The first impression that CORE gave me, as an overwhelmed, over-eager freshman, was an Evening with Jack Dorsey, one of the earliest events this Fall. It was sold out very early, and I remember the excited buzz and anticipation around a raffle to distribute tickets to freshmen. To many of us, it represented the possibilities of a Columbia education we had long heard of – that the co-founder of Twitter, and many other influential individuals, would deign to devote some time to speak to an audience of naïve college students. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to attend the event, but it made a searing impression on me of what the Columbia entrepreneurship community could achieve.
A few weeks later, I formally joined CORE. I found myself awestruck in Roone Auditorium on a Thursday night, watching Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, wax lyrical about his initial struggles, his frank observations, and his deepest revelations. The founders of GroupMe and Codecademy, who were inconceivably in our very seats just a few years ago, exchanged comments and witty banter. Afterwards, I waited two hours for an autograph, and he left with a small group for Mel’s Burger afterwards.
I personally found CORE’s activities this semester incredibly helpful. I joined CORE without a business plan in mind, without experience under my belt, driven only by an admiration for entrepreneurial principles, and a determination to explore the field. Some people just know they want to be entrepreneurs; they feel it in their bones, they live it – it’s a thirst they’ve waited to quench their whole life. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to become an entrepreneur, and I can’t say I am now. But the packed line-up of events this semester has given me much to think about.
Besides hosting notable bigwigs, CORE also launched events to aid the aspiring entrepreneur. Coding w CORE + ADi gathered enthusiasts in classrooms in Hamilton to pick up entirely foreign computer languages in a relaxed setting. It’s an equivalent to an actual CS course, without the stress of GPA-related concerns, and energized by the genuine desire to learn. Dine & Discuss events provided more intimate environments for students to interact with entrepreneurs, and bragging rights along the lines of “I shared a pizza with entrepreneurs from Uber” – that would become oh so valuable in the future when they truly become household names! The Startup Internship Program was launched for Spring 2014 in collaboration with CCE. For those of us concerned that an internship with a startup is hard to find and risky to commit to, SIP eradicates those fears. Among other events, a consistent feature of CORE are the Town Halls –dialogues held every month or so, for members of the entrepreneurial community to gather and discuss pitches and business ideas. At the end of the semester, I felt less ignorant– but also starkly aware of how much else I do not know.
One thing I love about CORE is the attention and respect paid to non-tech entrepreneurship. Who says entrepreneurship is only for engineers, or coders? To many, entrepreneurship is inextricably linked with developing a top app, or creating a revolutionary social media platform. I initially thought that being entirely, woefully inept at coding excluded me from being entreprenership. But that’s an inadequate, reduced understanding. This semester, CORE explored alternative forms of entrepreneurship through two panels of fashion bloggers, who shared their approach in establishing themselves in the traditionally restrictive world of fashion. And next semester, you can look forward to an exciting BuzzFeed guest, a slew of events exploring social entrepreneurship, and much more.
Here’s to a great Spring 2014 as well!
by Jia Ying Lim
Columbia College, Class of 2017