Immersed in Entrepreneurship
The Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community gives students the chance to focus on innovation.
Entrepreneurship thrives amid community.
That's the idea behind the Entrepreneurship LLC, the living learning community organized and run by the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. Each term, 36 undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship live in close proximity in the McLaughlin Cluster, exchanging ideas and talking over their latest endeavors.
The ELLC was designed to bring entrepreneurs, computer science majors, designers, engineers, and creatives together to expose these students to entrepreneurial thinking throughout their Dartmouth experience. By living with like-minded students and participating in programming managed by the Magnuson Center, residents learn about entrepreneurial perspectives and build connections with other innovators, says Sarah Morgan, Program Manager for Experiential Learning at the Magnuson Center, who oversees student programming for this living learning community.
Sara Kay, ’22, has been a member of the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community for the past two years. She chose Dartmouth College specifically for the resources available to entrepreneurs on campus and was thrilled to be accepted into the living learning community.
“I've lost count of the times that I've practiced pitching, prototyped ideas, and just ranted about the latest Y Combinator news with friends on the [ELLC] floor,” she says. “They've definitely helped me grow as an entrepreneur and founder.”
Kay credits the community with preparing her to participate in The Pitch!, run by the DALI Lab and the Magnuson Center last fall. There, she pitched her startup idea, Minimum Viable Hackers (MVH), which promotes automation in everyday activities.
“Before coming to Dartmouth, I had a lot of social anxiety and public speaking is still a struggle for me, which makes pitching in front of an audience challenging,” she says. “However, being on the floor brought me to some of my best friends in freshman year and thanks to their support, I had the courage to pitch my current startup.”
Being immersed in an entrepreneurial community keeps her focused on MVH amid classes and other commitments.
“The entrepreneur’s life and rapid prototyping is challenging in Dartmouth's fast-paced environment and it really helps having friends who share that same passion and can keep you accountable,” Kay says.
The community has undergraduates from all class years. Each fall term twelve freshmen are welcomed into the community. Because of the D Plan, Morgan is always reviewing applications and bringing new students onto the floor, which keeps innovative ideas flowing through the community.
“It’s the magic of the D plan,” she says.
Competition for the living learning community is steep: last year Morgan had 52 applications for 12 freshman slots. When she's evaluating applications, Morgan doesn't just bring in founders. She also takes students who are creatives, engineers and designers.
“Each of those talents are needed to have a successful startup,” she says.
By bringing in students who don’t necessarily identify as entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community supports The Magnuson Center's mission of teaching students, faculty, staff, and community members about the benefits of entrepreneurial thinking.
A major benefit to living in the ELLC is having access to programming at the Magnuson Center. Each week, residents in the community attend a dinner at the Center, where they discuss case studies, speak with alumni entrepreneurs, listen to the pitches of student founders, and meet experts in a variety of industries. The Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community has been operating since 2014 (originally as the DEN In Residence LLC) and has a strong young alumni community, so young alumni often return to share their experiences after graduation.
“There’s this wonderful reinforcement,” Morgan says. “Young alumni recognize when they have been in the workforce how much they received when they were part of the ELLC, and are excited about giving back to the students in the community.”
Some of the highlights for students in the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community include the ELLC Mini-Treks to learn about entrepreneurship throughout the Upper Valley, and the chance to participate in the Magnuson Center East Coast or Magnuson Center West Coast Experiences.
Abhi Kapur, ’D21, is the Undergraduate Advisor (UGA) for the living learning community. Over winter break, he participated in the Magnuson Center West Coast Experience, where he met Dartmouth entrepreneurs in Seattle and San Francisco, including notable alumni like Geoff Ralston, D’82, President of Y Combinator and Jeff Crowe, D’78, Managing Partner of Norwest Venture Partners and Chair of the Magnuson Center Board of Advisors; as well as young alumni like Terren Klein, D’17, and Robin Jayaswal, D’18, co-founders of College Pulse, and Greg Poulin, D’16, CEO and co-founder of Goodly.
Talking with these alumni helped Kapur better understand how entrepreneurs work beyond college and why the life of a startup founder is so rewarding.
“I came out of that program not only with a deeper understanding of the meaning of entrepreneurship and the challenges associated with it, but also with a clear goal to be an entrepreneur,” he said.
Living on the floor and talking with his residents, whose entrepreneurial endeavors range from turning back aging to creating snazzy shoes, has reinforced that desire, he said.
“I’m always learning something new whenever I talk to other people on my floor and it’s both humbling and inspirational.” Kapur said.
Undergraduate students interested in applying to the Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community can apply here. The deadline for applications for the Fall 2020 term is April 7, 2020.