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James Madison University Student Priorities

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Project Pitch Video

James Madison University Cohort 4A Video Pitch

Promoting Innovation & Entrepreneurial Opportunities at James Madison University 

Strategy #1

Create Collisions amongst entrepreneurially minded students and the general population amongst all disciplines, in order to organically spread innovation, collaboration, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

Tactic #1: Theme Based Think-A-Thons

  • Description: Cultivate talent in theme based hack-a-thon style events that correlate to the various colleges of academics, but appeal to the general population. We would want to create a brand that does not alienate or intimidate students that don’t necessarily think of this as “their” thing.
    • 1-2 times per month
    • 24hr Think-A-Thons
    • Various themes/prompts that represent the interests of all the colleges of academics
      • College of Education:
        • Reinvent the classroom
      • College of Health and Behavioral Studies:
        • Create low-cost products that meet basic needs of the world's poorest people
      • Integrated Science and Technology / School of Art, Design, and Art History:
        • Designing for a sustainable campus
        • Fashion Think-A-Thon
    • The theme of these thinker-mixers/hack-a-thons would vary each time and would touch on topics that are up-to-date with current events to help attract students from all colleges within JMU. This in turn, would help continuity of participation and the dismantlement of silos.
    • Gathering participant information gives us a more defined target audience to project some marketing efforts towards.
    • Approaching these events with hopes of there being multi-disciplinary teams does not expedite the view that these are hack-a-thons or "techie" events.  This merely generates exploratory and problem-solving experiences to any given area of study.
    • Agenda for planning:
      • February 2015 - Planning/ Scheduling/ Marketing
      • March 2015 - First Event
      • April 2015 - Second Event
      • May 2015 - Third Event

Tactic #2: Make the I&E Network Accessible to Students

  • Description: Launch a heavily marketed website that establishes a network for students looking to collaborate and pursue a business or product idea. This JMU affiliated website would help spread awareness of funding opportunities, resources available on campus, upcoming I&E events, and clubs/groups.
  • Replicate a Landspace Canvas for I&E or create a landscape map to guide students through the process of finding relevent resources on campus for their prospective entrepreneurs. 
    • Daniel Phonelath will spearhead this project.

Tactic #3: 200 Level Collaborative Course 

  • Course Description: A 200 level course that will bring sophomores from the College of: Business, Engineering & ISAT, and Visual Arts & Design. With each of these programs having some sort of capstone or long time frame projects this 200 level course will utilize short-term projects with teams made of diverse disciplines to foster collaborative and teamworking skills growth. 
  • Emphases on leadership, creativity, and design thinking through 3 week long projects.
    • Leadership: Through the use of the JMU Dux Center students will benchmark their leadership/teamworking skills style at the beginning of the course. Through out the course as they finish a 3 week project cycle, the group leader will receive 4-5 leadership reviews from their team members and each team member will receive reviews from their team members. At the end of the course a student will have participated in 4 groups, lead one, received feed back and completed the leadership challenge workbook.
    • Creativity: During class students will practice creativity exercises, learn it's application and further their understanding through the text; "Creative Confidence" By David and Tom Kelly. 
    • Design Thinking: The course will be project-based with the application of light design thinking. In 3 weeks students will have had to discover more about a problem they have to solve, ideate solutions, prototype solutions and select the best idea for presentations.
    • Public Presentations: At the end of a 3-week cycle each team will present their process, idea and prototype in a public space such as TDU. Each student will be required to bring at least 2 guests (no repeats) to this public event. 
  • Project Lead's 2015 Agenda-Nahom Fissaha
    • Find the best way to register the course on MyMadison by Oct. 23 
    • Continue interviewing professors who show interest in coleading the course till Nov. 6
    • Meeting with all stakeholders and potential course coleaders to create plan of action-Nov.9-13

Strategy #2:

Establish an entity on campus where any student with a creative idea can get all the resources needed to become the entrepreneur they want to be, and test, launch, and grow their business.

