CAPX and MakeWork Present Start-Up Wednesday Workshops

12:00–1:00 p.m.: Lunch provided
1:00–2:00 p.m.: Q&A

Join us for lunch and a series of talks on starting your own company.

Are you an artist, designer, educator, or administrator with an idea for a new venture? Come hear from successful entrepreneurs on what it takes to become a creative entrepreneur and learn about a new initiative at SAIC called the MakeWork Challenge.

The MakeWork Challenge is the art school version of a business plan competition. If you are a student or alum of SAIC you are eligible to apply for a spot in the MakeWork Challenge where you can win up to $10,000 to launch your venture.  

All events take place in the Sharp Building, 37 South Wabash Avenue, room 327, unless otherwise noted.

RSVP on SAIC Compass

Sign in to SAIC Compass with your existing login or create a new account. Find the full lineup of Start-Up Wednesday Workshops under Events and register for individual workshops.

Start-Up Wednesday Workshops

February 8: Pitch Ninja
Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Kellogg and Booth Business Schools, Mike Moyer, will give a talk on delivering amazing presentations.

Pitch Ninja from School of the Art Institute on Vimeo.

February 15: Should I Incorporate?
SAIC alum, author and entrepreneur Joe Solari (BFA 1991) will talk about when and how to incorporate your start-up.

Should I Incorporate? from School of the Art Institute on Vimeo.

March 1: Making Your First Sale
Founder of Lost Arts and Kickstarter, Charles Adler will help you get your foot in the door with your first client.

Making Your First Sale from School of the Art Institute on Vimeo.

March 15: An Unconventional Business
CEO of Know Your Comany Claire Lew will go behind the scenes and share the numbers + insights to show you exactly how they created an unusual business model and marketing strategies… that work!

An Unconventional Business from School of the Art Institute on Vimeo.

March 22: Finances for Start-Ups
MacLean Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.
CEO of CodeNow and founder of The Starter League, Neal Sales-Griffin will provide a step by step approach to understanding how to finance your practice.

Finances for Start-Ups from School of the Art Institute on Vimeo.


MakeWork Challenge

The application deadline for the MakeWork Challenge is April 12.

To apply, submit the following items via email to

1. A completed lean canvas. The lean canvas is a quick and easy way to describe your vision for your business. If you have questions about how to fill it out, come to one of our Wednesday Workshops. Download the lean canvasDownload the lean canvas budget template referred to in Section 8 of the lean canvas.

2. A link to the 90 second video that describes who you are, what your practice is about, and how you could benefit from the support of MakeWork.

Submit your application for the MakeWork Challenge to by Wednesday, April 12.

Please inculde your name as the subject line in your submission email. For helpful start-up terms, please refer to the start-up glossary.


Mentor/Council Member Bios


Charles Adler, Designer, Entrepreneur, and Technologist

Charles Adler is a social entrepreneur, Cofounder and former Head of Design at Kickstarter, and Founder of Lost Arts. Kickstarter, the groundbreaking crowdfunding platform, revolutionized how creative projects are funding globally. Lost Arts, a new experiment in the future of creative work, aims to drive innovation through open support of creativity.

As a leading entrepreneur and designer, Charles’ work ranges from systems design to interaction and community design, interface design to information architecture.

In 2013 Charles was named as one of Forbes magazine’s Top 12 Most Disruptive Figures in Business. Charles cofounded Kickstarter in 2009 shaping it into the world’s largest platform funding independent creative endeavors. Since its inception, Kickstarter has raised over $2 billion from over 6.4 million people for over 75,000 successful projects ranging from computer games to music albums, technology, fashion, educational projects and full length feature films.

Charles previously cofounded the online art publication Subsystence, and founded Source ID, where he operated as Principal Creative Director from 2003 to 2009.

DJ Catrow, Cofounder, Studio 424
Founding Member & Co-Chair

DJ Catrow is a Principal and the Creative Director of Studio 424, a boutique creative, branding, and digital studio that creates experiences intended to make people’s lives better. He works to explore models and complex systems that influence the overarching visual language of the studio.

DJ’s professional experience includes brand development and digital design for CVS Caremark, McDonald’s, Unilever, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Golin, IRi Worldwide, University of Chicago, Joyce Foundation, the City of Chicago, and Nike. He believes collaboration is the key to successful projects. DJ’s downtime is spent on competitive soccer leagues, his dogs, and his personal art practice—all fueled by an espresso addiction.

Kendra Foley, Executive Director of Individual Giving, SAIC
Founding Member

Kendra Foley spent 20 years in New York working for arts and education institutions such as Ubu Repertory Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, Thirteen/WNET, and Cambridge in America before coming to SAIC in August 2013. Her experience runs the gamut from actress to administrator including audience development, community outreach, marketing and fundraising. She established the MakeWork Council in the spring of 2015 to support the innate ability of artists and designers to become entrepreneurs.

