Annual Report 2018

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2018 ELAB



The Parsons ELab is a design led business lab dedicated to entrepreneurship practice and research.

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


Our Team Acknowledgment Joel Towers, Executive Dean Parsons School of Design Jane Pirone, Dean School of Design Strategies

Our Team Director and Founder Rhea Alexander Assistant Professor of Strategic Design and Management Director and Founder of ELab School of Design Strategies

Student Venture Associates 2018-19 Victor Michud Cristina Iregui Casas Shishir Raut Holly Cargill

Student Research Assistants 2017-2018 Rose Pember Vinay Kumar Mysore Aryanna Martin Steven Hubbard, PhD

Student Research Assistants 2018-2019

Student Venture Associates 2017-18

Vinay Kumar Mysore Nattakarn Tapasanan Juan Herrera

Rose Pember Alexandra de Rienzo Adrianna Kruyt Victor Michud

Research Partners 2017-2018 Centre for Data Arts Aaron Hill, Assoc. Director of Data Visualization

Parsons School of Design





Kauffman Grant for TNS Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative for women and people of color

startups in 4 years



female founded

total fellows



Venture Associates + Research Assistants

Mentors made up of Alumni and industry experts

*with successful placements in the industry.

ELab Annual Report 2018



Bohans Grant + Parsons School Based Grants

4 Published research papers and conference presentations


overview The ELab is a design-driven business lab dedicated to entrepreneurship practice and research. NEW YORK CITY AS A GROWING HUB FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP It’s no news that entrepreneurship is at an all time high; with the onset of the global freelance economy, analysts predict that by 2020 over half of our national economy will be driven by freelancers and entrepreneurs. Within this growing trend, New York City is the fastest growing startup technology center in the country today according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Digital.NYC, the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem. Picking up on the entrepreneurship trend, nationally, universities across the city and nation have initiatives to support recent graduates in the startup space with incubators, accelerators. In NYC, these include NYU Acre cleantech accelerator, Columbia Entrepreneurship (CE), Pratt’s BF+DA, City College’s Zahn Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and more. Mayor De Blasio also launched WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs New York City) which is aimed at expanding the economic potential of women entrepreneurs across the five boroughs. New York City leads the nation in the number of women entrepreneurs thriving in our neighborhoods. A white paper released by SBS and supported by Citi reveals that women-owned businesses across the five boroughs employ over 190,000 people and generate approximately $50 billion in sales. In the past decade, femaleowned firms grew by 43%, compared to 39% in overall business growth and

25% growth in male-owned businesses (WENYC, “Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs in New York City”2015). In 2018, the NYC Innovation Collective launched as a consortium of over 100 incubators, accelerators and platforms of innovation across New York City. Within the growing innovation ecosystem of NYC, ELab is a member of the collective and an agent for change within the entrepreneurship community, promoting and supporting impact-driven ventures through our programming.

THE CONTEXT FOR ELAB Parsons Entrepreneurial Lab was born in 2014. Nurtured within the School of Design Strategies, the ELab caters to recent alumni from all university graduate programs, providing entrepreneurial education, events, research, and support mechanisms for The New School alumni and interested students. Over the past four years, ELab has served over 800+ individuals at the New School with events and workshops related to entrepreneurship. The ELab entrepreneurship incubator has provided funding, mentorship, and skill building workshops to 28 teams comprised of 46 fellows. Of those selected for these programs, 50% of teams have been led by women and more than half by students from underrepresented communities.

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the elab our history The ELab’s concept was built upon an external partnership that Desis Lab and Dean Mears forged between CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) and Parsons’ School of Design Strategies to award hot seats to business-building students in graduate programs. In 2014, Professor Rhea Alexander was asked to manage the program as part of the external partnership committee. Building upon this relationship, coupled with practices emerging from the new collaborative economy and inspiration from distributed business models, Professor Alexander developed proposal for a new type of an academic business incubator that would potentially be low cost and fill a growing need at the university. The relationship with CSI was leveraged and expanded to create a pilot program whose objectives were to award hot seats in sector specific coworking communities and incubators across the city with an integrated support program that involved individualized mentorship, benchmarks and roadmaps, community, workshops and support in the critical first year of inception. At the end of 2014, Alexander was awarded funds from the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation, and the School of Design Strategies, and the Parsons Entrepreneurial Lab was founded.

ELab Annual Report 2018

The Parsons Entrepreneurial Lab (ELab) was designed to address an emergent need to bridge the academic experience with applied practice for students at Parsons School of Design, to help transition them from student to successful entrepreneurs and changemakers.


Parsons School of Design


entrepreneurship at the new school To Contextualize the formation of the Parsons Elab, in 2014 The New School pulled together a cross-school work group of faculty including Prof. Alexander and partnership with Career Services and International Student and Scholar Services to develop a pilot informational program for international students called “INTERpreneurship” Also, across campus the Parsons Faculty Committee set up a task force to research and document any and all university-wide initiatives that support entrepreneurship. These initiatives emerged after the development within SDS of the MS program in Strategic Design and Management (the fastest growing graduate program, launched in 2012) where at the time, approx 30% of the graduates were developing business ideas they wish to launch after graduation. In 2014 The New School pulled together a cross-school work group and partnership with Career Services and International Student and Scholar Services to develop a pilot informational program for international students called “INTERpreneurship.” Also, across campus the Parsons Faculty Committee set up a task force to research and document any and all university-wide initiatives that support entrepreneurship. This initiative is coupled with the development within SDS of the MS program in Strategic Design and Management (the fastest growing graduate program, launched in 2012) where at the time, approx 30% of the

ELab Annual Report 2018

graduates were developing business ideas they wish to launch after graduation. In 2017 with generous support from The Kauffman Foundation’s Inclusion Challenge Grant (420K), ELab partnered with the New Challenge (another extra curricular program offered through the school of Public Engagement) to build a curricular entrepreneurial initiative across the University, The Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative (IEI) was founded to help undergraduate/ graduate women and people of color with business development. IEI is a university-wide initiative that supports early-stage entrepreneurial leaders in developing the mindsets, skills, and sense of purpose needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. The initiative aims to catalyze the creation of an inclusive economy by making entrepreneurship education, resources, and networks more accessible to students from underserved backgrounds at different stages of the entrepreneurial journey. IEI draws on The New School’s designinfused curriculum to provide students with the support through courses, cocurricular activities, practical training, expert coaching, and funding, across three core programs: Venture Lab A semester-long course designed to support students developing financially sustainable ventures with the potential for scalable impact.

Graduate Fellowship A two-year merit-based scholarship and cohortbased experience designed to support high-potential leaders from diverse backgrounds. Graduate Curricular Pathways Identifying clusters of graduate-level courses in topics related to impact entrepreneurship. Graduates who have gone through the IEI elective program can apply to the ELab with their MVP. The IEI program is seen as a potential feeder into the ELab with our first student from the program joining the ELab for 2019.











