Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate

Author: Ali Frank

Experience 2: LuckyDiem

For my 150-hour experience, I had an internship at a startup called LuckyDiem, a mobile marketing and gaming application. My internship spanned from the beginning of July (right after returning home from Silicon Valley to New York City) through the middle of August. Our office was located at Grand Central Tech, right above Grand Central in Manhattan. Grand Central Tech is a co-work tech space, filled with a wide range of start-ups.

LuckyDiem is in the process of becoming an iOS mobile application and is currently in Beta stage. The application is a Vegas-style spin wheel where users play to win discounts to local businesses. By getting three-of-a-kind on the spin wheel, one can win discounts up to 25% off of businesses and can be entered to win huge prizes like Drake concert tickets. After successfully launching in Cambridge’s Harvard square last fall, LuckyDiem has been laser focused on expanding to the local businesses in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Due to the fact that LuckyDiem only has two full time employees (the CEO and one other), I had to wear many hats during my internship. My main role was to be the head of PR, outreach, and social media. However, I was also involved in the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) as well as going on door-to-door sales trips and follow ups visits and emails.

I decided to pursue an experience at LuckyDiem for many reasons. I wanted to gain experience working in the world of start-ups, working at a tech company, as well as experiencing work with an entrepreneur. The location was perfect, as I’m from New York, and because LuckyDiem was shifting their focus to the Upper East Side, the neighborhood I’ve lived for my entire life. Also, I was lucky enough to have attended the Start-Up Connect networking fair, go through a few rigorous rounds of interviews, and received an offer to work at LuckyDiem.

 

Description of Artifact

My artifact is a portfolio of ads that I created for LuckyDiem. I wanted these ads to be fun, a little bit risqué and eye-catching in order to have more consumers download and use LuckyDiem. I thought that my advertisements were innovative and they help the consumer solve the problem of saving money while also playing a fun game. My main accomplishments and contributions to the company were less visually appealing, as most of them were text documents. I reached out to many websites, blogs, created demographic and ethnographic pain point analysis and built a social media strategy from the ground up. However, these are not visually appealing, which is why I selected these fun ads I created for my portfolio. I also worked with one of LuckyDiem’s full time employees to create these, and we worked as a team to bounce ideas and creatively build new ads.

 

Artifact UES POS Materials

 

Reflection

Through working at LuckyDiem, I had a real experience of working at an early stage start-up performing a variety of jobs. I was able to see all aspects from starting a new venture from the inside, after looking at the theoretical creation of one from the outside in Silicon Valley. In all aspects of my work, I had to be innovative. The types of bloggers I reached out to were based on my creation and organization of a spreadsheet of target demographics and ethnographic through a pain point analysis.  I also created a social media strategy for the company with a variety of copies for the forms of social media. I had to creatively and strategically organize a way to craft a message for businesses to send out to their customers announcing their partnership with LuckyDiem. I found online influences, had conference calls with bloggers, pitched LuckyDiem independently, among other things. Much of my job was independent and I had to create tasks each day that would benefit the company and help out the full time employees. On a small scale, I was an entrepreneur of my self and my talents, working under an entrepreneur who was the head of a company. I also had to be extremely creative, not only in the POS advertisements I created, but also in my day to day strategy of outreach and PR.

 

My biggest takeaway from my LuckyDiem experience was the breadth of knowledge and experience I gained in PR, sales, marketing, and outreach. I had developed a professional voice through sales and interacting with clients, as well as recognized what LuckyDiem users would want in my UX/UI experience. I was able to learn about a variety of skills I was good at, ones I was less good at, and parts of my experience I wanted to pursue. I love working at a start up, and one day do see myself setting up a company of my own. I have realized the importance of having many experiences before starting a company, as starting one’s own company intertwines all aspects of business, many of which I wasn’t even able to see.

 

 

Experience 1: DukeEngage Detroit

For my 300-hour experience, I spent the summer on DukeEngage Detroit, practicing social innovation and entrepreneurship. I interned at ProsperUS, a micro-lending company for underserved, minority, and immigrant/refugee entrepreneurs. For two months this past summer, my partner and I would bike 30 minutes each day from Midtown Detroit to Mexicantown to our office at Southwest Solutions, the umbrella that houses ProsperUS.