Violet Forest, Cybertwee
2016 MakeWork Challenge Winner

Violet Forest is a new-media artist and front-end developer. She is the cofounder of the cybertwee collective and online community, and currently freelances for design studios in Chicago. Her studio practice consists of experimenting with web art, creative coding, virtual reality, mobile apps, and the dark web. She graduated with her MFA in Art & Technology from SAIC in 2016.

Gretchen Gscheidle, Director Insight and Exploration, Herman Miller
Founding Member

Gretchen Gscheidle is a well-grounded rationalist and an eternal optimist. She leads Herman Miller’s team of researchers as the Head of Insight and Exploration. Championing research and creativity in the earliest phases of Herman Miller’s product development efforts, Gretchen leads the team that explores unmet customer needs and responds to strategic questions identified by various organizational leaders.

As the research link in all of the company’s seating introductions beginning with the Aeron chair in 1994, Gretchen brings a strong record of participation and contribution in product development at Herman Miller. Her ergonomic research focuses on laboratory studies of pressure distribution, thermal comfort, kinematics and usability, as well as field ethnography and user trials. Gretchen is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and represents Herman Miller on the Office Ergonomics Research Committee. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Karen Hodges, Marketer & Business Coach

Karen Hodges spent over 25 years in marketing in New York City and Rhode Island in a wide range of industries including publishing, broadcasting, health care, banking, and higher education. Then as a certified business coach, she worked with entrepreneurs as well as small business owners to both launch and grow their businesses.

As a lifelong learner, Karen recently completed a program and received a certification in college counseling/career services from UCLA. She is passionate about using her expertise and knowledge to assist artists in becoming entrepreneurs.

Matthew Hoffman, Artist

Matthew Hoffman is a Chicago based artist and designer whose public works have been exhibited internationally. His ideas and work have been included in Good, the New York Times Magazine, and Ready Made. He has been published in books by Gestalten, Droog, and Taschen, and was featured in a segment on the Oprah network.

Matthew has created large scale public installations for the City of Chicago, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Albright Knox Gallery, as well as companies like Facebook, Zappos, Groupon, and Cards Against Humanity. There are close to 30 of his outdoor installations currently up in the Chicagoland area.

Matthew is the Custodian of You Are Beautiful, a project to better the world in little ways. The message has reached every corner of the globe, with over three million stickers shared by the community. The hope is for us to share uplifting thoughts with each other.

Chris Jones, Head of Creative Technology, Facebook
Founding Member

Chris Jones is an entrepreneurial executive experienced with leading product development and design teams across large and early stage organizations. He has a passion for combining user centered product design with emerging technologies including mobile, social media, ad tech, sematic web, natural language processing, and machine learning.

Claire Lew, Know Your Company

Claire Lew is the CEO of Know Your Company, a software tool that helps business owners with 25 to 75 employees overcome company growing pains. Her software company has helped over 12,000 people at companies like Airbnb and Kickstarter build more open, honest company cultures. Claire’s mission in life is to help people become happier at work. As an artistic outlet, she also loves to paint.

Sandra Malec, Trend and Development Manager, CB2
Founding Member

Sandra Malec’s work combines research and reporting on trends, and focuses on the home furnishings industry and fashion. Much of this entails travel to trade shows to research trends and meet with designers, like the Milan Salone, ICFF, Maison et Objet. Sandra oversees freelance designers and artists, vendors, and agents, which kickstarts a new product development season. At CB2, Sandra acts as a liaison between Product Managers and Product Developers and Freelance Designers.

Sandra initiated the launch for and currently supports the marketing team as facilitator on its new format:, also known as Idea Central.

Benjamin Miles, Partner and Interactive Director, The Uprising Creative
Founding Member

Benjamin Miles is a company maker, creative coder, digital designer, mentor, and husband. He is a partner and the Director of Interactive at The Uprising Creative, a Chicago/Los Angeles based creative and production company. His professional career started in 2006 at Chicago advertising agency, Schafer Condon Carter. After several years he ventured out with a few peers to start, Kilo Inc., a production company, recording studio, and record label. The business grew and a relationship evolved with digital studio, Eyes & Ears, where he would eventually team up as a partner, and help lead a merger with The Uprising Creative. Through The Uprising he's provided work for brands and artists such as Nike, Chevy, Budweiser, Converse, Beyoncé, The Rolling Stones, and Bruno Mars.

Mike Moyer, Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneurship, Booth Business School, University of Chicago
Founding Member

Mike Moyer is an entrepreneur who has started a number of companies including Bananagraphics, a product development and merchandising company, Moondog, an outdoor clothing manufacturing company, Vicarious Communication, Inc, a marketing technology company for the medical industry,, a site that helps students find the right college, and Lake Shark Ventures, LLC, which provides publications, angel investments, and software.

In addition to his experience as an entrepreneur he has held a number of senior-level marketing positions with companies that sell everything from vacuum cleaners to financial data services to motor home chassis to luxury wine. Mike is the inventor of Slicing Pie—a model for creating perfect equity splits in bootstrapped companies that is used all over the world. He is the author of a number of books including How to Make Colleges Want You, Pitch Ninja, Trade Show Samurai, Slicing Pie and The Slicing Pie Handbook. He has an MS in integrated marketing from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Lake Forest, Illinois with his wife, three kids and the Lizard of Oz.