Tactic #1: MadX Labs

  • Description: Test, iterate, and scale MadX Labs, JMU’s first seed stage startup accelerator.   
    • MadX Labs aims to serve JMU’s most talented student founders, giving them the best of both worlds by leveraging the resources of an entire University and its network. We give young entrepreneurs at JMU the opportunity to experience a traditional accelerator program; with the mentorship, training, office space, and funding they need in order to test, launch, and grow their business – while maintaining a status as a student.
    • University-wide, students are encourage to apply to MadX Labs startup accelerator two times a year in the beginning of each semester during “The Madison Challenge”, and if selected as winners they enter into the 12-week program and receive the mentorship, office space, and funding. After the 12 weeks, the program culminates in a Demo Day, where they will have the opportunity to pitch an invite only audience of JMU investors
    • Agenda for planning:
      • January 2015 - Launch of Beta(Completed)
      • April 2015 - Close of Program - Demo Day
      • September 2015 - University Wide Launch
      • December 2015 - Close of First Official Program

Strategy #3

Provide opportunities for students to become introduced to entrepreneurship and recognize their potential to become entrepreneurs at an early point in their collegiate careers.

Tactic #1: Test Courses

  • Description: Establish several “test courses” that can provide administration with an example of how a pattern of entrepreneurial and innovative courses in the General Education Program can lead to escalating forms of venture creation.
    • February 2015
      • Initial interviews with students regarding their thoughts on I&E at JMU
      • Identify faculty members interested in participating in a course like this
    • April 2015
      • Discovery and ideation; explore what other schools are doing to introduce I&E earlier in their curriculum.  Develop a series of courses in several clusters that could be implemented
      • Have courses officially created as "test courses" available for enrollment next semester
      • Have courses registered across several disciplines, as to attract a variety of students
    • May 2015
      • Begin designing actual ideas for course lessons, assuming students sign up for courses

Tactic #2: Summer Program

  • Description: Start a four to five week ideation and entrepreneurship summer program for incoming freshmen and rising sophomores. This apply-for and optional course would not only fuel the entrepreneur mindset for these underclassmen early in their college career but it would also help mix students and provide infrastructure for a network of collaborators. The program would be open to all majors.
  • Timeline: TBD

Tactic #3: Spread the Word

  • Description: Create pamphlets and a brief informational speech about I&E opportunities/resources at freshmen year orientation.

Tactic #4: Residential Learning Community

  • Description: Establish a Residential Learning Community for Entrepreneurship.  Students who participate in a Residential Learning Community get the unique opportunity to live and take classes with a small group of students who share similar interests. This helps students to be fully immersed in the topic of the RLC.  9 of these already exist on campus, and the Entrepreneurship RLC is already in the works through some members of Society of Entrepreneurs.
  • Timeline: TBD

Strategy #4:

Create a culture on campus that elevates JMU national visibility in I&E in order to attracts the most talented entrepreneurially minded faculty and students.

Tactic #1: Develop a Hub

  • Description: Develop, design, fundraise, and build a hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation that includes living space, maker spaces, open workspace, etc.
    • To prove a need for this hub, we plan to use the spaces that currently exist on and around campus to establish smaller-scale environments in which student thinkers and entrepreneurs can come to work on their projects and collaborate on ideas.
    • Through this beacon of entrepreneurship, offer a wide variety of programs and engagement opportunities for students to learn about and engage in all phases of the entrepreneurship and innovation process.
      • “Idea mixers” or “idea factory workshops” that are heavily marketed

Strategy #5

Provide opportunities for students to engage in entrepreunership and innovation with the greater local and regional community.

Tactic #1: Regional Meet-up

  • Description: The regional meet-up will bring UIF students from campuses within a 5-hour driving distance to James Madison University campus. Through various workshop students will understand JMU’s campus and share their own experiences from their respective campuses. Current James Madison University UIF members will create a collaborative environment for students to share ideas with each other. 

Tactic #2: Corporate Outreach/Integration Efforts

  • Description: The goal is to connect corporate environments with higher education. We will approach this by connecting with well-known and widely respected corporate entities such as Google in order to organize "high-demand/interest" events and talks out of our ICE resources. All events should be informational, interactive and the hope is to connect students with coporate resources as they progress through their course-load and approach graduation.

Related Links

James Madison University

James Madison University Student Priorities

James Madison University Innovation Spaces


Chris Ashley

Jack O'Neill

Andrew Carlone

Timothy Moore

Emily Platt

Mark Castro

Nahom Fissaha

Greg Mayo

Ryan Ohneiser

Daniel Phonelath

Jared Michael Zurn

Catharine Willett

Grace Carter

Kyle Anderson

Connor Bergeron

Jack Boone

Anne Rusher

Stephanie Morales

Marian Gerlitzki 

Peyton Pittman

Natalie Dillinger

Kareem Ebraham

Emma de Leon

Lexy Foor

Sally Todd

Skylar Wollen

Claire Fulk