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Emerson Launch Showcase Brings Creative Business Ideas Together

A mentorship program for Performing Arts graduates, a publishing company focused on printing short and affordable books, and a comprehensive book database are just a few of the dozens of projects exhibited at the Emerson Launch Creative Enterprises Showcase hosted by the College this week.

Undergraduate students joined graduate students and faculty at WeWork South Station to present business plans, mingle with investors, and learn about their peers’ work. Several students came from classes such as Building an Arts-Based Business and Publishing Management and Innovation.

Emerson Launch Director Cathy Waters said the initiative is a way for students who have the germ of a good idea to get feedback, ideas, and encouragement to take the idea to the next level.

“Emerson Launch was founded to help students accelerate the launch of their business ventures, but more students have ideas than ready-to-launch businesses,” Waters said. “We help those students incubate their ideas while experiencing entrepreneurial activities that educate them: asking experts for advice or turning a concept into a prototype and demonstrating it to people at an event like the Creative Enterprises Showcase.”

One of the many projects on display was Common Vision, a mobile app geared toward artists and music industry professionals to network and collaborate. The app was developed by Erin Jean Husse ’19 and her classmates with hopes of helping the underdogs of the music industry break into their careers with greater ease.

Husse said she and her business partners are excited to continue pursuing Common Vision’s potential and have even launched fundraising efforts.

“We always had the idea that we wanted to take this outside the classroom,” Husse said. “We’re looking at potentially launching beta tests within the early months of 2017. We had a house show a few weeks ago that was very successful and started as a way to raise money to build the app.”

Caroline Fenn, MA ’17, and Michele Stulga, MFA ’16, developed a plan for Revisionary, a cloud-based tool for writing students to catalog and organize feedback on their work. The pair said their project was inspired by their own experience in writing classes where workshops and classes were heavily paper-based and keeping track of feedback became unmanageable.

“I hope that it would streamline and make easier the process of revision,” Fenn said. “You’ll be using less paper and wasting less time sorting through everything.”

Stulga said that moving forward, she hopes to take the feedback received at the Showcase and connect with potential investors to fund web development of Revisionary.

“I would love to pursue this further,” she said. “That would go toward paying developers to create a usable interface. Then the next step would be to market test it and get people to come in and try to use it and see if it’s useful in a classroom setting.”

Annie Armstrong ’17 was part of a group developing Boston Art House, a community center meant to support recently graduated art students as they transition into a full-time professional career in the arts. She said her group’s goal at the Showcase was more focused on learning how they can improve future business endeavors.

“We just want feedback on how people perceive the concept,” she said. “[We got] some good specific advice about money. Finances aren’t exactly our strong suits, so we’ve had people saying we’re asking for too little money, and that we’re going to need to put more into it.”

College President Lee Pelton, who attended the Showcase, said this type of event speaks to the talents of Emerson students.

“Our students have the four essential skills, capacities, that you need to succeed in the 21st century: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication,” he said. “They’re also meeting other students with great ideas, so it may be that there’s some collaboration and even newer ideas will come out of the intersection and the conversations that are happening here.”

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