Alumni to Help Beta Test Innovative New CCAD Program

During Family Weekend & Homecoming, alumni got a tour of the raw space that will soon house the MindMarket.

Columbus College of Art & Design is in the early stages of a new endeavor that will change how the college engages its students and alumni with entrepreneurship and the business world.

The program, called the CCAD MindMarket, will have many facets including business partnerships, charrettes, and a business incubator—which is about to enter its beta phase with a few alumni.

Only offered to CCAD alumni and students, the business incubator will assist entrepreneurs in launching their start-up companies by providing space and services that a new business owner might not otherwise have access to.

“The business incubator is designed to provide a comprehensive resource center for small, start-up businesses aimed at accelerating growth and increasing the business’s potential for long-term success by leveraging the resources at CCAD,”  said Cynthia Gravino, executive director of the MindMarket initiative. “We are able to provide physical space, basic office equipment, and office support for a fraction of what these tenants would pay if they tried to do this on their own.”

“More importantly, we will be providing our incubator tenants mentorship opportunities with industry experts, seasoned entrepreneurial artists and designers, as well as important links to the entrepreneurial community.  By having an incubator on campus, our tenants will not only have a home-base within our creative community—they will also have the opportunity to engage and embrace the energy and shared learning that is created by working with other creative start-ups and professionals. They can bounce ideas off of each other, as well as tap into the talent that is on campus.”

Incubator tenants will also have access to a network of professionals in areas outside the scope of art and design that are imperative to the success of a start-up, such as accountants and lawyers who can provide the expertise needed to navigate issues like business filings, intellectual property protection, and tax liability.

Eventually the MindMarket and its incubator program will be housed on the ground floor of Design Studios on Broad. While renovations continue on that space, the college is recruiting a select few alumni to engage in a beta test of the program to be housed in the Loann Crane Center for Design.

An email was recently sent to alumni announcing the opportunity. More than 40 alumni responded. Applications will be evaluated through December with the expectation that two beta tenants will move into their office space in early January.

During the beta phase each participant will be provided with a cubical-office space, access to meeting rooms, a computer, internet access, fax, copier, access to support personnel, and access to CCAD’s entrepreneurial support network and partners, such as TechColumbus and the Columbus State Small Business Development Center.

Since the full range of services will not be available during the beta phase, participants will be given reduced rates for their participation.  Once the full program is launched, all tenants will pay the same fees.

“By doing a beta run we can see how the program works as it is currently modeled, and we can adjust as needed,” said Gravino. “We can identify services that should be added or those that, perhaps, are not necessary.”

The incubator program is just one part of the MindMarket. Career Services is working closely with Vice President of Academic Affairs Kevin Conlon to develop curriculum that will dovetail into MindMarket-run business partnerships. In addition, plans include the development of charrettes, which will allow students to work with organizations on short-term design challenges.

“The goal,” said Gravino, “is to arm our graduates with the business savvy they need as creative professionals. Anyone who applies themselves can learn sound businesses practices. The same cannot be said of creativity—and that is what our alumni and students bring to the boardroom table.”