Manning School Well-Represented at Innovation Labs’ Cross-University Mixer

A group of students wearing face coverings pose for a photo Image by courtesy
Manning School of Business students learned about entrepreneurship at the Harvard Innovation Labs' Cross-University Mixer this spring.

By Brian Cleavitt

A dozen Manning School of Business students had the opportunity to share their entrepreneurial ideas and network with students from across the region at the Harvard Innovation Labs’ Cross-University Mixer, held recently at Harvard University in Cambridge.

The networking event, hosted by the Harvard Business School, included students from MIT, Boston University, Babson University, Tufts University, Brandeis University and UMass Amherst, as well as local business owners and entrepreneurs.

The UMass Lowell contingent was led by business students Mina Lam, Angel Molekunnel, Susan Han and Brian Cleavitt and sponsored by the Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The mixer was a great opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and meet fellow motivated students from diverse backgrounds,” says Jenny Lerman, a junior entrepreneurship student from Tewksbury, Massachusetts. “I was able to receive constructive feedback about my ideas, coming from an objective point of view, and learn more directly about the entrepreneurial process by talking with people who have already launched their startups.”

Solomon Wambuzi, a sophomore finance student from Boston, presented his idea for a networking website that enhances social interactions using sociological methods.

“We need connections now more than ever, especially meaningful ones,” says Wambuzi, who appreciated the opportunity to talk about his idea with people who have different perspectives. “When working on ideas or coming up with projects, it is extremely beneficial to have advice from those that are at different points in the journey you want to pursue.”

For several of the Manning students, it was their first opportunity to attend a networking event.

A student with short dark hair smiles while posing for a picture Image by Ed Brennen
Sophomore business major Brian Cleavitt helped lead the Manning School of Business contingent that attended the mixer.
“I was very nervous at first, but after two conversations, it became natural,” says senior management information systems student Davina Mwangi. “Listening to students talk about their startups motivated me to start thinking of involving myself in innovative projects.”

“I spoke to many people and was inspired by what they are doing to help the community,” says Ashley Newell, a freshman finance and marketing student from Holden, Massachusetts, who connected with several of her fellow attendees on LinkedIn.

“I look forward to attending more networking events and growing my professional career,” says Molekunnel, a first-year marketing student from Chicopee, Massachusetts. 

The UML group also included Maria Nabukeera, Matheus Perazolla, Rebecca Zhou, Adriana Mendez and Chris Behm. The students thanked Patricia Morena, program administrator for the Wilson Center, and Dean of Business Sandra Richtermeyer for helping to make their participation possible.

Brian Cleavitt is a sophomore international business student from Hudson, New Hampshire. He presented his “Arrakis Terrarium Project,” a system of stackable units that can grow crops anywhere to address food insecurity, at the mixer. The project received a $2,000 honorable mention award at the 2021 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge.