“Most Entrepreneurs Don’t Think About Their Culture Until It’s on Top of Them”

Robert Stringer, director of the Babson SVP, will discuss 'soft business issues' with student startups
By Lucia Maffei - February 14, 2019

By his own admission, Robert “Bob” Stringer is not “a high-tech guru.” His experience is in what he calls “good-for-you, health and wellness, food and beverage” startups.

Bob Stringer (Photo provided by Babson)

Still, the new director of the Babson Summer Venture program – a 10-week long program that aims at accelerating the development of student ventures from Babson, Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley – knows he’s likely to encounter many tech startups as the new edition of the program prepares to select the final 15.

Stringer took over the position from David Chang, who was the first non-faculty member to hold the role. He’s been long associated with Babson as a lecturer; he was also the founding general partner of Sherbrooke Capital, a $100 million VC firm based in Boston.

We reached out to Stringer to discuss his appointment—plus many other things, such as how early-stage entrepreneurs tend to underestimate the importance of culture building, and the Babson companies in his portfolio.

When did you first hear about the Babson Summer Venture Program?

I have a long relationship with Babson, having taught there in the MBA program. Then, I ran a program during the summer called the “Global Entrepreneurship Program.” So, I was somewhat familiar with the Blank Center, and I know David Chang [former director of the Summer Venture Program, currently CEO of Gradifi since November 2018], and I know Debi Kleiman, who runs the SVP … She reached out to me and I expressed my interest.

Can you describe for me the moment when you thought, “Ok, I want to take over this role”?

I’ve done a lot of different things in my career: venture, investing, angel investing; I’ve started a few businesses; I teach; I’ve consulted; I’ve written some books. But there’s nothing more fun, for me, than hanging out with a bunch of people who are passionate about what they do.

What is your experience about working with companies that are really, really early-stage?

I have a portfolio of, originally, 38 companies, now it’s down to about 30. Included in my investments, there are four companies founded by people who were my actual students at Babson. They started from absolute scratch. So I’m very used to – and enjoy, quite frankly – working with enterprises that haven’t yet been born.

For the full article…

FastCo Design "The Most Important Design Jobs Of The Future"

This FastCo article compiled by Suzanne LaBarre is a phenomenal call out of the diversity of jobs growing out of the rapidly changing design industry, even now, I would argue.  I feel that the Fusionist Designer Role describes exactly the approach, process and value I bring as a designer.  Thank you!!!!

Designers at Google, Microsoft, Autodesk, Ideo, Artefact, Teague, Lunar, Huge, New Deal, and fuseproject predict 18 new design jobs.

Yesterday's graphic designers are today's UX designers. Will tomorrow's UX designers will be avatar programmers, fusionists, and artificial organ designers? Yes, according to the illustrious roster of design leaders we spoke with here.

Design has matured from a largely stylistic endeavor to a field tasked with solving thorny technological and social problems, an evolution that will accelerate as companies enlist designers for increasingly complex opportunities, from self-driving cars to human biology. "Over the next five years, design as a profession will continue to evolve into a hybrid industry that is considered as much technical as it is creative," says Dave Miller, a recruiter at the design consultancy Artefact. "A new wave of designers formally educated in human-centered design—taught to weave together research, interaction, visual and code to solve incredibly gnarly 21st-century problems—will move into leadership positions. They will push the industry to new heights of sophistication."

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3054433/design-moves/the-most-important-design-jobs-of-the-future

Fusionist - Nominated by Asta Roseway, principal research designer, Microsoft Research
Early technology was, in its most basic form, like a huge block of ice: not very accessible, clunky, and necessitating specialists to handle. Now as technology melts, it will transform from solid to liquid to gas, permeating almost every aspect of our lives and creating a cross-disciplinary opportunities. Such diffusion will become the foundation for future design jobs. The designer’s role therefore will be to act as the "fusion" between art, engineering, research, and science. Her ability to think critically while working seamlessly across disciplines, blending together their best aspect, is what will make her a "Fusionist."

While still expertly versed in classical design skills, the fusionist will mix those skills with a "generalist" approach to technology, working across disciplines and interest groups. In many cases, the fusionist may feel like an outlier. The technologies she bridges will require her to expand her own capacities. She’ll need to be an expert collaborator and communicator, extending her vocabulary so that she can reverse engineer her vision into discrete items that specialists can act upon. The Fusionist will remain driven by her passion for the Future and her ability to use Design as the unifying vehicle to drive the best experience.

The global challenges that lie ahead can only be solved by a collaboration of minds and vocations, and a diversity of views. The challenge and reward for the Fusionist will be in her ability to communicate, comprehend, and connect all parties through design. This is already beginning to happen in the emerging fields of biofabrication and wearable technology. Stemming from biotech, biofabrication is a new cross disciplinary movement between the design and science that is generating the next wave of sustainable materials and solutions for our survival. It is not uncommon to see artists and biologists sitting together tackling the same problem. Additionally, wearable technology will see an influx of fashion designers and artists partnered with engineers, in order to create technologies that will go into our fibers and onto our skin. Fusionists will act as the bridges between emerging fields, and their ability to bring all parties together through communication and design will help bring about the greatest experiences.