Helping students become social entrepreneurs

The Idea Lab was created in collaboration with the Diana Davis Spencer ’60 Foundation to introduce the transformative force of social entrepreneurship to the Wheaton community. Through programming, events and workshops, students gain the confidence and competence to follow their passions and launch their own social enterprises.

The Idea Lab at Wheaton

Wheaton helps students become social entrepreneurs, putting ideas into action to improve the world and as a way to learn about leadership, networking and crafting their personal brand.

The Idea Lab is Wheaton’s center for social entrepreneurship activities on campus and offers a range of programs, partnerships and resources that are designed to help students develop their ideas for helping others and the skills to realize their vision.

SE Launch Program

SE Launch (Social Entrepreneurship Launch) is a multi-week residential program where students dedicate themselves to learning the skills and strategies necessary to launch their own businesses. The SE Launch program is made up of three components:

  • Meaning Maker Boot Camp, led by GCSEN (Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network), is a week-long program, offered during the January break, where students learn how to define their passion and develop their business idea
  • Spring Semester Programs, students continue to meet in a series of workshops designed to guide them from ideas to actions in order to move their business plans forward
  • SE Launch Wheaton Week, held the week after commencement, provides engaging workshops and interactive sessions with members of the extended Wheaton community and culminates in a Pitch Competition

Students must apply to be accepted into the SE Launch program and are selected based on their passion for entrepreneurship and creating social change. The program is offered free of charge through the generosity of the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, and students who successfully complete all three components of the program will receive a $500 business start up stipend.  Ready to get started?

Student Pitch Competition

The Student Pitch Competition is a highly visible opportunity to showcase the diversity of social ideas and solutions across the Wheaton community. Through this event, students have the opportunity to practice their presentation skills and persuasiveness. Students have three minutes to present their creative solutions to their peers and a group of judges composed of Wheaton staff, alums and experts in the field of social entrepreneurship. Participants compete for cash prizes and receive feedback on their pitches.

Student Business Showcase

The Student Business Showcase is offered once per semester as a way to bring awareness about entrepreneurship to the Wheaton community. This event affords students the opportunity to gain insight into the viability of their business by sharing it with others. With the assistance of workshops and mentoring, students prepare marketing displays that illustrate their business concepts. They have the opportunity to get feedback, conduct market research and sell their goods and services in a real-life sales environment.

Other Programs

There are many other opportunities throughout the year for students to develop their business ideas and skills. Located in the basement of the Doll’s House, The Idea Lab is home to a plethora of programs.

Some of the programs previously offered include:

  • Personal branding workshop
  • Salary negotiation workshop
  • SE Launch program reunion lunches
  • Internship funding and professional development opportunities
  • “Pitch Practice, Pitch Perfect” coaching
  • Marketing Your Student Business workshop
  • Ashoka U Exchange Conference in Boston
  • Field trip to Social Entrepreneurship Greenhouse in Providence, R.I.