The Entrepreneurship Initiative at UMass (EI):

EI operates educational classes at UMass Amherst under BDIC (design your own major) within the Commonwealth Honors College.

Classes are open to undergrad and grad students of all majors--honors or non-honors.  The program is here to help you, students of all kinds, learn how to work for yourself and to start new organizations.

Those with ideas will learn how to attract a team and turn ideas into reality.  Those seeking ideas will be shown how to create and evaluate opportunities. Those simply interested in getting a taste for the entrepreneurial life can do so in a safe environment.  Events are free and open to the public.

EI teaches you the critical skills you need to get started, and will introduce you to people who can help you take the next step.

UMass EI is a separate program from but works in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Initiative Institute ( EI^2).

Brief History:

EI was originally a non-registered student organizations called Entre Club founded in the 90's.

Like many entrepreneurial dreams of the 90's, Entre Club diminished in popularity and gusto after the .com tech bubble popped in 2000.

In 2005 Entre Club was resurrected by a few students under the guidance of Professor Bob Hyers and Entre Club alumni Paul Silva as a UMass chapter of The Entrepreneurship Initiative, a program sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation.

In 2009 The Entrepreneurship Initiative partnered with BDIC to provide credited classes in entrepreneurship education.  BDIC is the "design your major" program at UMass Amherst.  Many BDIC students aspire to start new businesses or non-profits.  Entrepreneurial students may craft their own majors with themes such as "Entrepreneurship and Information Technology," "Performing Arts Entrepreneurship," and "Entrepreneurship In Service of the Elderly."

UMass EI Board of Directors


Prof. Kwong Chan - Kwong is an Assistant Professor of marketing in the Isenberg School of Management and mentors a number of startups including Dexrex.

Prof. Daniel (Dan) Gordon - Dan is a professor of history and director of the Bachelor's Degree With Individual Concentration (BDIC). BDIC empowers highly motivated and self-directed students to design their own major.

Prof. Robert (Bob) Hyers - By day Bob is an well respected associate professor of MechanicalEngineering at UMass Amherst. But by night... he is the owner or partner in about a half dozen (the number is changing all the time) companies in the technology, service, and retail sectors. But anyone who knows him isn't surprised: he started his first business in high school!


Scott Foster - Starting in 2009 Scott started serving as a Judge in the once-per-semester competitions, but it wasn't long before he kindly stepped up to the plate.  Scott has been invaluable at helping EI and its students get legal input.  He was also key in the spin-out of the Valley Venture Mentors.  Scott is a partner at BR&G, the largest law firm in Western Massachusetts.

Robert (Bob) Lowry - Starting with little more than a great idea and good instincts, Bob founded the successful Bueno y Sanorestaurant in the extremely competitive Amherst market. More than a decade later, he runs his own life, has provided meaningful employment to his staff, and continues to deliver delicious, healthy food at student-friendly prices.

Paul G. Silva - In 2000 Paul was fortunate to be on the original team of students that helped form EI.  Since then he has founded several companies, raised $250k from angels, pitched to venture capitalists, and created socially responsible products.  Today he runs the River Valley Investors angel investor group in Springfield, helping investors find young companies seeking funding.

Partner Organization:

Valley Venture Mentors - VVM  picks up where UMassEI and the University leave off. It a wholly separate  organization form UMassEI. It is a 501 (3)(C) non-profit organization founded to complement and extend the activities started by UMass EI  students. Additionally, Valley Venture Mentors engages in the development of entrepreneurship education related programs / materials and their distribution beyond the universities scope in to the Pioneer Valley and beyond.

To learn more about Valley Venture Mentors at