The Center for Entrepreneurial Educators
A Case Study in How Ideas Become Innovations
This is a history of how – when sometimes complete strangers engage with each other in positive and continuous learning – one great idea can be “hatched” that begets another, then another, and so on until this joyous thing called innovation happens. In the winter of 2016, I attended Product Camp, a one-day “unconference” that brought together entrepreneurial creators to share ideas and methods for all things product-related: generating product ideas, product development, marketing, company startup and more.
During one of the sessions I met Brian Lunt, who introduced himself as co-founder of Medici MediaSpace, a planned co-working space and creativity hub designed to bring together creative people from multiple disciplines of media arts, business and supporting technologies who could meld their skills, ideas and creativity into wonderfully expressive outcomes. Brian promised to let me know when their business launched, and sure enough, the message came announcing the August 2016 launch.
It was January 2017 when I finally got around to visiting the Medici facilities. It took less than 30 minutes of visiting with Brian and his business partner, Josh Levey, for me to sign up for both office rental and a monthly subscription to use their services. It seemed a perfect support organization for my small business, S4 Entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurial skills development firm; I’d found a community to which I could give freely, fully confident that I would receive far more value than the time and talent that I gave over the long run. I was not disappointed.
In February, during one of Medici’s Monday Strategy Sessions (a forum for both members and non-members that is an opportunity to collectively explore business and creative ideas), I met Justin Hildebrand, an educator and leader of the professional skills development program (STL CAPS) at Affton High School. Justin and I talked about his passion for designing and delivering the best possible program for his students; I was fascinated and wanted to learn more about his and similar programs throughout the region.
Justin and I met again in May, and this time the discussion turned to the educators themselves. Lots of questions came out. Isn’t Justin’s program, and others like it, really all about entrepreneurial education? And if those programs enable students to be successful by developing entrepreneurial skills, doesn’t it make sense that the skills being taught are also essential skills that any educator would personally benefit from their practice, either from being a more successful teacher or achieving additional financial success with some part-time business? After all, an almost ubiquitous perception (or “pain point) of society and the teachers themselves is that teachers are underpaid for the near heroic vocation they pursue. Why is there no structured organization that enabled teachers to achieve greater levels of success in their respective work lives?
As an instructor of entrepreneurial studies at Webster University and someone familiar with the local entrepreneurial support ecosystem, it was easy to observe that there are plenty of resources for entrepreneurs focused on innovating in the fields of high-tech, IT, bio-tech, agri-tech, sports-tech, pharma, financial tech (or fintech), food tech, and energy tech, but there was no such organized resource infrastructure for the field of education…in support of those doing the educating! The light bulb was switched on…
Justin and I rejoined with the founding partners of Medici MediaSpace, Brian and Josh, to continue exploring this idea of an organization created by educators focused on promoting and developing an entrepreneurial mindset in others as the key to enabling every educator’s lifelong pursuit of a successful work life. They loved the idea immediately, and the concepts underpinning the Center for Entrepreneurial Educators took hold. And why not? Not only did all four of us – educators all, each within their own respective niche – agree that there was a huge gap in the regional entrepreneurial support network, this idea was a perfect illustration of what Medici MediaSpace was all about…generating an explosion of great ideas that can only happen when people engage each other in the hard work of thinking, sharing, and pursuing innovation together.
Of course, Josh and Brian made use of their great network to bring to the foursome a fifth, Kelly Chandler, a passionate supporter and mentor within the Parkway School District’s “Spark!” and the Wentzville School District's "Ignite!" entrepreneurial education programs. It turned out that Kelly encouraged Justin to come to Medici through her work with STL CAPS (Affton's program). As such, this has truly come FULL CIRCLE! Her business development talent and energy was the last ingredient needed for creation of the Winter EdVenture, the Center for Entrepreneurial Educators’ first offering to the community it was formed to serve.
The creative process continues. Please join us for the ride and achieve your work-life success, however you define it!
John is a co-founder and CEO of the Center for Entrepreneurial Educators (ceeglobal.org); is owner and founder of S4 Entrepreneurs (s4entreprenuers.com), and is employed by the Advanced Technology Group (atginfo.com) as a Director of Transformation. He is an adjunct instructor of entrepreneurial studies for Webster University and has trained and mentored hundreds who have gained entrepreneurial skills used for ensuring a success work-life, BOTH as business owners (employers) and employees.
 “Innovation” is an appropriate descriptor only if three things happen: 1) Get one or more ideas, 2) act upon and implement those ideas, and 3) achieve a better outcome.
 “Medici MediaSpace” (medicistl.com) is so named, in part, after the book entitled, “The Medici Effect”, by Frans Johannson. Johannson explains how innovation is rooted in an explosion of ideas that results when people from different perspectives and disciplines come together to learn from each other and make things happen; a foundational concept behind Medici MediaSpace.