Developing Entrepreneurial Skills to Become Better Problem Solvers


How do you solve a problem from just a seed of an idea? The entrepreneurial journey often begins with an idea targeting a problem. But where do you go from there? During the Innovative Strategies Workshop series sponsored by the Conway Center this Fall, students participated in a series of proven entrepreneurial exercises designed to move their concept for a business or a project from an idea to an actionable plan. These workshops guided them in defining a problem and then developing a robust roadmap leading to an achievable solution.

The workshops explored five growing industries: green energy, augmented reality/virtual reality, blockchain, food/health, internet of things (IOT). Students heard from industry experts about changes and opportunities within their field:

  • Jennifer Marrapese, Executive Director at Northeast Sustainable Energy Association

  • Joe Zemba, Chief Experience Officer at LinktoVR.

  • Philip Silva, Chief Scientist of a new crypto-currency venture

  • Kebra Smith-Bolden, RN and Founder & CEO of CannaHealth

  • Jill McCormick, Director of Innovation at TechSpring

  • Randy Krotowski, serial social entrepreneur and IoT expert

Students then discussed and received feedback on their own ideas. They were provided a roadmap through all of the opportunities and resources available to to them to advance from idea to viable business concept in preparation for developing a solid business model for the 2019 Draper Competition.

What did students have to say about these workshops?


“I had a great time at the workshop. It was very informative to learn about certain technology that is on the rise to potentially being billion dollar industries in the future such as VR/AR and 3D printing. Also, using the VR/AR technology was an amazing opportunity but learning about how the technology is being used to train doctors on how to deal with stressful situations is just incredible.” - Dee Graham ‘20


“The Conway Center is a perfect addition to liberal arts. With these ideas and values established by my experiences and thoughts provoked by my Smith education, I get to develop my business models and turn them into realities with real professionals. All it took me was walking in, grabbing a slice of pizza, and actively listening to an industry expert. After speaking with Kebra Smith-Bolden of CannaHealth, I was prepared to [...] develop my own healthcare business model canvas - in fact, I did the very next day! I think it’s important that all Smithies attend workshops like Innovative Strategies, it’s especially beneficial for students who’ve ever thought about starting a business one day.  Good stuff! Would recommend this series 10/10.” - Michelle Wong ‘19

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