CCAD New Business Night Showcases School’s Growing Entrepreneurship Program

The Columbus College of Art and Design has been making impressive strides to incorporate entrepreneurship into its curriculum. This year the Business & Entrepreneurship department is on pace to serve 312 students.

“That’s a 50 percent growth over last year, and we grew 224 percent the year before that,” says Business & Entrepreneurship Department Head Elaine Luttrull. “Our students are craving business and entrepreneurial knowledge.”

But more than a department, the college is weaving business principles into its studio classes.

“There are no other schools of art and design that are doing what we’re doing,” Luttrull says.

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Last Wednesday and Thursday 46 students enrolled in Starting an Art & Design Business pitched their business ideas to fellow students and staff, community members and investors at the first annual New Business Night presented by SunDown RunDown.

“Part of SunDown’s mission is to help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs and to be an open and inviting place to support new ideas,” says SunDown RunDown Founder Paul Proffitt. “CCAD is doing something very new in integrating a business curriculum into a traditional art and design college.”

And, it’s something the organization is eager to be a part of.

Students split into 15 groups, presenting ideas for apps, food trucks, products for fellow artists and more. The robust class required students to think about more than just their idea, but analyze competitors, decide on a target market, develop a marketing strategy, and explore startup costs and product price-points.

“It was the first time that many of these students were “forced” to think about putting a business together from the ground up,” Proffitt says.

The pitch experience gave the business students another taste of what they might encounter should they pursue entrepreneurship. Audience members were given CCAD bucks to invest after the pitches – and a small percentage of the students’ grades was determined by how much money they could raise.

Once the dollars were tallied, an impressive group of ideas showcased CCAD students’ creativity.

Reclaimed Ink was the top business from night one. Building off an idea a student saw online, Reclaimed Ink will connect survivors of domestic violence, especially young women age 20-24 who are the most at-risk group, with a tattoo artist that can cover up scars for free. The social enterprise will also provide information about domestic abuse shelters to participating artists. While some tattooers already do such work, Reclaimed Ink looks to build a bigger, stronger network, and already has two artists on board.

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Three other startups also received significant CCAD bucks.

Tackling a problem many artists face, Light Ninja designs a portable light table to help illustrators, graphic designers and more capture creativity wherever it sparks. The project takes a piece of equipment that’s typically expensive, clunky and immobile and puts it right into an artists’ bag.

Meter Me app will solve one of the biggest headaches anyone who lives in a city has probably faced – finding an open parking meter. The app will not only alert users to open spots, but allow parkers to pay their meter through the app. The team has some creative ideas for marketing, including ads on Pandora and Spotify to hit users while they are driving, and using Meter Me gift cards left in meters as a guerrilla marketing tactic.

Light Up the Night also wowed investors with its planetarium-in-your-pocket app. The app combines a constellation map, calendar of celestial events, long exposure camera, downloadable sky maps, moon phases, weather and a news forum all into one interface.

An tool for artists and illustrators was the top-invested company on night two. Crown Point Pens looks to solve the numerous issues with different types of illustration pens with one, interchangeable, four-nibbed, refillable ink pen. The business looks to target art students much like themselves at a time when they are really starting to establish brand loyalties for their art supplies.

Paws Fur Love Pet Rental and Vegan Vending also received significant investments. Maybe an individual just isn’t ready to commit to a pet or could use a pooch for a photo shoot. Paws look to fill the gap, renting out a variety of animals for a varying amounts of time (including rent-to-own). Healthy food and readily available / grab-and-go don’t always go together, but Vegan Vending wants to stock machines filled with healthy eats in high-traffic areas like Short North.

“We consider the event a huge success, not only because our students were able to explore and develop ideas through an entrepreneurial process, but more importantly because they were able to meet and connect with the creative entrepreneurial community in Columbus,” Luttrull says.

Whether students are insipired to pursue enterprenurship or not, they are still picking up a valuable skill set, and from a instiution many might not expect.

“I think CCAD has taken a very brave and bold move in higher education to offer programming like this,” Proffitt says. “Having people who understand the fundamentals of marketing, knowing how to figure out who your customer is and what they want, and how to sell to that customer will hopefully lead to that person having a more successful career in whatever field they choose to pursue.”

For more information, visit ccad.edu.

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