The New School IEI Parsons Program enter the new school get introduced to entrepreneurship through 30+ courses


Impact Entrepenerial Initiative is a university-wide program that supports early stage socially impactful entepeurnial leaders with networks, education and resources.

Sustainable Business created

ELab advanced workshops business programming around entrepreneurship funding mentoring 1 year incubation co-working spaces networking

Applied Practice Job Creation Economic Growth Self fulfilment

Developed Business Alumni Giving back Endowment to The new school



IN 2020, over 50% of THE U.S. economy will be driven by freelancers & entrepreneurs -- FOrbes How are we supporting our students at the New School for the new economy?

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


THe elab Our Foundation ELab’s Strategy ELab’s Delivery Our Incubator Model Mentorship + Partners

Parsons School of Design


The ELab is a design-driven business lab dedicated to entrepreneurship practice and research. Core to our research and programming development are the principles of design and impact - applied collectively to the ELab governing entity and entrepreneurship research, our annual incubator fellows and their curriculum, and the Innovate NYC Do School program.

ELab Annual Report 2018


the elab our foundation What it means to be designdriven: using our own “Strategic Design� process The Parsons Strategic Design process takes a holistic and systemic approach, fusing the iterative design thinking process rooted in design research with economic rationale, business logic, and organizational reality. Looking at the complexity and context of a business within the analysis. We emphasize realignment of all the parts of the organization, not just its innovation processes taking a bottom up co-creative approach to innovation. Our focus is on the research, co-creation and prototyping to iteratively inform our incubator model, our business development, and all programming that ELab offers the consortium of University schools and broader entrepreneurial community.

What it means to be impact or purpose driven In contrast to the traditional academic incubators, ELab is distinguished by Parsons’ design thinking methodologies and the progressive roots of The New School. ELab has social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and TBL (Triple Bottom Line) values and principles embedded in its DNA. It aims to support and strengthen student evolution from academicto-applied practice through extracurricular programming, workshops, and mentorship in a variety of practical business and lean design processes to enable them to develop a minimum viable product and gain traction, preparing their new ventures to compete and thrive in the post-recession landscape.

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ELab has created a six-point strategy plan to deliver these values of design-led research and entrepreneurship education. This strategy is intended to target all the stakeholders within Parsons’ entrepreneurial ecosystem at all the stages in the growth of an entrepreneur. With this strategy, the ELab aims to: 1. Build awareness and promote entrepreneurship within the community. 2. Support entrepreneurs and help them thrive through creation of a solid program structure and network. 3. Engage experienced entrepreneurs and alumni to cocreate a collaborative environment. 4. Support startups in a self-sustaining ecosystem around entrepreneurship and innovation.

ELab Annual Report 2018


elab’s strategy the pillars 1. Inform - ELab offers current

students, both undergraduate and graduate, a series of opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship, business development, and to try their hand at entrepreneurial practice. These opportunities include workshops, information sessions, and fireside chats -- both in-person, and livestream through ELab social media. These events serve to inform the community both about ELab and about entrepreneurship practice.

2. Empower - Having informed

students of ELab and program offerings, ELab provides the community several participatory events to help students and alumni better prepare to apply for ELab’s 12-Month Incubator Fellowship and other partnership opportunities. ELab offers bootcamps, design jams, and support preparing for ELab-sponsored program for undergraduates, INNOVATE NYC. ELab additionally empowers students with options to work as research assistants and administrative staff as part of the governing team. Example events held in past years include: Bootcamp 1: Building a business plan and how to use a business model canvas Bootcamp 2: Design Thinking for Startups

entrepreneurial ecosystem. Engaging all potential stakeholders, ELab leverages a decentralized model hoping to spread collaboration between and across communities. ELab has collaborated internally with the University to help with the Parsons Festival, the Alumni Relations department, and the MS Strategic Design Program, as well as externally across the wider ecosystem with the XRCLab Retail Accelerator, NYCIC and, the DO School, among others.

4. Act - ELab prepares current

students to act through the INNOVATE NYC Program, established with a consortium of universities and the Do School, which gives current students across the New School the opportunity to work with students from across NYC academic communities on a social entrepreneurship challenge.

entrepreneurs in the various area of business development, ranging from product development to strategy, branding and user experience. The strategy behind giving back is founded on two methods: one-on-one mentorship with the incubator fellows through our timebank mentorship, and the network engagement of ELab alumni and partners through fireside chats and program support. The ELab also gives back to the greater academic ecosystem through our research, presentations at international conferences and published papers. ELab considers [academically-oriented] research both as a means of sparking dialog within the entrepreneurial community and to codify methods, processes and practices developed through its programs.

ELab is developing The Entrepreneurial Genome Project, a way of mapping and visualizing the spread of alumni 5. Launch - Core to the ELab entrepreneurs from The New School cycle of support and programming and Parsons School of Design. This is ELab’s 12-Month distributed project seeks to map the collective incubator program. We help recentlyinnovation of our community minted alumni to launch impact businesses through our fellowship and and also expand the definition of entrepreneurship to be inclusive of entrepreneurial curriculum. Through the arts, design and social progress the 12-Month incubator, our goal is to oriented work of many alumni. The support the needs and development of alumni entrepreneurs as they transition Entrepreneurial Genome Project is from initial business validation into the our way of giving back and facing forward; recognizing the diversity of market, including testing, prototyping, entrepreneurship that has been and is and the core facets of their business to come from our academic community. launch.

3. Collaborate - ELab relies on

6. Give Back - The last stage of our and advocates for cross-community strategy is to get the greater New collaboration. ELab forges relationships School community involved by inviting inside the University community long term alumni to mentor our young and outside within the greater NYC

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the elab our delivery The ELab delivers on our six-pillar strategy through our two core programs -- the 12-Month-Fellowship and the INNOVATE NYC program -- as well as community support for entrepreneurship, participation in international conferences, publications and our dedicated research. Within these categories, ELab is able to deliver on our mission to promote entrepreneurship within the community, support entrepreneurs, engage experienced entrepreneurs and support startups within our community of self-sustaining entrepreneurship and innovation.

DISTRIBUTED INCUBATOR The 12-Month Fellowship The ELab Incubator is a 12-Month fellowship that supports final semester graduate students and recent alumni founding new initiatives or companies. We believe that building the economy of the future is a collaborative effort and we aim to assist our students and recent alumni of The New School graduate programs in their journey of (becoming entrepreneurs) through 12 Months of design-driven, entrepreneurial support. Through the ELab Fellowship, second year graduate students and recent alumni – upon graduation to 4 yrs out – who have proven business ideas, can benefit from internal and external support for a year, including memberships to coworking communities and their spaces, discounts on services, mentorship, professional business advice, strategic

ELab Annual Report 2018

networking, informational workshops and panel discussions. Alumni with long years of experience are additionally able to give back through endowment and mentorship to the incubator, helping to support our mission with their expertise to raise the bar of success in our community.

