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New 707 hub helps with business ideas, creativity

Photo by Austin Anderson // austin.anderson@marquette.edu

Photo by Austin Anderson // austin.anderson@marquette.edu

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A new innovation hub was unveiled last week, powered by the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship and the Social Innovation Initiative.

The Kohler Center focuses on funding student planning programs and fostering for-profit business, while the Social Innovation Initiative manages non-profit businesses. Both have teamed up over the last year to provide Marquette a space to unleash creativity and work on business prototypes.

The new Hub is on the first floor of the 707 Building and is packed with resources available to students, faculty and staff. The space is available for anyone to come with business ideas, meet with mentors and work on different prototypes. The Hub is used as a social space as well.

There are different collaborative areas for various types of work throughout the Hub, including meeting spaces and a small kitchen to help facilitate social interaction. A swing room is also included.

Megan Carver, associate director of the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship, said different programs are offered each month, including workshops, formal programs and casual programs featuring different guest speakers.

“There’s really a broad range of opportunities available,” Carver said. She also added the Kohler Center holds funding programs to assist students with getting their businesses started.

Kaivahn Sarkaratpour, the Kohler Center’s innovation design coordinator, works on the creative side of things. He assists students and faculty who take advantage of the new space by working with their visions for new businesses, and advising them on how to best represent those ideas.

Sarkaratpour said the best part of his position is the students he works with. “What’s great about the students that come through here is that you can tell they have a lot of ideas and a lot of passion,” he said. “They really want to get the most out of their experience here.”

As far as planning, Carver said the idea for the Hub came from Sam Wesley and Creighton Joyce, both seniors in the College of Business Administration. The idea came to Wesley and Joyce two years ago after a leadership conference they both attended. The experience of collaborating with students from different disciplines was so impactful, it sparked the idea to create a similar environment on Marquette’s campus.

They ran into a few rough patches throughout the process. Wesley said the most difficult part for him was not being able to serve every need for every kind of student. “It was really difficult dealing with a finite number of things that we could do,” he said.

Now that the project is complete, both Wesley and Joyce said they are excited to see the finished product, and are grateful for the support they received from the university. For Joyce, the best part is the legacy he is leaving behind with Wesley. “The real exciting part is that even though Sam and I will be done at Marquette in a few months, (the hub) will foster the needs of Marquette students for years to come,” Joyce said.

Leigh McGiurk, a senior in the College of Communication, said she would consider using the Kohler Center because of the resources, location and how helpful it seems to be for students.

“It’s super helpful to have that (right on campus) because going somewhere else can be expensive,” she said. “It would probably save time and energy, which, as a college student, is very important.”

Over the last year, the Kohler Center has worked with Marquette architect Kurt Young-Binter to find the best space for the expansion project. Carver said the goal was to make a space that is inspiring and innovative. All of the desks, whiteboards, tables, and furniture in the Hub can be easily adjusted, which Carver said was part of the plan. “We wanted to maximize flexibility,” she said. “We’re going to continue to learn and adjust accordingly.”

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