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Author: Ergeta Muca
“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda
Pretend you are sitting in a room full of artists, designers, photographers, scientists and entrepreneurs. Then ask them who’s the most creative among them. Who will raise their hand first? The artist, the scientist, the entrepreneur? The artist will say they’re the most creative because they’re able to, “bring a visual to life”. The scientist will claim to be creative because they turn, “complicated things into usable ones”. The entrepreneur will say they’re creative because they, “turn ideas into valuable and tangible businesses”. Who is right? What if, they’re all right?
When I heard about the Art & Ideas Symposium that was happening on campus, I thought: finally something that merges what I love the most, art and business! But I still had some questions. How would they find the sweet spot? How can you bring together people who might be biased towards either side? But I decided to give it a shot, so I attended.
And I was amazed. The Symposium was all about passion, social movement and collaborative innovation. Surrounded by people of different backgrounds: artists, professors, business people, community outreachers, all mixed together at the tables, listening to keynote speakers and discussing .
The Symposium was comprised of a great variety of speakers, including CEOs, founders, artists and more. They all shared their stories and explained what had made them lead the companies they’re part of now. They addressed inspirational and provocative questions and gave the audience a lot to think about.
According to these leaders, art is about empowering communities. Liz Powers, co-founder of ArtLifting, a startup which empowers artists living with homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork, shared two artist’s stories. The first artist, Scott, had hit rock bottom when he lost his job, his wife got sick and he became homeless, but he found resurrection in art. Scott was encouraged to take up art in a more serious manner, creating beautiful masterpieces and now he even holds keynote speeches. On the other hand, Eric, a disabled man empowers his wheelchair by turning it into an art medium. He puts canvas cloth underneath it, attaches the colors to its wheels and moves around as the wheelchair forms the shapes and lines he wants. Both these artists’ create very contemporary, abstract and evocative art that can be found on http://www.artlifting.com/collections/original-paintings.
A very interesting approach to art was offered by Athenahealth, which through its practices aims to connect art to business by means of design. According to Scott Mackie, Executive Director of Strategy Design, design helps solve rational and emotional user problems. He shared the thought that hospitals and healthcare spaces should be beautiful places, because “beauty heals”. He believes that beauty can heal all sorts of businesses and he put forward 3 ways in which design/art can accomplish thist:
Scott believes that Athenahealth’s practices so far have fully embraced the above mentioned principles. The products and services they offer focus on functional and artistic design to make people’s lives easier and better.
To Malia Lazu, EpiCenter Community’s Director, art is about addressing unconscious bias. The EpiCenter Community is an accelerator that accepts young individuals, mostly from the black people community in the city. Malia Lazu led a very heart-felt discussion, in which she emphasized the importance of artists as, “keepers of truth” and “recognizers of freedom”. Through her community she wants to empower people of different abilities to express themselves and feel part of the same environment. For this reason, EpiCenter is hosting a fashion and disability event on February 2017. This will be a high end event, which will showcase fashion pieces that cater to special body types.
Jason Talbot, co-founder of Artists for Humanity, is doing something incredible for young kids: he’s educating them through art. Artists for Humanity provides space, education and mentorship to kids from low income families. Through their programs, they teach kids about design, art and architecture and connect them to real-life projects, in which they build furniture and create paintings, which then are sold to corporations and companies. Jason is truly engaged with his community– he goes on field trips with the kids and helps them understand that education and creativity is more important than anything else. Check out Artists for Humanity here: http://afhboston.org/
Question fearlessly, innovate relentlessly: this was the motto that David Delmar, founder of Resilient Coders, brought to the Symposium. David, a BU CFA alumn, brought his idea to MassChallenge, where he ended up winning big. He had a clear idea of going “lean”, which would give his project the opportunity of building, measuring and pivoting whenever possible. He taught his users to question things, and empowers his staff to innovate.
IDEO’s design director Nick DuPey was the last speaker of the “Ignite Inspired Presentations”. A very cool individual, dressed in “startup chic”, sleeves up and showing some creative tattoos, he was all about human centered design. IDEO was given the major project of revamping the Boston.gov website, and his team worked on this by focusing on what brings human centered design together: the merging of viability, feasibility and desirability. They got rid of layers of information in the website, and made things very user friendly and visually appealing. According to DuPey, an important component of human centered design is feedback, so they made sure they received that throughout the entire process (and they still do!). Their project was very successful. Check it out yourself here: https://www.boston.gov/
Overall, the Symposium was an eye opening event that brought me back to my artistic roots and also introduced me to the plethora of applications that art can have in our lives. Being a business student, I always seek to find direct applications of things. I came away from the Symposium knowing that art will follow me no matter where I am and that brings me a lot of comfort. I learned how empowering art can be used to bring communities together and change lives. How useful art is in designing better products and services, thus leading to better customer experience. Finally, I learned how important it is to break the bubble that you’re in and always talk to people from backgrounds very different from yours. You get to learn things you never thought you would.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 6 WINNING TEAMS OF OUR NOVEMBER PITCH AND PIZZA COMPETITION !
