5 Tips for Making Your College Project Real
Guest Column by Hub LA Member Scott Fairbanks
Whether in art, business, engineering, or another major many students worked on a project at some point in college that seemed worth pursuing. Maybe you developed a particularly compelling product concept, or maybe it’s a large-scale art project, or even a new restaurant idea. But how do you go from “that’s an interesting idea” to actually making it happen? I’m not an expert, but it’s what my team and I are in the process of doing right now by launching a life-size board game called Doozy. Here is what we’ve learned:
Talk About It
A lot of people are afraid that someone will steal their idea or (worse) laugh at it. They might do one or both, but no matter what, you already have X semesters of a head start and hopefully some assurance of the concept’s potential. The more that I’ve talked about Doozy, the more positive connections I’ve made for everything from simply supporters to professional advisors. And as I have spent more time perfecting my story, I’ve seen greater results. Be honest about the stage your company is in, remember to keep people updated, and welcome feedback. Don’t shove your idea down every person’s throat that you meet, but be confident it’s worth sharing.
Create an Asset Map
What kinds of services does your university share with their alumni? Who do your parents know? Where did the person you met at that one conference work again? It’s helpful to sit down and create an asset map for yourself and your team. Think about all of the people and resources you have access to and it will help inform your strategy for next steps. As we’ve prepared to crowdfund we’ve had to be intentional about knowing where our networks overlap, what sectors we’re missing, and which relationships are strongest. If you are consistent with #1 this pool of human capital will continue to grow, and the map can also help with #3. Read more on “Guest Post: 5 Tips for Taking Your College Project to Real Life” »
On the same day last year, a group of children made shadow puppets in Capetown, South Africa while a group of students in London built a House of Fairy Tales. On the side of the globe, a group of tweens built an obstacle in their New Jersey front yard while families at a community center in Seattle built a pirate ship. On any other day, we’d brush off this coincidence as after school play, but on this day last year, these kids were among the 90,000 around the world who participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge organized by Hub LA member organization the Imagination Foundation.
The Imagination Foundation has been at Hub LA since the early days, and the scope of their work embodies so much of what we’re trying to foster within our community locally and globally. The nonprofit was inspired by the massive global response to Caine’s Arcade, a viral video that featured a young boy, Caine, who built an entire arcade using only cardboard and his imagination. Today, Imagination Foundation is committed to fostering creativity and entrepreneurship in kids all over the world.
If you didn’t catch the TED Radio Hour last weekend on NPR, it’s definitely worth a listen. The episode – “The Hackers” – shares the stories of TED speakers who are using science and technology to “hack” some of the world’s biggest problems (or as we call it, social innovation). Covering everything from “deextinction” and climate change to computer viruses, these stories of empowered individuals and teams who are using modern tools to improve the world.
Head over to NPR to listen to these fascinating stories of social innovation.
Since April, Hub LA has been partnering with Whole Foods Market. The partnership has developed out of a mutual appreciation for the role that food plays in building community. And when Whole Foods began bringing delicious meals to our weekly community lunches and monthly wine downs, we saw the effects immediately: more people showing up, livelier conversations, and a tighter community.
Last week, Whole Foods, Hub LA, and Team Friday used food to bring together another community: the diverse players in the Los Angeles food scene. We hosted a 40-person dinner, Fare Conversations for policy makers, activists, entrepreneurs, chefs, and other innovators working in the food sector. In between courses, presenters shared their unique perspectives on specific issues in the Los Angeles food landscape.
Hub LA was founded upon the theory that individual relationships are the catalyst of meaningful impact and real social change. Fare Conversations provided a microcosm of this practice. It’s our vision for this dinner to be the beginning of a conversation that pivots the food sector in Los Angeles, making space for a more equitable, local, and sustainable ecosystem.
From the formal presentations and the casual dinner conversations, it became clear that Fare Conversations is part of a larger groundswell of innovation in this sector in Los Angeles. This city is ripe with creative thinking on food-related issues, and Fare Conversations is just the beginning of a much larger dialogue. As Alexis Delwiche of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council wisely noted, food is really a vehicle through which we can discuss so many other pressing social and economic issues such as labor rights, race, class, and antitrust policies.
Hub LA Friday Food trucks have been a smashing success – we’ve had everything from waffle fries, hamburgers, reubens, and mac-n-cheese to Cuban sandwiches. Every Friday, from 12:30-2:30pm, we’re hosting food trucks in our lot off Traction Ave. in the Arts District. We know there are plenty of good food options around, but pencil these trucks in so you can plan your visit to Hub LA ahead!
July 11: Wafl Truck
Wafl Truck returns with sweet and savory waffles. Get one for lunch, another one for second lunch, and a third for dessert.
