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Coleman Center Hosts 2112 Welcome Reception

The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center hosted a welcome reception this fall to celebrate DePaul’s new membership at 2112, Chicago’s first business incubator focused on music, film and creative technologies

The Coleman Center’s membership is a combined effort with the School of Music, College of Law and the Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. As part of the membership, alumni, students and faculty can use DePaul’s dedicated office space, mingle with other entrepreneurs and participate in 2112’s programming.

Bruce Leech, executive director of the Coleman Center, says the membership gives resources to students who are interested in building creative businesses. Over a year ago, DePaul joined 1871, Chicago’s digital startup incubator,  giving students opportunities to participate in business pitch competitions, collaborative events and more.

“I’m hoping our membership creates more diversity in the type of teams that come together to start businesses,” Leech says. “If you stick four finance students in a room together, the odds of them coming out with a creative idea are probably rather limited, but when you spice it up with students from different backgrounds – ethnically or educationally – that’s when the magic starts to happen.”

The two-year-old facility – named after an album by the rock band Rush – is based in Chicago’s Northwest Side Portage Park neighborhood and is part of Fort Knox Studios. The incubator’s year-round programming includes workshops on a variety of topics, such as virtual reality storytelling, copyright law 101, building an app and motivation for getting a business started.

Keyante Aytch, an undergraduate management major studying entrepreneurship, spent his summer as an intern at 2112 as part of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center’s Startup Internship Program. The program places students with startup businesses to work closely with founders on specific projects. In addition to administrative responsibilities, Aytch worked with startups at 2112 on beta testing and building a music library for a budding entertainment company.

“For me, being at 2112 is like being a kid in a candy store,” Aytch says. “I really just have a genuine interest in businesses and business ideas, so I was able to be in touch with startup founders all day. It was a great experience learning about different companies, and being hands-on with them here and there was a lot of fun.”

Aytch also stays involved with the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center by serving as a peer advisor for DePaul students who are developing business ideas. He actively participates in the center’s year-round events and workshops, too. His own interest in starting a business began during his senior year of high school when he took courses in economics and entrepreneurship, and became fascinated with the process of building a business.

For Aytch, 2112 is especially beneficial. He’s currently working on his own startup—a design label of dress wear accessories.

“As someone who is in fashion like myself, I may come across someone (at 2112) who is in film looking for special pieces for a costume set, so there may be a partnership there,” he says. “Those are the types of connections that are extremely possible just from being in that space and being able to network there as well.”

The Coleman Center’s 2112 membership also sends a message that entrepreneurship is not just for business students and alumni, Leech says.

“There’s a very fine line between creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation,” he says, adding that DePaul’s Center for Innovation recently merged with the Coleman Center. “Whether you’re going to start your own business, there’s a chance that in your career you’re going to end up working for yourself or freelancing. We think it’s really imperative to give our students that experiential opportunity to work on their own business or idea.”

Learn more about:
DePaul's entrepreneurship business major
DePaul MBA entrepreneurship concentration
Master of Science in Entrepreneurship