RANAM, SOCIAL STORIES, OSCP, CARE TOUCH, CHEF BOX, INVOLVED
The BUzz Lab, Boston University’s center for entrepreneurship, launched a new online community called “The Hive” last week to focus on supporting entrepreneurship at the university.
BUzz Lab Director Ian Mashiter said the BUzz Lab Hive is essentially an online extension of what the BUzz Lab is already doing, now in a way that is more accessible to students and alumni.
“Instead of relying on word of mouth to try to do something or to try to recruit an intern, now we’ve got a place where you can actually go look online,” Mashiter said.
The Hive was launched to try to keep up with the quickly growing entrepreneurial community at BU, Mashiter added.
“There’s a growing interest in entrepreneurship, and it’s not just about starting a company,” Mashiter said. “It’s also to help create an entrepreneurial mindset and an entrepreneurial way of thinking, which can be useful in whatever career you go into. You’re definitely seeing some companies form out of our program that go on to have a lasting impact.”
The Hive is a partnership between faculty and students, with major influence from three student groups: the Graduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club, the undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club and the Boston University Venture Accelerator, Mashiter said.
Joseph Musi, the president of the undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club, wrote in an email that entrepreneurship is fairly new at BU — the BUzz Lab is only three years old, and the Entrepreneurship Club and BU Venture Accelerator aren’t much older either.
“We need to continue building out our programs and foster a sense community,” the Questrom School of Business senior wrote. “The BUzz Lab is really helping to facilitate this as a shared coworking space and the Hive makes these resources accessible to everyone online.”
Zara Jimenez, a second-year graduate student in Questrom and co-president of the Graduate Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club, wrote in an email that one of The Hive’s main challenges will be differentiating itself from existing networking websites like LinkedIn.
“The key is to give incentive to the students to join,” Jimenez wrote. “If enough people join it, [The Hive] could become a great resource to keep in touch or meet new people from BU. One of the things that BU lacks, in my opinion, is a strong alumni community, so the Hive helps to solve this problem.”
Ergeta Muca, a senior in Questrom, wrote that she sees great potential from the BUzz Lab and its initiatives like The Hive.
“Being surrounded by entrepreneurs and innovators on a daily basis certainly inspires you to work on your own project,” Muca wrote. “Since I’ll be graduating in 2017, I look forward to using the Hive as my connection point when I want to reach out for help and assistance.”
One of BUzz Lab’s goals moving forward is to help people in every college at BU become aware of the resources offered by The Hive, said Peter Marton, director of Entrepreneurial Partnerships at BU.
“One of the trends that’s most powerful at BU is the bringing together of entrepreneurship across the entire university,” Marton said. “When most people think of entrepreneurship, they might think first of Questrom and the BUzz Lab, but we’ve been spending a lot of time over the last year painting the landscape of entrepreneurship across the university. It turns out that entrepreneurship is alive and well at many, many of the schools at BU.”
Marton said he is excited about the future of the project, with more people signing up for The Hive every day.
“I’d like the BUzz Lab Hive to prove to be a useful and practical asset to people who are pursuing entrepreneurial activities across the university,” Marton said. “Like any online network of this nature, it starts small and it grows, but it has the power to become quite something.”
Author: Perry Grossman | Source: medium.com | Post Date: October 19, 2016
Ian Mashiter is Director of Entrepreneurship Activities at Boston University Questrom School of Business, where he runs the BUzz lab. They run a variety of programs for students across the university, including a business plan competition, a summer accelerator, hosting speakers, housing early stage startups, coordinating with entrepreneurship groups on campus, and connecting students to the broader ecosystem in Boston. Ian is also a member of the Hub Management Investment Group and worked at a number of interesting companies before coming to BU:
Entrepreneurship at BU and Beyond:
Ian started mentoring at BU, when he was asked to help a BU spin off with structural issues regarding the organization of company. He got to know people at BU, connecting to Peter Russo, who was staffing entrepreneurship classes. That was in 2010 and things ‘snowballed’ from there.
The BUzz lab formed in 2014 and their remit is to stimulate entrepreneurship across campus. The BUzz lab is not just a business school resource. They run a variety of programs including the New Venture Competition, boot camps, and the Summer Accelerator Program (previously the New Venture Summer Camp Program, which I participated in in 2014, when I was working on a lead prioritization solution with Keith Waters). They help coordinate activities with undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship clubs at BU. They also host speakers. Although a lot of students come from Questrom and engineering, there are medical and dental, journalism, and other students. They are starting an initiative for fine arts students, because when they graduate they are likely to be hanging out their shingles, building their businesses.
I asked Ian about current and past BUzz Lab companies that he was excited about and he said that it was their mission to connect students team to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. They have some nice success stories, with three teams amongst the current MassChallenge final 128 companies. Spaces to Go, Sonique, and Buttery all spent the summer there. Ian is proud of the work the BUzz Lab provides to early stage companies, preparing them to take advantage of other resources in the city. Another company that is gaining traction is Unitiques, which provides the ability to buy and sell clothes on campus. The founder, Alexandra Shadrow will be on a major TV show soon.
