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Popular ‘E-club’ attracts variety of majors

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Since its inception a mere 15 months ago, the Entrepreneurship Club has seen its membership skyrocket to become one of the fastest-growing and most active undergraduate organizations on campus.

The Entrepreneurship Club – or “E-Club,” as its members call it – attracts students from a wide variety of disciplines – and that may be one of the reasons why it has seen its membership rise to 70 in the last year, co-president Mark Bennett said.

The group is proud that its operations board includes a biology major, a political science major and a finance major, among several other disciplines.

“The Entrepreneurship Club … provides a professional business outlook that is applicable to every major on campus,” vice president of operations Don Whitley said. “Unlike other clubs, which may try to train you to become an employee, the E-Club will provide you with meaningful team interactions and networking experiences which will help you develop the marketable skill-set of a leader and differentiate you in the business world, regardless of what profession you decide to go into.”

In order to market the club to undergraduates, the members have been handing out key chains and ping-pong balls stamped with the club’s logo.

“We just completed a huge marketing push,” vice president of management Jaime Urquijo said. “We really think it’s a great club and now a lot of people know about it.”

In a brief presentation to potential E-club members on Monday, Bennett said the purpose of the club was to “educate, inspire, network … in the context of entrepreneurial leadership.”

Bennett gave several examples of successful entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the CEO and founder of Virgin, Richard Branson.

And given the students that Notre Dame normally attracts, he said, he believes the University is the perfect place for an E-club.

“Under the Golden Dome are some of the most intelligent people,” he said. “[Notre Dame students] have an opportunity to become a leader in any field [they] go into.”

Following Bennett’s pitch, vice president of projects Bob Huguelet, Urquijo and two Operations board members, Kate von Hoffmann and Mark Streit, presented a case study of Branson.

Branson built the multi-billion dollar Virgin group out of a mail-order record company he started in 1970. The club’s officers analyzed the history, strengths, weaknesses and future ventures of Branson’s group. According to Urquijo, one of the major things E-club members can learn from Branson is to “always work towards a goal, not necessarily to make money.”

Modeling their club after similar organizations at Oxford, Stanford and Harvard, the E-Club officers put on a variety of events, including the opportunity to work on case studies on specific entrepreneurs.

The club also hosts a CEO speaker and dinner series where members get to meet leaders – two of whom were Sherry Barrett, president and CEO of the Fortune 500 company Northern Trust, and Jaime Zobel de Ayala, CEO of Ayala Corporation and Harvard Business School’s 2006 Management Man of the Year. In addition, the E-Club coordinates several service projects in the South Bend area.

“I think the most important question we have is what have we done for each other,” Bennett said.