A new organization on campus, Pomona Ventures, is working to support student entrepreneurs and advance entrepreneurial spirit at Pomona College.
“We want to redefine entrepreneurship on campus,” said Walter Rivera PO ’13, a member of the organization’s student executive board. “We are here to support students and offer all the resources they might need to start anything from a nonprofit or an art gallery to the next billion-dollar company.”
The organization plans to bring in guest speakers and students from different colleges who run successful start-ups. Members also plan to organize dinners in which people can come together to discuss entrepreneurship-related ideas.
“We want to make sure that students can really do whatever they want,” said Sarah Blumenthal PO ’15, a member of the executive board. “We want them to be able to take any idea they have and be able to connect it.”
The students decided to form Pomona Ventures to address what they saw as a lack of resources and support for student entrepreneurs. Both Rivera and executive board member Jesse Pollak PO ’15 said that they experienced difficulty finding other students with whom to discuss ideas or collaborate on start-ups.
Pomona Ventures is also working to change the climate at the rest of the Claremont Colleges.
“Once we started out here, CMC and Harvey Mudd started pushing their entrepreneurship programs more,” Rivera said. “Now we’re starting to build an entrepreneurship 5C community.”
The Pomona Ventures team is working to create an environment where students can network with each other and alumni, not only to form companies, but also to bounce ideas off each other.
“The most important thing is to find a team,” Rivera said.
Pomona Ventures has partnered with a large pool of alumni who have first-hand entrepreneurship experience.
“They’ve been nice enough to take their time and their energy and invest it in helping us make this happen,” Pollak said. “[They] have dedicated their time and committed to coming to campus at least once a year.”
The Pomona Ventures executive board, along with a panel of alumni, researched several similar programs at universities across the country to develop a model for the organization, but plan to adapt to Pomona students’ needs.
“We’re trying to run Pomona Ventures as a start-up itself—adjusting to what people want, seeing how students react and working with them to really help in as many ways possible,” Blumenthal said.