Hub Happenings: Episode 5

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This week’s episode features our How to Start a Startup class. Six students reflect on their entrepreneurial journeys in the class so far. Don’t forget to like this video, comment what you would like to see, and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you never miss a Hub Happenings upload! Thanks for watching. We will see you next week!

By Jessie Epstein ’21, Resident Vlogger at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffHub Happenings: Episode 5
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EVENT RECAP: FAILURES AREN’T FINAL

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On Tuesday, October 9th, The Hurt Hub@Davidson hosted F*ck Up Night Goes to College, in partnership with Charlotte-based Advent Coworking to help inspire students and entrepreneurs to embrace failure and glean insight from their mistakes.

Just like The Hurt Hub, Advent Coworking—founded by Kevin Giriunas—creates an environment for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and collaborate as a community. F*ck Up Night helps Advent achieve this mission by creating a forum where entrepreneurs can speak candidly about their failures as innovators.

Giriunas and his team at Advent wanted to bring F*ck Up Night to Davidson, after Davidson junior Christian Mascorro interned with Advent this past summer. Together, Giriunas and Mascorro agreed this type of event would be really important for college students to experience. “If I had more exposure to that at a young age, I may have ended up with a very different future,” Giriunas said.

We heard from 3 entrepreneurs:

Brain Helfrich ’07—CEO and Owner of Summit Coffee Co.

Katy Kindred—Owner of Kindred and Hello, Sailor

Braxton Winston ’05 —Charlotte Councilman and Citizen journalist

What were their f*ck ups?

Brain Helfrich: Owner of the successful Summit Coffee Co. and cafés across North Carolina, Helfrich shared his most recent “f*ck up.” Over this past year, Helfrich and the rest of Summit Coffee Co. put a heavy emphasis on growth. Helfrich explains, “We decided to open a café in Huntersville. It was outside our normal sphere, and it completely flopped.”

The café stayed open for around 3 months before Helfrich decided to close the café down. Helfrich reflects on the difficulty of the process, saying he had trouble accepting the failure and was “trying to balance grit with reality.”

Through it all, Helfrich recognized that “[his] first responsibility was to the people working in Summit.” This led Helfrich to stop focusing on his failure and instead focus on the successful business he had built around him.

Katy Kindred: Owner of critically acclaimed restaurants Kindred and Hello, Sailor, Kindred spoke about a “f*ck up” from her earlier years. Before she owned her own restaurants, she applied to be a server at a Michelin Star restaurant in San Francisco. Although she felt she had “no business working there,” she applied anyway.

Much to her surprise, Kindred was offered an assistant manager position at the restaurant, but she soon found it was a bigger job than she anticipated. “All that ambition and fearlessness was great, it got me in the door, but I got there and froze,” she recalls. “I convinced myself I wasn’t doing a good job. I made it more about myself than what I was doing, and I was stuck in my head.”

It took her a few months to get out of her head and learn how to become an effective leader. She draws upon this lesson even now, as she builds her teams at Kindred and Hello, Sailor: “I see this now in my young leaders.” Kindred feels she is better equipped to develop her young employees who may feel the same way early in their careers.

Braxton Winston: Distinguished Charlotte Councilman, Citizen journalist and Davidson College graduate, Winston discussed one of his most memorable “f*ck ups,” which just happened to be during his time as a student at Davidson College.

“I had a really rough freshman year,” Winston recalled. “I got MRSA.” Despite being sick, Winston, being the competitive and passionate person he is, kept pushing through the illness. Winston remembers thinking, “I can’t let this beat me.”

In hindsight, he says he wishes that he had taken a medical leave of absence, before things got worse. In just a few short months, his illness along with other complications led to a decline in his grades. He says, “I failed everything and was kicked out of school.”

At the time, he had been given special permission to live in Charlotte. After being asked to leave Davidson, he was faced with new responsibilities, “All of the sudden I had a lease, and I had to figure life out.” Of course, failure was not final for Winston; he ultimately returned to Davidson and graduated.

