Emory Entrepreneurship and Venture Management

At the beginning of his past fall semester, Rain Tian ‘21BBA went to South Korea with his friends in what he thought would be a much-needed reprieve from the world of Emory’s campus. Once they arrived, however, Tian realized his friends were all tethered to the university – “Even when we were at home getting ready to go out, even when we were outside, they would be on their phone, messaging on Slack, working on EEVM stuff. I never saw that from any of the other clubs I’m in. When I’m having a lot of fun, I wouldn’t think of replying to a DM on Slack,” he said. Intrigued by this display of camaraderie, Rain joined EEVM, or Emory Entrepreneurship and Venture Management. In its promise of kinship, the club hasn’t failed – “Honestly, I resonate and vibe with the community so well… In EEVM, we post photos of our adventures. I went on Spring Break with a lot of EEVM people.”

If you’ve spent enough time on Emory’s campus, chances are you’ve spotted a student wearing a HackATL t-shirt. This business-minded hackathon is the flagship event of EEVM and regularly draws in hundreds of eager students from all over the country, expanding its yield each year. The momentum from HackATL has allowed EEVM to position itself as the central resource for aspiring entrepreneurs on campus. As told by Naam Srisaard ‘19BBA, former Director of HackATL and now an advisor to the executive board, “We are the only student-run entrepreneurship organization at Emory University. We run at the university level, so we are not under College Council or the Goizueta Business School. We serve the entire university and our mission is to provide entrepreneurial resources for any and every student that is interested in entrepreneurship, startups, pursuing their business idea, or even if they’re just interested in the industry.”

Founded only five years ago, the club now offers a startup accelerator program, a co-working space on the Clairmont Campus, an online publication, and more. Most importantly, the club offers a community to its members, who are united by a passion for innovation. Take Daniel Kessler ‘22C, whose knack for entrepreneurship was first uncovered in elementary school. “The NYC Sanitation Department ran a competition to see which elementary school could implement the best sustainability project.,” he told me. “I used Apple technology to create a database that graded each classroom’s sustainability and we actually won.” Kessler saw EEVM as a natural extension of his interests in “using entrepreneurship to better the lives of others and address social ills.” Since joining, he has ascended to the position of Director of Corporate Partnerships, along with Tian, and is responsible for securing sponsorships for HackATL and other EEVM events. In a testament to EEVM’s stature, the Student Programming Council recently contacted them for help in recruiting restaurants for this year’s Taste of Emory.

If EEVM is a community, it is organized around an ideology of self-actualization, which is considered best brought about in a collaborative environment. “We aim to promote entrepreneurship because we believe that everyone could have the next idea to change the world. We hope to give entrepreneurs the resources to realize their vision,” Tian told me. Entrepreneurship is cast as an inner awakening, one that transforms the world in the process, as expressed in Kessler’s view that “When I look at entrepreneurship or technology, I don’t see it as the implementation of accumulated knowledge. I see it as a comprehensive expression of who we are as people and how we can amplify our best selves using these tools.”

Srisaard echoed these sentiments, portraying entrepreneurship as future-minded and uniquely suited for the modern world – “Everyone is all about entrepreneurship because the traditional corporate business model is fading away. That alone calls for a more innovative mindset, design thinking, reiterative sprints of new ideas.” In her definition of entrepreneurship as “knowing how to identify problems and solve them,” she poignantly characterized entrepreneurship as an all-purpose model for diagnosis and treatment, the optimal road to meaningful change.

EEVM’s inclusive view of entrepreneurship removes it from the corporate board rooms and venture capitalist dreams one frequently associates it with. Anyone can be an entrepreneur and EEVM is ready to guide their journey. EEVM’s democratization of an industry often requiring connections and capital is reflected in the success of their events. Speaking on her experience competing in HackATL, Michelle He ‘22C said “I came into HackATL with the misconception that hackathons are limited to those with coding abilities or an interest in computer science. In the most wonderful way, HackATL proved me wrong… It has an incredibly accessible registration process (that is completely free!) and gives students a very holistic overview of the entrepreneurial process. I really enjoyed getting to work with other college students of vastly different strengths and interests to create a product that I am very passionate about.”

The club has similarly empowered its members, as Srisaard told me that “being in EEVM is like being in a startup. There isn’t a single lesson it taught me, but it gave me the experience of being in a fast-paced environment where everyone is just as driven as you. Someone might see we won’t have enough money for the future, so we go out hustling, selling ramen in the library. It teaches you that startup grind, that founder’s mentality where if you care about it, you get it done.” Next year, she will start work as a consultant at Ernest & Young, undoubtedly propelled as a candidate by her remarkable work for the club. Tian also found that “talking to sponsors has made me more confident about job interviews. My first networking call was supposed to go for thirty minutes, but I was so nervous it lasted less than ten. Now, the hardest part for me is actually waiting for a reply. Once I get it and can talk to a person, I immediately get into my comfort zone.” By creating a network of excited young entrepreneurs on campus, EEVM meaningfully trains students to engage in the career path of their choice.

What lies ahead for EEVM? This past April, participants in their startup accelerator presented new ideas at a Demo Day held at the Goizueta Business School. Envisions, EEVM’s design-thinking consultancy group, is currently wrapping up work on an app that will help first-year students, new arrivals from Oxford, and transfer students become better acclimated to campus. Kessler, who is on the Envisions team, shared his hope that he could help new students “find resources to unleash their full potential.”

As for the more distant future, Tian hopes to “increase member engagement so that people will be working with their friends with a common goal in mind.” Kessler yearns “to engage more meaningfully with the community around us, to use the skills of EEVM members to serve the broader Atlanta community in their entrepreneurial efforts, beyond just Emory students.” In this direction, the club is considering community service and non-profit organizations to affiliate with and exploring the possibility of a digital platform that would provide information and video resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs. Srisaard simply hopes that “EEVM can live up to its full potential and touch every student’s life, across every school at Emory, not just those currently interested in entrepreneurship.” In this world, the name of the game is growth.

Interested readers can access EEVM’s website, their Facebook page, or their Twitter.