The James Madison Society of Entrepreneurs was created in 2011 by a few students that were passionate about growing something out of an idea and wanted to get like-minded people together. By utilizing the Center for Entrepreneurship and director Carol Hamilton as the intermediary between the group and the University, the idea began to solidify.
One of the founding members was very good friends with the administration in the Dean's office and shared the vision the group had to start SOE. Somehow, the group was able to convince the Dean's office to book a meeting room for them once a week. Generally, this was not allowed but entrepreneurs always figure out a way to make it happen.
So it began with the first meeting and a group of 5 people- Ben Bullock, Jacob Williams, Matt McKeon, Andrew Mortillo, and Gil Welsford. Quickly, a few other friends and interested people started attending the weekly meetings. These meetings were very informal at first and had no agenda other than discussing what exciting trends were happening and what ventures the members were working on.
Soon, the group realized that they needed to legitimize what they were doing in order to scale. Moments before the end of the fall semester, the group sat down and wrote out the bylaws of the organization. In 2012, SOE became an officially recognized organization at JMU.
The founders realized that in order to maintain an environment of self-criticism, constructive feedback, and trust, the group needed to consist of great thinkers and innovators. In 2012, SOE held its first round of interviews. With over 20 highly-qualified applicants, the founders chose 6 individuals to help grow the organization.
Since then, SOE has continued to be one of the most successful organizations at JMU and many of its members have found their passions and/or business partners through the group.