July 18: Green Truck
Recover from the Wafl Truck with the sustainable, local fare of the Green Truck.
July 25: Louk’s Greek Food
Opa! The July line-up finishes strong with classic Mediterranean food from Louk’s Greek Food Truck.
Meet Hub LA member Kristopher Fortin! He’s a journalist formerly at the Orange County Register, and he is a leader in the LA chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Kris’s work epitomizes the Hub LA ethos: he is expanding access through technology and storytelling. I sent him some questions about why he does the work that he does, not only for NAHJ-LA but also as a storyteller dedicated to representing the Latino story, and he shared these (beautiful) responses.
Tell me about your organization and the work that you do for it?
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Los Angeles is dedicated to the professional development of Hispanics in the news media. As NAHJ’s Los Angeles chapter, we serve our local members by hosting mixers, connecting them to job opportunities and hosting workshops and events that help build their skills. We also work with student members by connecting them to internship opportunities and giving them access to our professional members to help them in ways that include mentorship or career advice.
I am the Vice President of Online media for the Los Angeles chapter. I have organized panels on transmedia photojournalism, and I have organized a conference on journalism focused on technology’s use in storytelling and connecting with Latino audiences.
What impact are you hoping to make?
As an organization, we want to see newsrooms diversify, and specifically with more Latinos at various positions in media. We want to foster our members growth as journalists and be a resource for professional development so they can become leaders in the quickly changing media landscape. We also want to prepare our student members for the job market before they leave their university and give them training and advice on how to succeed in the news industry.
My main goal with NAHJ-LA is to make the local chapter sustainable and provide valuable programming to our members. This is our second year performing as a chapter and we have held multiple mixers and hosted a daylong conference called #LATINcon for roughly 50 people at the YouTube Creative Space in Los Angeles. I hope as an organization we continue to have consistent mixers, workshops and events.
Also, the NAHJ network is like a family. I have known NAHJ members from across the country for years and they continue to be some of my closest friends. This bond between NAHJ members is what I hope our organization can continue to replicate in Los Angeles.
Chris Mendez is a Hub LA host on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings and hosts office hours every Saturday for Tech Startups. When he’s not at Hub LA, Chris works at KUSC, a classical radio station. He’s been instrumental in developing the app Geotunes, which allows users to listen to songs based on a city, landmark, or event as they explore an interactive map that places the songs in context. Geotunes was a finalist at for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Award. Chris just launched his new site, GuitarPick, which is another music platform for people to learn about the guitars used in their favorite songs and the artists who swore by them. I asked Chris about his new site and where his inspiration came from.
What is GuitarPick and how did you get the idea for it?
GuitarPick is the premier interactive guide for the online guitar community. The website tells the story of the world’s coolest guitars –and the musicians who made them legendary– through short stories, rich media, and a community-driven forum.
The GuitarPick team is made up of 3 music fans dedicated to creating a new kind of music experience we call “story-driven listening”. We believe that music education can really be enhanced through new media storytelling.
How has your time as an office hour host / Hub LA member informed your project?
This project took a year to research, build and launch and it would have never gone live had it not been for the support of certain Hub LA musician/members such as Matt [Stokke] (@mattstokke), Derek [Davis] (@derdav86), Charles [Zivko], Alice [Lin] (@meatspirit), Tim [Yang] (@TIMPOSSIBLE_) as well as the guidance and advisement of my tech office hour colleagues Paul [Olund] (@olundp) and Diego [Prats] (@mexitlan).
The hardest part of GuitarPick was finding the perfect writer, Tim Herscovitch (@TimHMusic), who could craft interesting, byte-sized stories for audiences online and a top-notch illustrator, Gustavo Perez Rangel (@dysrupter). It took months to find them both but it was worth the work. To top it all, the team has never met in person!
This is really a “Chris Mendez in a nutshell” project – tell me about how it merges all of your worlds.
GuitarPick allows me to combine a few of my favorite things. I love music, I respect good storytelling and I enjoy presenting those stories through new media. Best of all, I get to engage with the online guitar community whom I admire greatly. Talk about early adopters, the guitar community has not only been around since the early days of list-serves but in the 90′s, they invented a new system for sharing sheet music online called tablature.
What’s next for GuitarPick?
I’m currently brainstorming a new kind of interactive experience. It’s sort of like an IMDB for instruments found in songs. For example, every time I hear Dick Dale’s “Misirlou”, the opening track to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, I’m reminded of the power of a tremolo picked Fender Stratocaster. You don’t need a music degree to hear that sound and say, “surf-rock”! As a precursor, I’m collecting data through a feature on GuitarPick.fm called “What’s that Sound?” All users need to do is pick a song and ask, “What’s that sound in this song?” From there, I’ll get started on rest.
