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Coursework

Gateway Elective

Social Marketing for Entrepreneurs; I&E 253

Description

This course explores how social media is used to market ideas, companies, products, and people. From political campaigns and corporate branding to promoting solutions to serious problems such as world hunger, social media is having increased impact. Through a variety of readings, guest speakers, and case studies, we’ll spend the semester exploring the increasing influence of social media.

Reflection

I took this class to understand social marketing at a deeper level. I believed it would prepare me for the marketing work I was previously involved in like my work marketing the book release of Dr. Lori Leachman or my time working for the Duke Chronicle Business Office in a marketing role. Additionally this helped me to prepare for roles such as summer internships I was interested in revolving around the field of marketing.

One of my favorite parts of the class was listening to guest speaker Jessamyn Stanley who is a yoga instructor, a blogger, a writer, and more. She felt more real than most influencers do and looking back through her post afterwards they feel very raw. I genuinely believe her account is run based on what makes her happy and the message that she wants to portray, not how many followers or promotions she will receive. This taught me the importance of keeping marketing authentic. She was willing to turn down 80-90% of promotions she was asked to do because she did not genuinely believe in the products.

I learned how to evaluate social media metrics, what is most important when determining a brand, and how to promote that brand. I learned it is important to always have a multi-faceted brand to appeal to a wide range of people.

Keystone

I&E 352: Strategies for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Description

This course covers the component elements of developing the skills needed to launch a venture. Starting at the point of need identification, the course covers lean methodology; innovation and entrepreneurship strategy; creating the needed financing and resource structures; effectively marketing/ communicating the innovation and its associated benefits; leading, managing, and working effectively within teams; creating a positive and ethical work culture; and evaluating success.

Reflection

My favorite case and I think the most successful innovation we reviewed in the course was “Rent the Runway.” Rent the Runway stemmed from a want to make young women feel confident and beautiful for a night in a dress far out of their budget. The company allows women to rent expensive dresses for a low price and send them back. I believe that the best innovations come as a result of needs of the creator. When innovators just try creating products to make money, they miss out on the spirit of entrepreneurship and usually end up creating a useless product.

I think a better example of the importance of “solving the problem” is an innovation that failed. Sinclair Vehicles tried to fill a gap in the market that didn’t exist. He made a fool of himself by creating a product that no one wanted. He did not do any market research before beginning development and advertising. If he had done the research then perhaps he would not have put over 2000 vehicles in storage that ended up not selling.

There are several ways to obtain customer research. For products, companies like Dr. John’s products went to trade shows. The Rent the Runway executive team hosted trade shows of college women, their original target audience, to see what types of products they liked and to see if they would be willing to order dresses without trying them on beforehand. Companies can also just use the research in a field to help cater their product and market it most effectively. I particularly enjoyed the Spinbrush marketing tool where one of the employees brought the toothbrushes to a child’s soccer game to get kids interested in the product.

In working with my two teams and I had two vastly different experiences, in one group I felt as if I had to completely take the lead, and in the other I thought I took the back seat. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned about groups is it is important to assess the various strengths and weaknesses found within the groups and then decide which roles to play based on that.

In my first team, there was a struggle to meet deadlines, so I felt like I had to take more of a role as a decision maker. Then in my second group, there was already clearly a decision maker, so I took on the role of trying to assist the team in a back seat sort of way. I think many problems in groups come from having too many of the same personality types. In groups where there are too many decision makers there is often conflict, and in groups where there is no dominating voice sometimes nothing gets done.

From the casework, I have concluded that the most successful teams also started with partners who were equally interested or equally invested in the company. Everyone working in executive roles should have a vested interest in the company.  Problems also arise when discussions of equity are brought up, obviously this is not a problem that would occur in a team project setting, but I know if I pursue entrepreneurial ventures I will be likely to consider this heavily before asking anyone to join the team, especially in a c-suite position.

I think an ethical culture for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is one that sees innovation as a means to make the world a better place instead of a means to make money. When the only goal of innovation is to make money, innovation can easily lead to exploitation. I don’t believe in innovation as being “a serial entrepreneur” like Sinclair or Dr. John’s, this leads to unethical entrepreneurship often. We discussed this in the context of the Envirofit International case. I believe that Envirofit International did not have an ethical business model because at a certain point they started valuing profit over the good that the product could do. This is obviously an okay thing for a company to do, but I do not think that should be the goal of any non-profit following the triple bottom line framework. When a company’s “goal” is to reduce indoor air emissions it does not seem logical to care about the color the cook stove is painted.

