Michelle Ferrier hosts entrepreneurs in UNITY Startup Loft

Communications associate professor Michelle Ferrier hosted entrepreneurs from venture capital, accelerator and media startup firms in a roundtable discussion on teaching media entrepreneurship at the UNITY 2012 conference Aug. 2-3 in Las Vegas.

As cohost of the inaugural Startup Loft at UNITY, Ferrier assisted Doug Mitchell, consultant/project manager at NPR, in welcoming Harry Lin of IdeaLab, Sumaya Kazi of Sumazi, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious.com, William Crowder of Comcast DreamIt Ventures, Ben Hu of I Can Has Cheezburger.com, Phuong Ly of Gateway California, Lauren Abele and Natalia Oberto-Noguera of Pipeline Fellowship, Tim Reese of the Minority Angel Investment Network, and others. Startup session attendees completed a survey on media entrepreneurship skills, while speakers were invited to discuss how to strengthen the emerging media ecosystem for entrepreneurs of color and underrepresented communities. The conversation focused around the role of higher education and the communications curriculum in providing students with entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

“Universities are offering media entrepreneurship courses, but there’s a credibility gap because many professors have never experienced the startup culture. We need relationships within the entrepreneurial community to make it real,” Ferrier said.

Kelly Hoey, co-founder and managing director at Women Innovate Mobile (WIM) Accelerator and others weren’t sure if entrepreneurship can be taught.

“How do you teach people that you’re going to have incredible highs and incredible lows, be as miserable and poor as you’ve ever been in your life, but you’re going to get up every day and that’s what you’re going to keep doing?” Hoey asked. “You can’t teach that.”

Roundtable participants included:

  • Kelly Hoey, Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator
  • Harry Lin, IdeaLab
  • William Crowder, Comcast DreamIt Ventures
  • Raji Bedi, DoingTonight
  • Kaizar Campwala, former editor of NewsTrust
  • Latoya Peterson, Racialicious
  • Kevin Hailstock of Insightful-Art.com