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Five Questions for Sabrina Dridje about the Creative>>Founder Lab

The Creative>>Founder Lab is the newest offering from the Made in New York Media Center by IFP, a eight-week program intended to help creative professionals develop the business skills required to see their projects to fruition. Design thinking, monetization, rapid prototyping, how to speak with developers, gamification and systems thinking will all be taught by a team of leaders in their fields. (Note: IFP is Filmmaker‘s parent organization.)

The fee for the program is $1,200, and only 20 spots are available. Deadline is June 18 at 11:59PM. More information can be found here at the link. Below, we ask Sabrina Dridje, the Media Center’s Director of Community Engagement, more about the new program.

Filmmaker: The Creative Founder Lab is intended to be for “creative businesses.” What types of business are these? What is the range of work that you see as being able to be supported by this type of work?

Dridje: The Media Center supports a diverse community of solo entrepreneurs and small businesses working on a spectrum with Media and Technology. From apps, to multimedia journalism, interactive documentary to gaming – all these companies are founded on the importance of creative expression, and the Lab has been created to ensure there is a space and training that allows these entities to build sustainable businesses.

Filmmaker: This new lab is launched about 18 months after the launch of the Media Center itself. What have you learned during this time from the operations of the Media Center and the experiences of the various members that has informed the development of this new program?

Dridje: This program has been created from direct insights garnered since opening our doors. The entrepreneurs we serve are experts in their field, often with a number of years experience in their particular industry. Many of them come to us with this expertise and an idea – but have not previously had experience running a business. They need carefully curated mentors, they need people working in the larger innovation and business community to advise and guide as they ideate and flesh out their idea. This program aims to navigate those coming from a creative background through the key business blocks that will help them approach their idea with the mindset needed to build a sustainable and scalable business. It will allow them to think about rapid prototyping and and apply the start up mentality of failing fast

Most importantly we hope it will allow them to ask the right questions of their business and idea and present them with the tools and landscape they need in order to ask the right questions with the aim of clarifying their proposition.

Filmmaker: What will the experience of the Creative Lab be like? Are there activities outside of the once-a-week sessions? What are the different ways members will interact with instructors and other members?

Dridje: The Media Center has learnt that the best environment to learn and to have real impact is a unique blend of guidance, expertise and perhaps most importantly – a likeminded peer community to share work and knowledge with. The experience of the Lab serves to encompass all of this in a short amount of time: it will aim to have participants ask the hard but good questions of their company, it will be intensively exposing participants to new ideas and push them to be transparent and open with their peers about challenges and progress and ultimately hopefully be inspiring. Outside the core modules, the program also includes key moments for collaborative discussions through Study Groups as well as moments to attend outside industry events.

Filmmaker: In terms of the business landscape, what do you think the biggest challenges are at the moment for creative entrepreneurs?

Dridje: The biggest challenges are access to the right finance, the constantly evolving technology and a need to reconcile the creative industries with core understanding of startup fundamentals.

To expand on this: understanding when equity investment is the right choice (it is not the only route and also difficult to identify investors with an interest in the creative/media industries), staying on top of and remaining relevant in the face of the daily additions and rapid expansion of the technologies that impact the creative fields (VR, 360 video for example) and the lack of applying key start up principles to creative businesses (the notion of failing fast being okay, the need to hire the right team at the right time).

Filmmaker: How did you select the various instructors? What different criteria were you looking for in assembling this team?

Dridje: The Center is privileged to have grown a robust network of industry influencers over the course of the first months of being open — both through our flagship Demo Day program, through our existing educational initiatives and through our fantastic partners. I wanted the team to be working professionals who could speak directly and candidly about their experience — whether an large advertising agency executive discussing why good time and project management is fundamental to growing a business or idea to the Regional Director of Product Management for a leading agile development team, it was key that our instructors to come and discuss their direct experience.

It was also important to bring in the “media” part into this program as a way to show the landscape of media today and the future — including how gaming and systems thinking can help impact your business plan (led by the fantastic Game designer and educator Nick Fortugno).

Lastly, I wanted the program to have real logical and practical insights, such as a session we have planned with digital strategist Alex Bisker on how to work with developers. Developers are in such high demand, and for those who need to hire and work with them there is a need to know how to talk their language and how to be a good a client (understanding scope of work, budget requirements, clear vision).

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