Flemming Center launches new opportunities

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A year into his role as director of the Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC), Dr. Andrew King has created a host of new opportunities to empower H-SC’s most entrepreneurial students to begin building their empires.

“My strengths are building programs and engaging students,” King said.

Just a year into his tenure, King is capitalizing on his strengths by expanding the center’s offerings and actively mentoring students as they launch new ventures.

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This fall, King launched the Tiger’s Den New Venture Incubator, which is the newest iteration of the entrepreneurship competition formerly known as Tiger’s Den.

While the previous Tiger’s Den was exclusively a pitch contest, the Tiger’s Den Incubator is a Compass course running through the 10-week instructional block this fall. Students are introduced to the foundational entrepreneurial principles for developing a new venture and use industry best practices to plan and validate their business ideas.

The fall 2020 semester will then culminate in the Tiger’s Den Pitch Contest in which students — whether enrolled in the Incubator course or not — will have the chance to present their new business ideas or established ventures to a panel of expert alumni entrepreneurs who will then distribute $15,000 in seed funding.

“My broader vision for the center is to compel students to take action on their creative ideas,” King said.

Along with revitalizing the Tiger’s Den competition, King has partnered with Longwood University and the Town of Farmville to create the Launch Pad Acceleration Program, which will begin its inaugural session in the spring semester.

The Launch Pad will include student teams from both institutions who are actively building companies or nonprofits and will help students scale the size and capacity of their organizations.

“This partnership is important because it will grow the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem and increase H-SC students’ exposure to entrepreneurial activity associated with larger urban areas,” King explained.

“These programs give students a runway to test out their business ideas. They gain skills that can add to both their entrepreneurial aspirations as well as give them powerful insights to running projects in larger organizations as employees,” King said. “Regardless of whether they build a venture big enough to sustain them after graduation or start working for an established company, the skills they acquire to juggle the many aspects of a new venture will give them exceptional capabilities to excel in the real world.”

King is also capitalizing on Hampden-Sydney’s legendary alumni brotherhood to create a mentor network comprised of alumni who can help guide students along the entrepreneurial process through the Flemming Center.

“The center provides a safe space to experiment with business ideas, test out strategies on mentors, build a toolkit of entrepreneurial skills and leverage the mentor network’s experience to reduce the costs of naiveté,” he said.

King is eager to expand this opportunity for students.

“The mentor network is growing, and it benefits from alumni who have intimate knowledge of any and all industries and who understand the complexities of starting up or sustaining new ventures,” he said.