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Clark Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program Announces Expansion of Programming for ’21-22

Formerly known as the Ureka Challenge, Clark Tank is headlining a number of new events for students.

Under the guidance of the School of Management, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E & I) Program continues to grow across Clark University’s campus. E & I programming now includes the Clark Tank (formerly Ureka), Clark Collective, Community Thrift Store, the new Trans Collective, Clark Entrepreneurship Club, TIE, the new Food Combi, and Student Ventures. Program manager, Teresa Quinn, doesn’t see it slowing down.

E and I logo“The growth is exciting,” Quinn states. “There’s been more and more students coming to ask me about E & I programming, what we offer, and our events. We love seeing students so engaged!”

In an effort to allow a greater number of students to take part in one of the most popular experiential learning opportunities on campus, Quinn revamped the Ureka Challenge into what will now be known as Clark Tank. The name – a play on the popular television show, “Shark Tank” – was conceived by current E & I student, Maddy Steigman, ’24, who won a contest to rename the competition. Steigman is also a former winner of the Ureka Challenge for her baking company, Dough Is Me.

“Students will instantly recognize the new name, and it will also bring the University’s brand to both the competition and the community,” Quinn added. “Many of our student entrepreneurs are engaged in the Worcester area through their businesses.”

With a generous donation from Samantha Goodman ’11 and her father, Michael Goodman, the Ureka Challenge 2021 was one of the most successful competitions in its long history. Student participation was at an all-time high with 17 motivated students representing 15 different businesses and social ventures.

“I really enjoyed the engagement it brought to campus,” Steigman said. “I was able to make connections with so many people who I may not have talked to if I didn’t have Dough is Me. This was especially important since I was a freshman when Covid first hit!”

Two of the key changes with the 2022 Clark Tank is that students will now be able to enter the traditional Venture Development portion of the competition with a business idea, as well as an established venture. There will be criteria to be met, but this will allow students who may not yet have a proven business to take part in the competition. Students will also compete against like-businesses in specific categories, such as social ventures and small businesses.

Student photo
One of the 2021 Ureka Challenge winners, Charisma Nguyen-Lai

All students who enter Clark Tank will still receive $100 in seed money to grow their business and then compete for additional funding. Quinn is also planning to have a competition to create a new logo for Clark Tank.

Students interested in taking part in Clark Tank must take the ENT 260 Student Run Ventures course, through which they will develop their business. The competition semi-finals will take place on February 4 with the top performers advancing to the finals before an alumni judging panel for a chance for additional funding awards on February 11.   As always, the popular vote will be determined by a mock crowdfunding event in late January/early February.

“What I find most inspiring about this competition is how students really come into their own. The scary thought of, ‘Can I really do this?’ fades away and they flourish,” Quinn added. “That’s why we decided to add students to the mix that might only be in the idea phase. We are here to work with all Clarkies to meet their entrepreneurial goals! Also, by adding categories – social ventures and small businesses – students will get more peer input and collaboration time.”

Clark event photo
Students, staff, and faculty attend the student business pop-up event on campus in fall ’21.

The E&I program has added additional high-touch activities and events to Clark Tank. Now, in addition to the Venture Development portion, there will be an App Development challenge, and Business Plan Scaling Development competition. Supporting these different challenges throughout the academic year are events and a robust speaker series with alumni entrepreneurs, successful business developers, and a past winners’ speaker panel. To coincide with the National Women in Entrepreneurship week, October 18-22, the Clark Entrepreneurship Club will team with Clark Tank and host a luncheon with prominent alumna entrepreneurs. The event will allow Clark’s strong and diverse female entrepreneur student body to mix and mingle with successful alumna.

The Clark Tank Venture Development portion is the traditional event, spanning both fall and spring semesters and providing initial seed funding to students with small businesses and social ventures. The students work with mentors, alumni, and faculty to develop and grow their businesses. The competition culminates in student presentations to a panel of judges – alumni and community members – in hopes of winning additional funding.

The Clark Tank App Development is an exciting new part of Clark Tank starting in the spring semester, whereby students will collaborate with alumni to envision and design an app to be used in future competitions. The app is expected to provide a number of communication and digital benefits for students. Funding awards will be given to the final app designers.

Speakers are already lined up to meet with students throughout the year both through the ENT260 Student Run Ventures course and separate events. There are currently business owners, CEOs, serial entrepreneurs, and company presidents from a number of industries scheduled to speak on topics ranging from accounting to videography, and of course, entrepreneurship. The majority of speakers are Clark University alumni.

“We are always thrilled when our alumni take part in our events. They particularly love the Clark Tank program and I’m looking forward to securing some fantastic alumni guest speakers,” Quinn added.

(Alumni interested in supporting or participating in the events can reach out to Teresa Quinn via email.) 

Combi truck picture
Clark’s Food Combi is bringing student-created foods to campus and the community.

Later in spring Clark Tank will open a Business Plan Scaling challenge for student entrepreneurs looking to grow their established businesses even further. This particular competition will likely be among students who need major funding for a product prototype or manufacturing plan. They will be given particular support around investment opportunities.

“I’m excited to see what new ideas people come up with and expand on!” Steigman added.

As always, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program offers students several extracurricular and co-curricular activities and clubs including:

> The long-standing Thrift Store was expanded to be the Clark Thrift Store – Thrift ‘n Flip. Currently led by Rosalie Leonard ’23, upcycled clothing by Clark students has been added to the inventory.

> Clark Collective, managed by Sonny Siemenski ’23, is the host of the E&I weekly popups on Red Square. Students from across campus set up shop to showcase their small businesses.

> TIE – Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship is hosting Land-It events this fall – their signature event for tips and tricks to landing a tech internship. The club is also in the process of opening a co-working space to allow students to access special technology (3D printers and virtual reality setups) and collaborate on innovations.

> The Clark Entrepreneurship Club has been reinvigorated by Henry Reyes ’24 and Manny Bowman ’23. They have teamed up with the national Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) and are planning to attend the national conference this year.

> The Food Combi has arrived and is bringing delicious student-created foods to campus and the community. Professor John Dobson introduced a food truck to the ENT264 Community-based Entrepreneurship course (a capstone ENT course) for students to connect with the local Main South community. Students team with community partners to participate in events.

> The ever-popular E&I Interactive Digital Platform – Clark Student Ventures – continues to be a resource for Clark student entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with peers for the expansion of their entrepreneurial endeavors.

> The new Trans Collective will be opening soon. An offshoot of the Thrift Store, the Trans Collective is the brainchild of Sage Rumery ’24, and it aims to provide a safe and inclusive shopping experience for the LGBTQAI+ community.

Alumni interested in participating or supporting any of the upcoming year’s events can reach out to Teresa Quinn via email.


~ Meredith Galena
SOM Communications Specialist