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Ready for launch

Kellogg’s inaugural Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Inspiration Days jumpstarts the ambitions of more than 100 incoming Kellogg MBA candidates

By Daniel P. Smith

  • As part of the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Inspiration Days at Kellogg, incoming students shared their social innovation areas of interest to identify startup teams.
  • The Kellogg halls quickly filled up with different social innovation venture ideas, which were written on balloons.
  • After getting a crash course on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and design, each team had five minutes to deliver their pitch.
  • Twenty teams of incoming students presented their ideas for new social enterprises, ranging from healthcare and education to energy and agriculture.
  • Following the pitches, students voted to determine the winner of a $2K Launch Award.
  • Students also learned about the courses and resources available at Kellogg for those who wish to pursue Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship.


From energy and education to housing and healthcare, the Kellogg School of Management’s Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Inspiration (SIEI) Days event spotlighted new venture formation carrying an integrated social and financial model.

The inaugural SIEI Days recently gathered more than 100 incoming Kellogg students interested in social innovation and eager to use their MBA educations to create ventures that promote purpose alongside profits.

“The goal was to give students the tools and inspiration to build up an idea over the next two years, so they’re ready for launch by the time they leave Kellogg,” said Jamie Jones, Kellogg’s director of social entrepreneurship and SIEI Days’ principal organizer.

With Kellogg’s numerous resources and a passionate investment in social innovation, Jones hoped all SIEI Days participants captured Kellogg’s commitment to support difference-making social enterprises.

“We firmly believe students can choose to have an impact … and we’re going to encourage them to plug into all of the available resources at Kellogg to maximize their experience and accomplish their unique vision,” Jones said.

Sparking social innovation
With student interest in social innovation accelerating, Jones said her team worked to produce an event that would jumpstart incoming students’ social innovation plans before their busy MBA careers take flight in September.

“We wanted to catalyze the students’ interest in the pursuit of social innovation and put them on the path to realization of an idea,” Jones said.

The three-day event featured:

  • networking among new classmates, faculty and staff with shared interests in social innovation;

  • an inspired keynote from Portapure founder George Page, whose company invents, designs and manufactures affordable water filtration products for the developing world;

  • a day-long focus on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and design, including such elements as model testing and pitching investors; and

  • a 20-team pitch competition for a $2,000 launch award.

Jones hoped participants discovered the value of connecting with potential users to identify the right business model and to better understand the power of collaboration to think – and act – bravely.

“Solutions aren’t generated in a vacuum,” Jones said, “you have to get out and interact with customers.”


Resource at Kellogg
Here are the various ways Kellogg helps students transition a socially conscious entrepreneurial idea into reality:

  • An innovation-centric curriculum featuring building block courses in selling, digital marketing and pricing combined with experiential courses in private equity, venture capital and entrepreneurship labs. Social enterprise foundational courses, meanwhile, tackle issues such as values-based leadership, public economics and strategic management.

  • Speakers and seminars such as the Innovating Social Change Conference, the Chicago Innovation Speaker Series and the Net Impact Speaker Series

  • Student clubs that assemble like-minded social entrepreneurs, such as the Net Impact Club and Kellogg’s Social Venture Hub, which hosts regular workshops, small group ideation and networking events

  • Funding opportunities including the $70,000 NewDay Social Entrepreneurship Award and Levy Social Entrepreneurship Lab launch awards

  • Internships with socially-minded organizations, supported by Kellogg’s Center for Research in Technology & Innovation and Chicago-based New World Ventures

  • Extracurricular events ranging from Northwestern’s campus-wide startup weekend in November to the International Impact Investing Challenge in the spring

  • A rich network of global alumni capable of providing access and expertise