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New Year, New Name: ERLC is now StartUp, the Entrepreneurial Learning Community

by Sari Judge Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 has brought a big change to the 2A floor of Sellery Hall. As of January, UW-Madison’s undergraduate residential community dedicated to all things entrepreneurial is no longer called the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC), but instead is now known as StartUp. The new name is not just easier to spell and easier to pronounce, but it finally fits comfortably on the front of a sweatshirt!

From a programming standpoint though, it is business as usual for the community, now in its tenth year. From monthly community dinners where students get the chance to network with some of the biggest names in the Madison-area entrepreneurship community, to all-community trips to Chicago, to site visits to local ventures like Raven Software, StartUp continues to be a fantastic first year experience for the entre-curious. Moreover, for many residents, getting the opportunity to apply for a StartUp Dream Big Venture Grant has been a highlight of the year.

Dream Big Venture Grants, which can total up to $1,000 per project, are available exclusively to community members with a big idea and the willingness to work hard to bring their ideas to fruition. For interested students, the first step is to fill out a grant proposal that encourages the applicant to think through not only what problem their company or organization will solve, but to carefully assess their project’s financials.This year’s Dream Big Venture Grants have been awarded to students working on extremely varied projects including a streetwear company named for the Greek god of requited love, Anteros, and a voice lobby-based remote work management platform.

Although students are quite aware of the critical role this funding can play in the success of their ventures, according to StartUp Faculty Director John Surdyk, the learning is the most meaningful part of the grant experience. “Although many of the residents come to campus knowing they have a big idea they would like to dig deep into, most have a lot to learn about navigating the complex world of business, startups in particular.” Surdyk continues, “In the end, it is far less important to the faculty and staff involved with StartUp that the student’s idea is ‘successful’ by traditional measures. At the end of the day, what’s most important to us is that the student has learned something valuable.”

StartUp is extremely proud of its grant programs and is thrilled to be a key UW-Madison experience that ignites student passions and empowers them to bring their big ideas to fruition. StartUp does not just encourage its students to Dream Big (the community’s motto). The program gives its residents the tools to achieve big, too.