Left to right: David Holbrook, Mark Abbott (Chief Legal Officer of Atomic Data), John Murphy (Founder of SlingGrip LLC), Connie Rutledge (Faculty), Janie Arguedas, Andrea Amelse, Edie Stenberg, Patricia Jacques, TIffany Duong, Scott Werner, Jay Coogan (MCAD President)
Left to right: David Holbrook, Mark Abbott (Chief Legal Officer of Atomic Data), John Murphy (Founder of SlingGrip LLC), Connie Rutledge (Faculty), Janie Arguedas, Andrea Amelse, Edie Stenberg, Patricia Jacques, TIffany Duong, Scott Werner, Jay Coogan (MCAD President)
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The entrepreneurial studies major at MCAD is for students who are passionate about creativity, business, and sustainability and combining those interests into a viable career path.

Entrepreneurship Studio

Among the classes offered in this major, Entrepreneurship Studio gives students an academic opportunity to come up with and formally present a business idea or model. This gives the students, especially seniors, the chance to think seriously about a business or product that they could feasibly embark upon after graduation. Given a whole semester to flesh out their ideas, students are required to do extensive research to back up their plans and give a presentation that both educates and excites their viewers and theoretical investors.

For the final presentations, instructor Connie Rutledge invited several MCAD staff and faculty, including MCAD President Jay Coogan, to attend and give feedback. In addition, she also invited two successful business figures from outside of the MCAD community, Chief Legal Officer of Atomic Data Mark Abbott and Founder of SlingGrip® John Murphy, to offer advice to the students. 

Connie Rutledge, Adjunct Faculty

I asked Connie for an overview of the course, and she described it as “a course that enables students to develop an independent business idea and do the work necessary to determine if it could be a viable venture.” But these aren't your run-of-the-mill business plans. “Our focus is on developing entrepreneurial skills that empower people to make the world a better place. We start with design thinking, innovation practices, and customer insight research. This approach ensures that the business is grounded in solving real problems for real people.” Once students narrow their focus down to a specific issue uncovered during the research phase, they craft value propositions and business models that focus on providing solutions. Then, they create a business plan that articulates the market opportunity, how their idea will work, and a realistic financial model. Students present both orally and through a compelling document to investors, partners, or even potential customers. “The goal is to teach skills in qualitative research, business development, and strategic thinking. Skills that when combined with artistic vision are valuable to not only entrepreneurship but any career path."

Student Business Plan Proposals

Patricia Jacques

Patricia Jacques’s presentation was based on a desire to travel as well as to make an impact ecologically in the art world. As an illustration major, she is interested in providing art directors all over the world with visuals (e.g., patterns and product designs) directed towards LOHAS, or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. According to Wikipedia, LOHAS is a demographic defining a particular market segment related to sustainable living, "green" ecological initiatives, and generally composed of a relatively upscale and well-educated population segment. Patricia was passionate about combining her love of artmaking with having a positive influence in the world. 

Scott Werner


Scott Werner 


Scott Werner’s business proposal was based on a business of his that is already working and thriving: Werner Elements, LLC. With “Yes, we can do that!” as his business motto, Scott works with local businesses, primarily restaurants, to handle all of their advertising, social media, and website needs. He said that his goal is to provide these local business owners the opportunity to get a professional brand identity and market strategies without giving up the time needed to keep their business running. Scott stressed how much he values face-to-face interactions with his clients, which he feels encourages them to trust him and his vision for things like new interactive online menus, for example. In addition to helping out local businesses, he also employs the artistic talents from within the MCAD community and has been using his years here to establish connections with other talented artists to whom he can offer jobs to, helping them as well.

Janie Arguedas


Janie Arguedas


Janie Arguedas’s business proposal was centered around her family’s property, Monte Verde, in Costa Rica. 245 acres of rich and diverse environments, the land has been used in the past as a natural learning environment, but Janie wants to develop it into something better: better for humans and better for the wildlife and the land. She discussed biophilia, the theory that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature, and how her family’s land could benefit humanity most by being transformed into a nature center. She also discussed the struggles of conventional tourism, which is tourist oriented, versus sustainable tourism, which focuses foremost on serving the environment. She talked about wanting a compromise between the two, “eco-tourism,” which would be nature based, educational, and sustainable. While her proposal is still a work in progress, she is working with her family to make this dream a reality.

David Holbrook

David Holbrook’s idea was an online business that focuses on guiding people into and through the steps of e-commerce. David noticed a rapidly growing community of online sellers that could use some support and education. Named Sell Space, the website would host how-to tutorials regarding the online selling world, such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, as well subscription-based memberships offering varying levels of guidance, from beginner to expert. In addition, Sell Space would offer website building and management help, to be contracted out to other businesses that specialize in that area. Through the creation of this instructional content, David is eager to share his ideas and begin filling in the gap for first-time sellers, longtime business owners, and everyone in between. 

Tiffany Dvong


Tiffany Duong


Tiffany Duong had a business idea that concentrated on providing help for people recovering from addiction based in spirituality and art therapy called ReCreation Recovery. She talked about implementing healing methods such as meditation and journaling into the everyday routines at the center, to help people tackle their recovery in an organic way that brought our their creativity and self-awareness, which Tiffany feels are vital to recovery. Another unique part of her plan was her interest in implementing an alumni program for participants that complete their initial goals. Called the ReCreated, these alumni would be encouraged to continue their artistic work started in the program through access to a studio and/or gallery space, which they could use to further their practices and hold exhibitions for family and current program participants, effectively combining addiction recovery as well as artistic practice for everyone involved. 

Edie Stenberg


Edie Stenberg


Edie Stenberg’s idea stemmed from a conversation with friends over drinks after a long day of internships. Tired of being a cog in the machine and continually asking, "How do we get our research and messages directly to clients?", they decided to take matters into their own hands regarding social media trendsetting and forecasting. Soon, the idea of Sip Collective was born. Typically in larger corporations, social media trendsetting and forecasting research goes through several middlemen, often being changed many times before finally reaching those responsible for publishing to social channels. Edie, through Sip Collective, talked about wanting to create a subscription-based digital publication focused on trendsetting to inform social media across all platforms. With a mind to keep anyone and everyone informed of the trends coming and going within social media, Sip Collective would provide direct research and unadulterated facts to their subscribers, making it easier for them to implement that research in their fields. 

Andrea Amelse


Andrea Amelse 


Andrea Amelse began her presentation by talking about the loss of her grandmother, and how the grief and healing process affected her. She spoke of a desire to help others grieve for lost loved ones, especially through commemorating them. She introduced a business model called Bright Love, a candle making business that specialized in creating candles for those grieving a loved one's death. In addition to picking out the color of the candle, customers could customize its scent from a variety of essential oils, and if they wanted they could also send objects (like sand, flowers, tiny items that remind them of their loved one) to be included in the candle wax as a way to further the healing and remembering process. Andrea discussed a variety of other customization ideas, like candle holders and different sized candles, as a way for the project to move even farther, while sharing three real candle examples during the presentation.

 

Sitting in on this class demonstrated all the different ways entrepreneurs can reach out and affect people, whether it is providing alternative recovery methods for addicts, outsourcing creative projects to college friends to help local restaurants thrive, or even just using your artistic passion for providing a service needed all over the world, it is obvious there are many opportunities for creative exploration for any would-be entrepreneur.