New Venture groups consult design students for expertise

New Venture gives awards as high as $30,000 to students so they can start their own businesses. Meanwhile, students who help with the design side of the competition go unpaid.

Art 335 is called “Design Bureau” because students break up into groups to work for clients in the community. Students in the class work with teams competing in the New Venture Competition, which took place on Friday.

New Venture competitors have a lot of needs that might benefit from consultation with designers, including logo design, the production of promotional videos, web pages and more.

Last year Art & Design faculty member David Stairs said he asked New Venture and the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship to consider making monetary rewards available for his students if their New Venture clients succeed. The request was denied due to issues with implementing a payment system, said Bruce Marble of the IBIE.

“We looked into it, and the constraints were that (because) it’s a class for credit. We are not going to be able to pay people for doing work that’s related to class,” he said. “Secondly, the awards that the (New Venture) student teams earn are for their business; they don’t get money personally.”

Stairs said the students of Art 335 work in teams to create an internship-like experience.

“One of the things the course is intending to expose them to, in addition to client-work, is working in teams," Stairs said. "Because there is no scenario for a recent design graduate where they are going to be working by themselves."

There are usually five to seven NVC groups that come to the Design Bureau each year. This year 22 groups competed, but only a few have consulted with the Design Bureau.

One consulting group is called High Hopes Hammocks.

High Hopes is the creation of three students from the College of Business: Christian Cullinan, a graduate student from Wyandotte, Grand Haven junior Connor Moynihan and Georgiana Klem, a senior from Spring Lake.

Their business sells hammocks that have been fashioned into a cocoon-design to protect users from the elements or possibly malaria, if they live in warm climates. For every hammock purchased, High Hopes will give one to the impoverished, refugees, victims of natural disasters or people living in shelters.

Moynihan said the group of nine students in Design Bureau have been very helpful, and if they could, they would compensate them for their aid.

“Honestly, with the work they have done for us we would love to pay them,” he said. “In the real world we would, but luckily for us they have class projects they need to take care of, so they use us and we love it.”

The group estimated the logo design job they asked for would have cost about $5,000 if it was done by a professional, and a promotional video might have cost up to $400 an hour.

Moynihan said it would not be realistic for New Venture to implement a payment reward system that includes consultant design students from ART 335. He has a different idea.

“I think NVC needs to work more smoothly with (Design Bureau), because they have a great thing to offer and it would be really cool to see that put into every project,” Moynihan said. “I think the (Department of Art and Design) is totally down for it, but there is a little bit of friction with New Venture.”

One of the design students working with High Hopes, Flint senior Ryan Pierce, said it would be nice to get compensated for the work they do.  He also said there are benefits to working with NVC groups that go beyond monetary value.

“There is definitely reward in being part of something that could turn out big,” he said. “It would be really cool if High Hopes does.”