Winston leaves Davidson students with this advice and the perfect take-home message from F*ck Up Night: “Davidson students hate to fail in anything, and they think a B+ is a failure… If I had done more of what I had to do, instead of having that image of perfection, things could have turned out differently.”

By Lucy Fasano ’21, Resident Storyteller at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffEVENT RECAP: FAILURES AREN’T FINAL
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EVENT RECAP: Immerse Yourself in Virtual Reality

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On Thursday, October 4th, LaunchLKN held its fifth event in the Infinite Possibilities series at The Hurt Hub@Davidson. Erica Madden, Executive Director of LaunchLKN and founder of Bloom Strategic Communications, describes LaunchLKN as a community of innovators that aims to connect people from across the Lake Norman region. This particular event, Infinite Possibilities: Immerse Yourself in Virtual Reality, focused on panelists’ experience, research and professional work with virtual reality (VR) technology.

Madden explains: “the key of the Infinite Possibilities series is to see what themes  in the Lake Norman region have a heat map of interested people.” These events exhibit new aspects of technology that are receiving attention and sparking new interest groups. She says, “we’ll see if virtual reality becomes one of these topics.”

The first panelist, JD Mills—Digital Innovation Systems Engineer at Davidson College—describes virtual reality through the lens of a “geek, hacker and consumer of electronics enthusiast.”

Mills says,“the idea that virtual reality is a new concept and only arose in the past 5 years, is false.” VR technology had been hundreds of years in the making; however, the iPhone was a turning point for this technology—it was the first time the consumer was able to put VR technology in their back pocket.

His advice to companies and entrepreneurs interested in VR: “Don’t wait it out.” While the technology is rapidly getting better, you only risk getting that much further behind.

Facebook and other large companies have already invested billions of dollars in the future of VR technology. This future goes beyond gaming. Mills asked his audience to imagine, “a device that looks like glasses which you can use to import productive social experiences anywhere you go.”

For Mills, and for many companies, the question of whether VR is the future of social interaction is not a matter of “if” but “when.”

Following Mills’ brief history and future possibilities of VR technology,  Josh Shabtai—Director at Lowe’s Innovation Labs—explains VR through the lens of home improvement.

Shabtai says, “For us [Lowe’s] it’s all about human problems.”

Lowe’s estimates they lose around 70 billion dollars to home improvement projects that never get off the ground. Customers either do not have enough time or cannot not decide on products.

Shabtai thinks VR technology can help, specifically in “closing the gap from idea to implementation.”  

With VR technology, customers would be able to take the ads they see on the internet and use their phones to place the product virtually into home photos or videos.

Shabtai’s Innovation Team is exploring how VR technology could create improvements to in-store navigation. Customers would be able to use their phones to navigate through stores as if directed by a GPS. Shabtai compares it to “having Waze inside of every [store] environment.”

The final panelist, Dr. Tabitha Peck—Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Davidson College—explains implications of VR technology on academic research.

Peck says that in VR you can give people avatars, or virtual bodies, that, no matter how the avatar looks, make “you actually believe that you own [that body].”

Researchers can dress these avatars with different clothing or give them different skin colors that then simulate a new experience for VR users.

Peck explains: “Just performing these illusions actually changes your attitudes and behaviors.” If you dress someone as a doctor, they will become more healing. If you place a white VR participant, into a dark-skinned avatar , research shows the participant’s racial bias goes down for weeks after the experiment.  

In her own research, Dr. Peck has found that VR can be used to lift “stereotype threat,” a situation in which people perform at a lower standard because they are stereotyped to do so. For example, if women are reminded they are stereotyped to score lower at STEM-based projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) compared to men before they take a math test, they will perform worse than if they are not reminded. On the other hand, if you place a female VR participant into a male avatar, she will not be affected by stereotype threat.

After listening to the three panelists share how VR impacts everyday interests, work and research, the message is clear—virtual reality  is a developing field for opportunity, no matter your industry.

