Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a strategic initiative at Colorado College. Simply put, CC is committed to weaving the themes of Innovation and Entrepreneurship throughout the fabric of its liberal arts education and experience. We view Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a crucial theme of higher education and relevant to all CC students no matter the major. At the end of the day, our goal is to see CC students from all academic backgrounds educated, relevant, equipped and motivated to pursue creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial ventures and careers.
How will we accomplish this goal? By making the Big Idea bigger and better than ever before. On the surface, the program is a student competition to come up with and develop startup ideas, culminating in a pitch competition with a monetary prize to serve as seed money for launching the ventures. But there is much more to the program, even in this second year. Throughout the year, we have an “extra-curricular” program that includes presentations to provide learning opportunities to all interested students. This program normally meets on Thursday afternoons at 3:30pm in the Tutt Science Lecture Hall.
There are three types of presentations during this regular, ongoing program. Some are focused on teaching essential skills and knowledge required to do a startup; these are called “Startup Essentials” presentations. The second type of presentation is called “Startup Leaders” which are largely the personal and startup stories from the experience of seasoned serial entrepreneurs. The third type of presentation is called “From the Trenches”; these are mostly first time entrepreneurs, one step ahead of the current CC students in their startup experience. All of these presentations are intended to provide students with important pieces of what they need to develop as innovators and entrepreneurs.
Besides the pitch competition and the regular Thursday programs, we have three additional elements to the program this year. Throughout the year, we will also have an “Innovative Minds” lecture series. These are intended to be relevant to the theme of innovation and entrepreneurship, but are less applied to the specific objectives of the pitch competition. As such, these lectures are intended to appeal to a larger audience. Also, we are launching a “Startup Bootcamp” program this January over the half-block. Finally, we are engaging with the local community of innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as CC alumni, to help mentor and be a resource to students.
One other piece of perspective: The Big Idea is about three different kinds of startups. It’s about startups that focus on dramatic innovations, often disruptive in character, and typically backed by venture capital investment. The Big Idea also includes small business style startups. These often result in local, very cool, and potentially highly profitable ventures, but without the kind of swing-for-the-fences qualities of venture backed startups. Finally, the Big Idea is also about Social Entrepreneurship. These are innovative new ventures that are measured typically less in terms of profit, and more by social impact and value.
So...what will be your Big Idea?