Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During July 2014...

Theatre in Chicago

Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:47 am

I’m so excited about the theatre happening in this city. I am anxious to graduate so I can move back here and be a part of it all. The artists here are so generous and the community, so welcoming. In my office, I have felt that my opinions and suggestions were valid from day one. Theatre has also made this big city shrink considerably. I pass people I know on the street, in the el, or at shows, at least two times a week. The longer I’ve been here, the more frequently I run into friendly faces. People in this community are really cheering each other on. I cannot imagine trying to pursue a career in the arts without this supportive community. It could so easily be cold and competitive. I appreciate the intentional efforts I have witnessed to help and welcome other artists.
This past weekend, I was given the privilege of witnessing a part of CST that most are not privy to. I was invited to a reading of a new project being developed for the upcoming season. CST commissioned the musical version of Sense and Sensibility to be created for this theatre, with hopes that the show might move beyond CST as well. A stellar cast was brought in for the reading, and I was able to watch the beginning of a much larger project, one with a lot of potential. It was particularly interesting to me because I will be able to see the final production next summer, whereas many shows I have helped with I will not be able to see into completion. The music in the production is so unique and beautiful. I have been stretched most this summer during the moments after seeing a production. My coworkers and I always dissect what we have seen, and I feel I am growing in my ability to carefully articulate my thoughts about a show. I can more easily differentiate problems with a script from problems with a director from problems with a performer, as well as successes stemming from each camp. I believe Sense and Sensibility; the Musical will be well received by the audiences at CST. I was so grateful to have been able to come see such a special event.

Week 7

Sunday, July 27, 2014 7:06 pm

My work at Augustus & Argyle is wrapping up in the next two weeks. I have learned quite a bit about entrepreneurship over the past few months. One thing that sticks out to me the most is the great value of strong leadership. Working for a company with only one employee other than myself has shown me just how important it is to have a leader who is confident. Emily displayed confidence when making tough decisions that shaped the direction of the company. This confidence shows others just how much she values and believes in the Augustus & Argyle mission and therefore others felt more inclined to support the business. Starting the Kickstarter campaign took bravery and confidence and without Emily’s leadership, the campaign would not have come together as well as it is going to. I am looking forward to sharing the campaign webpage in my next blog post as the project will officially launch to the public on Friday, August 1. Emily’s confidence when sharing her entrepreneurial goals with others, and especially when sharing the specific Kickstarter project, will be helpful in gaining supporters for the project as well as in establishing a strong client base for the new Augustus & Argyle line of clothing.

Week 7: An Education

Sunday, July 27, 2014 3:26 am

I’m nearing the end of my internship at Transformed Minds, and I’ve learned a lot about the traits demanded of a person who is just founding a new organization. In many ways, being at this stage is exciting because each day is a new opportunity to learn about the opportunities and potential avenues your organization can take. There’s something to say about starting something from the ground up and watching it grow to magnitudes you could never imagine. It’s dignified. On the other hand, it’s difficult and slow-going, thus, requiring a lot of patience. It also requires courage because one must be willing to stick one’s neck out, never knowing what could come of such a leap of faith. The “sticking out of the neck” in this context really refers to the act of reaching out to potential [fill in the blank]. Some of the people we reach out to (either via email or phone) will end up being huge donors. Some of them will end up being major members of the consortium. Some of them will just be a point of contact to another resource. When you reach out to them, you want to tell them about how your organization is awesome and they should definitely want to be a part of it in some capacity (especially the kind that gives us more money). Jokes aside, one really has to learn the art of biting one’s tongue and keeping the conversation to the bare basics, making it clear that you’d appreciate their help in any way, but keeping the possibility open in the back of your mind that said contact may just not be that interested or available. Regardless, as are most things these days, this experience has been an exercise in networking, and the growth has been both outward and inward.

Navigating a Mini-Crisis

Thursday, July 24, 2014 7:21 pm

The past few days I have had a front seat to the first mini-crisis since I’ve been working at CST. The actress signed on to play Goneril in the upcoming production of King Lear, dropped out late last week. Rehearsals begin in ten days, so our department has been hastily looking for a replacement. My boss has had such an admirable attitude through the whole process. After some reconnaissance on the actress, he has accepted that perhaps this show wasn’t a good fit for her. Calmly, he has moved on to find a new Goneril and has done so with patience and laughter throughout the week. So easily he could get fired up and anxious, creating a stressful environment for our office. However, I have watched him take what comes and work towards a solution with serenity. I have watched how a crisis has been minimized and dealt with smoothly and will remember the impact his approach for a long time. I can’t believe this internship is almost over- I feel I have really become a part of this office and wish I could continue to work here. My position is not necessarily a perfect fit for me, but I truly love the people I work with and look forward to seeing them every day. After this job, I will more carefully take into consideration the people I will work with and for because I now recognize the importance of that element.

