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MSLCE Students Pitch Business Proposals to Experienced Entrepreneurs

By Amy A. Ross

Writing up a project for a class is one thing; pitching a convincing business proposal to a panel of experts is a completely different challenge.

Students from the NUvation: Arts course were able to recreate this real-world experience during their final presentations at the beginning of June. The eight proposals included business startups in a broad array of creative industries, including fashion, music, digital art, and even an education non-profit.For example, the inventors of Voguetrotters pitched a model for a worldwide business that would allow fashion designers to connect and sell their autochthonous creations to people across the globe.

The students behind SoundScape created a plan for a GPS-based mobile application designed to help users discover and navigate their local music scene in collaboration with music venues and musicians. BeAn explored the possibility of an alliance between artists, public funding and the public school system to provide arts classes in public schools, through a non-profit model. Each group was given 12 minutes to present their ideas to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, in addition to NUvation: Arts professor, Gregg Latterman. The jury was comprised of Dan Pounce, television journalist for WGN-TV and founder of the a cappella group Straight No Chaser; Barry Friedlan, a lifelong entrepreneur who has founded numerous companies like Thumbtack Press and InnerWorkings; and Claire Lew, Northwestern alumnus and CEO of Know Your Company. Mike Maresco, the head of Farley School of Entrepreneurship and Tom Giles, founder and CEO of Stagebloc, were also on the panel.

Throughout the NUvation: Arts course, students from the M.S. in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE) were able to work hand in hand with people from different countries, departments and professional backgrounds, including business students, musicians and engineers. MSLCE student, Danielle Pierre, explained that the main lesson she learned was that she needed to get to know her audience even better than they know themselves. “The most important thing to remember going forward is to remember who that audience is and do they want a business model? Do they want a pitch? Do they want to be inspired? Do they want to be stimulated intellectually?” said Pierre, who is interested in pursuing a career in the music industry through live events and event planning. Holli Gilvaie highlighted the benefits of learning to talk to talk to people she didn’t know and convincing them of her ideas.

“This was a culmination of everything we’ve learned in the program about project management, social media, business models, etc. We were able to translate all that knowledge over into this project so it is really going to be an amazing tool moving forward” she said. NUvation professor Gregg Latterman said he hoped to a see some of those projects crystallize into actual businesses. “It is fun to look back to the starting point and think about how the students got through the process to this endpoint with some actual great companies,” said Latterman.