INNOVATE NYC Undergraduate Engagement In 2015-16 the ELab was a founding member of a consortium of ten New York City-based universities (Columbia, Cooper Union, NYU, CUNY, Brooklyn Law, and more), the “Do School”, and “NYC EDC” (New York City Economic Development Corporation) and funded by Newman’s Own, to offer “Innovate NYC”, an immersive program of learning by doing in social entrepreneurship. This program is designed to be open to current students across the New School university to apply for 3 fellowship seats and spans 7 month including an intensive 1 month summer capstone. This network brings current students from across the city’s universities together to collaborate using design thinking for social innovation. Rhea Alexander, Founding Member and Director of ELab is on the advisory board along with academic leadership across the city such as: Martha Kanter, former under secretary of education for the Obama administration and now distinguished visiting professor at the Steinhardt school of NYU.


Now in its fourth year, Innovate NYC utilizes a proven approach originally developed by the DO School for Oxford University and leading organization such as Siemens, Daimler, and the United Nations. During the three-week innovation challenge, the students get to work with a client mimicking an innovation design firm, developing entrepreneurial methods and working with diverse groups of world-class talent. This year, the clients where Youths INC and Here to Here and the challenge was to develop strategies to bridge the gap between tertiary education and job opportunities in The Bronx. Parsons ELab is proud to partner with Innovate NYC to promote impact entrepreneurship through designdriven methodologies.

SUPPORT A Growing Community Year over year, the ELab has continued to offer post-curricular and extracurricular events and workshops for design-driven impact entrepreneurs, and for research in entrepreneurship and in innovation in entrepreneurship education. This programming we open to the community of students, faculty, staff and alumni to supplement their individual journeys through the university experience. Leveraging the success of the Incubator, the ELab’s goal has expanded from not only providing

support and resource for our Fellows, but to help build a community of support alongside IEI at the University that addresses needs of inspired entrepreneurs through public programming. Our goal is to create a supportive lab where community members can participate and support one another at any stage in their relationship with the university, and by doing so build a lively community and strengthen entrepreneurship networks at the at TNS.

RESEARCH Committed to Iteration The goal of the Entrepreneurs Lab as a research project is to develop new methods of evaluating entrepreneurial success in impact entrepreneurship and the efficacy of the distributed model of an academic incubator. As a longitudinal study, the director, Rhea Alexander, her colleagues and student research fellows aim to share knowledge, and find out if the impact of participating in this type of extracurricular immersive, programming may have on them in regard to traditional measurements such as job creation and economic impact but also to attempt to measure long term qualitative effects participating in a program such as this and building a startup regardless of its success or failure has on their career trajectories navigating a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

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Methodology With generous grants from the New School and the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation, Rhea Alexander and the ELab have been able to start to collect data through surveys, interviews and rubrics for research and iteration as this itself is an experiment and pilot of a new decentralized model for an academic incubator. In our research we are creating feedback loops, benchmarks assessments, and KPI assessments to see if learning certain behaviors and iterative methods coupled with pragmatic skills can be used to condition people’s reactions and nudge them towards better, more desirable strategies and actions. As people receive real time contextual information about their approach, they can calibrate their behavior and make a choice about their next course(s) of action. These feedback loops begin with data capture when a certain action or behavior is recorded.

ELab Annual Report 2018

This is followed by contextual data-sharing during which processed data is delivered to the user in a way that triggers a need for action. This data can be accompanied by suggestions of various potential actions to take. The final step is action, the subject has processed the data, assessed its relevance, and then made a choice informed by the options presented. Such action is once again captured to trigger another feedback loop. ELab practices the methods it teaches, using feedback loops to improve the value it brings and share findings with the community and its stakeholders. Ultimately, ELab aims to apply this design research throughout the program timeframe, and for at least five years out, using tools to track qualitative and quantitative data, and focusing on data visualization and other effective forms of communication, of its findings, to stakeholders.


Our incubator model CURRICULUM

Meet-Ups that enable fellows,

mentors and partners to share information and skills/services, such as user experience design or graphic design.

Motivated by the goals of sharing, testing, learning, and launching, we offer the Jams and Hackathons following tools and activities Design aiming to attract passionate people to aid the success of our with various expertise to collaborate on Incubator Fellows’ startups, answering fellows’ immediate needs. which are integral to the Fellows-Only Website Resources in which fellows and administrators can design-driven curriculum share and exchange useful information, we offer and integral to our websites and tools. community support and Membership in Incubators and research. Coworking Communities, such

as NY Designs, Center for Social Innovation, Civic Hall and LMHQ, and ALLEY.

Mentorship ran by long standing

alumni and industry experts, as well as one-on-one startup Venture Associates who are graduate students part of the ELab team.

Networking Events that enable

fellows to meet potential collaborators or service providers, learn more about what other entrepreneurs are working on, and exchange resources and skillsets.

ELab Perks to help startups better

run their businesses - Hire Luther, Google Cloud Platform, discounts to InVision, IndieBiz subscriptions, Sketch, and access to legal clinics for pro-bono work.

Partner Collaboration such

as Google’s “30 Weeks” program, ERA (Entrepreneurial Roundtable Accelerator) and XRCLab Program.

Research studies and developing of new tools - Conference presentations, White papers and Data Mapping.

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model goals BENEFITS


• Support in identifying business opportunities and connections

• Access to Mentorship/ coaches

• Development of the fellows’ knowledge around business • Increase the networking opportunities • Improve the ability to achieve goals and solve problems • Increase the chances for success • Support team thru mentor and peers to help you over the hurdles

• Mentor check-ins (up to 3hr scheduled quarterly) • Access to Network Partnerships • Membership at a partner’s co-working space (within a specific sector that meets startup’s needs) • Network workshops • ELab tailored workshops • Pitch nights • Timetables + Benchmark Goals • Website + Resource library • Network discounts • Guest Speaker Talks • Alumni Connections

ELab Annual Report 2018


testing a distributive model Beyond our core ELab is a prototype or model of today’s distributed workplace with its lean operating budgets, lack of a specific physical locale, and distributed (rather than centralized) model for mentorship. The ELab does not have a physical space but it is housed, conceptually, within The New School. We test this distributed model for both ELab resources and within our 12-Month Incubator. The ELab leverages connections across the New York community to place Fellows within sector specific coworking community spaces or external incubator spaces tailored to their needs, allowing them to integrate and embed themselves within communities with other startups.

This allows the ELab to:

1. Scale Easily We don’t experience

physical limitations of space for events, workshops and curriculum programming, and have the flexibility to place events across partner spaces and The New School spaces at limited to no cost. Additionally, without a centralized office hub for our Fellows, we can expand or contract Fellowship size year by year, and Fellows are given freedom to work out of their assigned space.

2. Build a network Distributing

our Fellows across NYC Startup communities creates an expansive network for ELab, which benefits all stages of ELab programming. Our network model is a system where value is co-created and exchanged, in a distributed way, through this network of participants–whether Fellows or open-event attendees. At our core, we also quickly grow our core number stakeholders and community size with this model.

