Jennifer Garner ’94 once told David Letterman that she snuck into the theatre department as an undergrad with a friend and used the sewing machines to make “scrunchies” (for those of you under the age of 30, those are hair ties made from bunched fabric and elastic). She sold them in the dorms to make a little extra cash. It was enough, but man, had she had a strong business plan and support from fellow students with expertise in economics, marketing, and craftsmanship (Garner admitted she often sewed the scrunchies to her own clothes), who knows where she might be today? She could have bypassed Hollywood entirely and launched the new and improved banana clip.
Denison Enterprises is thinking of those entrepreneurial whizzes out there, and hoping to offer support for student-run businesses on campus, giving them hands-on business experience. Plus, other schools are doing it, founder Sara Vincent ’16 told The Denisonian last year. Schools like Northwestern and Georgetown and Dayton. So Vincent sought out students with specific skills—an economics major to handle the financial operations, a communication major to handle marketing. Since launching last year, Denison Enterprises has consulted with the Bandersnatch to streamline the student-run operation, from a full financial audit to offering new ways to monitor inventory and orders, and they developed a mobile app for the popular campus hangout. They also consulted on The Roost’s new life as The Nest, and they plan to launch an on-campus storage company.
When Christopher Celeste ’87 heard about Denison Enterprises, he knew he could help. In the for-profit world, Celeste is a founding partner of Hatch (which stands for Help At The Critical Hour), a company that invests in entrepreneurs and their ideas. So it made sense, Celeste says, to offer the young startup some advice, as well as a $5,000 gift to get the gang going.
“What I like about Denison Enterprises is that everyone takes ownership, but nobody takes control,” says Celeste. “These students have already figured out that operational component. That’s how a great company should operate.”