Week 5 | Sales

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 7:47 pm

This week, we partnered with Wake Wash, collected various consumer traffic data from the company’s website, and began to develop interpretations using that data. We currently use Google Analytics and Mixpanel as our main software platforms. For now, we consolidate the data provided by these platforms into easy-to-read visual diagram reports and provide these to customers along with our suggestions. What differentiates us, as a consulting agency, is that we build on this data by providing tangible, albeit subjective, advice. In the future, our team will use our interpretation patterns to append some additional code to customize the open source platforms we use.

A completely surmountable obstacle I envision for Ivory Informatics, like any other budding start-up, will be sales. Since we’re working with small business owners, who most likely have not been exposed to the utility of data-driven business decisions, we will have to pitch our services tactfully and show that what we do is immediately effective in order to close sales in this market. This is my main priority moving forward.

Week 6: Challenges

Monday, July 21, 2014 8:22 pm

I would be remiss to say that everything at has been smooth sailing and challenge free. Like any start-up, especially a tech start-up, the organization will have some bumps in the road whether it’s developing their application or facing competitors. Our two biggest challenges come from opposing the current music-distribution option, iTunes, and dealing with the restrictions an artist ma have form their label. When on-boarding artists to our platform, we commonly tell them the benefits our product offers compared to iTunes. First and foremost, all our clients receive consumer data about their fanbase, something iTunes does not offer. Although this information is extremely useful for planning tours or promoting merchandise, we’ve realized that many artists do not know the power of these benefits and fail to maximize on them. Also, many artists enjoy how mainstream their music is when it is available on iTunes. We have tried to tell these artists that this is not a truly efficiently way to sell music, as very few people actually go on iTunes to browse music or impulsively buy an album. We’ve found that people go to iTunes just like they go to the pharmacy; they have an idea of what they would like or they know what they specifically need. Regardless, many artists want to stay on iTunes in hopes they will get the casual music-listener to pick up their album or single. Additionally, we’ve faced many challenges getting artists onto the platform if they are already signed to a record label. Record labels have many restrictions when it comes to album distribution and merchandise sales, so the type of freedom that we offer at is not fully utilized by these artists. For that reason, many artists signed to labels are hesitant to transition over to our platform as they are unsure how their labels will handle it. Going against our competitors of iTunes and record labels have caused some challenges for , but we are still very happy to see the progress we’ve made on-boarding artists to our platform.

Week 8!

Friday, July 18, 2014 6:29 pm

Last night Worldfund hosted our fourth annual Summer Fiesta–a summer fundraising event that we cater towards a younger audience. I work with two other interns at Worldfund so I was not the specific intern responsible for planning the event but in the days leading up to the event, all three of us were heavily involved in last minute planning. The event was put on in conjunction with Worldfund’s Junior Committee–a group of seven young professionals in New York City that wanted an opportunity for philanthropic involvement outside of their career. It was really inspiring and exciting to see so many passionate and motivated young people in their 20s so involved in Worldfund’s mission and cause. Each member on the Junior Committee and Sub-Committee were responsible for selling a certain number of tickets so everyone brought their friends to enjoy a night of dancing, drinks, and silent auction bidding. The Worldfund staff arrived at the hotel at 4pm and didn’t leave until about 1am once we had finished cleaning up. Despite the long hours and heavy lifting, it was all worth it. I thought that once you enter into the “real world”, you have to choose either a lucrative career or a solely philanthropic one; however, at the Summer Fiesta, there was a healthy mix of individuals that have their separate careers but also participate in different charity and volunteer activities.

We went out to lunch with the whole office today as a “Thank you interns/goodbye lunch” for all of us. It was so great to hear from all the other employees how big of an impact we have made for the 8 weeks that we have been here. I’m so sad to leave but will definitely keep in touch with all the wonderful people I have met through this experience.

The Bigger The Ask, The Larger The Task

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:16 pm

Grantwriting is such a monstrous task. It is one thing to ask individuals for a monetary donation. There are no requirements, guidelines or stipulations. You are merely just asking folk to believe in your organization and the work that you do. However, when making big ask to organizations and foundation for thousands of dollars, the task becomes more difficult, more intense and more demanding. HerSpace, Inc. has just entered into its grantseeking phase. My first task has been conducting in-depth research to find grants locally, regionally and nationally that we can qualify for. Each grant has its own set of requirements, focus points and guidelines that must be followed in order to be considered. My next task is to begin the grant application process for each grant that we have decided as an organization to apply for. This will be a demanding process, however, it will force my organization to concretely and specifically outline our program goals, specific outcomes and evaluation metrics that clearly demonstrates impact amongst the young women that we serve. This will be our first time applying for grants. I am both excited yet a bit nervous about the process. Because the application is so intense, it is only natural to hope that your hard work will bring forth a reward. I am pooling together resources to help me with this process as I am by no means a grantwriting expert. From my understanding grantwriting is both an art and a science that requires patience, skill and diligence.