In terms of current startups at BU, there were 25 applicants, a record number in the BU Venture Accelerator run by students, and 30 applicants for the summer program, also record number. So the touch points are increasing. But they help students, not just form teams, not just in venture creation, but in terms of business education, providing an entrepreneurial mindset to help them be successful when the right opportunity comes around. Students might not find success with the company they start now; but hopefully students get the structure, knowledge, and skills for down the road.
(Two of the companies from the 2014 summer camp cohort that I was in are: Wizdy: “Wizdy leverages games to empower kids to cultivate healthy lifestyle habits”, and ACEA: “ACEA makes it easier for licensed healthcare professionals to continue their education by connecting them with educators in the medical, dental, and other healthcare fields.”)
Ian just got back from a conference about entrepreneurship programs around the country. He said a lot of universities are focused on entrepreneurship, which is great to see, and it is important to remember that they are on the same side — not competing with each other. The more companies created, the more jobs we create, the greater it is for the US economy. They are some fantastic programs out there, and not just at big schools like BU, but also small liberal arts schools with active entrepreneurship programs. So there is a wave of entrepreneurship going on. The Harvard ilab is only a few years old, but is a great program, Babson is branded around entrepreneurship, Northeastern is strong, as is MIT, clearly.
I asked Ian about the teaching and mentoring approach at the BUzz lab, noting that we used the Lean Canvas in the 2014 summer program. Ian said that their job is getting student teams to engage with customers as early as possible. They should interview customers properly to determine if they have the same problems that the students think they are solving. So it is about customer validation, giving them the tools validate their business. Ian says that the Lean Canvas is a nice, easy way to develop a business model. Students generate hypotheses and validate or invalidate those hypotheses, getting an understanding of what people want.
I asked Ian about technology push versus market pull and he said that people often start with technologies; but that can sometimes be the wrong way to approach it. The answer is outside the classroom. He gets students to talk to potential customers, focusing on a problem to solve, asking potential customers if it is already being solved.
I cited Henry Ford who said that if he had interviewed customers they would have said that wanted a faster horse, rather than a car. Ian said that it is key is to validate the problem, not the solution. You want to understand their lives. So you don’t want to present them with X, Y, or Z; nor are asking them to tell you what to build. Rather, you are focused on the problem that needs solving. Ian said that Steve Jobs was fond of saying that he did not ask customers what they wanted. But he did ask them how their lives would be different if they used his products. I asked Ian about customers identifying their ‘perceived needs’ rather than what they really need and he said that entrepreneurs need to figure that out by engaging with customers, knowing how to engage skillfully, getting to the big problems that they really need solved.
I asked Ian what kinds of startups he would like to see, and he said that he would like to see entrepreneurs solve big problems, rather than small problems. Students tend to look at their own life situations, in terms of the things that bother them, which is understandable; but that tends to lead them to solving small problems. He said that if you think about the problems in the world: resource problems such as water shortage which will one of the big problems, climate change, families not able to feed their children…these are the problems that entrepreneurs should address. They should go after those problems, not just create the latest app for finding the right nightclub. When I asked him about the challenge for small entrepreneurs in addressing those issues, he said that the entrepreneurial approach to problem solving could be used in bigger companies, which could be just as useful. He said that problem solving skills are increasingly expected as students go into the work place; companies want independent thinkers, that is the nature of the modern workforce.
The BUzz Lab hosted the 2016 Spring Junior Achievement (JA) Academy with the Snapstand Team, which one the first annual JA Student Leadership Summit ) so I asked Ian about connecting high school, college, and post-college entrepreneurship. He said that he has seen more high school, and even middle school, programs, and that it is great to introduce them to entrepreneurship as early as possible, before college, before they get locked into other mind sets. So they sponsored JA, with the belief that it is “a good thing for our children and good for our country.” Ian said that entrepreneurship is what differentiates the US from other countries, because it is a powerful force in the economy providing innovation, with an independent mindset of about building things and trying and failing and trying again. We have a culture that rewards that and we need to do more of that.
Ian said that his teaching approach is experiential, getting students exposed to real world problems, rather than in the classroom listening to him talk. Mentorship is very important and they have a strong alumni network of mentors who are there, not to direct, but to help and advise students.
So they focus on creating mentors who understand that, particularly those who take a Socratic approach. He said it is a powerful force and research has shown that companies with good mentors are more successful.
BU is putting more time and resources into entrepreneurship and Ian is excited about the multidisciplinary teams that bring different skill-sets from across campus. He likes to see well-balanced teams — rather than have three business students who are buddies — instead, have an engineering person, a design person, and a business person. The BUzz lab is hosting a two-day summit for fine arts students, so he is excited about that, to see the creative side of things, broadening the base of budding entrepreneurs.