Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During May 2012...

Week One and Intro

Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:51 pm

Hi all,

I am a rising senior, Anthropology and Art History major who is getting the opportunity to work with a Mexican registered non-profit using the Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows Stipend. The NGO that I am working with is headquarted in Comitan, Mexico, a city in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. They are a Mayan Language and Culture Documentation center. They are trying to preserve, research, and re-teach Mayan languages which are slowly going extinct. Their work has produced a large database of media (video, sound clips, still photos, oral history accounts, etc). I am going to help them to turn their existing media into curriculum supplements that can be used here in the US. I, like many school children and probably even Wake Forest students, was under the impression that the Mayan people died out when the Spanish arrived. However, that is not the case as there are Mayan people across Mexico and Guatemala who are discriminated against and marginalized because of their ethnicity and livelihoods. The supplements will hopeful help to correct this educational gap and potentially provide another small source of income for the NGO so they can continue their main focus of anthropological documentation and preservation. I first learned about this company and hatched the idea for this project during spring break last year when I was on a trip to the area with Anthropology and Business school professors from Wake for a class entitled Free Trade- Fair Trade, over a year and a half later I’m getting the opportunity to return and make the project a reality!

I spent last week working in the states to finalize project ideas and themes, interview teachers about what they desire in a lesson plan, study the new North Carolina Core Curriculum outlines and requirements, research all types of supplemental teaching materials, search for competitors, and learned how to use iMovie and Final Cut Pro. It was a surprisingly busy week!

Today begins my second week of work and my first week on the ground in Mexico! Updates next week will be about my first few days at the headquarters and with the Mayan communities!

Until then,

Backpacker Magazine: Week One

Thursday, May 31, 2012 4:59 am

This marks the end of my first week as the photography intern at BACKPACKER Magazine.

BACKPACKER is located in the outdoor Mecca of Boulder, Colorado, just minutes away from Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and Eldorado Canyon. Travelers from around the globe come through Boulder to enjoy world class hiking, climbing, and cycling– not to mention skiing in the neighboring towns of Breckenridge and Vail…Location, location, location. Location is key because it attracts the best in any field, but especially in the outdoor world. Boulder is brimming with successful photographers and writers many of whom I’ve already had the opportunity to collaborate with at BACKPACKER.

A few highlights of the internship thus far include sitting in exec meetings to pitch story ideas for upcoming issues (even though I was fully hazed and made to sing the Wake Forest fight song, they invited me to give input and even ran with one of my ideas for the October issue! Another major perk? We got to taste test a chocolate bars one of the conservation groups sent, boom.) On Friday we had an informal lunch with the complete photo department to meet with a couple of freelancers we work with in Alaska. They are frequent contributors to BACKPACKER as well as several other publications. We connected on our love for the Patagonia Mountains, backpacking, and of course photography.

It’s been so valuable already just to be on the inside at BACKPACKER to understand how magazines work with freelance photographers and how artists make their mark on the industry.

In addition to updating this blog, I invite you to follow my adventures at The homepage is a blog updated with my most recent photo projects and musings.

All the best,


P.S. Here’s a little photo collage from my first week on the job

Week 1: International Child Art Foundation

Monday, May 28, 2012 1:12 am

ICAF is a “501(c)(3) nonprofit that has served as the leading art and creativity organization for American children and their international counterparts since 1997.” My job this summer is to help organize and work with government organizations, media outlets, and corporations to put on exhibitions that feature art from children all around the world. This week, I researched the Fortune 500 companies in the DC Metropolitan Area and also Philadelphia due to its proximity to figure out potential donors and willing participants for hosting an art exhibition. Currently, the organization is working with the Honorable Vincent C. Gray, the mayor of Washington D.C., to potentially host an art exhibition with his party and sponsors. In addition, of the Fortune 500 companies, Smithfield Foods has already agreed to discuss potential involvement in the near future; more on this later, depending on their commitment, of course. As of now, my role and the role of my co-workers, is to figure out potential hosts for our art exhibition. The collection, comprised of 60 paintings, includes works from 22 US states and 30 different countries. The DC commission on the Arts and Humanities has pledged partial support for the exhibition; however a lot more funding is needed. This is my role for a while as we try to get the exhibition off the ground. Within the upcoming week, I will keep you updated on whether or not Smithfield wants to participate or if there are any new potential hosts for this exhibition. I will be making a lot of phone calls and researching these companies in the upcoming days.


