November 6, 2020 Inaugural Class Prepares Architecture Students to Become Business Owners

A team-based course offered for the first time is helping students in the School of Architecture understand the principles of business, the role of startups in industry and the value of entrepreneurialism. Led by Adjunct Assistant Professor Joseph Cole, the professional elective, Introduction to Design Entrepreneurship, brings students together in teams based on their interests to develop business ideas that they will “pitch” at the conclusion of the course.

headshot of Joseph Cole

Cole is a 2008 graduate of the College of Architecture and Design who later earned an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. A licensed architect, Cole worked in Gensler’s Start-up Workplace Studio in New York then returned to Nashville, where he founded the firm Culture Architecture and Design.

“I believe having strong business acumen is invaluable for students in design-oriented majors,” Cole said. “Not only will it empower them to be better employees after graduation, but it will also allow them to leverage their ‘superpower’ of creativity and design-thinking to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors.”

In developing their business plans, students are analyzing case studies and studying marketing and branding to understand business principles of structure, people and systems. Students’ interests range from technology, innovation, consumer goods and subscription services, and their business concepts focus on ways to change or improve an existing industry or business model.

To provide additional foundational knowledge and resources, Cole is collaborating with Tom Graves, operations director in the UT Haslam College of Business’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Anderson Center is a business accelerator that provides free resources for students and others to advance business ideas.

In 2021, the course will be open to students in all schools in the College of Architecture and Design.

Learn more

Learn more about the School of Architecture.