Erin Pierce, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Pluralsight
Founding Member

Erin Pierce has over 11 years of experience in digital marketing and tech platforms.  Throughout her career she has held marketing and public relations positions at Ruder Finn, Adobe, and now Pluralsight, an on-demand technology learning platform.

Neal Sales-Griffin, CEO, CodeNow
Founding Member & Co-Chair

In 2010 Neal Sales-Griffin left a position as founder-in-residence at a venture capital firm to fulfill a three-part desire: solve problems, make things, and have fun doing it.  His company was the first to work in the 1871 Chicago incubator space, and one year later launched The Starter League with his partner Mike McGee, one of the first code boot camps, with the goal of helping people solve problems through technology and code. Since The Starter League's launch in 2011 up until its acquisition by Fullstack Academy this March, over 1,500 students learned tech and entrepreneurship skills through the program. Now the duo is bringing that philosophy to a new audience: middle school and high school students.

Neal and Mike are taking over CodeNow, a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that hosts coding workshops for students from low-income backgrounds in six cities across the US. Neal will be CEO (and will help Fullstack part-time with their Chicago operation) and Mike will be director of programs. The two will join a team of six full-time and two part-time employees. Current CEO Ryan Seashore will join the board of directors. Jumping headfirst into CodeNow, Neal and Mike aim to retool the program to focus on problem solving software and to expand to new cities, including Chicago.

Joe Solari, Partner, Claymore, Ulfberht, & Xiphos LLC DBA IMPACT | CUX

Joe Solari (BFA 1991) is a partner at Claymore, Ulfberht, & Xiphos (CUX), at which he describes himself and his colleagues as matchmakers and coaches for impact investing. Their expertise is environmental and social impact investment deal origination.

They help capital seekers to develop financial models and test these models to quantify execution risk, potential impact and investment returns. CUX develops a capital structure that supports the projects objectives and then facilitates getting the right group of investors that are passionate about the issue and are aligned by their stated mission.

CUX provides impact funds with deal flow that aligns with mission objectives across environmental and social issues in both developed and emerging markets. They are a source of projects that are in need of financial sponsorship and typically have a mix of private and foundation money and provide meaningful measurable impact.

Part of the value that CUX brings is the ability to be creative and develop structures that help to test and quantify risk, provide a method for liquidity and exit and assure that the project remains on mission post investment horizon.

Steven Wang, Executive Director, High Concept Labs
Founding Member

Steven Wang has over seven years of experience within the consumer packaged goods industry, helping Fortune 500 companies develop and grow their store brands. His experience spanned the realms of retail execution, new product development, market research and analytics, and category management for such retailers as Kroger, Office Depot, Safeway, and Kmart.

His passion for opera—and the desire to find ways of getting younger generations involved in the art form—influenced him to pursue his MBA at the University of Cambridge in the UK, specializing in Culture and Arts Management. During his studies, Steven produced a modern interpretation of Dido and Aeneas, and worked as a budgeting consultant for the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. After his program, he assisted the Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk on multiple consulting projects, including a revamp of their marketing message to improve their recruitment strategies for the Aldeburgh World Orchestra.

Steven also holds a BS in Marketing (Honors) and Economics from Arizona State University.

He joined High Concept Labs in 2015. 

Past Projects

On April 8, SAIC students from the School's Venture Studio class presented a range of art and design enterprises in the hopes of receiving funding from the MakeWork Council. After a long deliberation three budding entrepreneurs received top funding awards and two were named runner ups. It is the hope of the council that these awards will propel these artists to the next level of developing their enterprises:

Violet Forest Cybertwee
Cybertwee HQ: A virtual reality space for femme in tech
What if virtual reality spaces were made with femme in mind?
The funding Violet received will fast-track the development of a Cybertwee app, allowing her virtual gallery to extend its reach and increase its accessibility.


Norman TeaguePlank 
Complete your attire with the one bow tie that sets the standard.
The funding Norman received will provide him with equipment to improve the quality and output for his Plank ties as well as provide training for his apprentices.


Gabriella Michelle SmithCAMBER 
Inspired by Industrial Age steel bridges, the intricate lattice rings encapsulate structural strength through design. The funding provided to Gabriella will allow her to further refine the manufacturing process for her bridge rings.


The council is also happy to offer smaller awards to:

Kimberley Clark, Hidden Creatures Book One: Boogiebobers
The first book in the Hidden Creatures series following the story of the Boogiebobers. The funding Kimberley received will send her to C2E2 and help produce the first run of her illustrated books.

Helen Lee, Choco-Care Chocolate Molds, Emotional Roller Coasters, Connect The Dot Greeting Cards
Make chocolate, make things better, and patch things up with these DIY chocolate molds. The funding Helen received will allow her to take her line of designed object to Renegade Craft Fair in order to expand her customer base and make important connections to potential business partners.