3. Take advantage of city resources Our incubator Fellows

are at the disposal of the resources they’re surrounded by. By distributing its physical location, ELab increases access to the resources, and people that each space offers, and the Fellows have proximity to a wider range of resources to address their needs– whether the need is users for research, Founders for interviews, other startups, social entrepreneurship-oriented individuals, and more.

4. Adapt to fellows needs -Our

distributed model allows us to identify the unique key partners needed for each of our Fellows. By being sector agnostic, we are better able to meet the diverse and dynamic needs of our community. Fellows working in spaces as diverse as visual storytelling and neuromuscular disorder care find the support they need within our distributed structure.

As a distributed fellowship, ELab’s network of value-exchange across fellows, spaces and mentors underlines several components as core leverage points for the success, and research on, this distributed model: • Existing networked business models • Value exchange networks • Peer-to-peer sharing of access to goods and services • Bottom-up values exchange • User-generated content • Design processes of problem solving, iteration and lean prototyping

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mentorship & partners or an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, that is part of the governing ELab Mentorship programs are a critical team and is their go-to ground level part of ELab pillars and our strategy. contact for the program curriculum. These programs are targeted toward This sponsor checks in with his/her/ professionally established alumni and their assigned startup and Fellows to professional experts willing to give follow up on KPIs, benchmark data, back to Parsons and to nurture the next and other progress, needs or goals. generation of design entrepreneurs, as We have found success with this model well as those who may see personal since its inception in 2017. It allows benefit and professional gratification in for the needed level of customized working with young startups. support needed for each fellow. By recruiting highly qualified associates, The ELab has tested various methods typically with both substantial business of delivery for mentorship over the past backgrounds (MBAs and work 3 years, including: experience) we provide fellows with a key contact point throughout their 1:1 Mentorship (2015-2016) fellowship. Mentorship in the form of one-on-one 12-Month mentorship in which fellows ELab Supermentors (2019) are paired with a startup through This coming year we will experiment regularly meetings over the course of with “Super-mentors”; an amalgam the year with a focus on helping fellows of both mentorship models selected reach their KPIs and benchmarks. key mentors to advise Fellows 1:1 on


Timebank Mentorship (2016-2017) Timebank mentorship is delivered in the form of “office hours,” in which experts can donate their time for one-on-one meetings as needed and requested by the incubator Fellows, permitting the Fellows to engage with these mentors at any stage along their development, and based on the expertise of the mentor.

ELab Team Venture Associates (2017-2019) The most recent form of mentorship provides Incubator Fellows a “sponsor,”

ELab Annual Report 2018

a more regular basis throughout their fellowship year on top of the Time Bank. Super-mentors are selected based on both their unique skills fitting the needs of fellows and their capacity to commit to a whole-year mentorship program.

“The benefit of a place like ELab is the diversity of the mentors. Having legal experience, business development, strategy and financial resources at your disposal is huge for getting your startup off the ground.” Nicholas Morozowich 2017 ELab fellow and founder of Empathecary


PARTNERS Part of our core values is to provide an optimal journey for our fellow, which is reliant upon and strengthened by ELab’s growing network of partners. We created strong partnerships within the New School and with external partners in order to design a system that would benefit the whole ecosystem. Our 2018 partners include sector specific co-working spaces (Centre for Social Innovation, Alley and, NY Designs Incubator), as well as Dorm Room Fund, Cardozo Law Clinic, Brooklyn Law Incubator, XRClab and Google Cloud Platform, NY Code Academy, Thicket Labs and ERA (entrepreneurs roundtable accelerator).

“The Center for Social Innovation has been a great place to work. The community of start-ups helps drive your enthusiasm, and it helps test ideas with each other.” Ashley Starks Amin 2017 ELab Fellow and founder of Civic Fleet

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


2018 accomplishments Inform - Education & Social Media Growth Empower - Community Events Collaborate -

XRC Labs, Alumni Office, Data Visualization Program, Intuit, Kettlespace, CitiVentures

Act - Innovate NYC Launch - 12-Month Fellowship Give Back - New Conferences + Research Articles

Parsons School of Design


inform education, events & social media content The ELab is proud to present substantial growth in the 2018 year across the University community, demonstrating collected interest in entrepreneurship and ELab programming. Our success can be divided into two key categories across which we inform our stakeholders of ELab events, involvement and entrepreneurial activity at The New School. Media & Social: A Broader Audience: In the past years, social media has become one of the primary communication channels for ELab. The challenge for 2018 was to increase engagement and attract new followers, targeting the alumni community and spirited entrepreneurial students. In September of this year, we launched the @ParsonsElab Instagram account and quickly became our most popular social medium. As part of the new fellow’s recruitment process, we had an Instagram contest that was highly successful reaching over 1,600 likes, the winner was Tai by Studio 9696 who obtained 539 likes. During 2018 Facebook was principally used to promote and lifestream events. The year is closing with a 22% audience growth vs. 2018. Also, our website continues to be an important resource for our community, as an archive of events and services, for links to partners and to our research publications.

ELab Annual Report 2018

We continued featuring fellows through a Facebook spotlight campaign, under the #MeetOurfellows in seven days we shared bulbs regarding the startups and founders in the 2018 Cohort. This initiative reached over 1,500 Facebook users. In the second semester, our Twitter´s engagement grew 400% with over 91,000 impressions delivered between January and November 2018. For 2019 the social media challenge remains, the objective is to feature relatable content to inform our follower base on tips, recommendations, news and products highlighting ELab’s mission to promote entrepreneurial practice and research.

in 2018... Facebook grew 22% Twitter grew 400% New Instagram account


most liked post! Parsons School of Design


empower events delivered for elab & community engagement In 2018, ELab hosted a total of 12 events, including 5 Workshops for the Incubator Fellows, 1 Design Jam, the Midway Presentations, Pitch Night, Demo Day and the Information Session.

Midway Presentations 2018

ELab Annual Report 2018

Of the 12 events, 50% of these were open to the public and actively engaged the New School community of students and alumni, with the hopes of engaging an entrepreneurial education. Reviewed here are our most successful events that speak to ELab’s empowerment of the entrepreneurial community at the New School and the variety of mentors and alumni we engage with:


elab infosession SEPTEMBER 20 The spring Info Session besides introducing the offerings for the 2019 12-month fellowship featured a business model workshop. For the workshop, we partnered with and used their powerful, data-driven tools to help participants draft a business plan. Among the attendees, we had aspiring independents who have never started a business before and more experienced entrepreneurs looking for some help starting a new venture.

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elab DEMO DAY november 15 Demo Day was the last official event of the 2018 cohort, it was celebration of the startups achievements and an opportunity to pitch their products and platforms in front of a group of investors and the ELab community. With a product showcase and a networking session, Demo Day 2018 was held for the first time in the morning schedule following the practise of other incubator in New York City. JUDGES Brian Frumberg Erica Matsumoto Susan Shiroma Julian Lion Boxenbaum

Robin Albin Nadine Chehade Zachary Ho Jordan Goldberg

elab SDM CONFERENCE MAY 12 The 2018 ELab fellows were able to participate in the 2018 Strategic Design and Management Conference, ‘Design x Convergence’, in May. The fellows had athe opportunity to text their products with over 250 conference attendees and gained valuable insights through user testing.

ELab Annual Report 2018


elab PITCH NIGHT october 18 ELab’s Pitch Night on October 18th 2018 featured a terrific line up of companies pitching, tremendous support and energy from 150+ participants in the audience and our panel of judges. In a two hour space the 9 applicants had 3 minutes for pitching their business plan and 2 minutes for Q&A from the judges and audience.I APPLICANTS Collabaret Nerdy Derby Lit up Next Mode In Care TAI Nora Gentleman Factory

JUDGES Nadine Chehade Jordan Goldberg Savannah Enright Amit Chaudhari Johann Verheem Andrew Hutton Rose Pember

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empower survey results + audience feedback

ELab Annual Report 2018

These results were collected from ELab’s Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. Audience and judges were asked to asses their experience and provide feedback for future events.


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collaborate XRC Labs, Alumni Office, Data Visualization Program The ELab aims to continuously collaborate and build a strong community and network both internally within the University and externally with the wider startup community and its support network. Each year we partner with the Alumni Office, Student Success Office, Program Directors across TNS, Parsons and Administration, and Faculty, to encourage cross-school collaborations and partnerships on research, grant applications and with program offerings, marketing and exposure. Currently we have partnered with the MA Data Visualization Program Director, Aaron Hill and With Ben Rubin of the Data Arts Lab for the Visualizing the Entrepreneurial Genome. We also are in partnership with the XRC Lab,, Google Cloud Service, NYCIC and ERA (Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator) as well as our partner communities like CSI, Alley and NY Designs.

ELab Annual Report 2018


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act innovate NYC The 2018 innovate NYC program was conducted in partnership with Youth Inc. and Here 2 Here. The challenge was: “How might we enable youth from under-resourced communities to bridge the gap between education and employment – creating pathways to meaningful, family-sustaining careers?” 20 participants from 8 universities across New York City looked at this challenge from student perspective and explored what companies need to develop and retain youth from underresourced communities and how to help high school graduates to succeed in the workforce and build family sustaining careers. The program consisted of a weekend workshop, emphasizing leadership and ideation skills, and 3 weeks during the summer of full-time workshops, closing with a pitching session showcasing two solutions developed by the participants to combat the initial challenge.

ELab Annual Report 2018

“I enjoyed working with students from other schools because it provided different perspectives to the projects and the overall experience” Aryanna Martin


SOLUTION 1 KUESTIT, a toolkit for generating meaningful career conversations with mentors and potential employers.

SOLUTION 2 BRAND THE BRONX, a fashion workshop series for Bronx high school students with the purpose of creating opportunities to explore careers in the fashion sector.

Parsons School of Design


launch 2018 12 month fellowship 2018 12-Month Fellowship in the Distributed Academic Incubator Selected after a rigorous application round, each startup had to present in a 10-minute pitch format at the annual Pitch Night (2017) to a jury of 14 judges, consisting of EIab’s external partners, investors, mentors, alumni and Parsons faculty, and an audience of students and guests. From 17 applicants, 5 were selected, with the following criteria: ELab’s quantitative rubric that the 14 judges and the audience filled out, the qualitative notes that the judges provided on each project and team, and

ELab Annual Report 2018

finally the interest of the ELab’s partner spaces in the missions and work focus of the startups. The following mix of students and alumni were winners for ELab’s 12 Month Fellowship Program.


THREADCYCLE Chloe Guss and Angela Bronza Threadcycle recycles textile waste collected from New York city’s garment manufacturing industry and converts it into Biochar, a soil augmentation product.


Amanda Padula, Linamaria Hagstroem, Linda Saint Marc

PMD Alliance is an interactive education and community building service (nonprofit organization) designing empowerment and change programs for Parkinson and Movement Disorder patients.

Media x Women is an inclusive and growing community connecting women in the media industry to help them mutually grow



Alfonso Cobo

WAROONG Hasin Ahmed and Samiha Ahmed Waroong is a solution that responds to global trends such as e-commerce’s disruption of retail, low digital adoption rates among independent businesses worldwide, and the rise of mobile payment systems to drive financial inclusion within the developing world.

Unfold is an app that helps storytellers create beautiful and engaging stories with minimal templates. Users can download additional template collections to help them create stories that align with their personal aesthetic.

SETLE Daniel Cervenka


Setle is an online platform which lets users securely send and sell their files to anyone, anywhere.

Tim Ronco and Joonas Kyöstilä Pulpmade, a start-up children’s brand inviting kids to activate their creativity and transform the tangible world around them.

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


2018 fellow progress Media x Women PMD Alliance Pulpmade Setle Threadcycle Unfold Waroong

Parsons School of Design


media x women Media x Women is an inclusive and Progress through the year: growing community connecting Recorded and launched an women in the media industry to 8-episode podcast series titled, help them mutually grow. ‘How She Made It’ The community provides a professional network connecting women at different professional levels in the media industry. The community highlights success stories of many women in the industry through their digital presence and a podcast series titled, ‘How she made it’. Through such inclusive measure, the community also provides empowerment and mentorship to their members.

Pitched business to WeWork Creator Awards, the WING and Uber Pitch (Uber Girlboss) Set strategic relationship with social media micro bloggers and influencers Officially registered and incorporated as a business entity in NY state

WHAT’S NEXT? Media x Women plan to continue building out their podcast series and increase their branded content production with tie ups with key media partners. The team plans to test and implement a Fellow Included list of new mentors.

ELab Annual Report 2018


media x women 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design


pmd alliance Sarah is an alumnus from the MS SDM program at Parsons and the founder of PMD Alliance, an interactive education and community building service (nonprofit organization) designing empowerment and change programs for Parkinson and Movement Disorder patients.

Progress through the year:

PMD Alliance is unique in a way that it acts on multiple nodal points of the movement disorder ecosystem by empowering care partners, health and wellness providers, support group leaders and the community network including friends and family. It does all of this while keeping the patient at the centre of system.

PMD Alliance more than doubled their annual funding, from USD 300,000 to USD 750,000

Piloted and developed Neuro Life Online- (comprehensive livestream programming for people impacted by movement disorders that features health, wellness, socialization and access to experts).

The program has grown to over 18 states, a 150% increase over the previous spread Over 12,000 patients have been served via the program and the support group leader network has jumped 4x from 200 to 800 by 2018

WHAT’S NEXT? Sarah plans to continue building out the service capabilities of the program and expanding to multiple geographies. As she cycles out of her fellowship, Sarah is constructing an advisory board made up of ELab mentors and network.

ELab Annual Report 2018

“One of the greatest challenges facing start up companies is finding and leveraging meaningful connections. With limited capital, connections can be the essential leverage to unlock potential growth. The E-Lab offered us connections that has resulted in priceless growth! The connections and value added would have cost us tens of thousands of dollars. We are forever grateful.” Sarah Jones


pmd alliance 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design


pulpmade Pulpmade, a start-up children’s brand inviting kids to activate their creativity and transform the tangible world around them. Pulpmade´s founders and Parsons Alumni Joonas Kyöstilä and Tim Ronco have been honored with a prestigious IDEA Award by the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) for the innovative ‘Posse Chair’. The challenge this duo of designers had set for themselves is everything but small. Under the concept of ‘World of Wondrous Play’ Pulpmade’s vision is to redefine creative play and reintroducing crafting and imagination to children games. They started the fellowship with with the idea of commercializing the Posse chair, a stool made of 100% paper pulp. Now after a year, they have a new family of interactive furniture for kids and are on their way to a soft launch on the spring of 2019.

Progress through the year: Successfully developed brand vision and refined product pipeline. Tested the products with several families and kids around New York and. Participated in the recognized Children’s Museum of the Arts workshop and street fair. Pulpmade´s founders Joonas Kyöstilä and Tim Ronco where honored with an IDEA Award by the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) for the ‘Posse Chair’.

WHAT’S NEXT? Pulpmade is going to dedicate 2019 to consolidate their budding relationship with Target, finding new business partners and potential retailers to market their products as well as launching their first product ‘Posse Chair’ on Kickstarter.

ELab Annual Report 2018

“ELab gave us a structure to navigate the foreign world of creating a business. The check-point presentations every quarter focused our efforts and inspired us to achieve our milestones. The mentors helped to bridge many of our knowledge gaps, from brand strategy to working with retailers. Overall, the Elab was a great experience in creating a foundation for our business.” Tim and Joonas


pulpmade 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and \ judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design


setle Setle is a digital asset transfer and payment platform. It provides a safe and easy way to work online, by removing the friction from the process of constructing a working agreement, sending files, reviewing them and concluding the transaction with a payment. When Setle started the year with ELab, it was at the idea stage. The company was not formed, they did not have a team nor product. A year later they have reached these milestones and are testing their product, which is ready for release at the start of 2019.

Progress through the year: Incorporating Setle and setting up bank accounts Recruiting and forming their team and a strong network of experts Building an MVP and refining it through rounds of iteration and product development Launching the Setle brand Establishing relationships with VCs Developing program partnerships such as joint events with WeWork Labs to increase their audience

WHAT’S NEXT? Setle will release their product in the market early 2019. Daniel has a strong vision for how the company should evolve: he wants to position Setle at the forefront of the digital transformation affecting how people exchange and the future of work.

ELab Annual Report 2018

“The ELab experience was amazing. I felt blessed to have the opportunity to make Setle part of something bigger, part of a collective. It was very inspiring to see other people grow and rise around me as well. Without the Elab, we would not be where we are.” Daniel Cervenka


setle 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and \ judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design



THREADCYCLE Threadcycle recycles textile waste collected from New York city’s garment manufacturing industry and converts it into Biochar, a soil augmentation product. Biochar is an essential soil amendment which enhances soil fertility, removes toxins and pollutants from soil, sequesters carbon which helps to offset climate change, is used in water and waste treatment and promotes growth for up to 100 years. Through the year, Threadcycle successfully tested Biochar at the Brooklyn Grange where the tested plot yielded $200 higher value in Shishito peppers than the control plot (amounting to an additional USD 18,000 in revenue per year if used across the farm).

Progress through the year: Pivoted business model from owned and operated to a shared cost structure striking partnership arrangements with apparel brands Established technology partnerships for pyrolysis Created website visited by over 1350+ unique visitors and Instagram following, including well known experts in fashion sustainability Presented at 3 conferences including International Fashion Sustainability symposium in Germany

WHAT’S NEXT? Threadcycle aims to launch a kickstarter campaign to secure funding for second prototype and test processing solutions for synthetic fibres. They will continue with the momentum for the current year and continue building relationships with biochar experts, farms and soil amendment sellers

ELab Annual Report 2018


threadcycle 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and \ judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

Threadcycle 10














4 Purpose







Progress *(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day








Progress *(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day


*Threadcycle is a second year fellow and has a different set of data

Parsons School of Design


unfold Unfold is an app that provides storytellers with a toolkit to create polished, design-driven social media stories with minimal templates. Users are able to select easy-to-use templates and add text, photo and videos to stand out from the crowd with beautiful editorial-looking posts. At the start of their ELab fellowship, Unfold was still at the stage of a Minimum Viable Product. Though already in market, the app had low visibility and only a few hundred users. Without any collections or in-app purchases, the business model was not validated. With over 13 million downloads year-end 2018, Unfold experienced tremendous progress throughout their fellowship with ELab.

Progress through the year: Crossed 10 million users Featured by Apple as App of the Day Founders Alfie Cobo (Parsons MS SDM ‘18) and Andy McCune were featured in Forbes 30 under 30 for consumer technology ‘19 Named one of the best Android apps of 2018 Grew their team to 15 Launched B2B product offering Raised over $50,000 for their partnership RED

WHAT’S NEXT? Unfold will keep perfecting their consumer product though new sleek and trendsetting designs, and grow their B2B offering– designing tailor-made templates and storytelling tools for companies, following their successful first collaboration with Equinox.

“ELab felt very approachable and helpful in the areas we needed– connection to legal and having a co-workig space really helped us, as well as having a platform to learn from others and to pitch our ideas in front of many people.” Alfie

ELab Annual Report 2018


unfold 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and \ judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design


waroong Waroong is a solution that responds to global trends such as e-commerce’s disruption of retail, low digital adoption rates among independent businesses worldwide, and the rise of mobile payment systems to drive financial inclusion within the developing world. By combining technology and digital education, Waroong will foster an advanced commerce environment, one where efficient online transactions increase meaningful in-store interactions. In doing so, they will pioneer the next generation of commerce, equipping independent business owners with the resources they will need to remain competitive in the digital economy.

Progress through the year: Successfully completed Y Combinator’s Startup School program and launched their first storytelling campaign Launched a beta product with over 200 testers Launched our first storytelling campaign, featuring stories of Bangladeshi business in New York City Introduced to a potential investor

If we had to define Wroong in one word it would be resilience. When they started the ELab fellowship a year ago, they had an idea of a digital marketing platform for small businesses in emerging markets. Today they have a whole new different and complex idea and a beta product, with over 200 testers, to back it up.

WHAT’S NEXT? After being introduced by ELab to a potential investor, 2019 is going to be a year filled with new challenges and opportunities for Waroong, having as primary goal to pilot their service in a developing market.

ELab Annual Report 2018

“ELab has been a great support to us throughout the past year. In addition to the office space that we have utilized almost every single day for the past year, ELab has provided us with various expertise every step of the way to guide us in the right direction.” Hasin


waroong 2017 - 18 progress The following data was gathered over ELab’s 2017-2018 events, Pitch Night, Midway Presentations, and Demo Day. The results are from the public and \ judges on a 1-10 scale. The results are based on 7 key categories. Purpose, vision, team, resources, value, development, and progress.

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

*(Progress) Question was not asked at Pitch Night or Demo Day

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


PAST FELLOW SPOTLIGHT DESIGNITY Designity is an online platform in the form of a bottom-up community built by creatives for creatives and a marketplace for business owners. Designity is working with top design universities and design organizations in the U.S. to provide business owners with a different level of verified designers and supervision under an Art Director.

2019 updates: Over 1000 projects have completed as of January 1st 2019 on Designity. Raised a new round of $750,000 from new investors. Grow the in-house team of 3 to 7 full-time employees. Added a new subscription model for ongoing clients.

“ELab really made my wish come true. Before I got to ELab, I just had an idea. Now I have an actual company. ELab has given me networking opportunities, as well as required expertise” Shahrouz Varshabi

Shahrouz Varshabi is a New York-based design and technology professional and creative entrepreneur, who turned his challenge of paying his tuition, as well as gaining real-world experience through online freelance projects into an educational standard for young designers. A graduate of Design & Technology at Parsons (class’14), he founded Designity in 2015, a community of local freelance designers who complete projects under art director supervision for quality assurance and training purposes. Through the online platform, one can create their project brief, collaborate with designers in real-time, and process payments, all in one place. Over 3 years of its operations, Designity has built a user base of over 6000 US based designers and 4000+ business owners. They have completed over 1000 projects and generated an income of over $210,000 with a team of 7 employees.

Parsons School of Design


give back conferences + research Within the last 3 years, ELab has published its work in three conferences. In 2018, at Cumulus Wuxi, ELab presented its model and its learning as a design-driven incubator with the paper “Future Pathways for DesignDriven Entrepreneurship Education”. In 2017, ELab had two papers: the 21st Century Academic Forum Conference with the title “Practicing What We Teach: Iterative Design Methods for Innovation Education” at Harvard, and Design4Health Conference at Swinburne Melbourne, Australia. You can read more about this in the Conference & Publications section.

ELab Annual Report 2018

give back mentorship


Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


ITERATION + RESEARCH Year Reflection Research Projects Reporting our Research - Conference Presentations - Publications - Data Collection & Reports

Looking forward 2018 Fellows New Programs

Parsons School of Design


ELab Annual Report 2018


year reflection On the 12 Month Incubator...

On our Growing Community

ELab is continuing to learn and refine its model to best meet the needs of its Fellows and the community it serves. We have found that the Venture Associate model, with Fellows being paired with Associates possessing strong business backgrounds has generated a significant amount of value. We plan to continue this model of increased direct and focused mentorship in 2019 with the addition of Supermentors, again having focused and dedicated support to each Fellow.

As we head into our fifth year of the incubator offering (not including the pilot year prior to funding), our network is growing and we are expanding resources. This is incredibly exciting news, as we’re widely recognized within the New School community and have make strides to expand our recognition beyond New School territory, continuing to build a name for design-led entrepreneurship and our community.

As our community continues to develop, we have found that we are now in a position to support ventures with clear business models and early testable products.

Parsons School of Design


elab research ENTREPRENEURIAL GENOME PROJECT MAPPING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL and impact of ELab and other initiatives beyond Archives, LinkedIn and Banner like IEI around entrepreneurship at as well as strengthen systemic GENOME OF THE NEW SCHOOL The Entrepreneurial Genome project is an ongoing research project starting from Fall 2017. The project leverages crossdiscipline collaboration with the office of Alumni Relation, the New School Library and Archives, Center for Data Arts, the New School and Data Visualization Program, to articulate and visualize the impact of entrepreneurial New School alumni.

The New School, and leverage New School collaboration with the Data Visualization Program to potentially inform the historical value of entrepreneurial initiatives from the New School overtime. This data could also help the greater TNS community with collaboration from the Alumni Office, Career Services office and the office of the Institutional Research.

platform for future data input and development.

Entrepreneurial surveys have been done with monumental success in universities with business or engineering schools, but not in design or social science universities. We will take on this challenge and opportunity to create a comprehensive data mapping project to report, providing The team has been collecting, evidence of the impact that alumni examining and developing the models, entrepreneurs have had on economic static and interactive visualizations over growth and job creation, socially on the past year from various sources. our communities, creatively within the The team managed to trace the data development of culture and intellectual back to more than 70 years of the New property. Collectively, the study hopes school entrepreneurial history. Through to chart the innovative impact both The research goal is to map the the support and collaboration from in NYC and beyond of New School collective innovation from The New many departments, the project has alumni, giving a picture of the schools School consortium of schools and the been progressing extensively. The team “entrepreneurial genome.� total impact that our entrepreneurial managed to collect more than 3,000 alumni have had on local and global With this research our hope is to thousand complete entrepreneurial economies. Through using public data produce an array of interactive visuals, alumni information, more than 7,000 available on LinkedIn, self-identified including models, maps, and graphs, partial data and continuing. Moreover, by New School alumni, as well as and a timeline, that will be publicly the team also produced the economic public data available on Wikipedia, we available and shareable. These visuals historical narrative, aligned with the hope to assess and map graduated will demonstrate degrees of study New School alumni information to entrepreneurs to survey the distribution promote the holistic perspective of participation and various forms of of value from entrepreneurial initiatives entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, the impact. The results of this study can on campus and beyond. We hope to be used by students, researchers and, Entrepreneurial Genome project publish this data to create awareness, larger community both predictively and website is live and publicly accessible. use for our research development of The team intends to further responses historically to chart our impact and the lab and to contextualize the work sought through new strategic channels inspire our future students.

ELab Annual Report 2018


Parsons School of Design




The ELab team has closely collaborated and corresponded with the Office of Alumni Relations throughout the project development. During the 2018 Parsons Reunion day (October 20th), the project was introduced publicly for the first time with support from the office. The exhibition includes the showcase of digital interactive visualizations and physical interactive visualization installation. This exhibition revealed a year-long worth collected data on the New School alumni entrepreneurs and celebrated the impact of entrepreneurship social, cultural and economic value through more than 100 years of the school history. The project has received positive responses while the team also intends to continuously improve for future opportunity and data collection.

After the official exhibition during the Parsons Reunion day, the team intends to further participate in the celebration of the New School Centennial in 2019 by showcasing the progress and result of the project. The project is currently under the proposal process and approval.

visit the site here.

ELab Annual Report 2018

THE ELAB GENOME TEAM Nattakarn Tapasanan Rose Pember Steven Hubbard PhD. Juan Herrera Ben Rubin A special thanks to “Kip” Nattakarn Tapasanan for her extensive research in the archives and tenacious persistence to complete the visualizations and to the Provost’s office for the generous grant that will allow us to create installations in the TNS building lobby’s during the centennial celebration.