We worked on a variety of projects during our time at ProsperUS. One project was a data input project into a GoogleMyMap of Lender Data, for internal use, and another was a research project to find resources for potential entrepreneurs to connect with for support in their business. However, our main project was a storytelling project where we interviewed and photographed graduates of ProsperUS’s entrepreneur training program who have received lending and technical assistance. We then crafted a story of quotes focused on four main areas: their business, starting a business, ProsperUS, and advice for entrepreneurs, attached a photo, and posted the compilation of the two on the ProsperUS Facebook page and website.

Here is an example of a post:

“This is the sixth post in “People of ProsperUS,” showcasing the incredible stories of entrepreneurs connected to ProsperUS.

This post features Jennifer Lyle, the owner of Lush Yummies Pie Company.

“[My business is] Lush Yummies Pie Co. I sell pie; my signature pie is my Lemon “Butta” pie.”

On Starting a Small Business:
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I think. My grandmother started the first minority-owned business school in Detroit in 1973; it still stands today. She was the first female president of Booker T. Washington. She groomed me to do everything for myself. She always taught me about not taking handouts [and] pulling yourself up from your boot straps. I always knew I wanted to have my own business since I was a little girl. [Having a small business] means a lot to me. It means freedom; it means you get to do what you want. It means that your business is as big as you make it. You could be a small or a big business. I’m small now because I haven’t grown to where I know I can grow to, but I’m not going to be a small business forever.”

On ProsperUS:
“ProsperUS has helped me in a lot of different ways: from business training to helping me with financial advising. They helped me get a business coach; he’s been very instrumental in a lot of things I’ve done.The most helpful [resource] has been the business coach because I feel like he is the fountain of knowledge. I go to him for any questions I have. In business, a lot of times you will have questions you don’t know the answer to, but the coach does have the answer. Providing access to that person is a great help for me. ProsperUS has helped me by also giving me access to business services that they offer; I think that’s really important to take advantage of. [In] programs like ProsperUS, you qualify for business services [like] getting an attorney, branding, and social media help. I’ve used most of these.”

On Advice for Entrepreneurs:
“Try to find as many resources as possible– programs like ProsperUS, so that you don’t have to make as many mistakes. In business, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes that you can’t avoid, but to not have to experience as many of those mistakes will be a great help. Try to get help, talk to people, and use resources so that you don’t fall into those same pitfalls.”

You can visit the Lush Yummies Pie Co. Website athttps://www.lushyummiespie.co/”

I decided to participate in this program because I have always had a passion for non-profit, community service work, and loved entrepreneurship and innovation. I wanted to see the overlap between these two industries and experience a combination of two of my passions. I gained interview skills, research skills, and writing skills, among others. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, as it opened my eyes to an entirely new world of a need-based way to innovate and become an entrepreneur.

Capstone

The I&E Capstone class is utilizes lessons, concepts, and experiences from earlier in the I&E certificate into action in creating a venture. In our weekly discussion section, groups of students innovate together to build their own solution. Regardless of whether or not the company will come to fruition, given a semester is only 16 weeks, teams of students go through the process of creating a start up from the problem identification stage to a rough MVP.  In our large lecture section, we are lucky to hear from entrepreneurs in various industries with a variety of backgrounds.

I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of innovation through actually searching for important problems and crafting solutions myself. The project I spent the semester working on is one that is I have always found to be very important today: the impact of social media, specifically Instagram, on teens’ body dysmorphia. My group and I went through the process of deeply investigating the problem, through interviews, and then a generating many solutions, until we finally landed on one that we thought would be most impactful. That solution was to create a series on IGTV, paired with an Instagram account, of interviews with Instagram influencers and celebrities unveiling their posting and editing decisions. The goal of the series was to pull back the curtain on the “behind the scenes” of Instagram models’ posts: photos that often harm teens’ and young adults’ self esteem. Working with my group was an incredibly interesting process, from talking about assumptions we’ve made in regards to our product and to interviews with individuals who would potentially benefit from our product, getting my hands dirty in the start up process was incredibly enjoyable and deeply beneficial!

Below is an artifact from the class: our opportunity identification mid-term presentation.

I&E Capstone_ Opportunity Presentation

 

Elective

In my elective class, Learning to Fail, I learned just that. Through a pitch competition for our own company, activities destined for failure,  failure logs due each week, I was truly able to analyze and learn from each mistake I’d made. I could further find places to improve.