BioBook and my return to work

Saturday, May 26, 2012 4:34 pm

I am working on The Adapa Project, which is “a group of academic and commercial partners who share a common goal: transform science education (and perhaps other disciplines too), by rethinking the most basic tools and practices of teaching and learning.” This project is led by Dr. A. Daniel Johnson at Wake Forest University. I have been working on BioBook, our first electronic textbook, since last summer and hope that through the hard work of every member of our team, BioBook will soon be completed.


BioBook is a textbook for non-major college biology classes. Because this textbook is being developed according to a framework that is very different from traditional textbooks, making it has proved to be a laborious process. Producing an entire textbook built on entirely new framework with only a very small team has been and continues to be a great challenge.


My contributions to the project as a whole are focused on its text. Because of the amount of text that needs to be included in this textbook, our team has decided to use open-access educational resources as much as possible. My job is to take this already existing text and reorganize and revise it to fit BioBook‘s structure.


This may not sound very difficult at first, but anyone who has read a science textbook will understand the importance of what I am doing. I am majoring in biology and for my major have taken four introductory biology classes at Wake Forest. Each class required a thick textbook that cost around $200. Despite paying so much for my books, I stopped reading them after the first few weeks of my first biology class.


The reason I stopped reading my biology textbooks was that they were not helpful. They were written in overly scientific language that made it difficult to understand the material and often the text contained so much extra information that taking the time to read twenty pages of writing that could have been condensed at least 50% seemed ridiculous.


In reorganizing and revising text for BioBook, I am seeking to address both of the problems that kept me from reading my biology textbooks. Much more than just editing the text for grammar mistakes, I am taking out unnecessary information, deleting repetitive information, rewording sentences when they are written in an unnecessarily complicated way, reorganizing ideas when the way they are presented does not make logical sense, and organizing the text into small units of information our team refers to as leaves. These leaves cover only one idea and are the basic unit of information presented in BioBook, which does not contain traditional chapters.


Since Tuesday, I have been working on text from The On-Line Biology Book by Michael Farabee. So far, I have edited around four branches (which organize related leaves together) and uploaded them to a site on which Dr. Johnson and another member of The Adapa Project with whom I work closely, Dr. Sabrina Setaro, will review them before the leaves are uploaded to BioBook.

Cannot believe one week has already passed!



Week 1: Hello, World!

Friday, May 25, 2012 8:11 pm

Lesson Sculptor is an iPad application that aims to empower teachers of early education students of all needs with the capability to create their own mini-applications tailored for the specific needs of their classrooms. Many applications, or “apps”, exist on Apple’s App Store with the express purpose to educate these exact target audiences. However, all of these applications have the inherent limitation of limited functionality; in other words, they can only do what they are programmed to do, and what an app is programmed to do may work for one child, but could be inadequate for another with disabilities. For example, an app that aims to teach basic sentence construction may be inadequate for an autistic child that is offset by even the most seemingly insignificant of features, like a congratulatory message that plays loud noises. However, an application that appeals to these limitations may be too simplistic for a child without those disabilities, or in many cases simply inappropriate.

Even in the instance where an application or technology is ideal for a particular child, there still exists in several cases a divide between what technologies or programs that parents and teachers can share. For example, a speech therapist or teacher may utilize a special technology as a learning aid to a student with special needs. Frequently, these technologies are expensive, limited in their functionality, and in many cases are hard to acquire for a parent from the specialized company that produces them. Teachers can also face this problem when a parent utilizes a technology that the teacher can not acquire due to school budgetary allocations. The end result is disjointed communication between parents of a child and teachers of that child.

With the iOS family of devices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) seeing more use in the realm of education to digitize things like textbooks, the time seems ripe to make another advancement in the synergy between education in the classroom and interaction at home, and to digitize functionalities that are currently being implemented on obsolete platforms.

Lesson Sculptor, to be released under an LLC established later in the summer, will provide teachers and parents with a friendly interface to construct mini-apps of their own, called “Lessons”, that will enable the maximum usefulness and applicability to a specific child. Rather than invest hundred and thousands of dollars into technologies to accomplish several functionalities, Lesson Sculptor will grant the capability to replicate those functionalities for a fraction of the price, on a common platform that is seeing exponentially increasing use among the general public.

