On Saturday, May 3 at Pomona College, entrepreneurial-minded students will host "Sage Tank," an event showcasing the best of Pomona's student-founded companies. As part of Alumni Weekend, the program will allow student entrepreneurs to pitch to a panel of alumni experienced in entrepreneurship and capital investment. After each presentation, the panel will question the team regarding the feasibility and strength of each project.
The event will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rose Hills Theatre, Smith Campus Center (170 E. 6th Street, Claremont). Admission is free
Hosted by Pomona Ventures, a student-run organization that aims to create an entrepreneurial community on campus, the event will feature student enterprises ranging from an online vintage clothing company to a bitcoin consulting business. One team is crafting a mentoring and tutoring service that aims to help international students adjust to college life in the U.S., while another is pitching an outdoor lifestyle media site that will focus on food, fitness and travel.
After the pitches are concluded, the event will move to the Rose Hills Theatre lobby for a reception, where the audience can interact one-on-one with the entrepreneurs, asking additional questions or offering advice
Ron Sege '79, CEO of the green energy company Echelon and a key mentor to the Pomona Ventures group, will head the alumni panel. The panel will also include Dan Rubin '82, a partner in the Palo Alto-based private equity firm Alloy Ventures, and Clint Smith '89, who serves as general counsel to the software firm DataStax. Ken Hayes '87 will also join the panelists as an investor from Pasadena Angels, a group of professionals based in Southern California who help to finance and grow startup companies.
Rounding out the group is Seeley W. Mudd Professor of Physics Janice Hudgings. Her research has led to three U.S. patents and, in 2007, she co-founded the company Alenas Imaging Inc. with her research partner to commercialize thermal imaging technology developed in her lab.
Ryan Miller '14, one of the organizers, says "Sage Tank" is a way to generate excitement around entrepreneurship on campus and encourage students to translate their ideas into viable businesses. To prepare, students have gone through series of workshops organized by Pomona Ventures focusing on different stages of the startup process, from getting financed to marketing your product.
"There are a lot of skills that you need in business that you learn in a liberal arts education: critical thinking, problem solving, project management, writing and communication," says Miller. "All these abilities that, in class, are applied academically, you can take into business and apply them towards your goals and vision for the company."
Entrepreneurs who participate in the event can potentially receive funding for their venture through contributions given by alumni to Pomona Ventures. Miller is hopeful that a synthesis of financial support and alumni mentorship will help foster success in the next generation of Sagehen entrepreneurs.
Audience members will be able to witness the pitches and questions live. Continental breakfast and a catered lunch will be provided.
About Pomona Ventures: Comprised of a leadership team, supportive alumni advisors and Pomona College student members, the group's mission is to "inspire students to take risks and tackle real problems that they are passionate about solving, and to kindle a lasting entrepreneurial culture on campus by providing a supportive community of students and alumni."