Case Study: Laspa Center for Leadership

A two-day hackathon event inspiring and educating the next generation of responsible entrepreneurs and innovators

The Laspa Center for Leadership is closing the gender leadership gap by providing programming, partnerships, and engagement designed to empower emerging women leaders and to expand women’s global influence, power, and impact.
We worked with the LASPA Center for Leadership to lead an Entrepreneurship Academy event at Scripps College. We led students through a series of interactive creative exercises to teach them innovative ideation techniques, rapid prototyping, user testing, and how to create a compelling pitch deck. This event helped students take their passions and develop them into real life projects.

How might we teach college students entrepreneurship, design, and creativity techniques that they can use to apply to their passion problems?

Our Goal

LASPA wanted to launch its first Entrepreneurship Academy event in the spring, with workshops, panels, and a 2-day hack-a-thon to teach students how to develop business pitches that take social impact ideas to the next level through human-centered design and design thinking. The event aimed to give students the opportunity to participate in experiential learning situations on topics such as business development, financial acumen, and perfecting a pitch.

How we helped

In a fun and interactive environment, The Determined walked students through our Remix methodology of creative innovation.
Our remix of proven creative methodologies draws from Human-Centered Design, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Prototype Thinking, and Thinking Wrong to accelerate the rate of innovation, progress, and change in the social impact space.
We walked students through a series of exercises to help them come up with unique solutions to quickly and easily prototype their project ideas and user test them for valuable feedback. We then helped students develop effective pitches, teaching them pitch techniques that they could apply to influence panelists and to get the right people on board.

Students learned the following techniques:

+ Problem solving
+ Rapid prototyping
+ Creative ideation
+ User research
+ Understanding the creative process
+ Ways to get unstuck during the creative process
+ Actionable steps for moving an idea from your group forward

Approach: Day 1

We kicked off the workshop by having students introduce themselves, share a bit about their passion problems, and form into groups.
We led them through several Think Wrong exercises to help loosen up their minds and invite serendipity into the initial idea generation process.
As they began formulating ideas for projects they could create to solve their stated passion problems, we introduced them to Prototype Thinking and had them begin thinking of ways they could prototype their idea in the next day.

Approach: Day 2

On the second day, we came back together to put Prototype Thinking in action. We had each team create quick prototypes of their concept, then helped them test their ideas on users from the various groups and ourselves.
After three rounds of testing, each team made some large pivots based on what they learned and went back to the drawing board to repeat the process.
Over lunch, LASPA brought in a panel of women entrepreneurs to share their experiences and advice with the students. We had a wonderful discussion about the experience of being an entrepreneur, from running a business to developing self confidence and discipline.
Then we came back together to begin formulating pitches for the last half of the day.
We helped students understand how to tell a compelling story that their panelist judges will care about as they share their idea.
We gave them a template of important points to cover throughout their pitch, and then created time and space for them to create their pitches before going on stage to present to the judges at the end of the day.


Day 1:
+ Form into groups around related passions
+ Share insights and stories about the passion problem
+ Think Wrong
+ Understand target market & create a user persona
+ Create an initial concept
+ Storyboard concept
+ Begin prototyping
Day 2:
+ Prototype Thinking
+ User testing
+ Lunch: Panel discussions
+ Marketing your product
+ Resources, Partners, & Timeline
+ Telling your story with resonant messaging
+ Billy Mays Video
+ Pitch templates
+ Build pitch decks


1. Empathize
Identify a challenge to solve and a target audience. Who are they, what do they care about, where will you reach them? What is the experience of this problem like for them?

+ Share insights
+ User profiles

2. Ideate
Break apart our brain’s synaptic connections and introduce serendipity with some fun creative exercises. Utilize the results of these ideas to help us generate unique solutions.

+ Think Wrong
+ Random Word

3. Define
Create a Prototype Framework Poster and a Storyboard of how our user will experience our solution to their problem. Map out the key moments, utilizing fun Think Wrong exercises to encourage more unique ideation in the process.

+ 3x3x3
+ Storyboarding

4. Prototype
Create low-fidelity paper prototypes and other elements to roleplay the scene in the storyboard, defining which parts of the experience to test.

+ Prototype Thinking
+ Paper Prototyping

5. Test
Guide test participants through the roleplay of your scenario, observing and taking note of their authentic reactions, and rapidly iterating as needed in response to feedback in real time.

+ Prototype Thinking
+ User Testing

6. Refine
Add elements to the Prototype Framework Poster such as Key Resources, Dream Team, Marketing Partners, and Timeline.

+ Brand Takeover

7. Pitch
Consider who you’re pitching to, create a compelling reason to care and formulate a pitch deck promoting your solution, what problem you’re solving, and who you’re solving it for. Pitch elements may include a Billy Mays-style promotional video or simply a sketched storyboard and other visual elements.

+ Messaging That Resonates
+ Billy Mays Video


This 2-day immersion worked so well because we worked alongside the MPN team while a diverse team of professionals added their talent and viewpoints to the core team discussions.
+ Marc O’Brien
+ Sarah Harrison


The winning teams after their pitches

On the students’ side, we heard many comments from excited students, who gained a passion for entrepreneurship:
“I had no idea we’d be learning this many skills and getting as much done as we did in two days!”

Alexandra Cheng, Intern at LASPA Center for Leadership

“This has expanded my mind like nothing ever has since I discovered Philosophy!”

Moor Ming, Philosophy Major at Scripps College

We also got insight into some of the challenges and needs for promoting entrepreneurship in colleges, and are getting started with future plans to do much more community building and engagement with colleges in the near future.

Want us to help facilitate a group of people in your organization? Awesome.