To that end, the past week was spent outlining goals to meet for the App’s next phase of development. A grand deal of work has been done due to the work of myself and my colleagues, Brian Lucas and Michael Nipper, in a class taken this past semester. However, the app is far from ready to publish, but we aim to have closed testing of the application begin by next week. A large portion of the past week was also spent towards finishing the implementation of the last remaining core features of the product. In-house testing began soon after, which revealed the presence of several bugs that have been tagged for fixing.

It’s always difficult to anticipate what exactly testing will reveal is flawed about the product-it could be (and certainly will be) bugs in the programming that hinder the app, but could be as significant as discovering the concept behind the app is not as intuitive as we initially believed. Either way, the next week will be an exciting time in the app’s development, as the results of our first round of testing will in many ways confirm or invalidate several existing design decisions, in addition to providing guidance on further development of Lesson Sculptor.

Until next week!


Week 1: Rap Genius / StereoIQ

Friday, May 25, 2012 3:17 pm

Monday marked the first day of my internship for Rap Genius & StereoIQ. I’ve hit the ground running with a number of projects so time management and multi-tasking are two skills that I’ve acquired at Wake that I feel are really going to be put to the test in the next few weeks.

One of the charactertics of my internship that I appreciate is that my time is split between the two brands which are in two distinct phases of their development. On the Rap Genius side of the spectrum, my line of work involves research and content curation. I’ve started a quantitative research project that will eventually lead to an equation to predict the amount of album sales or mixtape downloads a hip-hop artist receives based on a variety of variables. In order to accomplish this, I’m using the IBM SPSS Statistics program on my computer that I became familiar with through my Research Methods psychology course at Wake. With some of the data that is compiled along the way, the current game plan is to collaborate with some of the members of the team who deal with video production and editing to create a Rap Genius version of the “Did You Know?” video clip. If you’re not familiar with that video, I recommend you check it out. Here’s the link -

StereoIQ is the next website to be launched using the Rap Genius template (all of which are under the Genius Media Group umbrella). My work for this brand involves PR and brand development. The long term goal of this summer is to establish a large following for StereoIQ so that it is near the level of Rap Genius. Currently Stereo IQ has 2,547 Facebook fans and 720 Twitter followers, compared to Rap Genius’ 129,712 Facebook fans and 30,030 Twitter followers. Site co-founder and my primary boss, Mahbod, has made me an administrator for Stereo IQ’s Facebook page and granted me password access for the Twitter page so I am responsible for creating and sending messages to broadcast through social media in order to maintain a buzz and gather more fans.

One of the cool features of Rap Genius /StereoIQ is that they’re starting to build their list of “Verified Artists” – that is, the music artist themselves create an account on the website and explain their own lyrics. Currently, I’m trying to establish an interview with DC-based band Crash Boom Bang who has been starting to get attention in the national limelight with the release of their latest CD, These Wild Things. If/when I coordinate the interview, that will serve as a great way of establishing my reputation to the co-founders of the website(s) and showing my worth as an asset to the company.

Week 1: Catch-up, cold calls, and pitch development

Thursday, May 24, 2012 6:54 pm

“The City Swig is a startup headquartered in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia that is bringing a better deals model to bars, convenience/grocery stores, liquor stores, and their patrons. The City Swig allows our users to find the best existing deals when they’re planning to drink with their friends and allows businesses to send targeted flash deals directly to our users to solve their unique marketing problems in real time.”

This past Saturday was my first day working at The City Swig. The company recently moved its headquarters to a new office on the southwest side of the city, and I’ve spent this week getting to know Tommy and Matt (co-founders, CEO and President, respectively) as well as the business itself. After a quick introduction to the whole scene, they quickly threw me into the deep end. They laid out the projects that we’ll be working on this summer, and we got started immediately. The first project is to develop a template for a website that automatically scales to the device through which it is accessed: computer, mobile device, or tablet. From that point, we’ll be working to sell this template to restaurants and bars in Richmond. The first step: cold calls.

There are a handful of The City Swig team members who have the sole purpose of writing code. These people are the ones who will be developing the physical product (the website). As they sit in front of the their computer screens upstairs, Tommy, Matt, and I sit around a table on the floor below discussing how we’re going to go about selling this product to restaurants. We broke up the city into different sections, and made a list of every restaurant and bar in each section. We were looking for two things: the effectiveness of the restaurant’s website and its contact information. Tommy was responsible for the West End, I took The Fan, and Matt took the remaining areas (Northside, Monroe Ward/Downtown/Shockoe bottom, River Road, Carver/Jackson Ward, Midlothian). Once we had come up with about 30-40 restaurants each, we moved onto actually making cold calls.

