CCAD Goes Entrepreneurial

Kitty McConnell

CCAD Goes Entrepreneurial

In the startup era, the stereotype of the starving artist is as outdated as dial-up. Artists are entrepreneurial by nature; witness the Columbus College of Art and Design's new MindMarket initiative.

"Over 20 percent of our students work freelance or have their own businesses," says MindMarket director Cynthia Gravino. "The whole creative process that our students are trying to execute is solidly grounded in entrepreneurship."

CCAD students are in demand in fields such as fashion design, industrial design, animation, advertising and graphic design, says Gravino. CCAD alumni work at big-name companies including Disney, Pixar, EA Games, Chico's and Limited Brands. "Our graduates are employed at both Fortune 100 levels, as well as startup businesses. That business acumen is ingrained, it just hasn't been formalized. MindMarket helps students hone in on that in a shorter amount of time," says Gravino.

MindMarket is a three-tier effort to commercialize CCAD students' work: a small business incubator meets the needs of creative startups; the ThoughtLab lecture series addresses topics relevant to art-related business development; and the DesignLab is a networking hub for businesses and student entrepreneurs.

A lead gift of $300,000 from Huntington National Bank jump-started MindMarket in January. Other gifts are in the works. "After the startup phase, the MindMarket is envisioned to be self-sufficient with revenue from the DesignLab and the incubator," Gravino says.

Students own the rights to work commercialized by the program, which CCAD officials hope will be a potential job creator. "The whole objective is that we're supporting their growth." Gravino says.

MindMarket is headquartered in the first floor of CCAD's Design Studios on East Broad Street. Columbus architectural firm Acock Associates redesigned the former Byers auto dealership with a bright, open floor plan that includes conference rooms and workspaces for member businesses.

The incubator is in the process of recruiting the first set of resident, nonresident and affiliate members. "We envision a total of eight resident members, along with the nonresident members who may choose to use all the incubator coaching and mentoring services, but need larger or specialized workspaces off-campus," says Gravino.

Membership costs vary based on a venture's incubation period and space needs. Members must have an art- or design-focused business, a strong business plan, satisfactory financial history and commitment of the entrepreneurs.

MindMarket has scheduled an array of grand opening events throughout September, including New Venture Showcase Day for 10xelerator, the accelerator program of the Center for Entrepreneurship at OSU's Fisher College of Business, held Sept. 7. A MindMarket launch presentation on Sept. 28 featuring Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, will be followed by an opening reception in the Design Studios for idUS Week, the tech and innovation portion of the 200Columbus Bicentennial celebration.

Reprinted from the October 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.