Let’s see how this goes….. :-)

Why Is It So Damn Hard to Gain Traction?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:56 pm

If you had asked me on May 1st where Fresh Food Network would be in mid-July, I likely would’ve answered in start-up lingo something to the equivalent of “well on our way to the moon.” Well, we aren’t on the moon and as a matter of fact, we’ve barely reached lift off. After opening up our marketplace in late May, we are just now beginning to gain a teeny tiny bit of traction. But why? Why is it so damn hard to build a critical mass of users?

It certainly didn’t help that the temperature rarely surpassed 65 degrees throughout all of May so yeah there wasn’t really anything growing until Mid-June. But still, that means we’ve had a month of great tasting and responsibly produced food available for sale that people simply aren’t buying. So what the hell have I been doing wrong?

John Ruskin, a prominent writer and art critic of the 19th century, once said “It is better to lose your pride with someone you love rather than to lose that someone you love with your useless pride.” In my situation, I’ve been losing customers rather than someone I love. You see, getting a business off the ground (especially a business that requires users to change their food purchasing habits) requires more than a story in the local newspaper or people simply talking about your business; but rather, it requires a passionate group of influential early supporters, people that are willing to share your Facebook posts and incessantly talk about your service from personal experience. So how do you get this group of supporters? Being the prideful young adult that I am, I thought I could single-handedly win over people’s hearts and then word would naturally spread, but apparently, that’s not how it works. As it turns out, the best way to get a group of influential early supporters is to just ask.

When people believe in your cause and respect you as a person, more often than not, they will be happy to lend you a hand. However, very few people are taking time out of their busy day to find causes to support and when they do find one, they don’t know exactly what type of support to lend. As a result, if you never approach and ask directly with a specific course of action, you’ll be on your own and struggling to gain traction.

Communication and Computer Confusion

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:19 am

This week has been a lot about communication in the age of computer confusion. The artistic office is hard at work casting and developing the last show in the season, a new musical. It is a musical version of the novel Sense and Sensibility. There have been a lot of communication problems in this office surrounding this project for a couple of reasons:
1. Our casting director was on vacation and unable to attend the New York casting trip so members of the artistic department lead the troops. They know what happened there. We are trying to piece it all together.
2. The composer/writer behind the project is constantly creating new dropbox folders for his updated drafts and sharing them with different people every time. No one has the same drafts and no one knows if they are missing the most up to date draft.
3. No one is talking about these issues. Until today

Things finally came to a head today as one of our team rather lost it in the confusion of it all. Is the score I have in my dropbox at all the same as the one you just sent the actors via email and the one the intern just printed out and mailed to the actors? I think from now-on we will be more diligent about communication regarding drafts and I think one of the artistic team members will give our writer some guidelines about how to send updated drafts. The process of developing a new musical has surely been expedited by the internet, but in an age of electronic sharing, communication needs to be valued and considered! I will remember this if I am ever collaborating via the interwebs for future projects.

Authors
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)
Epiphany Espinosa (5)
Hannah Shows (8)
Nina Foster (5)
Hannah Gable (8)
Charlie Garner (8)
Kent Garrett (8)
Nicholas Gomez-Garcia (8)
Gracie Wiener (6)
Brooks Hall (7)
Meghan Hall (7)
Tim Han (1)
Adrienne Henderson (1)
Ryon Huddleston (7)
Adeolu Ilesanmi (8)
Nicole Irving (8)
Jessica (8)
Dalton Jones (8)
Kevin Wang (5)
Ty Kraniak (11)
Nick Ladd (15)
Elizabeth Lane (8)
Yuan-Chih Lee (8)
Kenneth Lowery (5)
Duncan MacDougall (6)
Lauren Martinez (7)
John McMurray (8)
Megan Miller (5)
Colt Mienke (1)
Brad Neal (9)
David O'Connor (9)
Olivia Wolff (3)
Kristen Plantz (8)
Lucy Rawson (7)
Cynthia Redwine (6)
Julia Reed (8)
Matt Roemer (8)
Melissa Ryon (3)
Eleanor Saffian (8)
Kayla Santos (8)
Maddie Saveliff (2)
Lisa Shaffer (8)
Ben Smith (10)
Christian Spake (8)
Ollie Spalding (8)
Alan Spencer (8)
Anna Tal (8)
Shelby Taylor (8)
Jake Teitelbaum (5)
Segen Tekle (1)
Katherine Thomas (8)
Tommy Lisiak (8)
Travis McCall (8)
Jawad Wahabzada (5)
Kurt Walker (4)
Kristen Watkins (2)
Jonathan Williams (8)
Sathya Williams (1)
Katie Winokur (8)
Elaheh Ziglari (8)
Jenna Zimmerman (8)
ZSR (1)
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