E2.0, Stanford’s own self-described “global, non-profit youth entrepreneurship organization,” was co-founded by juniors Dan Thompson, Jonathan Manzi, and Stewart Macgregor-Dennis. Though Macgregor-Dennis also serves as Vice-President of the ASSU, E2.0 is no longer affiliated with the ASSU as an organization, after publically ceding from the student government earlier this school year.
Though E2.0 only received campus approval for eDorm this quarter, the idea for an entrepreneurship-themed residence has been in the works since the organizations inception.
E2.0 Chairman Jonathan Manzi had reportedly been in conversation with Stanford President John Hennessy about an entrepreneurship dorm as early as last summer. When eDorm launches, it will be the first entrepreneurship-themed residence on a college campus.
“This is a big deal,” said Manzi, “We’re unveiling the first entrepreneurship residence with in-house programming in the world at Stanford. We think we’re spearheading a shift in the way entrepreneurship is accessed on college campuses.”
Though E2.0’s mission may be to facilitate the process of entrepreneurship for the entire student body, placement in the eDorm involves a lengthy application process. Of the 40 students who will gain admission into the eDorm residence for the 2012-2013 academic year, fifty percent will be women, and a predicted twenty-five percent will be graduate students.
The unveiling of the eDorm has already garnered criticism among the Stanford community. Fielding speculation that the eDorm might be more symbolic than substantive, E2.0 co-founder and President Dan Thompson responded, “We want to attract students with deep expertise in something.” In the application, students are asked what specific skills they possess that they believe would be beneficial to an entrepreneurial venture. Thompson, Manzi and Macgregor-Dennis, as well as other members of E2.0, will be reviewing residency applications alongside student housing staff. Chase Harmon, E2.0’s Global Director, is spearheading the eDorm initiative.
Residents will also be chosen to represent a wide array of academic backgrounds. According to Thompson, a philosophy minor himself, entrepreneurial ventures in technology and other industries can benefit from deep skill in all disciplines, especially the humanities.
Outside of E2.0, Much of the entrepreneurship initiatives available to undergraduates at Stanford are run through the Student Technology Ventures Program (STVP), which is based in the engineering school. While many of the residents will be from technical backgrounds, many will not. Thompson explained that eDorm will support all types of entrepreneurship ventures, not just technology-based entrepreneurship.
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, of Founders Fund and Clarium Capital, best known as founder of PayPal, and also a founder of this newspaper, may serve as the faculty advisor for the eDorm. Thiel has taught classes at Stanford in the past at both the Stanford Law School and the School of Humanities and Sciences. This spring, Thiel will be teaching an entrepreneurship class through the Computer Science department entitled “Startup.” Thiel would advise house staff and consult on house event and activity scheduling.
As part of its entrepreneurship theme, eDorm will feature events and guest speakers from Silicon Valley and beyond to speak about entrepreneurship and provide guidance on building successful ventures. Plans are also underway for an “entrepreneurs-in-residence” program in which entrepreneurs would stay in the dorm for a period of time and conduct workshops with the residence. All residents of the eDorm will be required to attend 75% of the events and programming offered through the dorm. Additionally, each resident must join teams of startups or other creative projects. Outside of eDorm programming, residents are encouraged to take entrepreneurship classes and activities.
As the first new themed dorm on Stanford’s campus in ten years, approval for the eDorm is an accomplishment in and of itself, as well as one of the primary initiatives of E2.0 this year. However, getting permission for an entrepreneurship-themed residential community and actually bringing one into fruition are two different things. Only time will tell if the latter will be achieved by eDorm.