Lab turns entrepreneurship theory into practice

Jan 31 2014

Thomas Webster, in the black T-shirt, considers lists of product ideas brainstormed by students. Photo: Sara Peach

Thomas Webster, in the black T-shirt, considers lists of product ideas brainstormed by students. Photo: Sara Peach

Having been part of the entrepreneurship minor at UNC for the past two semesters, I understand the basic principles of turning an idea or theory into a workable business plan. The Reese News Lab takes the theories that I have learned through my minor and expands and adds real practice to being an entrepreneur.

The pitch
When I first stepped into the Reese News Lab, I was confident in my ability to pinpoint market and consumer issues that innovations could solve, but I was not prepared for the process by which Lab research interns go about this conceptualization.

The pitching process was the first skill we performed in our Lab orientation. The e-minor provided me with plenty of experience in this ability. Success in the entrepreneurship minor revolves around one’s ability to sell ideas through pitching effectively and purposefully.

During the following week each Lab intern was given the opportunity to pitch an idea that had come from our early brainstorms, and I was presented with a new challenge. After doing some research, I found that my idea was not viable. So my task was to pitch to my fellow interns why we should not develop the idea I was pitching.

I was confident in how to convince a group that an idea was really promising, but to do the opposite, I needed to develop a new angle. After the pitch I felt sure no one would want to develop my venture and I was enthusiastic about moving forward with our group selection.

The lean business model
I was excited to hear we would be using the lean business model throughout the semester to plan and launch our ventures. This is the model we use in the entrepreneurship minor, and I have put it into practice multiple times.

The lean business model canvas is perfect for learning the basic business model essentials and putting a business model into practice. You must establish your specific value proposition, target markets, customer segments and possible partners as a start in developing your workable business plan.

Brainstorming
Brainstorming – a seemingly basic process – was a new concept to me when combining it with possible business model progression. The Lab is a hotbed for brainstorming and it is impossible to not develop a passion for the really interesting ideas that develop from these brainstorms.

In the Lab, the focus is on addressing value through media products, which in the beginning was new and challenging for me. Some great ideas came out of our preliminary brainstorms and I am currently working on a media venture that I probably would not have had the opportunity to create in my entrepreneurship minor.

What’s next?
I am developing an online gaming product that is set to blend the concepts of World of Warcraft, the multiple roleplayer game, and the processes involved in the North Carolina General Assembly. This idea is really intriguing and different from anything I have worked on in the minor or any class in at the university.

We are in the early stages of developing our basic idea into a workable business model for our gaming product. The entrepreneurship minor has provided me with team venture cooperation experience that has made the first weeks at the Lab a seamless transition period. I know challenges await our group in the coming weeks and our idea may soon need to be modified once our survey information is analyzed. The parallels between the entrepreneurship minor and the Reese News Lab are obvious in basic principles, but the Lab has provided the opportunity to put these principles into practice.


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