Year in review: Entrepreneurial enterprise projects

by Cathleen Cusachs / Beacon Staff and Rebecca Szkutak / Beacon Staff • April 20, 2016

1461205874 logo collage.jpg
Some of the logos of the new entrepreneurial endeavors.
Collage by Evan Walsh, Courtesy of Bistara, Pink Taco, and Weekend Wander
Some of the logos of the new entrepreneurial endeavors.
Collage by Evan Walsh, Courtesy of Bistara, Pink Taco, and Weekend Wander

If you find yourself crunching on gourmet, customized trail mix while reading a new Spanish-language magazine in a Boston greenspace, make sure to document it on a new app.

This year, Emerson students designed and ran all of these new entrepreneurial pursuits—a nature exploration app, a magazine, a feminist web platform, and a trail mix company. During the fall and spring semesters, we witnessed a think tank for students, professors, and alumni to let their sparks burn bright. Many creative projects and endeavors were started or furthered during this time. 

Emerson Launch was a significant contributor to the success of these community members. This two-year opportunity provides its participants with mentors, money, and work space to make businesses and passion projects a reality. However, the program is not the only fuel to the creative fire. Many others have set out on their own to produce a slice of artistic ownership. 

 

Top-notch trail mix

In the fall, Harry Mardirossian started Small Batch, a homemade trail mix company. The junior marketing communication major began it through Emerson Launch.

Consumers ordered the bags of snacks online through a form which allowed picking and pulling of exact ingredients, as if they were doing it by hand. The treats were then wrapped with a bow and delivered on-campus. 

Even after a successful first year, Mardirossian decided to hang up the apron and take what he learned from the experience to a future endeavor. He said he realized his business was consuming him, and that he was entering into a very saturated market. 

“It was pretty cool to get all the power to do what I want [and] to back my decisions with my word,” Mardirossian said. “Along with that privilege comes having to balance a ton of different tasks.”

Although his entrepreneurial project is ending, Mardirossian said he was able to refine skills he can take into the working world after graduation.

“I’m going to be thinking about how I understand how easy it is to get something off the ground, and keep an eye on further opportunities,” Mardirossian said. “If this taught me anything, it is to go out and do it. Getting hands-on experience is the best place to learn.”

 

Wander green spaces

Paul Turano, a visual and media arts professor, launched the Wander Wonder Wilderness app and website in October. Turano, who has specialized in new forms of art, said his project documents how people interact with nature.

The app allows users to geotag green spaces they’ve visited in the Greater Boston area. Then, they can upload photos, videos, or text. 

Turano has since added on to his project. He said he’s scheduled many workshops and events for the coming months that will allow further engagement. He will be taking students out to a nature spot where they will all perform an activity and then capture it on his app to add to the ever-growing interactive film.

“It’s been a really amazing learning experience for me,” Turano said. “I’m coming from the more traditional film world. It really allowed me to think about a lot of new media forms out there to try to bring our content to a new audience.” 

 

Passion projects

Many other students completed successful entrepreneurial endeavors catered to the interests and fields of their peers. 

Bistara, the online marketplace started in the fall by senior marketing communication major Maya Rafie and Berklee College of Music student Zac DelVecchio, has tremendously evolved in size. The site had about 100 users in October, and has grown to over 500. The business has also added more categories, like fashion, for people to showcase their work.

In March, three female students created Pink Taco, another new site for showcasing student work, mostly consisting of personal, feminist writings. Michelle Krigsfield, a junior political communication major and one of the creators, said the ladies came up with the idea over a year ago when thinking about the importance of discussing art in a safe area. The other founders include sophomore communication sciences and disorders major Jill Harrison, and sophomore journalism major and former Beacon staff member Stephany Christie.

“The space is so safe as of now,” Krigsfield said. “We don’t have people trolling it. You just like it and move on. There’s no hate.”