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The Art of the Startup

Posted by Stacy Lasner
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The Art of the Startup

For America’s startups, employee creativity is a crucial ingredient for success. It not only fuels product development; it also helps build relationships. An article on Chicago Inno tells the story of a collaboration between edtech startup Packback and healthcare startup ContextMedia strengthened by a shared love of music.

 

Packback was incubating at ContextMedia to work on growing their e-textbook and digital learning platform when Packback cofounder Mike Shannon discovered that ContextMedia product manager Ernesto Rodriguez made hip hop beats and worked as a DJ. He reached out to see if Rodriguez wanted to lay beats for some of his rap lyrics.

 

When word got out about the partnership, other employee musicians came forward. "What we realized…is that we were surrounded by pent up latent creativity, latent creative talent that was waiting for a catalyst to jump into action," said Shannon. The duo began bringing other employees into the mix.

 

According to the article, “For Shannon, the collaboration also allowed him an outlet to share his entrepreneurial journey.” The song “Snowball,” for example, talks about the launch of Packback and features soundbites made by ContextMedia’s Shradha Agarwal.

 

(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)

 

The partnership has been instrumental to Packback’s business. Thanks to the Packback staff accomplished at ConextMedia, they raised $1.5 million and were able to move to a new office, which will feature a mural painted by Packback cofounder Jessica Tenuta and a sound booth for employee performances.

 

"In the startup environment, if it becomes successful, things can go very fast before you even have time to step back and plan," said Rodriguez, who has previously worked at Groupon and Redbox. "That sort of environment and those situations will make or break a person, or in the instance of a creative person, allows them to use the creative side of their mind to come up with solutions."

 

"If a group is literally jamming together and creating something, there is no question that it gets the creative juices flowing," said Northwestern Kellogg professor Michelle Buck, who studies the intersection of arts and business. "If these are people in ongoing intact groups that continue to work together, the level of creativity will be increased...because it generates an energy, confidence, a sense of rhythm, and a sense of familiarity and bonding. There's an energy that will naturally carry over."

 

Interview with Mike Shannon of Packback about the collaboration:

 

(Soundcloud from Chicago Inno site)

 

Read the full article here.

 

Learn more about employee musical collaborations.

 

Do your employees collaborate on art projects? Tell us about it on Twitter using #ArtsandBiz or email us at partnership@artsusa.org.

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