College Thinktank Boston, an event started by the City of Boston and Wentworth Institute of Technology brings together college students from 19 different colleges and universities for a one day event to brainstorm a challenge facing the city of Boston. Essential was asked to participate and send a few folks over to lead as facilitators for a group of bright college students coming together from the surrounding schools.
A slow and somewhat awkward start of sleepy college students rolled into the MassChallenge office. The day progressed into lively banter, insightful comments and great collaboration between a very diverse group of individuals who had never met prior to ThinkTank.
The Challenge presented from the city of Boston:
How do we make the rather boring operational and working capital funding needs of small businesses interesting and exciting enough to attract funds from a broad enough group of people and relationships to create a new sustainable funding channel for our small business community.
As facilitators, Essential's Marketing Director, Danielle Perretty and I implemented some brainstorming tactics to direct the groups focus on problem areas and opportunities facing all parties involved in the process of small business funding. As the post-it notes flew around the table, the group started to leverage their thoughts to come up with meaningful solutions that would benefit all individuals involved in the small business funding process. After a quick lunch we started to blend the teams ideas to frame up a cohesive and concise system called "My Boston" a platform to connect lenders/supporters with businesses/companies who had similar interests and motivations around the transfer of funds.
At the end of the day, each team presented their ideas to the broader group of 7 particpating teams and over a 100 students. A few common threads reverberated across the presentations along with some unique ideas around implementation. In summary, it was a awesome day with some great creative thinkers.
For me I found this event was a great opportunity to break from my standard workflow that often revolves around physical things. Being able to think so broadly about a financial problem facing so many small businesses and trying to tune into their motivations, fears, and solutions was refreshing and enlightening. As I was biking home I thought.. "I will definitely be doing this again!"