The Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC) welcomed back its 10th cohort this past August, when 64 freshmen interested in exploring entrepreneurship on the UW-Madison campus moved onto the second floor of Tower A in Sellery Hall. Since its founding, this self-selected group of predominantly freshman has had the opportunity–via a unique partnership forged by University Housing, the Madison Undergraduate Initiative, and the Wisconsin School of Business–to engage in programs dedicated to fostering their interest in startup culture. From engaging in late night brainstorming sessions in the community den, to taking part in monthly dinners with VIPs from Madison-area businesses, to enrollment in the ERLC-exclusive seminar on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, these students are able to hit the UW-Madison campus running when it comes to entrepreneurial action. The residents of this year’s Learning Community hail from as far away as Canberra, Australia to as close in as McFarland, Wisconsin.
This year’s class has enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Showcase event and the amazing speed networking event that immediately follows. A handful have already applied for ERLC Dream Big grants that will help them launch ventures right from the 2A floor. Many will also choose to participate in one of the ERLC’s signature programs—the 100-Hour Challenge–early next month. An “entry-level” UW-Madison entrepreneurial contest that is popular with undergraduates from all disciplines and backgrounds, the event challenges teams of students to use donated materials from campus’ Surplus with a Purpose (SWAP) to come up with a new product idea in 100 hours or less (essentially over a long weekend). The teams then make a short video pitch of their big idea for the chance to win prize money.
Prizes are awarded in three categories, “Most Potential Revenue Value,” “Most Potential Social Value,” and “Most Creative” and this year’s contest will be judged by El Salvador born social entrepreneur Ariela Suster who will be visiting campus as part of International Education Week.
The ERLC is always looking for ways to connect its current residents with alumni in the startup community. If you are interested in becoming more involved with the ERLC, feel free to contact Faculty Director John Surdyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or Program Coordinator Sari Judge at email@example.com