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Day 82

Day 82

To reach your full potential you have to passionately sell your dreams to the people that can help you realize them.

— Gary Chou and Christina Cacioppo

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The Kern and Burn community continues to impress us. Friday not only marked the end of our successful Kickstarter campaign, but also the beginning of what we hope will be many friendships that grow out of our project. We spent the day in New York meeting with Elana Schlenker of Gratuitous Type as well as Gary Chou and Christina Cacioppo of Union Square Ventures—a company that has invested in startups like Kickstarter, Codeacademy, Etsy, and Skillshare. Gary and Christina also teach in SVA’s interaction design graduate program chaired by brilliant designer, educator, and editor, Liz Danzico. Throughout our process we’ve had many conversations about the lack of business education within the design curricula. SVA’s Entrepreneurial Design course, taught by Gary and Christina, proves this assumption wrong.

First year interaction design student Tony Chu reached out to us a few weeks ago, told us about the course, and offered to introduce us to Gary and Christina, to which we happily agreed. “Entrepreneurial Design” focuses on three key principals: understanding the current context in which we live, developing and sharing your opinions, and augmenting an interaction designer’s toolset. The class description says, “All three areas are relevant whether a student’s end goal is to be an Etsy seller or a founder of a tech startup; whether they plan to raise money from venture capitalists or Kickstarter’s community; whether they want to have social, cultural, or economic impact—or all three.”

The assignments aim to teach students how to be professional internet users and help them get past any reservations they may have about promoting their ideas. Gary and Christina talked with us about their goals for the course. They want students to realize their full potential, and often that means passionately selling your dreams to people that can help you realize them. The syllabus is an amazing mix of love letters from founders, influential readings, inspirational challenges, and practical business advice.

The keystone project for the course is perfect. “Create and deliver a product or service that generates $1,000 (approximately one month’s rent) of gross profit before the final class on April 25. You can teach Skillshare classes, start a Shapeways or Etsy store, launch a Kickstarter project, or create something else entirely.” The syllabus is published under a Creative Commons license and is available for everyone’s benefit here.

We’re grateful to Gary and Christina that they were willing to take time out of their schedules to meet with the two of us—two passionate students, trying to build a community of designers that share similar values, and encourage others to follow their passions. We found that we have many of the same conversations that Gary and Christina have with their students in the classroom, and with startups at the office. We all hope these discussions will lead designers to take action and change the way we all experience the world. We wish the SVA students a great end of the semester and can’t wait to see the end results of their entrepreneurial ventures.