top of page

VCU da Vinci Center

As Ideator in Residence at the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, I helped shape a new way of teaching design thinking and entrepreneurship in higher ed. Students were given dedicated time and space to showcase their work to gain insights and test their products, services and ideas with real-world customers. 


In the Fall of 2021, the the da Vinci Center launched what VCU President Michael Rao called the "first-of-its-kind place where entrepreneurial students can join in creating innovations that accelerate their student experience and advance the human experience."

The Shift Retail Lab offers a lab-type approach for student entrepreneurs to test their ideas through sales and customer feedback. Community members are able to take an active part in developing student ideas into market-ready products and services.

I was excited to be able to use this space to enhance learning through regularly scheduled user research sessions in the form of product innovation showcases throughout the semester.

Showcase Sign.png

Fast Company named Shift Retail Lab as an honorable mention in the Urban Design category of the magazine’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards. 

Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.26.21 PM.png

All written assignments were submitted via Miro, an online whiteboard tool.  Each student used Miro as a place to document their work in creative ways, either by using templates I provided, using frameworks from other courses in the Master's of Product Innovation program, and/or prototyping/developing their ideas in their own unique way.

Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 6.29.51 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 6.29.29 PM.png

This role was my first time teaching at the college level.  I taught INNO 651 which is the first semester of a two semester capstone project within the da Vinci Center's graduate program (Master of Product Innovation). My first semester I built a new curriculum based on the students' prior coursework, their expressed learning interests, and my own experience both as an MBA graduate and two-time entrepreur. I also leaned on my professional circle to fill in any gaps with their expertise, pulling as much global real-world experience into the classroom as possible.  It was certainly a collaborative and iterative process to build the right combination of lectures, activities, and assignments.


In addition to bringing community members into the Shift Retail Lab, I was also excited to involve local, national, and global innovators from within my network to provide mentorship and guidance. 

A few examples of guest speakers and panelists from my course:

Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.52.47 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.55.00 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.47.58 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.48.16 PM.png
Screen Shot 2022-08-06 at 10.51.44 PM.png

Customer Experience


Principal Attorney

CJFox Law

Brand Manager
Global Coffee Innovation


Founder &
Podcast Host

Black on Shelf

Innovation &
Agile Lead


Co-Founder &
Chief Science Officer

SweetBio, Inc.

bottom of page