenges I’ve faced is connecting with alumni. Mentorship is so important, but we need to think about redefining it. Sometimes we just don’t need a long-term commitment, but rather someone to touch base with on a particular idea.”
The space will ultimately help to meet those and other needs, with experiential business learning and mentors-in-residence, workshops, seminars, hack-a-thons and start-up weekends. The Kennedy Hall space will include offices for Entrepreneurship at Cornell, as well as spaces for group meetings, conferences, events, classes and presentations, and open areas for discussions and planning. Both locations will be open to all Cornell students, faculty and staff.
“This will be a place where any student at Cornell with an idea can get the resources to develop their business,” said Ross Evancoe, associate director of alumni affairs and development for CALS. “It will create more opportunities for students to connect with each other, industry leaders and guests.”