Dunn nurtures young entrepreneurs through a unique course called Earwig, Inc. (named after our long-standing athletics mascot). The course is a year-long elective that teaches real-world business and investing skills to entrepreneurally minded students.

Using the Lean Launchpad methodology developed by Silicon Valley pioneer Steve Blank, students in this innovative course learn to start new ventures, manage on-campus businesses and apply skills from academic classes to real-world problems.

As a collaborative effort between students, faculty, administrators and prominent business and finance advisors, the Earwig Inc. experience equips students for real-world success. In it, they learn to work in teams, research, problem solve, empathize, analyze data, test hypotheses, and learn from mistakes.

Building blocks of the course include:

The Earwig Café: an on-campus snack shop and hangout managed by students. Offering snacks, sports and other special events on TV, and the occasional student art exhibit, the café is a learning laboratory and a social hub on campus.

The Earwig Foundation: Students learn to invest their earnings -- real money -- in the stock market. Gains from the foundation will eventually be used to fund student scholarships. Currently all gains are reinvested into the fund.

The results speak for themselves.  

  •  The Earwig Café generates an average of more than $10,000 in net income each year.
  •  The Earwig Foundation earns an annualized return of 18 percent.
  •  A student/teacher duo recently took first prize in the Startup Santa Barbara venture competition.
  •  Students express a passion for pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in the future

I've learned that entrepreneurship is about helping to improve people's lives.