Georgia Hall ’25 (she/her)
Over the past week, The Hurt Hub launched its very first Innovation Event Week. A plethora of events, from workshops to fairs, took place and culminated at the end of the week with a sunny and joyous block party, complete with food trucks and a live band.
The Hurt Hub’s founding principles of freedom, integrity and inclusion were reflected in the “experimental” week that Director Liz Brigham designed. The idea was to “intentionally craft activities and events for the wide community that the Hub serves” and to deepen their “ecosystem builder” role. Innovation Week connected students to local businesses and provided partakers with the skills to address any problems they want to face with a keen entrepreneurial spirit.
Tech Start-up Weekend kicked off the week with 20 participants coming together to workshop ideas with local business owners. Sarah Griffin ’22 and Caroline Sigl ’22 used their weekend to develop a mental health app from “start to presentation stage”. After placing second in the competition, they now can go on with their idea and utilise feedback from the mentors.
Both had “never had any experience” in the sphere of entrepreneurship, and the jam-packed weekend provided them with the skills to take forward their innovative idea. Moreover, engaging with people from multiple backgrounds and age ranges— high schoolers to biology professors—enabled them to learn as they “threw themselves completely blind”.
The weekend provided a perfect space to foster the entrepreneurial mindset the Hub seeks to cultivate. Sigl’s main takeaway was ‘to have confidence in your ideas and to actually see them through’ while Griffin learnt to throw herself “into experiences as you never know what you might get out of them”.
Kevin Cook, Coordinator of Student Engagement, and Brigham spoke about the “hard reset” they initiated after the COVID-19 pandemic. Brigham took over The Hub as Director in October 2020 and catalysed a reshuffling of roles and intense market research to clearly define the aims she wants the Hub to achieve.
Both Cook and Brigham were excited to launch Innovation Week with this renewal in mind. Cook highlighted the importance of “intentional serendipity”. The Coworking & Business Showcase on Monday 13th September was the epitome of this, where connections could be made with local Davidson town businesses; water bottle business Boomerang were there alongside Summit Coffee, Vangogh now, and Georgia Wine’s, which is run by Davidson student Sandro Chumashvili ‘24. Innovation Week’s business showcase allowed students and local businesses to connect, learn and become inspired.
Cook stated Davidson is most definitely a “small town with big ideas” and the showcase put those on display.
Moreover, the Hub was able to specifically highlight student entrepreneurship at the ‘Spotlight on Students’ event, which showcased all the amazing artwork and entrepreneurial spirit of Davidson College’s students. Workshops were also a key component of the week, as Brigham is really focused on providing future entrepreneurs with the skills to successfully start-up their businesses. There were classes on design thinking where participants learnt new ways to creatively problem solve, using an anthropocentric approach, an Adobe Illustrator workshop which introduced the key components of graphic design alongside teaching some of the essential skills to use the platform, and Markerspace gave a rapid-fire prototyping demonstration.
Inclusion within innovation is a key part of the Hub’s vision and so the Hub had a ‘lunch and listen’ panel discussion with Dr. Ann Fox, Disability Studies and English Professor, Erica L. Dean, YouTube’s Global Product Strategy Lead at Google, and Brittnay Pomeroy, Founder of Flourish Together; the panel eloquently highlighted the symbiotic relationship between innovation and encouraging inclusivity as a means to create the most effective, useful and meaningful projects in the field of entrepreneurship.
Overall, the week was a huge success. It raised awareness about the awesome resources available at The Hurt Hub, it connected businesses in the local area with each other and with Davidson College students, taught essential skills to budding entrepreneurs, and provided a weekend for people to even develop their own ideas and started what will be an amazing post-pandemic semester of business.
Chumashvili ‘24 attested to this: “I have had mentors from the hub, which are super helpful…This event, it’s amazing. I talk with people and learn about different products..Personally, i just want to get to know different people and their ideas and my side goal is to maybe find a connection that could help me further to promote my business.”
The Hub is focused on solving problems that the world faces, whether that be on a macro or micro scale and this week provided all who took part with the practical tools and mindset to begin to achieve their aspirations.