The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) and the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship (NCE) collaborated early in April 2020 to launch a new pilot program: the Pop–UpChallenge, a creative initiative for Brown students to come together to connect, collaborate and have some fun. As our lives temporarily shift to a virtual world, that doesn’t mean we have to stop making art or innovating on everyday challenges! BAI and NCE aim to provide an outlet for artists and entrepreneurs to continue working together creatively, while we are away from Brown’s campus.
The first Pop–UpChallenge was April 2-3. A prompt was announced on April 2 and students had 24 hours to come up with a submission or proposed solution. The virtual event concluded with a Pop–upChallenge Debrief, moderated by Deb Mills-Scofield ’82, Mentoring Maven with the NCE, on Friday, April 3. Over 50 students expressed interest in joining the challenge. A total of 14 students ended up submitting 6 projects. Continue reading below to learn more about the submissions and visit the Google Slide submission link here to watch videos that show the creative process and strategy behind the student projects.
Woo Nam Song is the artist behind the submission “Mis U”. “Mis U” is an acrylic painting with a base of spray paint in gold, silver, and red. This work features a hand on the left ‘hand’ side with text accompanied on the right.
“Social distancing has been a difficult change in lifestyle for myself. Regardless, through this work, I wanted to convey a sense of normality that of which I can look forward to as well as an optimistic view towards seclusion from society.”
We randomly assigned students to optional groups. Emma Butler, Diana Perkins, Jack Schaeffer, and Jie Zhou submittedVRtual, a basic virtual reality viewer made from a cardboard box supporting both Android and iOS that features VR map where people can “go out together”(e.g. walk on the Main Green or participate in a virtual commencement). Emma and Diana were acquainted with each other but the team collectively had not worked together before!
Grace Winburne submitted her project entitled: “Isolating without a Home”, examining the intersection of coronavirus and homelessness. Her concept is a contained home-environment with an adaptable base to accommodate existing hostile architecture
“I wanted to explore the overcrowding in homeless shelters and, given a loss of jobs due to shut-downs, how people are dealing with sudden homelessness during a health crisis. By combatting hostile architecture, the need to limit the number of people in a location is alleviated by creating temporary “homes” outside. Thus, people are allowed to maintain social distance while also having a place to live.
Mollie Redman, Steph Rempe, and Leyton Ho came together to create Bizzi, a website that acts as a centralizing force for free online activities. These include Zoom and Instagram Live activities like cooking and working out. Events can easily be added to personal google calendars. The main target demographic is ages 18-25, most likely to spread the virus by not following social distancing due to boredom or believing COVID-19 will not seriously harm them. Providing this group with a centralized reference full of at-home activities would incentivize them to practice social distancing.
Jessica Zhu, China Ang, Renny Ma formed a team to bring “Can’t Touch This”, a shirt design to help enforce social distancing. “To encourage social distancing, we designed a shirt that helps individuals understand how close is “too close.” The minimum font size for text viewed from 6 feet away is 16pt (Andy Brown Design, The Print Handbook).The text on our shirt is 15pt, indicating to viewers that if they can read the text, they are not abiding the “six feet apart” rule. The shirt serves both as a practical tool as well as a humorous reminder for people to practice social distancing.”
Dana Lee and Connie Liu formed a team to create “CAN Touch This”, a medium through which one may experience the replication of physical contact with loved ones; i.e. experience hugs, kisses, and hand-holding. Students brainstormed the idea to create accessories with haptic sensors, an attachment to phones or laptops for ease of access (i.e. for holding hands). The student group thought of solutions to expand off of the “thinking of you” watch/button project that already exists.
We are excited to continue Brown EP’s (our student club) #MakeItHappen tradition, with a story from Brown EP leaders! Chuck Isgar ‘21, Megan Kasselberg ‘20 and David Lu ‘20 came together this past week and came up with a solution to help keep students and startups connected. These students recognized that early-stage startups might be restricted in hiring or having difficulty completing projects. They started Intern From Home, connecting students to virtual internships during COVID-19.
Continue reading to learn more about program and message from the student leaders:
During this uncertain time, we know that your company may be restricted in hiring and having difficulty completing tasks that you’ve had on your agenda for the upcoming weeks. We have a solution for you!
Intern From Home presents an opportunity for you to offer project-specific virtual internships to highly skilled college students who are a strong fit for the role within 24 hours of the role being posted. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and any length of time. Intern From Home has hundreds of students from Brown, Harvard, and many more top schools, seeking internships. To submit a role, please fill out this form and the role will be posted shortly thereafter. Feel free to submit more than one role; simply fill out a form for each role you are offering: https://forms.gle/b4xonZsyAgMpBThE8.
How Intern From Home works:
1.) You fill out this form with details about the role.
2.) The role gets posted on Intern From Home’s website and sent to candidates who might be a strong fit; candidates apply.
3.) Intern From Home vets all of the applications and sends the top 5 matches to you within 24 hours of the role being posted.
4.) Conduct your process for interviewing and make an offer to the best-fit candidate(s).
Please note that Intern From Home charges no commission from you or the student intern. This free platform is all about helping you fill roles and complete tasks that might otherwise be challenging during this time, as well as offering accomplished college students the opportunity to gain valuable experience and effectively use their newfound free time following their school’s shift to virtual classes.
