DartUP Combines Social Entrepreneurship, Competition and Collaboration

DartUP brings together a friendly competition, collaboration and a focus on social entrepreneurship to inspire students to make a difference.


Lots of students are familiar with the idea of a hackathon, where teams come together to create a product idea in a short period of time. The events foster innovation, but when Vico Lee D’24 participated in a hackathon last year, he thought that the program had room for improvement. 

I came to the conclusion that hackathons were not a comprehensive form of competition as they did not consider many crucial aspects,” Lee says. “For instance, why do we not need to care if the product is marketable and investable? Why do we not have to market our product and do things like cost evaluation to see if it was a financially feasible product? Why did we not have to consider the future of the product?”

Lee came up with the idea for DartUP, a program that would provide students a more realistic deep dive into the startup process. His partner in that initial hackathon, Elizabeth Frey D’24, joined him as vice-chair at DartUP. 

“The mission of DartUP is to encourage entrepreneurship in an interdisciplinary setting in order to help solve social issues,” Frey says. It also brings together students from different backgrounds, who may or may not have experience with entrepreneurship, she adds. 

“This program provides a unique outlet for business, technology and design to come together,” Frey says. 

In the fall, DartUP, which is a program of the Magnuson Center, began hosting educational events, including a social entrepreneurship bootcamp. Now, Lee is getting ready to launch the competition portion, called The Social Blueprint. It will require not only a great idea, but one that is marketable and practical. The entire competition runs for six months, helping students develop an endeavor that will help make the world a better place. 

“We are privileged to have a platform that supports our entrepreneurial goals, so we should help to give back,” Frey says. “So many issues can be solved with simple solutions that make viable entrepreneurial ventures, and we have a collective responsibility to help out.”

Students who are interested in participating can register through the end of winter term. There’s no need to have experience with entrepreneurship, and students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

“We believe that entrepreneurship is not so much of a skillset but more of a mindset,” Lee says. “We are looking for students who love to innovate and to think out of the box to create solutions for existing problems. It is the drive towards inventing something rather than the technical skills that someone already has that we look for. After all, skills can be learned but passion cannot be taught.” 

This year The Social Blueprint will be open only to Dartmouth students, but in the future, Lee would like to bring it to other campuses. 

“We hope to spread this competition and the vision it inspires across the country and make ‘The Social Blueprint’ a well-recognized competition, much like the word ‘hackathon’ is to people,” he says. 

Find more information on DartUP and The Social Blueprint here, by emailing dartup@dartmouth.edu, or by finding DartUP on GroupMe.