By Chad Hewitt
As emerging leaders in their respective fields, students in this year’s MSLCE cohort have a surplus of innovative ideas for new projects and enterprises in the creative industries.
In fact, the winter term’s classes have a significant focus on the work involved in planning for a new business venture, both financially and strategically. The current cohort was recently treated to a daylong entrepreneurial workshop presented by Northwestern University’s own faculty that highlighted the best practices, tools, and common pitfalls of developing an enterprise from an idea to realization.
David Schonthal is an associate professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Kellogg School of Management who also serves as a consultant on new ventures for a variety of organizations. Professor Schonthal provided the MSLCE students with a high-level overview of core concepts of business planning and the key considerations for design research. Students were shown the various ways the most effective entrepreneurs research and design the solutions to problems faced by their target markets.
Lauren Schaeztel found Schonthal’s presentation especially worthwile, commenting, “His focus on addressing problems with an open mind while looking deeper than face value is something that I can reiterate to myself throughout my career.”
Following Schonthal was Gregg Latterman, an experienced music manager and angel investor with two decades’ worth of experience in the creative industries. Latterman now passes his knowledge onto students through his course on entrepreneurship at Northwestern. For the second half of the MSLCE workshop, Latterman guided students through a hands-on demonstration of how to craft a value proposition for a new enterprise. By focusing in on a specific problem that customers face, evaluating the various solutions to that problem, and gathering actual research from other Northwestern University students, the MSLCE cohort pitched their own creative enterprise ideas to each other at the end of the workshop. The ideas ranged from a more efficient concession stand experience at performance venues to a 3-in-1 salon-level hair stylist chair.
Schonthal and Latterman both emphasized one key point when developing new business ventures in the creative industries: start with people. While there are a lot of entrepreneurs with worthwhile ideas for new businesses, the most successful ventures are those that solve problems or provide benefits to their target customers through empathy and contextual research. Students will be able to explore the concepts presented in this workshop in much more depth next term as Latterman is offering a course in Entrepreneurship for Creative Enterprises in conjunction with the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship.