It would be impossible to generalize about a large population with great accuracy, yet we recognize tendencies within the thousands of adults who comprise "Proctor alumni." Some, I am sure, sit at desks in cubicles, but we are aware of the many graduates who are independent, who inititiate new ventures, who follow a unique vision with passion. The term "entrepreneur" is defined as "a person who organizes and manages an enterprise with considerable initiative and risk," and it comes to me as no surprise that Proctor cultivates entrepreneurs.
It's not just that we encourage students to be individuals--which we certainly do. Or that they're free to challenge orthodox assumptions, which they do.
The notion of entreprenuership suggests an opportunity to succeed at something because of both personal and environmental factors. The entrepreneur has a brilliant idea and the motivation to see it through to completion. She's willing to risk, but only because the reality of--and potential for--success is evident. That's Proctor; we're an inherently entrepreneurial community in which the risk of trying hard is a safe risk. Opportunity occurs where there's a relatively level playing field.
Then there's the fact that we teach entrepreneurship. Scott Allenby's economics classes bring alumni like "serial entrepreneur" Stephen Rushmore '92 back to Proctor. The son of entrepreneurial alumnus Steve Rushmore '63, and founder of more than twenty start-ups, Stephen Rushmore began selling toasted bagels with cream cheese after school assemblies in 1991.
Gregor Makechnie '90 is teaching a course in "social entrepreneurship," exploring profitable opportunities to better the world. As his students say, "Do good, and do it well." The class has partnered with Kyle Parsons's '96 start-up Indosole (Kyle is founder and President) to market sandals and shoes repurposing treads from tires salvaged from dumps in Indonesia. (I've got a pair coming!) A percentage of the profits goes to Freedom In Creation to fund constructioin of a fresh water well in Uganda.
Several alumni and parents are partnering with faculty to offer Spring Projects (March 26-29, 2014) intensively exploring business plans with Boston-area venture capitalists.
Over the past year, Cortland Begor '14 designed a tutorial course for himself in entrepreneurship, came up with a business plan, and launched TimberStix Lacrosse. Working out of Proctor's wood shop, he's manufacturing hundreds of lacrosse stick shafts out of highest-quality ash. The wood is "quarter-cut" so that the grain is aligned with the shaft, yielding extraordinary strength, yet capable of flexing for superior stick work on the field. At approximately $32 apiece, they cost a fraction of metal shafts. Cort is giving a percentage of his profits to 1% For the Planet, thereby qualifying as a social entrepreneur!
This glimpse at entrepreneurial spirit at Proctor is by no means comprehensive. Alumni, faculty and students are pursuing personal dreams with careful planning, initiative and calculated risk. It's our nature.
Archival photo of Spencer and Truman pitching a business plan to role playing "venture capitalists" in an economics exercise inspired by Shark Tank.
Structured to encourage safe risks, Proctor is an inherently entrepreneurial school.
Students in Social Entrepreneurship are writing real-life grant proposals.