Oct 21, 2021

Colby Announces Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship

Colby College announced today that it will establish the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship to provide distinctive opportunities and experiences for understanding and applying the principles of entrepreneurship.

New Lab Will Elevate Entrepreneurism in the Liberal Arts

Colby College announced today that it will establish the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship to provide distinctive opportunities and experiences for understanding and applying the principles of entrepreneurship. The new lab, which will create a unique and leading entrepreneurship program among liberal arts colleges, is the result of a generous gift from Trustee Emeritus Todd Halloran, a 1984 Colby graduate and Harvard Business School graduate who has spent the majority of his career investing in and working with accomplished business leaders and entrepreneurs, and their growing companies.

Launching next year, the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship will offer a comprehensive suite of training and practical opportunities aimed at preparing Colby students to be effective innovators and entrepreneurs—whether they are creating dynamic new business ventures or improving existing organizations or programs. The Halloran Lab will be directed by an accomplished business innovator and will provide entrepreneurship education and training programs, funding for students to start commercial and social enterprises and initiatives, mentorship through a dedicated entrepreneurship network, as well as innovation and maker spaces on campus and in downtown Waterville. There may also be potential curriculum enhancements and options related to entrepreneurship. Finally, the Halloran Lab will help establish the development of an internal entrepreneurship ecosystem involving alumni, faculty, staff, and Colby community members as well as partnerships with companies, organizations, and institutions that can further its mission.

“Direct engagement with solutions-based work, whether to create commercial enterprises or further societal progress, is the perfect complement to a rigorous liberal arts education,” said President David A. Greene. “The work itself, from ideation and solutions development to business establishment and financing, takes deep learning and research, nimbleness and adaptability, strong communication and collaboration skills, comfort with failure, and resilience and persistence. These are traits that will serve our students well throughout their lives and will allow them to have an outsized impact on the world. The Halloran Lab will also have a major impact on our city of Waterville as well, where an already growing innovation ecosystem will be turbocharged by this critical initiative. Todd’s generosity to Colby spans decades, and with this gift, he will empower generations of students to enrich their education, change their life trajectories, and innovate for the greater good. It is extraordinary, and we are so grateful.”

A Liberal Arts Approach to Innovation

The Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship will play a major role in strengthening Colby’s commitment to a highly relevant education that prepares students to create innovative solutions to global challenges.

“This lab will build a bridge between the essence of a liberal arts education—analytical thinking, communications skills, historical perspective—and the skills that can help students develop their aspirational ideas and bring them to fruition,” said Halloran. “The goal is to complement and combine Colby’s exceptional liberal arts curriculum with experiences that introduce the tools needed to start and run a successful enterprise.”

He added that Colby has a strong legacy of always striving to innovate. “Colby has never been satisfied with standing still, and that’s been especially true over the last several years,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of the current momentum taking place at the College and to continue to move forward the importance and relevance of a great liberal arts education.”

The Positive Impact of Entrepreneurism 

Halloran hopes the lab will help highlight the many virtues of entrepreneurism. “It’s not just about creating a job for yourself,” he said. “It’s about having a positive impact on the economy and society by helping others, including through job creation and community building. There’s also tremendous value in the entrepreneurial process and the development of small businesses with the self-esteem it fosters, the teamwork it inspires, and the skills that it develops.”

The decision to support the creation of the lab was driven in part by Halloran’s interest in and work with businesses, management teams, and entrepreneurs, and the major role that small businesses play in driving the country’s economy.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses accounted for 65 percent of net new-job creation since 2000 and 44 percent of U.S. economic activity. Additionally, small businesses comprise 47 percent of private-sector employees (61 million).

A national search for an inaugural director of the entrepreneurship lab will begin immediately. An advisory board, which will be chaired initially by Halloran and include leaders from different sectors of the innovation economy, is currently being formed to ensure the lab is always on the leading edge of business development and social change. The advisory board will play a key role in ensuring that students working in the lab have access to outstanding mentors, opportunities at start-ups and innovative organizations, and venture funding for the most promising initiatives.

A Legacy of Supporting Colby

Halloran’s involvement with Colby includes establishing the Halloran Family Faculty Research Endowment Fund in 2010 as well as serving as a trustee from 2006 to 2012. He has also worked on the College Relations Visiting Committee, the President’s Advisory Committee, chaired the Nominating Committee and the Alumni Fund Committee, and he made a significant contribution to the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center. Additionally, Halloran has been engaged with Colby’s DavisConnects, including participating in its Paving the Road to a Future in Finance events and directly supporting students by funding the Wall Street prep courses offered at the College. Halloran is currently a senior advisory partner at Freeman Spogli & Co., a private equity firm that partners with management in U.S.-based consumer-related growth businesses; serves on several private company and philanthropic boards, and personally owns majority and minority stakes in a number of small businesses.

The Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship will join the Linde Packman Lab for Biosciences Innovation and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment as the third major lab that the College has created in the last five years. Colby Labs bring together multidisciplinary approaches and partnerships to offer students and faculty unique opportunities to identify and test solutions to the world’s most important challenges.

The new lab is another example of Colby’s leadership in providing a dynamic intellectual environment, where the most talented students from every background have full access to the College’s exceptional resources. In addition to the new lab, Colby’s exciting momentum can also be seen through a variety of other recent initiatives, including the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, and the Greene Block + Studios, to name a few.