Empowering Socially-Conscious Student Entrepreneurs
Xtensio pages have come in handy over and over again. Thank you for providing the platform to create such professional applications. I am so glad we decided to partner on this project!Makaela Kingsley, Director of Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship
We launched a partnership program a few months ago to explore how Xtensio, as the startup toolbox, could further encourage innovation within larger communities. Much to our surprise, most of the interest came from instructors who wanted to give their students access to our flexible platform and lean business methods. We soon discovered that Xtensio not only provides the framework to facilitate smarter business planning, it also has the ability to incite the exploration of innovative solutions to social problems through entrepreneurship.
We were thrilled when Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship connected with us.
Wesleyan University is recognized as one of the best colleges for students who want to change the world. According to Forbes, Wesleyan was ranked 9th for Entrepreneurship based on student ratings and responses to survey questions covering community-service opportunities, student government, sustainability efforts, and on-campus student engagement. Business Insider ranked Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship 8th for Social Impact, calling PCSE “a unique resource for students and alumni interested in creating businesses, programs, or organizations that advance the public good.” In 2015, PCSE offered 37 workshops, hosted training and networking events, and awarded more than two dozen grants to students.
Makaela Kingsley, the Director of PCSE, approached Xtensio to collaborate on this year’s Seed Grant Competition. The two-round competition challenges student entrepreneurs to develop a venture and pitch their projects to a panel of judges. The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards three $5,000 seed grants each year to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture.
Finding a better way for students to develop, present, and submit their ventures.
Last year, applicants submitted their applications through a simple form, attaching a basic word document that outlined their plans. Makaela compiled all of these files to distribute to the judges. The judges downloaded a batch of these applications and tediously sifted through dozens of ordinary word documents. We knew Xtensio could solve each of these pain points.
“Being a grant reviewer for multiple grant organizations, it can be very cumbersome reading through all of the applications.”Makaela Kingsley, Director of Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship
A simple sign-up and submission flow. We designed a custom landing page for students to sign up for their Xtensio account. The page was adorned with Wesleyan branding with specific instructions for the students. Upon landing on their dashboard, students could find a custom application template tailored to the competition criteria. When finished, students could hit the submit button on their dashboard.
A custom application template.This template not only replaced the need for a form, it transformed applicants’ business plans into a graphic and visual one pager. Each section was labeled and accompanied with questions and tips to guide students through their venture brainstorming. Additionally, Xtensio’s flexible structure allowed students to customize their application however they saw fit.
Lightweight web links and PDF exports.Rather than traditional word documents, the application output came in two options: web links, easy to view in any browser, and PDFs, tidy pages for email attachment.
Xtensio made the process faster, smarter, and more fun.
As soon as students jumped into the template, the simple interface allowed them to quickly get their hands dirty while uncovering their venture plans. Great ideas often get lost during the transition between ideation and presentation. When sharing and presenting ideas, people tend to struggle with bringing focus and clarity to their core idea. But with Xtensio, these students were able to bring laser focus to their venture’s value proposition. Xtensio proved to be a helpful tool allowing them to strategically think through their ventures and graphically showcase their big idea.
“I found Xtensio to be very user-friendly. The template provided helped me structure my application and make it as organized and visually appealing as possible.”– Stephanie ‘16, founder of Kindergarten Kickstart
“I plan to continue to use Xtensio in the future to further my Seed Grant idea as well as for other projects. Really enjoyed using Xtensio! What a great idea and website.”– Hannah ‘17, founder of Give Education
“Beyond the Seed Grant competition, I’ve found it really easy to share with other people interested in my work.”– Rebecca ‘16, founder of Elephants Walking Home
Judges go into this competition with the intent of giving equal opportunity to all participants. However, sometimes great ideas can get lost in the mix simply due to their lack of focus, and ability to make a good, clear business case. Microsoft Word doesn’t always help them get there.
With Xtensio, the judges had an incredibly low learning curve. Xtensio was so easily integrated into the review process, comparing the applicants became effortless. It was a seamless transition that made a cumbersome task simple and enjoyable.
“The uniform yet flexible design also made it easier to compare applications — it was apples-to-apples this year compared to apples-to-oranges in the past.”
– Rob Rosenthal, 3-year Seed Grant Judge and Director of Wesleyan’s Allbritton Center
Makaela partnered with us on this project because she knew that Xtensio could help elevate the quality of application output from the students. It was an easy way for them to create attractive PDF documents. But she soon discovered the ease and flexibility of having live web links. The lightweight links proved to be an easy way to attach the applications to emails and blogs. It was a simple and convenient way for her to distribute the applications.
“I’ve been attaching the winners’ application one-pagers everywhere because those web links make it SO easy.”– Makaela Kingsley, Director of Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship
Empowering Socially-Conscious Student Entrepreneurs at Wesleyan University
The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship received dozens of applications spanning a variety of disciplines such as: an innovative research-based, summer pre-K program for children, a startup incubator that operates in neighbourhoods with high rates of drug activity, and a non-profit that supports elephants and their mahouts (owners) in Thailand. These three social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources through the Patricelli Center.
With our partnerships, we look to bring as much value as we can to pioneering communities. We realize Xtensio’s potential to help shift the way budding entrepreneurs plan, strategize, and share their ideas. It is especially rewarding to see humanitarianism thrive; startups building amazing companies that nourish the world around them in an attempt to make it a better place. We were proud to see the three winning ventures were all about changing people’s (and animals’) lives for the better. The students at Wesleyan University represent the perfect example of the innovative minds and impact-driven spirits we hope to inspire.