By Giacomo Bologna, Staff Reporter
Published October 24, 2012
Manish Parikh, the Central Student Government president, introduced the first step in making good on his campaign promise to bring more entrepreneurship opportunities to students on Wednesday.
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Leaders of 15 student organizations convened in the CSG chambers for the inaugural Entrepreneurship Commission meeting. While several participating organizations, such as MPowered and M-Entrepreneurship, are deeply rooted in entrepreneurial pursuits, less business-focused organizations such as MHackers and TEDxUofM were also in attendance.
More than an hour of the 90-minute meeting was spent on introductions alone. Parikh, a Business senior, in his presentation of CSG to the commission, said he wants the promotion of entrepreneurship to be the cornerstone of his year in CSG.
In particular, he listed Airbus, Fall Break and UPetition as major successes of former student government administrations. Parikh said he wanted CSG’s entrepreneurship effort to live up to these past improvements to campus life.
Parikh said over the summer he met with Business junior Scott Christopher, president of MPowered, who will chair the entrepreneurship commission. The two discussed the direction and purpose of the commission, which plans to meet weekly.
“Entrepreneurship is the future of this campus and the future of where all students need to starting thinking about — no matter if they’re art students, computer majors, music majors, business, engineering, social,” Christopher said.
He added that the University has always produced a wide array of entrepreneurs and the label “entrepreneur” should extend to more University alumni than notable innovators such as Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, or Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter.
“Arthur Miller, the playwright. He’s just as much of an entrepreneur as Larry Page,” Christopher said. “And that’s what we’re about, making big changes in whatever field.”
The final portion of the meeting was reserved for brainstorming. While this was only the first gathering of the members, there was an abundance of ideas for the commission.
Engineering sophomore David Fontenot of MHackers — a relatively new student organization suggested that the Entrepreneurial Commission should organize a national conference and competition for student hackers, programmers and entrepreneurs.
Fontenot predicted that the amount of students looking for a national “hackathon” competition is so high that an event like this would come up organically, whether at the University or another campus.
“I think there’s extreme interest for this event,” Fontenot said. “It’s going to happen in the next six months. I think it should happen at Michigan and I think that this Entrepreneurship Commission can make it happen.”
Thomas H. Zurbuchen, the associate dean for entrepreneurship programs, also attended the meeting and said there is immense untapped potential in entrepreneurial pursuits stemming from student collaboration.
“We’re a school that can do amazing things. Many of the things we individually can do … others can also do,” he said. “What we can do together, nobody can do (as well).”