Entrepreneurship club reaches out to successful Occidental alumni

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Oxypreneurship is in the process of creating their own alumni network to foster entrepreneurship among students, faculty, administrators and alumni, according to Oxypreneurship adviser Sanjeev Khagram.

“From a very early on stage in Oxypreneurship we realized that alumni are actually a really big part and can be a really powerful player in creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem at Occidental,” Oxypreneurship co-founder Alex Keat (senior) said.

One idea for the organization of the network, which is still in its planning stage, is asking alumni to provide internship opportunities to students, donate their time to mentor students or participate in at least two on campus events per year, according to Oxypreneurship member Sarah-Anne Nelson (senior).

Both Keat and Nelson have already received assistance from alumni in their own endeavors, which is one of the reasons they want to expand Oxypreneurship’s network. Keat was able to found his own start-up with the guidance of alumni advisors, and Nelson has reached out to alumni for advice on post-graduation goals.

Khagram said that Oxypreneurship is using the college’s existing alumni database to identify those interested in entrepreneurship with the help of Vice President for Institutional Advancement Shelby Radcliffe and Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Parent Engagement Tyler Reich.

Keat hopes that this network will benefit not only the members of Oxypreneurship, but also the campus as a whole. He says that during spring 2015 Oxypreneurship will hopefully be prepared to start giving students across campus access to this network, which will allow like-minded alumni and students to develop relationships and collaborate on ideas.

“We are talking about entrepreneurs that are not just into the high-tech world … but who are also into the social enterprise world and the non-profit world,” Keat said. “So we have people from all walks of life who are coming in and really helping us out to build this.”

Local entrepreneur Peter Polydor ’09 is one such alumnus who has become heavily involved with Oxypreneurship. He is the founder of the Eureka Project in Orange County, Calif., and co-founder of ERGO Capital Partners. During a visit to campus with ERGO, coordinated by the Career Development Center, Polydor also made an appearance in one of Khagram’s classes. When Khagram invited him to join the adviser group for Oxypreneurship, Polydor agreed enthusiastically.

Polydor feels Oxypreneurship would have been a valuable resource when he attended Occidental.

“When you are in college you are in kind of a bubble. You are in the stepping stone between school life and real life,” Polydor said. “One of the things that is really important and is something that students need to get involved with sooner is the real world. The alumni allows for that kind of soft landing, if you will, into the real world, giving back experiences, networks, and opportunities for students.”