The Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program (GSEP) returned to campus June 20-24. The program for rising Dana Hall juniors and seniors offers first-hand experience in the evolving world of business, laying the foundation for entrepreneurial thinking through a week of skill-building workshops and experiences.
GSEP was led by Michelle Kiehl, executive director of the Dana Hall School of Music. Kiehl has more than 20 years of experience in global marketing and communications. She started her career at Nike, Inc. in product marketing and merchandising, before working in similar spaces at Dr. Martens USA and Reebok International/adidas Group.
“Bringing back Dana Hall's Girls Summer Entrepreneurship Program after a short break allowed us to recalibrate the experience,” said Kiehl. “We collaborated with Babson's Blank School of Entrepreneurship to deliver core entrepreneurial inspiration, experiences, and skill-building then layered on a visit to Harvard's Innovation Labs as well as real-time guidance by master communicator and alumna, Anna Craven '14.”
At the conclusion of the program, the participants faced off in the Dragon’s Lair, a Shark Tank-style pitch competition judged by a panel of four industry experts:
- Alexia Fieger ’15, associate at Cove Hill Partners
- Chris Keyes, head of the Mobile Apps Division and head of the Innovation Lab for PCH Media, after they acquired Chris’ most recent startup, Online Convergence
- Emily Soukas ’09, associate director of Community and Partnerships at WS Development’s Boston Seaport project
- Heidi Vanni P28, 30, Dana Hall trustee and managing director at Boston Trust Walden
Team College Buddy pitched an app that would match rising juniors and seniors with schools based on their interests, then connect them with a current college student to give insights on the campus experience. Team Plan It! designed a website that would help parents plan birthday parties for their children, taking away the time and stress involved in party planning. In the end, Team College Buddy came out on top.
“Every single budding entrepreneur put her whole heart into her team's final pitch. I felt so completely proud of them,” said Kiehl. "They demonstrated understanding of next-level questions and gracefully responded with their considerations and their concept’s possibilities. The judges awarded the idea pitched with most clarity on the Dragon's Lair occasion. The greater reward was each student's growth throughout the week.”