From this course, I learned that failure is acceptable. Not only is it acceptable, but being able to fail is a skill– it means that one is able to take risks, push themselves, and pursue something special without the fear. I hope that this will one day push me to start my own venture, and take a risk on something that has no real guarantee of success. Through deeply understanding and experiencing failure on low-stakes tasks, my exposure to and normalcy of failure made me feel more comfortable envisioning myself taking a business risk on a passionate venture in the future.

I’ve attached a slide deck as an example for proving the market for my product, InstaBrew.

InstaBrew- March 8th, 2017

Keystone

Through the Keystone course, I learned a variety of specific techniques regarding entrepreneurial ventures. I learned about meeting customer and market needs, value propositions, financial statements and corporate valuation, marketing metrics, pricing, MVP and experimentation, as well as presentation skills. After analyzing case studies, I learned how to create a slide deck of a venture’s qualitative and quantitative properties, as well as make recommendations for moving their business forward as a whole.

The Keystone course taught me specific properties in running a venture, building on my knowledge learned from my Gateway course, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (Duke in Silicon Valley). While the gateway course focused more on starting, building, and growing a venture from its initial phase, the Keystone  gave me more insight into specifics of continuing to run a business. Qualitatively, we focused on go-to-market strategies, technology and operations, customer value proposition, and profit formula. Quantitatively, we were learned how to create a balance sheet, income statement, pro forma, free cash flow, present value, and eventually the enterprise value for the firm. These skills are especially important to have in any form of business setting—whether or not you are an entrepreneur—to know practical skills in creating and sustaining a business and their product.

My biggest takeaway from the course is understanding how many diverse skills an entrepreneur needs to possess before starting a business. One can become an entrepreneur with just an idea, but must be taught many skills to be a successful one and to create a lasting and sustainable business. I also learned that I am very interested in customer value proposition and understanding customer empathy, and am, although skilled, less interested in the financial valuation or marketing metrics of a company. I’m glad that now I have these skills, but don’t intend on focusing most on those moving forward. I would rather focus on developing and testing a product that has value to customers, and conducting interviews, research, etc., to further create a useful product.

I also loved learning from my mentor, Becky, who started Ello Raw foods, a raw, healthy, food company that makes bite sized “donut holes” with no artificial processing and ingredients. I have always been interested in the world of food entrepreneurship and technology, and seeing her example as someone who has succeeded in this field was really inspirational. I was glad that I was able to learn from someone who had successfully, through failures and successes, perused her passion of creating better foods, and she really served as a great example and mentor for me moving forwards.

Here is an example of a case study slide deck my group created:

envirofit-slides

 

Gateway

Duke in Silicon Valley IE271A- Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise

My biggest takeaway from Duke in Silicon Valley was the importance of balancing being a visionary leader, in the sense that a company I create must be solving a problem, and being a positive team member. I  love working in teams, and throughout DSV realized how much I enjoyed both being a leader and a member of a team. It is tough to find a balance at times- with conflicting ideas, schedules, etc.- but being patient, listening, and trying to understand others’ perspective is essential to success. I realized that while I love to lead groups, everyone in a group must have the opportunity to take charge and feel that their ideas are valued as a team member. Everyone has the opportunity to lead if they play into their strengths.

DSV also informed my future professional goals. I want to work for a company that has a succinct, clear, innovative strategy and goal. Making sure that a company is consistently cutting-edge, solving a problem, and forging forward coherently as a unit is something that is important to me.

My artifact is an assignment from our class in Silicon Valley, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise. The goal of the assignment is to develop empathy for a customer through a journey and psychographic dimensions with the two most relevant dimensions elaborated on in a two by two matrix.

Artifact

DSV Portfolio Submission

My DSV Photo Gallery

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Here you will find the courses I’ve taken in I&E, my related experiences, and artifacts from those experiences. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate at Duke was designed to enable students to pursue Innovation in the service of society. It does so by allowing students to pursue their studies, interests, and passions, while giving them the tools to build a venture in the future.

This site will be used to track and update my Innovation and Entrepreneurship progress as I continue to navigate through the certificate.

Want more information about the Duke I&E Certificate? Check it out here: https://entrepreneurship.duke.edu/