Site funds student entrepreneurs

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Macky Franklin ’11 is using MiddStart to fund a website that establishes a social network for cycling enthusiasts.

After spending over two years in the planning stages, the College’s new program, MiddSTART, will officially launch in the coming weeks. MiddSTART, created through the Project for Creativity and Innovation in the Liberal Arts, will fund students’ ideas and projects through online donations from members of the College community.

All current students will be able to fill out an application for their project on the MiddSTART website. The projects will then be reviewed and judged based on their creativity and innovation.

The projects must be initiated, designed and carried out by students, and each project can receive up to $2,000. Any student organizations eligible for SGA Finance Committee funding are not allowed to apply, and the projects must be outside of the graded academic environment.

Elizabeth Robinson, director of the Project for Creativity, is excited that the project is finally read to launch.

“The College continually seeks ways to provide students with opportunities for funding their great ideas and projects,” said Robinson. “With the popularity of KIVA and Kickstarter, we thought it was a good idea to have a Middlebury-specific site where students could post their projects that were in need of funding. We haven’t seen any other school with a funding vehicle like this.”

One goal for MiddSTART is to create a community of students, alumni and parents surrounding the creative ideas of students. As the MiddSTART website explains, “Our goal is to create relationships beyond donations, to collaborations — students and donors building a stronger Middlebury community and a better world.”

As of right now, six student projects are set up to start receiving funding once the program is launched, with more in queue.

McConnell “Macky” Franklin ’11 will be receiving funding for his project Bicycle2Bicycle, a cycling social network that has been live for just over a week now. The site currently has about 40 members. Franklin’s goal is to strengthen the cycling community by making it easier for cyclists to find events, groups and other cyclists in their area.

“The idea for Bicycle2Bicycle started in early 2009 while I was living and training in San Martin de los Andes, Argentina,” said Franklin. “I was brainstorming ways to combine my love of programming with my love of cycling and I hit upon the idea of creating a cycling social network.”

Franklin is excited for MiddSTART’s launch, and believes that it will be a beneficial addition to the many programs already offered by the College.

“While Old Stone Mill provides spaces for students to work and MiddCORE and MiddEntrepreneurs Club can help with the logistics of starting a project, one of the hardest things is getting funding to put your plan into action,” said Franklin. “There are some great funding sources (Davis Projects for Peace, Stonehenge, etc.) but because they can only provide support for a specific number of projects each year and Middlebury is full of driven students with great ideas, there are great projects that can’t be funded by these programs. MiddSTART is going to be a great asset to students.”

MiddSTART Home Page