Westminster Center for Entrepreneurship launches Social Impact Business Incubator

The office space of the Westminster Social Impact Incubator (WSII), which opened last month, is available to its members as they develop their businesses. The office space has a private conference room, a refrigerator, secured access, and multiple desk areas. Photo by Catherine Blakemore

The office space of the Westminster Social Impact Incubator (WSII), which opened last month, is available to its members as they develop their businesses. The office space has a private conference room, a refrigerator, secured access, and multiple desk areas. Photo by Catherine Blakemore

Westminster College’s Center for Entrepreneurship opened the Westminster Social Impact Incubator (WSII), founded by Intuitive Funding, LLC, last month.
 
An incubator helps startup companies develop through mentoring, training and access to resources and/or office space. The WSII, located two blocks from campus on 1200 East,  provides those resources for applicants accepted into the program.
 
The mission of the WSII is “to nurture the next generation of change-makers by providing Westminster students, alumni and community entrepreneurs the resources to take their ideas and turn them into viable, scalable and sustainable ventures that will have a positive local, national or global social impact,” according to its application form.
 
The newly remodeled commercial office space, provided by Westminster MBA alumni Ned Skanchy through his company Urban Hive Properties, is a five-minute walk from the heart of campus. 
 
“We’re hoping to create an environment that is open, collaborative, supportive and not competitive,” said Karin Palle, director of Westminster’s Center for Entrepreneurship. “It’s all about giving back.”
 
Cliff Hurst, associate professor of entrepreneurship, began teaching in 2012 in the MBA program at Westminster and has since created an entrepreneurship minor. Hurst said he is a self-proclaimed incubator. 
 
“Even though I’m proud of all the progress we have made, there was something missing,” Hurst said. “And that something missing was the realization that you can only take entrepreneurship so far in the classroom. It’s almost as if we were teaching students how to swim by PowerPoint and then on graduation day showing them where the pool is. That’s why we decided to have an incubator.”
 
Hurst, a member of the WSII advisory board, said the incubator provides a place for what is learned in the classroom to transition into what may or may not work in the marketplace.
 
The advisory board represents various backgrounds and industries: from academia to the food industry to real estate. The board can serve as mentors to the incubator members and also oversee the incubator mission.
 
Palle said she hopes the WSII will create a model for social impact incubators on campuses not only across the United States but internationally, as well.
 
“I do believe the social impact incubator can be one of the many reasons that makes Westminster unique and makes somebody want to come to campus,” Palle said. “We really want to inspire students who see a problem in the world or for a specific population or situation and try and come up with ways to solve it by creating a revenue model or business that helps support that [solution].”
 
The incubator is open to applicants from current students, staff, faculty, alumni and community businesses, who can apply using this form.
 
“I believe our new social impact incubator can help Westminster students and alums to find a life worth living and find a job worth doing,” Hurst said.
 
The members of the WSII advisory board are as follows: 
 
Sara Day, Co-Founder and Cause Director at Even Stevens
    Rex Falkenrath, Chief Strategy Officer at Entrepreneur in Residence LLC
    Clifford Hurst, Associate Professor at Westminster College
    Lindsey Knuven, Chief Impact Officer at Cotopaxi
    Jason Olsen, Founder of Image Studios and Prestman Auto and Automobia
    Karin Palle, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Westminster College
    Ned Skanchy, Partner at Urban Hive Properties
    Thomas Thatcher, Manager at Intuitive Funding Group
 
For questions regarding the Westminster Social Impact Incubator, email Clifford Hurst: churst@westminstercollege.edu or Karin Palle: kpalle@westminstercollege.edu.