Rose-Hulman launches ‘Sawmill Society’ entrepreneurial network

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 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is bringing a new dimension to its community, launching a forum for alumni entrepreneurs to share insights, experiences, and inspiration with each other and Rose-Hulman students, according to a college news release.

 The Sawmill Society initiative will also include a mentor/mentee program between Sawmill members and Rose-Hulman students, a ventureship program in which students can receive funding, mentorship and other support to work on entrepreneurial projects on campus during their summer break, and an external group of alumni angel network of investors.

 “Entrepreneurism is part of Rose-Hulman’s DNA for many, and the Sawmill Society will help facilitate a natural pipeline between our entrepreneurial-minded alumni and students,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons. 

 More than 70 friends and alumni of Rose-Hulman have already joined the Sawmill Society.

 “I’m excited we have the Sawmill Society, where Rose-Hulman entrepreneurs can learn from each other, share our experiences with up-and-coming entrepreneurs and give back to Rose,” said Sawmill member Timothy Sublette, a 1995 computer science alumnus and chief technology officer at OneCause.

 While the Sawmill Society is generally intended to foster relationships among all entrepreneurs, the Sawmill Mentor Network is intended to facilitate the connection primarily between alumni mentors and Rose-Hulman student mentees and other affiliates.

Mentors will be able to present their areas of interest and expertise, and mentees can identify and contact mentors they feel will be helpful to them.

 With the Sawmill Society ventureship program, Rose-Hulman students can apply for a paid opportunity to live on campus during summer break with access to institute resources at Rose-Hulman Ventures, as well as Sawmill Society resources, to launch their startup projects.

 “This program offers students a formalized step to move their startup idea from small traction to the next stage,” said Craig Downing, associate dean of lifelong learning and head of the department of engineering management,  who helps oversee the ventureship program.

“Students need dedicated time to develop their startup, which they lack during the academic year. This opportunity helps remove one of the largest barriers they face to develop their ideas by providing them with the resources and time they need to advance or launch their startup projects,” Downing said.

 Although not directly affiliated with the institute, a Sawmill Angel Network is being formed by Rose-Hulman alumni and friends seeking to give back to the RHIT community by encouraging and investing in the next generation of diverse RHIT entrepreneurs and innovators.

 “Angels have the opportunity to positively impact new venture success in the Rose-Hulman community. Capital, coaching, and counsel are key contributions that Angels can expect to make to that success,” said Mike Hatfield, a 1984 electrical engineering and mathematical economics alumnus who helped found the Angel Network.

Hatfield is a founder of multiple startups including Carium, Cyan, Calix, and Cerent. “Budding entrepreneurs at Rose-Hulman can use the mentor network to perfect their pitch, then put their ideas in front of real investors in the Angel Network to get the funding to take their innovation to the next level.”

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