The first thing I learned about making these phone calls is that they’re referred to as “cold” for a reason. In addition, I learned that people generally don’t like the feeling of being sold to over the phone. We spent all of three days making phone call after phone call, just trying to get the chance to set up a meeting with any restaurant owner. We knew that if we could just get in front of an owner, we could do a pretty good job of selling our idea. It turns out though that getting a meeting in the first place is harder than we thought. We also realized that we might be approaching the project in the wrong way.

Tommy made the argument that he would feel much more comfortable trying to set up these meetings if we had a more developed and thought-out pitch. So we all agreed to put the cold calls on hold temporarily, and we shifted our focus to fleshing out what we are going to say to these restaurants when we eventually do get the opportunity to have a meeting.

We started with the original thought that sparked this project: when you sift through the thousands of restaurants in Richmond’s websites, you realize that they’re more often than not poorly developed, unorganized, cluttered, and are not designed to be viewed from any device besides a computer. From this, we understood that roughly 50% of all internet activity takes place from a mobile device. This presents an interesting problem. As more and more people use their phones to browse the Internet, any website that isn’t designed to be viewed from a phone is hellish to navigate on a mobile device.

These two pieces of information create an unique situation, but it does not stop there. As we conducted more research, we learned more valuable information from Google Analytics. One of Richmond’s most highly acclaimed restaurants, Edo’s Squid, is at the top of our list for potential clients because they don’t even have a website; they rely on Yelp reviews and Google Maps to provide information to their customer base. There is an aspect of Google Analytics that allows us to see how many searches per month are conducted for any phrase related to Edo’s Squid: “edos squid richmond,” “edo squid restaurant,” “edo’s squid,” and the list goes on. Not only were we able to see how many searches per month on average were being conducted, but also how many of those searches were conducted from a mobile device. The results were shockingly pleasant. We found that there were roughly 5,000 searches per month for Edo’s Squid made from mobile devices. That’s a lot of searches for a restaurant that doesn’t even have a website.

We decided that this information was where we wanted to start with developing our pitch. Tommy, Matt, and I created a document on Google Drive, and we started to outline how we were going to convey our message. Overall, the message is clear: we believe that we can make you (the restaurant) money by making a mobile-optimized website for a cheap price (our pricing is miniscule in comparison to what other web developers charge).

This week and next week we’ll be finishing up creating and refining our pitch, and hopefully in the mean time we can get some meetings set up from all of our cold calls. To use an analogy from art, we can see the final statue and how beautiful it can be, but right now all we have is a big, ugly chunk of limestone. Bit by bit, we move closer towards the finished product, and we’re learning a ton along the way.



Welcome Summer 2012 Internship Fellows!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:20 pm

Welcome Fellows!

We hope that your summer internship experience will be rewarding, educational and fulfilling. Please remember to post once a week about your experiences, learning and challenges and interact here with your internship fellow counterparts. This blog is meant to serve as a tool to each of you as you navigate your new internship positions. We look forward to reading all about your summer adventures!

Best Wishes,

The Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Team


Alexander Adcock (7)
Gracious Addai (3)
Susie Alexander (6)
Assel Aljaied (10)
Megan Archey (7)
Kenneth Bailey (6)
Marco Banfi (3)
Johanna Beach (8)
Jessica Blackburn (8)
Tiffany Blackburn (9)
Meredith Bragg (9)
Quentin Brillantes (8)
Samuel Buchanan (5)
Robbie Bynum (1)
Cailey Forstall (9)
Cameron Steitz (5)
Cecelia Carchedi (2)
Carl Turner (1)
Adelina Cato (5)
Kristi Chan (7)
Brittani Chavious (12)
Avinav Chopra (1)
Hannah Clark (8)
Kathryn Covino (8)
Sarah Crosier (8)
Keshav Daga (8)
Jennifer Daye (7)
Mike Dempsey (8)
Eva Dickinson (2)
Will Dietsche (8)
Catherine Douglas (8)
Zanny Dow (8)
Stephen Eason (8)
Elisa Burton (1)
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Nina Foster (5)
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