We at the Record commend the Career Center and Entrepreneurship@Williams for putting on a successful Business Plan Competition for the third time, and would like to congratulate the winning teams. Despite the fact that the College is not a pre-professional school, we think a liberal arts curriculum offers unique ways to foster entrepreneurship, and we hope that the Business Plan Competition will continue to be successful.
However, we do feel there are ways in which the competition may be improved. Based on the level of participation in this year’s competition, we believe that the organizers could do a better job of advertising this opportunity. One way to do this might be to organize smaller workshop-style events outside of the Business Plan Competition, and then funnel the most interested students into the competition. Because of the academic environment at the College, we do not have a community that necessarily encourages participation in entrepreneurship programs like this. Nevertheless, entrepreneurship is valuable, and should be encouraged among interested groups at the College.
We are also concerned that among the final five teams, there was only one female participant. Women account for a large portion of the consumer population and represent over half the population at the College. The Career Center and Entrepreneurship@Williams should closely examine the institutional ways in which women are discouraged from participating in entrepreneurial endeavors. For entrepreneurship at the
College to be successful, it should be a more diverse endeavor.
Furthermore, the students who win the Business Plan Competition are required to stay in Williamstown for the summer to execute their plans and obtain more funding. We think that the organizers should take another look at that requirement. Although we acknowledge that Williamstown has important resources that are advantageous to the winning teams, we also wonder if the winning entrepreneurs could be more successful in a different location. The teams that participate and win the Business Plan Competition have thus far been focused on technology, and perhaps they might be more successful if they located their start-ups in places such as New York City or the Silicon Valley.
We look forward to seeing the Business Plan Competition grow and change as it develops further.