‘Wash U prepared me to think like an entrepreneur’

Wash U’s Olin Business School offers an entrepreneurship major, but alum Michael Rauch has demonstrated that the university gives all of its students – regardless of program – the tools for innovation.

Michael, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in chemistry, co-founded a startup venture that helps match students with research opportunities. ScholarBridge cuts out a number of steps when it comes to finding a research position by directly connecting students with professors who have the same research interests.

He says this is a resource that would have been very helpful when he was a student looking for his first research opportunity – and if it was lacking at Wash U, he knew students at other universities were surely in similar situations.

ScholarBridge was implemented at Wash U through the Office of Undergraduate Research over the summer, and in fact, Dean Joy Kiefer from that office provided a great deal of guidance while Michael and his colleagues were developing the resource.

Now, just a few short months later, ScholarBridge has expanded to Georgetown University, Montana State University, and the University of Kentucky, with a few more partnerships in the works. “As the network grows, students will be able to find opportunities across the nation for summers or gap years, as well,” Michael says. “There are hundreds of research institutions in the U.S. We think ScholarBridge will become a resource used by all premiere universities.”

And it all started right here, with a chemistry major and a meaningful research experience that eventually prompted Michael to pursue his PhD in that subject.

“Wash U certainly prepared me to think like an entrepreneur. Studying chemistry was a never-ending test of my problem-solving abilities,” he says. “That’s what an entrepreneur does – identifies something that can be improved and creates a tool to do so. I’m fortunate enough to be pursuing a project that aligns perfectly with my current role as a PhD candidate.”

Two other members of the ScholarBridge team are current Wash U students – seniors Jake Gordon and Will Stein.

To learn more about entrepreneurship opportunities at the university, visit the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship