This past Saturday April, 1st, was the annual competition known on campus as Bobcat Ventures. Bobcat Ventures is an entrepreneurial student competition that gives Bates students the chance to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas in a competitive setting.

Winners of the competition are granted up to $9,000 to invest in pursuing their entrepreneurial or innovative idea. In addition to the monetary value of placing in the top three of the competition, students also gain valuable experience in working with Bates Alumni who have found success in entrepreneurial roles or industries.

According to Ali Rabideau ‘17, who was granted this year’s competition winner on Saturday, “the Bobcat Ventures program is supposed to spark innovation and entrepreneurship among Bates students, while also providing students with mentorship opportunities from successful alumni.”

Rabideau expressed that the Bobcat Ventures program also provides feedback for students during the months leading up to the process. This gives students a chance to work with peers, professionals in fields of innovation and entrepreneurship, and notable alumni in order to understand the processes of pursuing an innovative and entrepreneurial idea.

Rabideau also found that the the Bobcat Ventures competition was a way to engage more closely with the local community. The idea she pitched was for a product called “Herban Works”, a variety of teas and body-care products all made from locally sourced herbs and medicinal flowers in Lewiston. Rabideau worked worked with the Center for Wisdom’s Women, an all-women support center located in Lewiston.

In addition to working collaboratively with organizations in our local community, Bobcat Ventures is also a way for students to gain entrepreneurial experience. Since Bates does not offer a business or entrepreneurial program, or even classes, this competition is a great way for students to understand how entrepreneurial ventures operate, and some of the resources that students may be able to use in achieving their goals of creating innovative products and ventures.

Rabideau, who before the competition did not consider herself an entrepreneurial person, said, “if you are passionate about your idea you can go really far with it, and I think that adding a social value to my enterprise allowed me the chance to explore entrepreneurial possibilities.”

Students who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities at Bates may certainly explore the possibility of partaking in next year’s Bobcat Ventures program. Rabideau expressed that the program is a great way to sharpen presentational skills, while also understanding what it takes to take on an entrepreneurial project. In addition, it is a great way to meet notable and successfully alumni. For more information about the Bobcat Ventures program, please visit: