My Carlson Ventures Enterprise Adventure

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Leah Battin, Full-Time MBA Candidate, Class of 2021



Welcome to CVE


On the first day of the Carlson Ventures Enterprise (CVE), we got to know each other by trying to match obscure personal facts to the appropriate student. We learned that we had an opera singer, a professional saxophone player, and several successful entrepreneurs in our cohort of 17 MBA candidates and 12 undergraduate students. It was an auspicious, entertaining, and enlightening start to our CVE adventure.



Design Thinking

The next class sessions provided a crash course in design thinking. Toby Nord, the director of CVE, introduced us to product-market fit, where

the target customer segment meets value proposition, and assured us that our assumptions about each were probably wrong. He challenged us to gather as much information as we could through in-depth interviews and behavioral observations in context, which would expose the flaws in our thinking, highlight the truths in our understanding, and determine the inflection points in our exploration process.


Client Project



Now my attention has turned to my team’s client project. We are working with the Northside Job Creation Team (NJCT), an initiative of the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC). NJCT has worked extensively with the Carlson School of Management and Humphrey School of Public Affairs for the last several years to identify and pursue the best strategies to bring sustainable, living wage, green jobs to North Minneapolis. My team continues this work as we explore the market demand and trends that may drive modular multifamily housing development and the feasibility of solar panel manufacturing. These targets reflect NJCT’s focus on the future, for both workforce development and environmentally responsive and responsible investment.


Path Forward


Our CVE project with NJCT is just beginning. We are solidifying our project scope with our client and drafting our internal list of questions to scrutinize and validate our assumptions. Toby’s directive to get out of the building, or Genchi Genbutsu (“go and see”), echoes in our heads as we jump from secondary to primary research. My team’s shared sense of purpose and focus on social impact will guide us in serving our client. We hope that, by asking open-ended, non-judgmental questions and examining our findings through a critical lens, we will advance the objectives of NJCT and see the continued development of sustainable jobs in North Minneapolis.