Entrepreneurship: More Than Just the StartUp – Guest Blogger Chloe Sosenko

Entrepreneurship Practicum Course, Week 1:

“Your assignment? Create a solution to a nationally recognized problem. Bring your best five solutions to class next week.” Our group of three met and deliberated and decided that we were going to tackle the lethal problem of texting and driving. My group and I turned in our carefully deliberated list that we thought would be returned with a red A+ on the top of the paper consisting of ideas and applications that deactivated phones behind the wheel. This was an entrepreneurship class and we were sure that we had just come up with “the next big thing” — the solution that would save the lives of many and make us millionaires.

“The Catch,” Week 2:

“Now you have two weeks to go out there and actually create a solution to your real world problem. The catch? You can not use any of the solutions you just turned in.” It seemed unmanageable; we could not possibly solve a national problem in just two weeks? We quickly realized that to come up with a solid solution, we first had to start with understanding the reality of the problem. This project was not about surface solutions, but about understanding how to quickly learn and adapt information to create sustainable results that align with future goals.

Our mission was to immerse ourselves in the problem and learn from the users, context and environment. We were to gather as much information as we could on our problem, parties involved, and the environment. Then, bring that information together to the point where the solution would become obvious –believe it or not, that is exactly what happened.

Specifically, we spent hours observing people not only behind the wheel of a car, but also in other environments. We started at the library, where we observed a study table and noticed that the average number of times a studying student would pick up their phone in an hour was over ten times. We then headed to the gym, where results paralleled the study table results. Next, we headed to the streets to observe a busy four way stop. Sure enough, not only the people behind the wheel picked up their phones but also the people crossing the street. Each member of our group had collected observations and different environments, but we all had the same end answer. The problem was not texting and driving, it was our need for information and the need our need for immediate gratification. Our smart phones serve as more than just a person-to-person communication device, but as a life informant. It is an informant giving us information on everything from directions, weather, to where and what our friends are doing at any given moment.

Presentation Day, Week 4:

Our presented solution? We implemented an “information supplier,” one that came through the vehicle’s audio system. This information came over the car speaker system and informed the driver of upcoming events, weather, and updated twitter feed that could ultimately be tailored to the driver’s wants and needs. People want information and that is exactly what we want to provide, without the dangers of looking down and scrolling through a phone.

That’s cool right? But what’s the bottom line? What did this project teach us? Unmanageable problems can be taken on and it starts with the willingness and drive to spend the time understanding the “why” and ultimately revealing the real problem. This project opened my eyes to not just acting on creating a solution, product or idea but provided me a framework and mindset that I approach life with. To me, these classes, my entrepreneurship academic journey is much more than just a class.

It is teaching me a new way of thinking, innovating and bringing value to the world. It instills the bigger picture and the ability to bring this mindset to all facets of my life. Its much more than just coming up with a product or an idea but a way of thinking and ultimately a way of learning, that involves actually doing. We are being driven to understand the impact and potential that we could have on the world around us. It has truly been my favorite part of my studies at Michigan thus far and compliments my degree in taking theory, ideas, practice and making an impact in the people and organizations around me. It isn’t just about creating a business or having an idea but it’s about taking these things from thoughts to reality and to do that effectively– like anything in life you need to become passionately immersed in the process.

Find out more about the practicum at the Center for Entrepreneurship.

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