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Students Learn How to Organize Creative Ideas into Successful Enterprises in Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa’s and Allison Henry’s Business Models Class


By Joshua Baggett

Harnessing creative energy into a thriving business requires an understanding of the underlying framework that supports and sustains various business ventures. During the Winter 2019 quarter, Jennifer Kim-Matsuzawa’s and Allison Henry’s “Business Models” class offered MSLCE students an in-depth overview of the key elements businesses need to meet growth, hit profitability targets, and bring an enterprise to scale.

Starting with our first meeting, expectations were established that encouraged a high level of professionalism and respect within our classroom community. Jennifer and Allison— who are the Artistic and Managing Directors of The People’s Music School, respectively— utilized a dual instructor approach that offered unique perspectives and real-world case experiences to introduce us to various models found in creative enterprises. The class was structured around the “value chain” concept, specifically the chain that links creation, production, curation, distribution, and promotion.

Throughout the quarter, thoughtful case studies helped broaden our understanding, and were selected to align with our creative interests. Each case offered a look at challenges facing various enterprises, including Lady Gaga, Netflix, Bollywood, and Chicago artist Theater Gates. Class lectures challenged us to think critically about each situation and how to analyze through lenses of the value chain.  In addition, we kept a weekly journal to jot down our thoughts about the case studies to help reinforce the concepts discussed in class.

As an extra-special treat, Jennifer and Allison arranged for our final project to involve the Chicago based and Grammy Award winning musical group Third Coast Percussion. We were fortunate enough to have all four group members join our last class meeting for a panel discussion that covered their work and organizational structure. For our final project, we organized the information and data from the panel to create a “pitch deck” that hypothetically pitched the group to investors. As Jennifer said in one of our classes, pitching is an essential skill that we will need for most of our careers and creating the pitch deck was a great way to cultivate our pitching ability. It was also a nice opportunity to apply the concepts covered throughout the course to a “real world” setting.

Even though I was already looking forward to this class, I must say that it exceeded all of my expectations. Jennifer and Allison are a fantastic team and made a sincere connection with each student through their interactive teaching style. Thanks to the thoroughness of their approach, I feel a new-found confidence in my ability to analyze business structures and I’m looking forward to applying what we learned to future professional endeavors.