Thank you very much for considering submitting a role. If you’re passionate about what we’re trying to do, we ask that you please share the link with anyone whom you think might benefit from it (ie: other startups you know, etc.). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship wants to learn about your creative ideas, your startups, and your solutions on how we can stay connected.We will use inspiring hashtag #MakeItHappen, and we encourage you to use it as well. Fill out this short form and we will do our best to share via our various communication platforms.
Launched by Brown and RIHub in 2019, Innovations for Urban Living is an accelerator program for early-stage startups with solutions to make cities more intelligent, livable, and sustainable.
Innovations for Urban Living is a new accelerator program for early-stage startups with solutions to make cities more intelligent, livable, and sustainable. Brown University and RIHub have partnered with The CoWrks Foundry to launch this 24-week startup accelerator. IULA is designed to help entrepreneurs improve the urban infrastructure and systems in India and in other emerging economies by leveraging a combination of technology, policy and local ingenuity. Successful teams will receive up to $40,000 in seed capital, engage in an accelerator curriculum experience, and gain access to top Indian and global investors through the CoWrks network, targeted coaching and mentoring; and coworking space at RIHub (Providence, RI) and CoWrks (Bangalore, India). Travel costs to enable time in direct experience, collaboration and network engagement in Bangalore are also covered.
On September 27, 2019, The Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and Brown EP proudly hosted Riche Holmes Grant ‘99 (pictured above center) for a roundtable discussion as part of the Roundtable Discussion Series moderated by Chuck Isgar ’21 (center in, from the right). In the first roundtable hosted in the new Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship Building on Thayer Street, Grant discussed her experiences and key takeaways from building various entrepreneurial ventures, including BambiniWareand “The Riche Life” web series.
From Columbia Law School to starting an education venture
Following her time at Brown, Grant attended Columbia Law School. She came to the realization that the traditional corporate lawyer track might not be right for her after not receiving an offer from her summer firm to return after graduation. As a result, Grant was pointed in another direction: entrepreneurship. In the grand scheme of things, Grant recognizes that this worked out great as it not only launched her on an exciting path, but also allowed her to establish her resilience of dealing with rejection. In the discussion, Grant stressed the importance of fighting through failure.
Back when Grant was doing test prep while waiting for her bar exam results, she realized it could be done better. She also saw that test prep players, such as Kaplan, weren’t competing in markets such as her hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland–the most affluent African-American county in the country. There was an opportunity in Grant’s head. In 2003, Grant founded Innovative Study Techniques, an education company focused on test preparation and education counseling. This venture was just the start of Grant’s entrepreneurial career.
Understanding your strengths and identifying who can help you
In 2013, Grant launchedBambiniWare, an innovative baby and mommy accessories brand with patented designs and fun and unique prints, inspired by her experience as a new mom. When developing BambiniWare, Grant was aware that she didn’t know everything that it would take to grow the business. Along these lines, Grant shared with the discussion participants the importance of finding experts and making them your mentors.
As Grant worked on BambiniWare, she learned a major lesson: whoever you go into business with, make sure they are committed. Along these lines, Grant advised the participants to not be afraid to start as a solo founder.
Within one year of launching BambiniWare, Grant had established a partnership with Martha Stewart. Since 2015, she has been a writer forMarthaStewart.com. In addition, she is a Culinary Expert for Williams Sonoma, Inc., writes for Subaru, and serves as a Digital Ambassador for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – ALSAC.
Starting “The Riche Life:” a lesson in the importance of listening to those around you
At Grant’s core has always been the desire to help people. Over time, Grant heard from multiple people that they thought she should consider sharing some of her thoughts and advice on a video platform. Along these lines, Grant shared an important lesson for the aspiring entrepreneurs in the room: when multiple people tell you the same thing, you need to start thinking about it.
Without even knowing where the record button was on the camera, Grant began her series“The Riche Life.” As usual, Grant was willing to seek advice along the way. Grant shared some advice that was given and believes is important to keep in mind when establishing a media platform: don’t worry about your early numbers, likes, etc. Rather, Grant stressed the importance of creating great content, a principle that has driven her work with “The Riche Life.”
Given that she is not just the show’s host, but also her own makeup artist, production assistant, and more, she has been very careful about the message she is sending. Grant has has placed an emphasis on exploring what makes a person’s life rich — not just money, but also happiness.
Utilizing your resources and advice for the journey ahead
You know the phrase “how can I help you” that you might hear from mentors, peers, and others? Grant has heard it many times before, and you might have also. She encourages people to take advantage of this offer.
Grant remarked that at the end of the day, no matter how well-known someone is, people are just people. There’s no harm in asking for help; the worst-case scenario is someone says “no.”
In the spirit of Grant’s emphasis on continued learning and mentorship, she recommended that you find the best people in your industry and see how you can learn from them, whether through books or other means.
Grant provided many pieces of advice for participants who want to pursue entrepreneurial ventures: you have to have tough skin as most days aren’t rosy and you have to be prepared for bumps in the road.
Another takeaway really stands out: if you’re not afraid, it’s not enough of a challenge for you.