At this year’s Storytelling Design Sprint at the Design Studio@Columbia,
Liz Wilkes ’13BUS and her company Exubrancy found their voice.
In preparation for the #StartupColumbia Challenge, Wilkes and other young entrepreneurs participated in an intensive workshop, led by designer-in-residence Adam Royalty, to master the art of brand storytelling. The Sprint gave participants a crash course in how to generate a compelling backstory, with the ultimate goal of constructing a cohesive and engaging narrative arc for their companies and product offerings.
This workshop makes its home at the Design Studio@Columbia Entrepreneurship, which encourages hands-on problem solving among entrepreneurs. Participants are encouraged to “delve into the needs of a market segment…rapidly generate prototypes, and build viable solutions.” The Design Studio was launched by Adam Royalty, whose ultimate aim is to “create human-centered solutions that win long-term customer loyalty.”
His concept of Entrepreneurship-by-Design puts the customer’s needs front and center, as he encourages entrepreneurs to integrate critical feedback into the design process and adapt their product or services accordingly.
Exubrancy, a workplace wellness startup that aims to help companies bolster productivity by bringing guided meditation sessions, group fitness classes, and massages directly to the workplace, had much to gain from the workshop. Despite growing recognition for health and wellness as a business best practice, a hesitancy to invest in actual programs still pervades much of the business world. So in order to effectively communicate the indispensability of Exubrancy’s services, Wilkes and her team have placed a particular emphasis on crafting a compelling story of their brand.
“Because we’re a B2B business, we don’t do a lot of PR,” she says. “But there are so many stories to tell! Do we tell the story of the customer? Do we tell the story of our financials? Or do we tell the story of the CEO who’s seeing the impact of our programs on his or her employees?”
With valuable wisdom gleaned through the Storytelling Spring workshop, Wilkes was able to effectively contextualize the story of one of Exubrancy’s clients (trust us, it’s a big name) in her final pitch the #StartupColumbia Challenge. By painting a vivid, detailed picture of Exubrancy’s impact — from the specific wellness programs the client employed to the teachers who made the workshops come alive — Wilkes and her team ultimately landed a third place finish in the competition.
Moving forward, the Exubrancy team will continue to tap into the valuable experience gained from Adam Royalty at the Design Studio@Columbia Entrepreneurship to inform their marketing decisions, developing creative ways to bring their programs to life.