On the contrary, I think that Better World Books catered to a triple bottom line while being reasonable with the balance between doing good for the world and generating profit. I think their company was very clear about their intentions and how they were going to be sharing the profits with their non-profit partners, ensuring their own profitability while working to increase literacy around the world and decrease landfills filling up with books.

In this course I realized how much I love problem solving. I found doing the case studies from the Harvard Business Review both challenging and invigorating. These challenges made me more interested in a career in business analytics or consulting. I realized my curiosity could manifest itself in being able to think outside of the box to help companies grow.

When I spoke to my mentor, Tamara Free, she told me all about her joint JD/MBA program. This helped develop my career aspirations, and it made me more interested in both of those fields. I am now confident I want to go to business school, as she made it seem structured very similarly to this course. The way she described Fuqua was very team based and collaborative, which is incredibly attractive to me.

This class also helped me to understand my personal self-better in the context of group dynamics. I found myself very vocal during group project meetings, and I quickly realized I needed to take a step back. I have learned how to think critically and analyze situations.

In conclusion, I think I learned both problem-solving skills for innovation and entrepreneurship and skills for personal growth. I think this course has helped me to refine my leadership skills and be more of a team player. I was held accountable for my work, and I became more efficient in my work because I had to stick to stricter deadlines in order to be an active member of a team. I loved every moment of this course because I felt as if I was being actively prepared for the work force through hard-skills like excel and EBITA, but I was also learning soft skills like how to communicate effectively.

Mentor Conversation

I asked her about her experience with the MBA/JD program at Duke because I was interested in possibly pursuing this, and she explained that she applied to both Fuqua and Law School separately to do the program. You have to get into both schools, but it doesn’t have to be at same time. She applied to Law School first because you can get it with no experience, which is different than the business school where you need five to seven years of experience. She claims she applied to Law School first because she did not want to do the work experience, but she still wanted to go to business school.
She explained that Law School is harder to get into because it is purely based on GPA x LSAT score. There are cross-listed classes between the two schools and she was going back and forth every day. She explained the law students are book smart but they did not have interests that they were passionate about. Fuqua is mostly team based, following a similar structure to this class. The people in general were much more interesting, people such as seals, doctors, and they were more socially savvy.
I asked when to know you are in the right career, and she told me that sometimes it is through leaving another career. She worked in a big law firm that she felt like she was very on her own but then when she worked at Lucas Film and got to work in a team again. She said it reminded her of being at business school again. I think that I would not be interested in working in a big firm after hearing about the differences between her careers.
She also said her proudest moment in her career that helped he reaffirm her decision to move from Lucas Film was when she negotiating a contract with them. One of her colleagues from her previous job told her that she had basically written the rulebook, which made her a tough client to negotiate with.
I asked about her work life balance, and she said that she doesn’t know how she would’ve had kids at the big firm because she was working 100-hour weeks. All the partners have stay at home husbands. She said that not having to commute makes a big difference. It’s only hard to be a working mother when clients call out of the blue, and then it still is challenging. She claims that some clientele think that they are always the most important people, and they claim that every deal they need is an emergency.
She felt like she is in the twilight zone with moms at school, some are high powered executives and some are stay at home moms. She feels like she is in between trying to spend enough time with her kids and the parent association while still getting all of the work done that she needs to. There is no blatant sexism in the workplace, but the numbers are sexist. She says that the lawyers she worked with know the power of language too much to make any careless mistakes that would implicate them. There are very few female partners. The sexism lies in the men going golfing, going to strip clubs, and other sexist activities.

Elective

Legal Issues – Performing Arts; I&E 279

Description

An overview of copyright, contract, discrimination, employment, obscenity and other laws relevant to performing arts through readings and discussion of case law, statutes, sample legal documents, news reports and other materials. Includes exposure to legal issues for non-profit boards. Cuts across these legal issues to examine creative works themselves and their interplay with the body of laws. Views legal system in a broader context that examines how our legal system is a useful tool in promoting creation of artistic works.

Reflection

I took this class to grow my knowledge of what legal issues can be found in the innovative sphere, particularly in the performing arts. I had been interested in law and how innovation interacts with legal issues, so I wanted to look further into that. I wondered how copyright and contract laws came into the creative process.

Additionally, I was very interested in the performing arts due to my love of musical theatre. I wanted to look deeper into the discrimination found in this world and how people are working to end it. Shows like Spring Awakening and Hamilton brought these issues to the broader public.

By the end of this class I understood that the legal system can be helpful in promoting creative ideas because it protects content creators. I think that this is a relationship that should be further fostered in order to create better content and make sure that it is protected.