Ci2 lab aids students in starting small businesses

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ci2 lab Nick Schleh / Staff Writer

By Nick Schleh, Staff Writer

After the success of their first workshop, the Ci2 lab is working to establish recurring events to aid students in starting small businesses. USM graduate and small business owner, Anthony Viola, conducts workshops that offer a hands-on approach for students to apply their interests to the economic world.

Ci2 Student Inventions by Ian Beckett, Staff Photographer

The Ci2 lab is located in Portland on the seventh floor of the science building. The lab is a space for innovation and artistic creation. Voila affirmed that the lab juxtaposes art and technology to create the best projects it can.

Voila volunteers his time to the Ci2 lab. A major goal of the workshop is discovering how to take a student idea and develop a business out of it. The workshop covers a range business idea from how to get started, how to get investors, how to apply for grants, and how to write a business plan.

Ci2 Student Inventions by Ian Beckett, Staff Photographer

The initial workshop was intended to be in the Ci2 lab as a part of the Nest and Hatchery program, where the faculty help current students and recently graduated alumni establish their own business.

According to Viola, there was a student taking a business course at the university and told their professor about the work the Ci2 lab was doing. The professor then requested that Viola host the workshop in their class. Viola made what he called a hybrid presentation, one that worked for a whole class but still maintained hands on aspects.

“This was a random idea that happened, let’s try and streamline it and develop a whole process,” Viola said. “That way if there are other students that have the same idea but don’t know how to get going, we could have a program in place.”

Viola discussed his business Archedime, a geospatial company that focuses primarily on aerial map use by drones, during the workshop. “This is the business I developed, this was my original idea, and then I saw its practical use, so I decided to commercialize it. Here is the step by step process that I’ve done to get to where I am now,” Viola said. He tells students what he wished he knew when he was starting out that will help them with their business.

The workshop covers problem-solving and the design concept phase of a company. “You find a problem and then you commercialize it by developing a solution to said problem,” explained Viola. The workshop allows students and instructors to brainstorm how to solve the addressed problem and then how to advertise it.

Viola says that the knowledge he brings is from his own experiences. The workshop and presentation allow students to begin the methodology of how to structure their company. “At the end of the workshop they didn’t know, but by the time they got done they had all the information to fill in the blank.”

Viola has confirmed that he will host another workshop in the fall semester and is willing to do one over the summer if there is enough interest. Students interested in attending an upcoming workshop or learning more about the Ci2 lab can contact the lab at [email protected] or check out their Facebook page.

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