At Columbus College of Art & Design, artists and designers learn the business skills they need to change culture and commerce.

And that’s evident in CCAD’s Starting an Art & Design Business course, which includes participation in  SunDown RunDown, a nonprofit in Ohio that offers pitch events, funding, and other venture aid to startups.  The experience with SunDown RunDown gives CCAD students a chance to  build valuable experience and gain access to investors, mentors, and important resources.,

Through SunDown RunDown, students have the opportunity to develop a business idea, test it in the marketplace, estimate sales, and create a business summary they can present as a pitch for startup capital to a panel of investors, said Adjunct Instructor Angela Bonfante. And the project doesn’t just benefit students, Bonfante said.

“I believe the students are coming up with great ideas for our community and beyond,” she said. “They are coming up with ideas that do not currently exist in our marketplace, and some of these ideas will actually become businesses in the future.”

Exposure to SunDown RunDown also gives students an opportunity to make crucial connections with the local business community. Neil Collins, CCAD instructor, local entrepreneur, and onsite leader at Innovate New Albany, was among the panel of investors who reviewed CCAD presentations last fall. He said he was pleased to see CCAD playing a bigger role in making the local startup community stronger.

“It’s great for the students because it challenges them to apply the creative and practical skills they’re building at CCAD to solve a problem,” he said. “Even if the students don’t carry their product or company idea forward and put it into the marketplace, the process of applying their talents to a real problem will serve them well when they launch their careers.”

Industrial Design student Paul Bell is among those who presented at the October event, using the project as part of his senior thesis. Inspired by recent natural disasters and his personal goal of decreasing his carbon footprint, Bell created a package of off-grid applications to aid during emergency situations, developing a prototype of a salvaged battery fuel cell that can be utilized as a charging station for small devices. The idea has received serious interest from potential investors.

Paul Bell CCAD student

Portrait of Paul Bell, photo credit Taylor O'Donnell

Without exposure to this event, he said, he never would have known about the network. “I was pleasantly surprised to learn there is this whole community and how accessible that can be,” he said. “There can be some big investors sitting in on this kind of thing.”

industrial design mockup

Sample of work, photo credit Taylor O'Donnell

industrial design mockup

Sample of work, photo credit Taylor O'Donnell


Entrepreneur Lingo 101

Being an entrepreneur means solving problems, and for CCAD’s business students, that means learning the language they need to communicate effectively in the business world. These are some key phrases young entrepreneurs encounter in class in relation to launching an art and design business.

  • Venture capital: Money invested in a new business by investors.
  • Effectuation: How entrepreneurs make decisions during a new venture creation.
  • Risk control: Understanding calculated risks.
  • Market research: Understanding the market for a product by doing research about existing businesses and consumers.
  • Break-even point: The point at which the initial investment expenses equals the revenue.
  • Concept testing: Conducting surveys to see how the business idea is received by a target market.
  • Sales estimation: Estimating sales of products or services based on research.
  • Business plan: A document that outlines the business concept, investment, and sales as well as strategies for achieving them.
  • Pitch event: An event during which a business idea is presented to potential investors.