When four exchange students arrived at the University of Richmond, they didn’t just see their time as a chance to experience American culture—they wanted to leave something of their own behind.

Pictured above from left, Max Decarre, Dumi Ntini, Javi Iglesias, and Mads “Lenny” Lehnert met at international student orientation a week prior to the fall 2010 semester. When they saw each other again in their Innovation in Entrepreneurship class, it was a natural decision for the group to work together.

“It was really helpful to have a first contact with everybody before being in class together,” Decarre says.

The class, taught by Jeff Pollack, assistant professor of management in the Robins School of Business, is designed to give students a sense of being an entrepreneur by creating value through one of two paths—profit generation or social impact. As exchange students on campus for a short period of time, starting a profit-based business didn’t make sense, so they decided to pursue a project that would benefit the University.

At orientation, the four students discovered a shared love of music. Ntini, a rapper who is better known in his home of Botswana as “Big Budget,” and Iglesias, who hails from Spain, had already teamed up to play in their spare time. They joined forces with Lehnert, from Denmark, and Decarre, from France, and decided to put their diverse musical backgrounds to use writing a new University fight song.

“They saw the need for a new Spider Song and took advantage of their musical talents and passion to create something that will have value for the University and its students for years to come,” Pollack says.

Ntini explains that they wanted their Spider Song to match the level of excitement coming from the University’s athletes and fans. “We all attended the inaugural game at the [new on-campus] stadium, and just to see how the people supported their team and for them to clinch the game, that was just awesome.”

They also were inspired to write the song after seeing how athletics and academics are combined in the U.S. college experience.

“Back home, when people play soccer or basketball, they drop their education,” Iglesias says. “Having the opportunity to play at the highest level and study at the same time, that’s such a great opportunity. If they don’t make it to the professional level, they still have a college degree and can continue their career in something else."

Ntini and Iglesias spent their time between classes and international student trips penning lyrics and music, while Lehnert and Decarre started mapping out their strategy for using the song. Thanks to the music department’s resources, they soon recorded and produced their Spider Song.

“The first time we heard what Javi was producing, we heard the beat, that was a great moment,” Lehnert says. “We left the studio and said the grade doesn’t matter, none of that matters. This is what it’s all about.”

Pollack helped them connect with the University’s athletics department, and the song debuted at a late-season football game and the men’s basketball opener.

“People are asking, what’s this song, what is it, is it new?” Decarre says. “They were surprised, but little by little, they’re starting to understand it.”

“And if the athletes take it into the way they practice, that would be a big thing, too,” Lehnert says.

With Ntini and Lehnert preparing to return home at the end of the semester, and Decarre and Iglesias thinking about their final semester at the University, they reflect on the legacy they’re leaving behind.

“When I go somewhere, I don’t like to just witness,” Iglesias says. “I like to go there and do something. Something that fills my expectations of being active and contributing.”

Ntini agrees. “I feel that wherever you are, you have to be all there and when you leave, there should be something that you leave behind,” he says. “You should be remembered.”

Listen to the Spider Song