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Student winner of the 2019 Innovation Challenge.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Through dynamic classes, unique opportunities, and powerful mentorship, we invite you to join the next generation of entrepreneurs. You'll combine the power of the liberal arts with your own drive for innovation. (And of course, there's always a chance you'll win several thousand dollars along the way.)

Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

(formerly The Encompass Distinction Program)

Combine the power of the liberal arts with your own drive for innovation! The Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship builds on a liberal arts tradition to develop the core qualities of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. They pursue the education, opportunities and support they need to become the new generation of innovators.

The Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship  includes:

  • Minors: the Entrepreneurship minor and the Marketing minor

  • Special Opportunities: the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, mini-grants, computer hackathon partnerships, and more

  • Mentorship: guidance from our entrepreneur-in-residence, connections with successful alumni, and more!

Through dynamic classes, unique opportunities, and powerful mentorship, the Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship will prepare you for 21st century careers that require innovation, perseverance, and self-starting.

Rachael Fox, an Environmental Studies major, presents Fox Boots, her company aimed at improving women’s boots for use outdoors. Fox Boots won the top prize in 2019 at the college’s Innovation Challenge Finals, now the Entrepreneurship Competition.

Academic Programs That Innovate Big Ideas in the Classroom Explore Your Interests

Sculpture outside of Hoover Library with students in background.

Entrepreneurship Minor

Students in the Entrepreneurship Minor develop their passion into purposeful next steps by understanding and practicing the skills of entrepreneurs and appreciating the types of innovation that foster successful enterprises. Students take core courses that build their appreciation of risk and managing failure, while fully utilizing their liberal arts foundation. 

Memorial Bell in Spring.

Marketing Minor

Today’s marketers shape the products and perceptions of the 21st century economy. McDaniel’s marketing minor is a professional, interdisciplinary program using both traditional classroom and immersive, experiential learning.  Develop skills in areas such as market research, strategy, consumer behavior, social media, and digital marketing. 

Jennifer Yang headshot

Mentorship at Work Meet Jennifer Yang: Our Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Jennifer Yang brings more than 23 years of consulting experience at Fortune 50 companies, start-up ventures, and federal agencies to the entrepreneurship community on the Hill. Her passion for innovation has led to her mentoring and supporting students as they develop their own business plans.

Yang supported the start-up and growth of Battle Resource Management, Inc, earning them a spot on the Inc. 500 ranking list and two federal government small business achievement awards. She also is a founding member of multiple entrepreneurial ventures: Inflexion, LLC., TasteBuds Events, LLC, Teardrops to Rainbows (non-profit), and, most recently, Covalent Spirits, LLC., a craft distillery located on Main Street in Westminster, MD.

Javon Spencer and Jennifer Yang

Put Your Ideas to the Test The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge (formerly Innovation Challenge) is an integral part of the Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Working in teams over the course of a semester, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge invites students from any major to develop business plans and a pitch for an innovative solution to a real world problem. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge Training Program, a five-week program, leads up to the competition and is designed to develop student entrepreneurial ideas. 

On the evening of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, pitches are judged by a panel of real-life entrepreneurs and teams get the chance to win start-up cash with their pitches.


Swimmer diving in to the pool for laps.

Sertified: An Innovation Challenge Success

In 2018, Owen Long, a Psychology major from Hanover, Pa., and sophomore Justin Arter of Waldorf, Md., competed in The Innovation Challenge with their business idea, Sertified.

Sertified tackles the lack of American Red Cross certified lifeguard instructors in northern Maryland and south-central Pennsylvania. Instructors “pop-up” at local pools to provide courses to those in the area.

Although Owen and Justin didn't win first-place, they took their $3,000 second-prize start-up funding and developed the business. Today? Sertified is thriving. 

Hacking Your Way to the Top

Interested in building your own app? 

Participate in the annual Carroll County Hackathon, hosted by MAGIC. Over the course of a weekend, you'll receive lessons that will allow you to build an app in one weekend. Tech experts and entrepreneurs provide mentorship and assistance to help you bring your ideas to life. And at the end of the weekend, teams showcase the applications they build to a team of judges. It's just another way we prepare you for professional success.

One of the winning teams at MAGIC Hackathon.

Students in McDaniel's Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship participate in sixth annual Carroll County Hackathon

McDaniel students Javon Spencer, a Business Administration major, and Tasir Money, a Marketing major, participated in the sixth annual Carroll County Hackathon presented by the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC), on Saturday, Feb. 25. Spencer was also part of the winning team for the "Best Pitch" category.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge Winners

Josiah Yung Trauma

2024 winner Josiah Yung.

2024: Trauma

Presented by first-year student Josiah Yung, Art major with a specialization in Graphic Design and Communication major. He presented a card game, Trauma, with the goal to be the last player to still have a body part.

“Trauma is a brand-new card game with a fun playing style that brings people together,” said Yung.

2023: ReDorm

Presented by Business Administration major Javon Spencer.

“ReDorm connects students who need products with those who are downsizing, preventing perfectly adequate items from going to waste.”

2022: Virtual Basketball Academy

Presented by Josh Arruda ’22, Accounting, Economics, and Business Administration major.

“Virtual Basketball Academy combines elements of the video game NBA2k, Zoom, and Twitch to make a virtual classroom that allows them to teach the game of basketball in a remote environment.”

2021: Life Tacos

Presented by Julianna Dotterweich ’22, Accounting, Economics, and Business Administration major, and Jessie Titus ’22, Environmental Studies major.

“Life Tacos aims at giving people healthier food options that are more affordable and accessible.”

Ride With Pride winners of McDaniel College Innovation Challenge

2017 winners Justin Arter ’20 and Louis Schaab ’19.

2019: Fox Boots

Presented by Rachael Fox ’20, Environmental Studies major.

“A women’s boot company that creates a reliable and comfortable product that assists any woman in her outdoor needs.”

2018: Stylish Thrift

Presented by William Martin ’18, Business Administration major.

“Stylish Thrift aims to provide reasonably priced new and vintage sportswear, without sacrificing quality.”

2017: Ride with Pride

Presented by Justin Arter ’20, Economics major, and Louis Schaab ’19, Business Administration major.

“Ride with Pride helps to address the need for accessible, affordable transportation for people with disabilities in Carroll County.”

2016: Flourished

Presented by Nicole Rutherford ’16, Business Administration and Kinesiology (formerly Exercise Science and Physical Education) major.

“A wellness center designed to help individuals become a more confident, fit, beautiful and healthy version of themselves.”

Nicole Rutherford ’16 teaches the deadlift as a platform coach at the L.A. Starting Strength seminar.

Impressive Outcomes Nicole Rutherford, ’16 Entrepreneurial Spirit

Nicole Rutherford ’16 was voted most likely to own her own business in high school, and it turns out her peers were right. After cosmetology school, she opened her own boutique, then later opened her own strength training business. As a dual Business Administration and Kinesiology major, when Rutherford wasn't in class, she was supporting her clients. Winning McDaniel's inaugural Innovation Challenge (now Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge) launched her entrepreneurship to the next level.

McDaniel College alumna Danielle Rowlett Tate '03

Alumni Feature Danielle Rowlett Tate ’03 Inspiration and Innovation

The last thing newly married Danielle Rowlett Tate ’03 expected to become at the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles was an entrepreneur, but that’s where her booming online business, MissNowMrs, was conceived.