By Laura Sanicola
On Wednesday, Sept. 17, students with a passion for business, computing and social innovation and entrepreneurship met at the Fordham Foundry in Fordham Plaza. Representatives from organizations such as the Entrepreneurship Society, the Compass Fellowship, the Fordham Intercampus Social Innovation Team, Fair Trade Club, Social Enterprise Club, Digital Business Society and Computing Sciences Society were present at the meeting.
The meeting brought together minds that are attempting to bridge the crossroads between technology and entrepreneurship while actively promoting the growth of student-run projects. Aaron DeVera, FCRH ’16, treasurer and director of research for the Computing Science Society, explained the vital connection between computing and business societies on campus.
“Part of my job is to fund and approve anyone with a project idea for an application,” said DeVera. “From there, the Digital Business Society can turn the idea into a business model.”
As stated on its website, the Fordham Foundry is “an independent, mixed-use business incubator located off-campus that was developed specifically to assist promising entrepreneurs in launching new businesses.” Directed by Milton Sussberg, professor of entrepreneurship, the Foundry shares office space with the Small Business Services of the City of New York. Fordham students, faculty and alumni currently manage 10 companies.
“We encourage people to apply for the Foundry even if they do not have a concrete company yet,” said Jackson Lindauer, GSB ’15. Lindauer currently works part-time at the Foundry as the director of strategy and community. “Come with an idea and a business plan. If you are admitted, you can take advantage of not only the office space, but of resources, mentoring programs and workshops.”
One such successful company is the Smart Girls Group, founded by Emily Raleigh, GSB ’16. The former Compass Fellow created a network that includes a daily blog, a monthly digital magazine and national chapters at universities.
Though several of the clubs have held collaborative events in the past, the kick-off was the first time many of the organizations have shared the same space. Jordan Catalana, GSB ’15, community director of the Fordham Intercampus Social Innovation Team (FICSIT), acknowledged that the existing relationships between current presidents of the organizations are what have caused collaboration in the past. “We are here to unite groups that otherwise would not have worked together, groups that absolutely should work together in the future.”
Ross Garlick, GSB ’15, the president of the Digital Business Society, recognizes the importance for business students today to have ample knowledge of the technical aspects of business. As a result, the club frequently holds coding events with CSS, where students can learn the basics of coding computer programs.
“Today, a business student’s most valuable asset could be his ability to code,” Garlick said.
“There are a lot of opportunities in tech companies for business students. Even if our business students don’t become technical analysts, knowing how to talk to a developer is important if you want to work on a startup.”
Trends at business schools certainly seem to be backing up Garlick’s assertion. Harvard Business School will be adding a computer science elective in the coming years. As of last year, Stanford Graduate School of Business is now offering a joint degree conferring an MBA and an MS in computer science.
Social innovation clubs were also represented at the kick-off by members of Students for Fair Trade, a club at Rose Hill seeking to, as the Fordham website states, “educate Fordham students about the impact that their consumer choices may have on impoverished producers and laborers in the developing world.” The organization is currently working to have Fordham recognized as a Fair Trade University.
“It’s great to see so many minds in the same room,” said Catalana. “We will definitely try to coordinate another meet-up between clubs before the semester is over.”
The Fordham Foundry is located at 400 E. Fordham Rd. and is currently hosting club meetings and events on weekdays.
Laura Sanicola is the Assistant News Editor for The Fordham Ram.