I recently graduated from Middlebury College with a double major in Economics and Spanish. For most of my senior year, I struggled with the question, “What do you want to do next year?” I really didn’t know, and every time a professor, classmate, or parent asked me it, I cringed.
Now, almost a year after this question began to haunt me, I have realized that my uncertainty was a blessing. It forced me to really keep an open mind and take advantage of my resources and networks at Middlebury. I began to take more electives, participate in different activities and organizations, and meet new people. All of this helped me understand my interests and myself.
By J-term, I lost this sense of uncertainty and I realized what I wanted to do: social entrepreneurship. Everything had gone from so hazy to so clear in one J-term class, “Social Entrepreneurship in the Liberal Arts.” We spent a month discussing the meaning of social entrepreneurship; reading moving books, such as the Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz; and meeting incredible leaders in the field, like Bill Drayton of Ashoka. The class helped me shape my personal story and showed me that I did not have to separate my social values from work.
At the end of January, the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship launched with a 3-day symposium. The Center invited 12 leading social entrepreneurs to hold workshops and present on their experiences in the field, one of which being Launcht CEO Freeman White. Inspired, I set a personal goal to myself that I would be one of the entrepreneurs invited to present within 10 years.
When I heard that there was an opening at Launcht, I jumped to it. I would be able to pursue my interest in social entrepreneurship; work under the direction of leaders in the field, Spencer and Freeman; and be part of an exciting and growing industry, crowdfunding. It was by definition, a great and ideal opportunity.
For me, social entrepreneurship and crowdfunding go hand in hand. It is a simple solution to raising seed capital that just makes sense. Crowdfunding reduces barriers to fundraising by helping entrepreneurs expand beyond their personal networks. They are not only able to fundraise more money, but also able to gain exposure. Crowdfunding will help more social ventures succeed and make a lasting impact.
I am extremely excited to be exposed to crowdfunding and social entrepreneurial ideas at Launcht. In the past few months, it has been all that I can talk about. Now, I can channel my energy and hopefully make my own impact here.