“Innovation Education Deserves”: The Prototopics Story

From Stanford to Prototopics, explore our quest for educational innovation.

Started Date: 6/8/2017

Original Address: Miami, FL (Little Haiti Neighborhood)

Original Slogan: “The Innovation Education Deserves”

The original logo is still used today.

From Stanford to Prototopics

Prototopics is the thought child of my time at Stanford, focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship in education. How I settled on education was by taking a deep dive into those industries that presented the largest need for an overhaul (based on the largest potential impact) and hadn’t had a main contender become the face of the movement.

I taught college courses for about 3 months in Philadelphia on this innovative path and how this ideology can be applied to any field of study (business law, finance, epidemiology, history, scientific research, etc.). I used the concepts of design thinking, human-centered design, and kinesthetic learning, or “learning styles” (originating from the D. School at Stanford), and added in rapid prototyping. After seeing the applications across so many different areas, I saw the opportunity, and Prototopics was born.

I began working with other schools (university and K–12) to create makerspaces, or spaces that foster creativity and innovation in a variety of ways. After working on roughly 10 makerspaces, from North Carolina to North Dakota and Miami to California, I realized something that was the most important ideology that led us to where we are today. I realized, “The same people leading these businesses today most likely went through the same broken education system we are working to fix.” At that point, the company had not been founded yet but was in the beginning stages of determining what the business model would be.

The Birth of Prototopics

This led to the incorporation of the business a few months later in Miami. I spent between 8 and 12 hours a day on the company after walking 2 miles each way to get to a place that had internet access, as I was too under-resourced to afford it when we started.

Within 2 days of incorporation, I found a conference to be held in Miami Beach that upcoming weekend (June 12–13) called eMerge Americas, in which all the innovation-driven companies would be present. While there, I met Maria Defuscio of Refresh Miami, and she told me about Venture Cafe, which was a collaboration between CIC Miami and the University of Miami to generate exposure and education for businesses in Miami.

Breaking Ground with Makerspaces

I also met the founders of a Miami-based Makerspace that used 3D technology to teach children through kinesthetic learning. I was given permission to hold my first workshop at their facility for free in Wynwood, Miami, two weeks later. I had tapped into the contacts I made at Emerge Americas to generate excitement for the workshop and had 20 people sign up to attend.

June 24th came, and I had only two people (that I had previously known) show up for the event. While I still went through the entire workshop with those two, I ultimately knew I needed to work with individuals that were more conducive to the work I was trying to conduct to get the results I wanted.

I reached out to Venture Cafe Miami and set up a time to teach a workshop on July 24th, exactly one month after the first workshop. I was put in the smallest room possible (made for about 10), as they said new presenters don’t usually draw crowds. Our workshop was centered on “Effective Brainstorming,” in which we led 30 people crammed into one tiny space through a workshop that taught them this new skill. Our prompt was “Fix Miami”, and we zeroed in on Miami’s transportation problem and brainstormed solutions. Within 60 minutes, we had come up with dozens of solutions on potential opportunities to fix Miami’s public transit, but more importantly, we brought strangers together to work toward a common good.

I made the beginner’s mistake and didn’t bring enough business cards to pass out after the workshop, which left me scrambling to write my name on a piece of paper that was easily forgettable. I did, however, have a few business cards, and one made it into the hands of the general manager of a European pharmaceutical company. I received an email from him roughly 2 months later, asking for help in teaching his division of the company an effective brainstorming workshop. 

In December of 2017, we hosted a one-day workshop with 20 business executives and executive assistants on effective brainstorming and new ideation in the medical space. We ran through rapid prototyping, using the lean model canvas and a similar exercise to the workshop we ran at CIC Miami, but using a prompt specific to them. The winning idea came from their secretary and was the basis on which they built their opportunity to move forward into new territories.

Two weeks after the workshop ended, the general manager reached out to me again and asked me to teach a workshop on the principles of Blue Ocean Strategy. I said yes, despite having never read the book, and spent the next 3 months developing the program to teach: 1) Intrapreneurship 2) How to find deeper opportunities in the pharmaceutical industries 3) How to innovate circles around competitors in highly regulated industries.

Three months later, I put together a team, including myself and three others, to fly to Bogota, Colombia, and teach a 3-day workshop to the LATAM (Latin America) division of this pharmaceutical company.

In April of 2018, we went to Bogota, taught the workshop, and helped the company create a new D2C sales opportunity to save millions of dollars each year in middle-man sales costs—a problem widely accepted as necessary in the medical industry. We looked at how they stacked up again against their biggest competitors, what they could do better, and what areas they may need to dial back on to provide resources for the growth of these new strategies. We also focused on the culture of the team to get buy-in across the board and ensure that the workshop has a lasting impact. 

Most importantly, we created an action plan for all teams leaving this event on how to take what was covered and put it immediately into action to garner results as soon as possible. Last time I checked, they were saving $14 million a year from their new D2C directive and profiting another $6 million a year from the ideas that were created in that workshop.

After completing this workshop, we began working with businesses across the United States, teaching professionals how to infuse these principles into their work to drive new approaches to traditional work. While that was going well, I began to get burned out. Spending day in and day out finding new companies that know they are ripe for innovative opportunities was not easy. 

I realized that for the entire time I had been leading this charge, it was always with the goal of recreating the wheel. While it is very necessary and potentially beneficial to all those impacted, the work required created an environment that was unsustainable for one small team with no funding. This required me to do what we had preached and find new ways to teach these innovative principles through different avenues.

Innovation That Every Business Deserves

That is what led us to where we are today. The current co-owner and I were first introduced while meeting with schools in North Carolina. The schools were looking for ways to increase innovative opportunities for students and better prepare them for what they will experience in a post-classroom world. It took us less than a week to decide that we should be working together, as our two heads would be better than one. We began developing rapid education courses that would teach very sophisticated, new skills in less than a week. No fluff, no unnecessary quizzes—just you, a new skill, and your desire to learn.

Well, that made it about two months before everyone’s lives changed forever through what is now known as “The Pandemic.” Almost immediately, we saw the number of online courses increase tenfold, creating the small fish, big barrel effect. We knew that we needed to take our skillset and find a way to help these struggling businesses survive now, and we could focus on the other improvements later.

That is what drove us to create our newest channel for helping businesses—by actualizing their impact on customers. Every business that does well remains in business because they have a unique value proposition that customers desire from them compared to the competition. It could be the quality of their product, the functionality, the accessibility, or simply the cost. While most business owners have a deep understanding of their products, they often don’t have the technical experience to break that down in simplified terms for the everyday consumer and identify why that single customer needs it. 

Most companies that offer to help companies do this target massive advertising campaigns that maximize dollars spent (because that is usually how they get paid) and often show confusing numbers versus efficiency in the metrics. We decided that was not how we wanted to handle this and made metrics and quality the priority of what we do. We deliver cutting-edge systems that offer security, speed, and growth potential, all tied into one system. We also dig into what is working and what needs to change to create avenues for companies to get to the front of their respective arenas. We believe the numbers tell the story, not the flashy websites and witty salesmen. 

The process we use to create a 15x multiplier with one customer is not the same as the one we use to create international sales for another. The processes we use are all custom-tailored to your business and your customer base to meet them where they are while still giving you the ability to do what you do best. After working with many big names in entertainment, sports, consumer product goods, education, pharmaceuticals, and marketing, Prototopics is in a unique position to help you improve your product offering and take your sales to the next level.

All it takes is one conversation, and you can realign your compass with Prototopics to get “The Innovation That Every Business Deserves.”

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