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"The Best Students From All Over Campus Were Drawn to This Class:" A Q&A With Creative Entrepreneurship Student Cole Godvin

Oct 18, 2018

Creative Entrepreneurship class

Creative Entrepreneurship, a new 5-week, 1-credit hour course taught by Executive Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Jan Ryan, just wrapped up this October. The class, offered through the Center for Integrated Design, was the first of its kind in the College of Fine Arts and covered the essential business fundamentals for launching a new venture. We spoke with Cole Godvin, one of the Creative Entrepreneurship students, to hear about her experience.

Cole Godvin

Cole Godvin

M.A. in Art Education candidate

Blanton Museum gallery teaching fellow

Cole Godvin spent the last decade in California teaching high school journalism and working as a freelance arts journalist before moving to Austin in 2017. She is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Art Education program and the Museum Studies portfolio program at the College of Fine Arts, and she works at the Blanton Museum as a gallery teaching fellow.

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Why did you come to UT?

I moved to Austin with my family. My partner works at UT, and I ended up enrolling because I was interested in making a career shift. I was definitely interested in getting involved in the tech world and entrepreneurship, but I’m also interested in education, specifically in arts programming and public programming and how you can bring people together in dialogue.

What inspired you to take the Creative Entrepreneurship class?

I learned about Jan’s class through a flyer in the College of Fine Arts building near the elevator. I was so pleased that something like this existed because I knew there were some accelerators attached to UT but I didn’t actually think it would be a class a person could take, so I was really excited to take this class.

I had been thinking about creating an app for museums for probably a year and a half, but my job at the time was really intense, and I had just had a child. Now my daughter’s 2, and things have been settling down a bit, so the timing was good. And being in the Blanton gives me some great insight into how the museum functions and works with the public, which is what I’m hoping the app will do eventually—help the public interface with museums in a productive way.


Tell me more about your museum app. Why museums?

As a former independent school teacher for gifted kids, I’ve had an opportunity to cultivate meaningful, intellectual and cultural discourse with a very select group of young people. I’ve always been aware that I was dealing with such a small slice of society and that  many people are shut out from that, they just don’t have access. So, I basically started to get more and more interested in museums as a place for public education. Anybody can walk into a museum and be brought into the larger discourse of ideas. I also think I’m interested in museums because we’re living in an increasingly digital era when everybody’s sort of cut off and siloed through technology and just staring at a screen, and museums will always be about real life activity.

And as a consumer, I’ve always found it kind of a hassle to keep up with museums, like what show is going on where, where they’re located, how close are they, what are their hours. I don’t want to have to go on sites likes 512 or TimeOut or whatever and cull through all the museum information, so I thought an app that would aggregate and share vital museum info in one place and also share recommendations with friends, that sort of thing, would be helpful. I think sometimes people don’t go to museums because it’s just a little bit of a hassle, and I think if we can create a channel through which people can engage in a more meaningful way, they’re going to do it.

Cole Godvin presenting in class

How did the Creative Entrepreneurship class help?

Jan Ryan covered an incredible amount of ground in five weeks. There are students from other disciplines, not just within Fine Arts, which is really fantastic because that creates such a diverse talent pool in the class. She divided the class into entrepreneurial teams, so any given team could have a designer, a business student, maybe someone from sociology or another discipline.

Essentially she walked us through the process of getting a startup running, and there were different projects within the class. In the beginning if you had a project you were interested in using, you could get up and pitch your idea. So people got up and pitched, and the class voted on which ideas they liked best, and from there she assembled teams. In this way several different ideas were developed over five weeks, and we finished class with a pitch session to an accelerator. Jan taught us everything. It’s been very learn-by-doing, very hands-on. She’s been great about giving a lot of background information to the students, straightforward things in terms of the mindset of an entrepreneur and essentially the lay of the land in the entrepreneurship world. She’s brought in guest speakers who’ve talked about their own experiences and about how to bring a company to market and getting it to flourish. It’s been a really amazingly well-orchestrated introduction to entrepreneurship.

This class was incredibly collaborative and team-driven, and really useful in terms of refining my overall ideas because I had a team that I could sit down and talk to and we could discuss what worked in other apps, what doesn’t work in other apps. You can’t underestimate how useful it is to have a team of people to work with when you’re creating something. I am so thankful to my team members Eric Moe, Arooj Sheikh and Hannah Thomas for all they brought to this venture in terms of creative input and business development. They are each brilliant and were instrumental in helping me bring this idea to life.

It’s really amazing, here we are in the College of Fine Arts, and the very best students from all over campus were drawn to this class. So it’s just been really exciting to see all these different students find one another and really get into the nitty gritty of how you build a company.



Jan Ryan will be teaching a new course in the spring, ITD 350 "Women in Entrepreneurship,” which will examine gender dynamics and diversity in the entrepreneurial sphere and is designed for students interested in launching a new venture through team-based experiential learning.

{Photos} Top, from L to R: Oksana Malysheva, founder of Sputnik Accelerator; Gray Garmon, director of the Center for Integrated Design; Annie Hardy, founder of Zeet Insights and Executive Director Jan Ryan. Middle, Cole Godvin. Bottom, Cole Godvin and Eric Moe, presenting. 

Creative Entrepreneurship   Center for Integrated Design