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Student entrepreneurs gain support through Emory programs

E3 Living Labs is a communal space in Few Hall where like-minded student entrepreneurs can take advantage of networking opportunities to develop and implement their own ideas.

Invention requires more than vision; it requires resources and support. Emory student entrepreneurs are finding those in adundance—right from their first day on campus.

During the past year, Emory has stepped up efforts to support undergraduate students who are seeking a network to help further their entrepreneurship interests. Raoul Hall, the newest First Year at Emory (FYE) residence hall, opened last fall as a Social Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community (LLC) designed “to inspire students to explore for- and not-for-profit businesses that provide innovative solutions to society’s most engaging problems.”

So far, it’s working. Rostam Zafari 18C moved into Raoul Hall in the fall already committed to the idea of social entrepreneurship. Inspired by a challenge issued on the first day of class in Introduction to Biology, Zafari and classmate Brian Goldstone 18C developed Rapid Ebola Detection Strips (REDS), a portable, fast, less expensive, user-friendly approach to detecting Ebola virus in the field. The duo is now beginning testing on the design.

“Addressing the world’s social issues is going to take creativity and innovation. It is so valuable to teach that in college because it challenges you to find new perspectives on ongoing problems,” Zafari says. “Bill Gates is a role model for me who has both the capital and the mind-set to solve problems in the world. He does good, and he does well, and he impacts millions, if not billions, of lives. That is what I want to do.”

Ambra Yarbrough, resident complex director for Raoul Hall, says the new LLC is staffed by specially chosen student and resident assistants and social entrepreneurship resident fellow Raj Ramakrishnan 16MBA.

“The goal of the Student Entrepreneurship Committee last year was to create an umbrella hub that all the entrepreneurship endeavors can fit within,” Yarbrough says. “Before this, students were just scrounging around campus finding anyone who was willing or interested in talking to them about their ideas and figuring out how to piece things together.”

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