Photo: Anika Agarwal / The Tufts Daily
After meeting in a freshmen year Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies Program (ELS) class, Chloe Amouyal, A20, and Lea Pensoy, A20, saw an opportunity to leverage the Tufts network to create a new type of community. This year they founded Women Entrepreneurs @ Tufts, with a goal of empowering students while creating a supportive, tight-knit community of women entrepreneurs.
ELS recently spoke to Chloe and Lea about the new club and its goals.
As we are both aspiring female entrepreneurs, we were both really interested in developing a space within entrepreneurship that was specifically geared towards women. We wanted to create an organization that was open to everyone, regardless of their area of study, background, or experiences. Now more than ever, women are feeling empowered and are celebrating each other, and we really wanted WE@T to be a place for celebrating women as entrepreneurs and innovators.
We met the first semester of freshman year in our ELS class. We were actually put together for a group project, which meant that we were working as a team for the whole semester. Almost a year later, we realized we both had the intention to start a club like WE@T, and once we paired up it just took off from there. We’re both studying ELS, participated in the 3 Day Startup Event last fall, and attend entrepreneurship events at Tufts and in Boston. Outside of that, I (Lea) used to have an Etsy store. We both love entrepreneurship overall and are excited to see what the future hold for WE@T and us as professional women.
We’ve experienced a lot of traction from both students interested in joining the club and the Tufts community as a whole. It’s been really encouraging. We wanted the club to be as inclusive as possible so we marketed very heavily, especially to freshmen. We’ve had over 40 signups so far, which is really exciting, and there are still people hearing about the club and wanting to get involved. The Daily reached out to us to do a feature article, so that will be beneficial in terms of promoting the club’s message and drawing in more members. The ELS department has also been super supportive, and we can’t thank them enough! We’ve also been engaging with some female entrepreneurs who are Tufts alumni, who will be speaking to the club later on in the semester.
We’re excited about a lot of things. In the short term, we’re planning a few speaking events with alumni who are women entrepreneurs (like Morgan Babbs who won the 100k Competition, launched a company in Nicaragua, and is on the ELS board at Tufts) and bonding events (like painting the cannon as a club). We are also currently pairing underclassmen with upperclassmen in their field of study to act as mentors. WE@T is also setting up a team to scout events for members to attend as a group around Boston because one of our goals is to get more involved in the entrepreneurial community around us.
We’re really hoping to draw from the Tufts network to empower students while creating a supportive, tight-knit community of women. Our goals are therefore to create not only a space that enhances our professional development, but also to create a space where people feel like they have other women to look up to, to rely on, and support. In the long-term, we’d also love to hold some sort of large-scale event like a conference or entrepreneurship fair. Even beyond graduation, our vision for the club is to have participating alumni connect with each other and with Tufts students of the future. It’s about creating a network that lasts beyond the end of our time as students. The overwhelmingly positive response we’ve had since launching has been really encouraging for the long-term.
If you have the opportunity to create something you care about, take it! Even if it involves taking a risk, it’s always worth giving something a go. We both believed the potential for WE@T’s success and understood that we had an opportunity to build community at Tufts around women in entrepreneurship. In fact, the window of opportunity we spotted ended up being much larger than we initially foresaw. That just goes to show that you never really know what you could miss out on if you don’t give it a try.