On Thursday, February 15 the LGW Signature Program gathered at ByteCubed for an interactive dialogue on the role of innovation and entrepreneurship, driving growth for the region.
Entrepreneurship Day began with a welcome from our sponsor Robert Mandle, COO of Crystal City Business Improvement District. The BID is committed to showcasing the area as a world-class destination for visitors, employees, and residents. Most Virginia residents are unaware that Crystal City is the most extensive downtown area in the Commonwealth, home to walkable environments, commerce, and business.
Entrepreneurship Day took place in the sleek and modern creative spaces of the Arlington based startup, ByteCubed. Morning activities included a design thinking workshop, led by Joyce Hunter of Vulcan Enterprises and Clifford Ye (’15) of Raffa PC. Participants were encouraged to think about current issues in society and the potential to create innovative solutions. Within the spectrum of innovation, there is also a distinction between design thinking and human-centered design; both strategies are activated by thinking outside of the question. Class members were assigned to tackle several social issues in groups and present their approach to the class. Topics ranged from education to public safety, to health.
Next up, Jennifer Nycz-Conner (’17) of the Washington Business Journal hosted a social entrepreneurship panel featuring Kate Goodall of Halcyon, Jay Newton-Small of MemoryWell and Meghan Ogilvie of Dog Tag, Inc. The concept of social entrepreneurship is still new to some; therefore, the panel examined the latest trends in a digestible format. Social entrepreneurship is all about moving the needle to solve problems through philanthropy and incorporating business models within structures of philanthropy. In the new age of social enterprise, it is crucial to integrate diversity, and the needs of the client, as the roadmap evolves.
Rounding out the afternoon, one of the most buzzed-about business leaders in DC, Steve Salis, conducted a talk on serial entrepreneurship. Steve wears many hats as the Principal of Salis Holdings, Co-Founder of &Pizza, owner of Kramerbooks, Ted’s Bulletin, and partner of The Federalist Pig. Steve’s presentation centered around best practices as a business leader and entrepreneur. Salis prides himself on prioritizing guests and giving consumers experiences they didn’t necessarily know they wanted. A leader should prioritize their staff, driving the ship while investing in themselves and their team.
“In leadership, I make sure to ask myself three questions:
1. How will this brand make people feel better about themselves?
2. How do we connect with consumers on a deeper level beyond a transaction?
3. How does this brand play a role in people’s lives? Why us? “
Wrapping up the day, two dynamic LGW alums Tien Wong (’15) and Jonathan Aberman (’15) provided an overview of the local entrepreneurship landscape.
Jonathan Aberman (’15), started Amplifier Ventures in 2004 to help entrepreneurs launch technology businesses. Jonathan’s work as a venture investor, innovation consultant, and media communicator allows him to experience and connect the many threads of entrepreneurship and technology innovation that are the core to the United States economy and its future.
Tien Won (’15), is a technology entrepreneur, CEO and angel investor. He is Founder and Host of the Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum, a community of over 5000 CEOs, Entrepreneurs, VCs and angels, CXOs and other business leaders in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Tien and Jonathon delivered candid insights on the scope of entrepreneurship across the region and answered questions from the Signature Class about the future of inclusive and successful business in the region.
“If you want to do something that matters, you come here to DC you come to Washington because you want to make a difference.” -Jonathan Aberman (’15)
As the region changes, the formula for innovation and business must also change to fit the needs of the community and emerging talent in the region.
We ended our program with a fabulous reception hosted by WeWork and WeLive Crystal City. Many thanks to our honored guests for lending us your perspectives! A special thank you to our event sponsors, for hosting the Signature Program and Ted’s Bulletin, and The Federalist Pig for providing a delicious lunch. The Signature Class will assemble in March for Public Safety Day.
Enjoy some pictures from the event, below.