Finlandia University Art & Design student-run venture.

Below is Fred Knoch's interim report. See attached syllabus as well.

Six courses (BUS 125 Art Business, BUS 225 Web Portfolio & Internet Marketing, BUS 325 Art Entrepreneurship, ARD 329 A & D Project Management, ARD 395 A & D Project, and ARD 499 Diploma Works) delivered in the University’s Jutila Center business incubator provide the tools and environment for students to explore and practice entrepreneurship in the arts.

 

The Finlandia University Experiential Learning Studio (FUEL Studio), started in 2009, continues this mission by serving as a resource for students to develop and bring to market their entrepreneurial endeavors. Originally, it served as a resource for junior-level art & design project-based courses. Then it was integrated as a module into the freshman art & design experience. This year, the goal is to iterate this experience across art business classes, studio classes, and project-based classes in ISAD as well as collaborate with the International School of Business (ISB) in the creation of a student-run venture.

Activity

My role this semester was to lead a team of students in ARD 329 to create the first version of the business including business structure, physical layout, and the design and production of products. In coordination with this, Coleman Fellow (Lisa Kahnke) challenged her students in BUS 325 to create marketing plans for the business.

Outcomes

The team of seven students opened the business for two weeks in the end of the fall 2011 semester. They produced 109 items including kitchen towels, jewelry, apparel, and dishware valued at ~$1700. Net profit, after start-up expenses, artist commission, and cost of goods, was just over $50. While not a huge success, it is a victory to have positive cash flow just two weeks into a business!

Lessons learned

Having a real store, even for two weeks, was an extremely valuable learning experience. The lesson learned was that it was such a rich environment for learning that we need to get it open as early and often as possible from this point forward. Everywhere you looked in the store, it was easy to see opportunities for learning: modules in marketing, promotion, merchandising, inventory, accounting, price point, and product selection.

Strategy for remainder of year

For the spring semester, art & design students in ARD 395 will be working with BUS 435 Entrepreneurial Leadership continuing to develop the business. Based on sales data and market research from the fall semester, students will launch version two of the business. Instead of starting from scratch, the students will be able to use the lessons learned from last semester, and dive more deeply into the truly rich learning that can only happen by doing.