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College of Business goes virtual with 2020 Digital Marketing Workshops and Entrepreneurship Speaker Series

The biggest events of 2020 at EMU's College of Business went virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, read on to learn about them.

Center for Digital Engagement 2020 Digital Marketing Workshop goes virtual

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Michigan University's Digital Marketing Workshop was completely virtual, week-long event, hosted Monday, Nov. 9, through Friday, Nov. 13.

Titled "2021, Next Steps," the workshop centered around the transformational events of 2020, how companies and non-profits pivoted to digital strategies due to COVID-19, and how they expect to continue next year. Many of these organizations have not only stayed afloat but thrived.

This years workshop allowed attendees to learn from various experts in the fields of marketing, entrepreneurship, digital infrastructure, and public relations, through speakers from organizations like Google, Facebook, The Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, The Detroit Zoo, and others.

The workshop was hosted by the EMU Center for Digital Engagement (CDE) and its director, professor Bud Gibson. Gibson led the establishment of the center at EMU in 2015. The CDE was established after years of efforts to bridge the university and the surrounding business community in order to expand career opportunities for students.

"We focused a lot of the workshop on stories from community about how local businesses, agencies, and service providers had adapted [to COVID-19]," Gibson said. " It's really been about responding to the uncertainty in the environment."

A photo from the 2019 Digital Marketplace Workshop, previously held in the EMU Student Center. (Courtesy of the EMU Center for Digital Engagement).

Though extensive work was put into the event to ensure a smooth unfolding, Gibson said there were plenty of challenges to holding the event virtually.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Digital Marketplace Workshop was held annually in the EMU Student Center. "[We] had to figure out how to connect panelists, then figure out how [we were] going to broadcast that out to the community," Gibson said. "Of course, there's always underlying technical issues with everybody being online. Now we're challenged for bandwidth at certain hours of the day. It's really like putting together a giant puzzle where the pieces keep on changing shape and you've got to stay on top of it, and that's what I've found to be the most challenging."

From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, attendees were able to join lecturers via Facebook Live.

Jenn Hayman, Director of Marketing for Human Element, a Magento Certified eCommerce company with a full suite of development & marketing tools, kicked off the event on Monday with a panel discussion, titled “New Beginnings.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, Main Street Digital, a company that assists businesses with their use of technology offered a look into accessible tools and digital platforms available to all businesses. Wednesday’s session examined the opportunities for digital lead generation in industries as diverse as real estate and information technology services. The lectures ended with discussions on Thursday and Friday detailing digital culture and advertising.

StockX Chief Design Officer speaks during the EMU Center for Entrepreneurship Speaker Series

During the week of the CDE Digital Marketing Workshops, the EMU Center for Entrepreneurship hosted StockX Chief Designer Officer Chris Kaufman for its annual Entrepreneur Speaker Series. Kaufman, an EMU alumnus, is a Co-Founder and the current Chief Design Officer at the $1 billion valued online marketplace.

During the Nov. 12 webinar, Kaufman spoke about his experiences in entrepreneurship, what he has learned during his career, and how he helped to co-found StockX.

Throughout his lecture Kaufman stressed the importance of strong business partners when beginning a new venture. “Out of all of these experiences, I want to talk about some things I have learned along the way,” said Kaufman to the roughly 70 attendees. “Find good partners and be really strategic about it; be prepared to give up equity. Having the right people on your team is going to get you exponentially further [in your business venture].”

StockX chief design officer and co-founder spoke to roughy 70 attendees as a 2020 speaker for the Eastern Michigan University Center for Entrepreneurship speaker series. This year's speakers were hosted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a significant portion of the presentation Kaufman spoke to those in attendance about his life prior to StockX. Kaufman’s interests in design began when he was a child.

“Starting at a very young age I really became obsessed . . . I would draw the school bus and try to design new letters for [it],” Kaufman said. “Then from there I kind of started to get into entrepreneurship, making cookies in fourth grade with my Mom and I would sell them to the other kids.”

The Origin of StockX

In 2003, Kaufman began his Bachelors of Fine Arts, or BFA, at EMU. Three years later in 2006, Kaufman began his career through an internship at the Detroit-based mortgage lending company Quicken Loans. Through his time at Quicken Loans, Kaufman was able to familiarize himself with the Quicken Loans chairman, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert would later become a co-founder and chief investor in StockX

After graduating, Kaufman began an online calendar app, UpTo, with Greg Schwartz, the Chief Operating Officer at StockX. UpTo later sold to Yahoo!, and Kaufman and Schwartz left the app.

After the sale of UpTo, Gilbert, a co-founder of StockX, offered Kaufman and Schwartz an opportunity to head a new venture rather than accepting executive positions in Silicon Valley, thus creating StockX.

“We figured out very early on that sneakers were going to be the product we were going to start with,” Kaufman said.

How does StockX work?

Originally designed to appease the needs of sneaker collectors, or "sneaker heads," as they are known colloquially, StockX sprung out of the business model of former StockX chief executive officer Josh Luber to apply the stock exchange model to sneaker prices. Through this model, valuable sneakers are given a market value in order to eliminate price disparities between vendors. StockX has shifted this model to not only sneakers, but designer clothing, watches, and collectible household items.

During the discussion Kaufman answered a variety of questions submitted by audience members. Among those were questions on how to network, start a new business, and how to make your business stand out against competitors.

“I think it’s finding the right cadence, finding the right partners, finding content that is relevant, and finding influencers in the culture that are relevant, that are going to resonate with your audience,” Kaufman explained when asked how to begin a new business. “Most importantly, it’s about being authentic,“ Kaufman said.

As for whats next with StockX, Kaufman hopes for the company to become publicly traded on the stock market through an initial public offering or IPO.

Elevator Pitch Competition goes virtual

Alongside the Entrepreneur Speaker Series, The Center for Entrepreneurship’s annual Elevator Pitch competition has gone virtual. Open to all students at EMU, the competition allows for students across the campus to present a two minute powerpoint pitch to potential investors. The finalists from the competition will be able to win monetary awards. This years Elevator Pitch competition will be held virtually on Friday, Dec. 11, at 3:30 p.m. In order to attend you must register here.

To find more information about future Speaker Series events, visit EMU Today’s event calendar. Learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship here. To learn more about the CDE click here. Click here to visit the StockX site.