Hub LA Communications Fellowship, Summer 2014
Do you love to write, report, and blog? Are you a social media maven? Are you looking to launch a career in marketing, branding, journalism, or communications? Apply now to be the Summer 2014 Hub LA Communications Fellow. Our need: An energetic team player to assist with communications and marketing needs.
• Commitment to Hub LA at 15/hrs week
• Work closely with Digital Content Curator
• Contribute to social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) according to Hub tone/voice. Maintain balance of thought-leadership and Hub/member promotion.
• Update website calendar. Research community events to include on Hub LA calendar and identify appropriate external community calendars on which Hub LA events can be included
• Write and edit blogs about events happening at Hub LA, member profiles, and community updates
• Work with Events Director and Community Curator to help with internal/external promotion of events and programming
• Help serve as a “face” to Hub LA
• Attend occasional night events to photograph and report for Hub LA channels.
Skills/Qualifications: Exceptional writing skills a must. Expert with social media needs including Facebook, Twitter and basic WordPress. Advertising, marketing, or branding experience/internship a plus. Added bonus: You are fired up about the Hub and ready to live, eat, and breathe social impact!
Perks: Work with Hub LA in helping us grow as a dynamic, social enterprise for the Summer of 2014. Your efforts will be critical in building a professionally hosted place where high-impact consultants, entrepreneurs, investors and innovators come to work, meet, learn, and connect alongside diverse peers. As a Hub LA Fellow you have a unique opportunity to:
• Build strong working relationships with diverse groups
• Gain access and exposure to a dynamic start-up and promote thought leadership in the world of social entrepreneurship
• Work under the pressures of high visibility, fast turn-around and the highest quality expectations
• NETWORK! You will meet incredible people and forge connections and friendships that will change your LA landscape! We’re sure of it.
Offering: We look forward to supporting the growth of the Fellow by offering the following:
• Unlimited membership to Hub LA including access to membership directory, Hub LA events and programming, and all community resources
• Online membership to HubNet with connections to 6000 members worldwide
• Free/discounted tickets to Hub LA events
TO APPLY: Send resume, Twitter handle, and cover letter (with links to any published writing online, if applicable) to email@example.com.
Chris Cherrie works at verynice, a design and branding consultancy based out of Hub LA’s Media Lab. He may be young, but he’s driven. And Canadian. He founded Fraternize, an educational site for men to share experiences, knowledge, and questions about sexuality, dating, and sex. He’s broadening access to information about sex and gay culture that’s not taught in mainstream classrooms but is increasingly necessary given the prevalence of dating apps.
You’re a wunderkind working on a ton of different projects that are all quite impactful. Can you describe them? How’d you get the idea for Fraternize?
I am a Canadian designer who graduated from Otis College of Arts And Design about a year ago. Currently I am working at the sex-positive retailer and educator the Pleasure Chest as the designer. While at Otis I wrote my thesis on Grindr and its impact on the young guys who like guys of Los Angeles and the future of the gay community. Post thesis I designed a website and application, Fraternize, that exists as a community for guys who like guys to connect, learn, and explore manhood.
The idea for Fraternize evolved from the research I had done and the problems I had articulated. Primarily used as a tool for fast, convenient and discrete digital cruising, the largest all-male geo-social application, Grindr, facilitates an online existence for men-who-have-sex-with-men, otherwise known as MSM. The convenience of the application’s GPS technology makes finding an anonymous sex partner quick and easy. Grindr is the result of a long history of methods of gay cruising like the Hanky Code and the Tearoom Trade, which existed because men were forced to have sex with men while in the closet. In a more liberal 2014, sex via an app is less about a fear of being “outed” and more about the convenience of sex at your fingertips. Online existence through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is intrinsic to the youth of today who have grown up on the internet. As cruising has never been this accessible, voluntarily disclosing sexual orientation online through Grindr is critical to the social development of any gay youth (homosexual, bisexual, or curious male) living in a metropolitan area. In search of an identity, gay youth log online to find answers that may not be addressed in a classroom. A classroom where homosexual health and sex education do not exist. As a young gay man I am interested in the language of cruising, its evolution, and its effects on contemporary MSM culture, specifically in regards to the development of gay youth. I feel that for the 15 to 25-year-old gays of Los Angeles, who lack knowledge about the ramifications of anonymous sex, lack the preparation for gay life and experience the ease of cruising through Grindr, destabilizes the gay community in contrast to the homosexual society that previously existed during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s.
As a solution to these problems gofraternize.org provides sexy and fun info on gay sex an lifestyle information like an intro to gay life. While at the Hub I developed the Mostly Everything You Need To Know Toolkit For Guys Who Like Guys which includes the Gay Slang Dictionary and a Directory of different types of Guys Who Like Guys.