Entrepreneurship at Sarah Lawrence College
There’s a uniquely independent and entrepreneurial spirit cultivated at Sarah Lawrence College. Our students learn to approach problems from new angles and see opportunities from an interdisciplinary perspective. Here's a look at how they put that approach into practice during their time at SLC and after graduation.
Sarah Lawrence College recently launched SLCeeds, an entrepreneurship immersion pilot program. Through SLCeeds, students have the unique opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial idea to pitch-readiness through a series of lectures, workshops, mentoring, live pitches, and a boot-camp designed to stimulate and mold ideas. More than 100 students participated in the pilot program this year, with 13 teams taking on the challenge of pitching at PitchFest in February. Congratulations to the two winning teams from the culminating FinalPitch event: ChallengeMe, an online community dedicated to challenging each other, presented by Zachary Doege '15 and Connor Miller '15, and ChanceMe, an online fashion site bridging the gap between designers and fashion lovers by Harper Hunt '13 and Wujing Wang '14.
For more information on SLCeeds, e-mail Jennie Stam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students Compete for Hult Prize
In Spring 2013, an SLC student team entered the prestigious Hult Prize competition, a collaboration between the Hult International School of Business and the Clinton Global Initiative. Among 10,000 graduate and undergraduate applicants worldwide, the SLC team was one of 70 that advanced to one of five regional finals and were one of only three undergraduate teams in the regional competition. The team members were inspired by their Economics course, Social Entrepreneurship: Models for Intervention in Global Poverty, and encouraged by their teacher, Catherine Muther '69.
The student team was (above, left-right): Jeamme Chia '13, Jackie Assar '14, Teresa Phiri '13, Sachi Shah '15, and Maria Munoz '13.
Luck You Collective
The New York Times recently profiled the Luck You Collective, a group of 19- to 21-year-olds who organize art shows, run zine workshops, and bring together members of NYC's downtown art world. SLC student Carmen Hall ’16 is a core member of the collective, which renowned photographer David Mushegain describes as “the heart and soul of the young New York creative scene.”
Catherine Muther '69
With the proliferation of hip websites like Kickstarter, it seems anyone can come up with an idea for changing the world, get funding, and see their idea become reality. Social entrepreneurship—applying business principles to a venture seeking social change—is a trendy term these days, and new projects intent on helping those less fortunate are cropping up in droves.
This was not the case in 1994, when Catherine Muther ’69 decided to leave a lucrative senior position in marketing at Cisco Systems, determined to use her business acumen to realize greater social equity instead of just greater profits. Muther says she decided to “build on what I learned from building new companies in new industries to create an entrepreneurial foundation focused on change,” and she established the Three Guineas Fund (named after Virginia Woolf’s famous essay on war and women) with $2 million of her own money. The organization is committed to establishing opportunities for women and girls in education and the economy, and Muther receives no salary.
Now Muther, who holds graduate degrees from Cambridge and Stanford, has brought her mover-and-shaker notions back to Sarah Lawrence, where last fall she taught an economics class titled “Social Entrepreneurship, Models for Intervention in Global Poverty.” (Read course blog») Students worked on teams to prepare business cases and present them in front of the class (common practice for MBA students, but not undergraduates), which taught them to analyze and critique the underlying business models of social enterprises.
Many international students took the class, and applied their research to real-world problems close to home. Sachi Shah ’15 examined how soap operas in her home country of India affect development and reinforce standards of morality, and Malawi-born Teresa Phiri ’13 wrote about the problem of urbanization and growing slums. Ecuadorian Maria Munoz ’13, whose mother is a nanny in Manhattan, wrote her conference paper on “Lower East Side Nannies: A Socioeconomic Analysis of Women in the Childcare Industry.” Jackie Assar ’14 appreciated Muther’s real-world connections; the teacher brought several social enterprise leaders to speak to the class. Muther also connected her students to competitions for budding entrepreneurs. In March, Munoz, Shah, Phiri, Assar, and Nyla Khan ’14 made it to the regional finals for the 4th Annual Hult Prize (see feature above).
What Some of Our Graduates Are Doing
Annie Novak '05
Founder of the food education program "Growing Chefs" and Brooklyn’s Eagle Street Farms, and a pioneer of rooftop gardening.
Jay Sterrenberg '05
Crain’s New York Business profiles the Meerkat Media Collective and Jay, its co-founder. In the post, entitled "These new grads created their own dream jobs," Sterrenberg says he and the Collective's other members had an advantage after graduation: "We all went to Sarah Lawrence, where a lot of the course work is project-based. So we all had four years of experience developing projects from initial concept to finished product. We were already comfortable with the process of making something from nothing."
Michael Itkoff '04 and Taj Forer '03
Co-founders of Daylight Digital (and publisher of art and photography books), dedicated to curating work by some of the world's most important artists, enabling a greater dialogue about contemporary art and photography.
David Netto '92
Furniture designer and founder: David Netto Design.
Chan Suh '82
Principle: BroomeCrosby Limited.
Vera Wang '71
Renowned designer who introduced fashion to the bridal industry.