Parsons School of Design


elab research CUMULUS WUXI CONFERENCE Conference Proceedings: This year ELab shared its work at Cumulus Wuxi with its paper “Future Pathways for Design-Driven Entrepreneurship Education”

ABSTRACT - Future Pathways for Design Driven Entrepreneurship Education Designing in and for transition, within contexts of constantly changing certainties and boundaries, demands new models of pedagogy; capable of building deep competencies within students beyond the studio’s borders. Academia is facing radical disruption as students demand a redefinition of education (Traitler, Coleman and Hoffman, 2014). This transformation must be applied within design education. How do we educate designers to design for present ambiguity and future uncertainties in a world with radical complexities and wicked problems? Parsons ELab is a design-driven academic business incubator and research lab with the ambitious mission to develop a distributed academic incubation model. Our research investigates how to transition design education and its evaluation, create models for future academic distributed incubators, and new research methodologies for incubator and accelerator research. Conventional incubation research is focused on understanding the financial impact of incubees through their period of incubation (Messeghem et al, 2017). Parsons ELab has developed a mix of deep qualitative and quantitative research to build a broader view of impact. Our research offers a unique perspective in evaluating educational, financial and social impact. We find a need to challenge conventional approaches to entrepreneurship research and education. Our findings develop necessary practices in the implementation of distributed academic incubator models. ELab continues to refine its methodology as it works towards a roadmap for other institutions seeking to encourage design-driven entrepreneurship. Our work expands definitions of impact. As we identify new transitions and needs for design-driven, entrepreneurially-focused education, we look to develop new pathways for design students to develop critical competencies.

read the paper here.

ELab Annual Report 2018


elab research GRANTS, DEVELOPMENT + AWARDS Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation For 4 years in a row Alexander and the Elab have been generously supported by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation.

School of SDS School Based Funds, Student Assistant Research Funds and Faculty Research Funds For the last four years, Alexander has been rewarded with various School funds to continue her research and community support of impact entrepreneurship

DATA COLLECTION REPORTS + SURVEYS Please see our online 2019 Janurary supplement.

Parsons School of Design


elab research qualitative assessment with fellows OVERVIEW We are 2.5 / 5 years into a broader Longitudinal Study aimed to capture the results of ELab’s distributed model compared with standard Academic Incubators. Researching the efficacy of the distributed model for academic incubators. Measure startup teams in terms of skills, access, knowledge, overall capacity (perspective & network analysis) at the beginning then middle and end of their fellowship...then follow them 5 years out. Measure strength of ELab support structure and resources (network analysis). Measure business model strength and potential for scale (predictive analysis). Merge business models to identify potential for systemic impact (perspective analysis).

ELab Annual Report 2018

Measuring the impact Design Led Initiatives have on the Economy over the next 5 years: • Impact on the Local Economy • Impact on Job Creation • Impact on our partners • Impact on the Startups Measuring the impact of Parsons Elab within its Ecosystem: • Impact on the Startups • Impact on Parsons Entrepreneurial Education • Impact on the School Environment & Community • Impact on our Alumni & Partners


looking forward 2019 12 month fellows

Collabarét Collabarét is a full service events production company that connects multidisciplinary artists and curates live collaborations among a wide community of artists and brand sponsors. With a growing network of over 250 creatives such as musicians, painters, poets, dancers, tattoo artists, designers, comedians and magicians Collabarét have designed more than 20 productions for emerging artists, profit and non-profit organizations.

Lit Your Dreams Lit Your Dreams is a kid ’s sleepwear company that creates and manufactures fun unique designs that glow in the dark. Lit´s pajamas turn darkness into a space for creativity and imagination triggering dreams of fantasy and magical worlds. Based in Mexico, Lit is going to be Elab´s second remote fellow.

Gentleman’s Factory The Gentlemen’s Factory is a Workspace & Community Designed to Enhance, Connect and Invest in Men of Color. We are a growing community of like-minded individuals that are invested in each other’s success. We provide our members with valuable resources and a strong culture of collaboration and unity that will enhance your productivity. We Don’t Grow in Isolation, We Grow in Community

Nora Nora aims to deliver the best quality feminine personal hygiene products in India, ensuring women have access to safe, sustainable hygiene products.

InCare InCare provides low cost therapy devices for people with Neurological Differences (autism, brain trauma and mood disorders). Our goal is to make medical products attainable for people who do not have insurance to cover mental health treatment.

Tai Tai by Studio9696 is a fashion brand focussed on reimagining heritage based fabrics by creating a line of unique, versatile and trendy garments that appeal to the mainstream fashionista.

Parsons School of Design


looking forward 2019 goals Based on data collected from last 1. Build ELab’s public name and public presence, across New year’s various programs and the School Community and greater new needs of the rapidly changing NY Ecosystem to empower our innovation economy, this year we startup culture aim to pare down our offering to 2. Clarity of governance within a our most successful including distributed model the time bank mentorship, 12 month incubator program and 3. Diversify and build out ELab’s program offerings other programs and play a more active role in NYCIC. Within each program, we are building upon the most successful parts of the programs initiated in 2014 to stay nimble and iterate as we go. ELab is involved with the NYCiC in the greater New York Innovation ecosystem. Helping to build the infrastructure of the non profit, sharing knowledge and best practices, building community and sharing insights. We plan to continue our research and support the interests of our fellows and our community as they respond to the world around us.

ELab Annual Report 2018


CONCLUSION ELab has grown into a hub within a distributed network of entrepreneurship nested in its academic and entrepreneurial community. We have supported 56 entrepreneur-alumni, with almost 50% of the enterprises supported by ELab still in operation today. As we have evolved, we are finding that the path forged is one that many art and design schools and institutions globally are looking to as a model to follow.. Through experimentation and iteration of the incubator, ELab is constantly developing new content and curricula to be adapted and applied in a design-driven, entrepreneurially-focused education. Support for ELab has catalyze The New School’s entrepreneurial community. 2018 has seen us solidify this position, with continued growth, new partnerships and further refinement of our own approach. Our successes continue to validate the importance of our work in helping develop and support the next generation of changemakers.

Dedication The ELab community holds tremendous gratitude to our current funders the Gloria and Bohan Foundation and The School of Design Strategies at The New School, who have been the backbone support in making our partnerships flourish and the incubation programs develop. We have achieved so much this past year due to the generosity and encouragement of the foundation and its founder Gloria Bohan, which has so far enabled 21 new startups to emerge from Parsons, get incubated within the ever growing NYC community, and potentially impact our community long term in numerous positive ways.

Team Elab is comprised of faculty, volunteer long term alumni, experts in our extended community, partners and by student administrators and researchers who all work passionately and tirelessly with a shared vision along with it’s founder Rhea Alexander, an alumna as well, to build own community of support.

A big thank-you goes out to 2018 Team.

Parsons School of Design

74 ELab Annual Report 2018

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