 By Lucy Fasano ’21, Resident Storyteller at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffEVENT RECAP: Immerse Yourself in Virtual Reality
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Hub Happenings: Episode 3

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This week’s episode features our first Student Profile on Davidson student group Trilla G ENT. Trilla G ENT received money from the Failure Fund last year, and continue to grow their company on campus. Don’t forget to like this video, comment what you would like to see, and subscribe to ourYouTube channel so that you never miss a Hub Happenings upload! Thanks for watching. We will see you next week ?

By Jessie Epstein ’21, Resident Vlogger at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffHub Happenings: Episode 3
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Hub Happenings: Episode 2

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This week’s episode features the 3 Day Startup, which was housed in our new building for the first time! It was a HUGE success! Don’t forget to like this video, comment what you would like to see, and subscribe to ourYouTube channel so that you never miss a Hub Happenings upload! Thanks for watching. We will see you next week ?

By Jessie Epstein ’21, Resident Vlogger at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffHub Happenings: Episode 2
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Organic Collaborations Sprout at The Hurt Hub

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Entrepreneur teams up with marketing professional to launch his company

Entrepreneurship—the process of turning an idea into a concrete business—can be hard enough without trying to reinvent the wheel. As any founder will attest, launching a startup requires you do it all, from marketing to accounting to business development.. Thus, the value of collaboration cannot be understated, as often the most successful and innovative ideas come from many minds rather than few.

This is exactly what The Hurt Hub@Davidson seeks to facilitate—bringing innovative minds together to  sharpen ideas and launch new companies. One unexpected encounter between two entrepreneurs while at The Hurt Hub coffee bar inspired new collaboration.

Josh Lippiner runs an online product incubator company, a business which comes up with different ideas and then tests them out to see if these ideas would work outside of theory.

Brooklyn Madding is a copy editor and marketing specialist who helps businesses with communication and position.

Three weeks ago, Josh and Brooklyn met by coincidence while getting coffee in the Hurt Hub lobby and found that they were exactly what the other had been looking for. Just before this encounter Josh had spent weeks looking for someone who could put his ideas into words when, little did he know, she had been working in the same building as him all this time. Josh was excited to find Brooklyn as “within 3 days of working together she was able to nail it and put it down on paper.”

Josh explains that as a small business owner “you have a lot of needs for different things that you don’t specialize in.” Small business owners are often put in the position of either hiring out or working in the field that is not exactly their expertise. In John’s case, this was finding someone who could put his ideas into words. And he found that person—fifty feet from his office door.

Cybersecurity finds tech partner down the hall

While Josh and Brooklyn were collaborating on their project, the Hurt Hub was fostering another new development. Through similar hallway conversations Rocus Networks, a cybersecurity company, and MePush, a tech support company, were finding out the same thing as John and Brooklyn—everything they were looking for was quite literally right around the corner.

Elizabeth Cooper, Chief of Staff at Rocus Networks, explains that MePush discovered that many of their clients needed cybersecurity. Instead of trying to create their own cybersecurity company,  MePush found that it was more efficient to outsource to Rocus Networks and overlap the two companies. Now the two companies have entered a symbiotic relationship where they can help each other create an even wider breadth of clients and resources.

The beauty of the Hub is that no one needs to force companies or entrepreneurs together; these collaborations all happen organically over coffee, in the hallways, or during Taco Tuesdays. Companies naturally find a way to work together to grow and succeed more positively and efficiently than trying to work from the bottom up. Before the Hub, John spent his work days alone at home or in a coffee shop. Elizabeth Cooper spent most of her days alone in an office. Now she she spends her days at the Hub which she calls “a new community beyond our own company,” where she and the others Hub members can build and nurture new relationships.

By Lucy Fasano ’21, Resident Storyteller at The Hurt Hub.

Julie GoffOrganic Collaborations Sprout at The Hurt Hub
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