DEBUT: Design and Entrepreneurship for Budding Urban-student Technologists
In 2012, New York City was a thriving ecosystem of technology-related entrepreneurial endeavors, communities, and resources. The density of resources - universities, incubator programs, technology and business related events, libraries and free business-advice centers, startup companies, and venture capital firms - helped to foster and perpetuate the culture and growth of startup businesses. Undergraduate and graduate students working within the realm of design and technology had the potential to rejuvenate and reinvent struggling industries through design thinking and practice. With their Millennial ideals of autonomy from large companies, organizations, and governments, students in New York City were uniquely positioned to disrupt industries with their own products. This research explored how traditional and emerging business practices can empower the production of design students' work.
As a coordinator and attendee of events within the NYC design and technology student community, I intended to develop a framework of innovative services for practice in future contexts and to document and explore the outcomes of these strategies in ethnographic reflection.
The goal of this research was not necessarily to start businesses or to have students turn their work into profit. Instead, it aimed to create and examine the conditions and environments necessary for the incubation of ideas. Many conditions contributed to the success of Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, the Dot Com crash in the early 2000s, the US economy crash in 2008, and the growth of Silicon Alley in the last five years. These economic booms and busts, as well as the history of industrial innovation, lead to the current startup ecosystem in New York City and will likely help determine its future, as well. This research hoped to help identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the startup industry in order to provide grounding for my own work, and to help to better position the outcome of my findings to be innovative within that system.
My project formed interdisciplinary student collaborations in New York City through a series of meet-ups. By bringing students together, I created and examined the conditions and environments that foster connections and successfully incubate ideas. The collaborations fostered helped to build momentum for this project, and contributed to the development of a useful, sustainable system and practices that will hopefully lead to future collaboration between more student groups within this realm. It was important to consider how I could rethink the structures and services at Parsons and other New York City institutions within this ecosystem to accommodate these practices.