A Closer Look at EleMENT

At EleMENT’s Kanban Challenge last Wednesday, November 2nd, 15 teams of students speed-walked through the old cafe, rap-battled, and interpretive danced in an intense race to complete a list of tasks. After one-and-a-half hours of competition, a team of juniors (Abhiudaya Bhalla, Henry Wittich, Lucy Liu, and Gary Yang) claimed first prize.

However, the Kanban Challenge does more than simply entertain: It serves as the official introduction of eleMENT to students that may not be familiar with the student-run entrepreneurship program. The high energy and collaboration involved in the competition preview the key characteristics of each I-day session. As eleMENT co-founder and class of 2015 graduate Puja Mittal explains, “The Kanban Challenge was created to showcase [eleMENT’s] “learn by doing” philosophy.”

For those confused by the mess of entrepreneurship-related acronyms and organizations on campus, the eleMENT program brings accepted students to 1871, an innovation hub in downtown Chicago, to learn about entrepreneurship theories and talk to entrepreneurs. This year, eleMENT is hosting two second semester sessions (3 consecutive I-days) and an intersession, which provides the chance for sophomores with MSI to experience the program.

Puja conceived of eleMENT four years ago after realizing an interest in entrepreneurship, or, as she saw it, “the ability to make a difference in ways outside of the traditional routes like medicine or volunteering… by capitalizing on your own skillsets to solve the problems of others.” She sought out resources within the TALENT program, yet couldn’t find much guidance about getting past the ideation stage — so she made the resource herself. She found a partner, built a curriculum around the principles of the Lean Startup, and tested her class on a pilot class of students, all with the goal of sharing with others methods for making a business idea a reality.

The impact of eleMENT is far-reaching. Puja writes, “We’ve been able to add in one more class of students each year, and rework the curriculum to be even more robust. The TALENT program is flooded with former students of the eleMENT program. We’ve seen amazing outcomes within Power Pitch and immense growth of the entrepreneurial mindset at IMSA.”

Applications to the eleMENT intersession and second semester sessions are due Wednesday, November 9 at midnight, and can be found at tinyurl.com/element2017.

More information about the program can be found at http://sendvid.com/semanigc.

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