Leveraging Young Minds
The raw talent available on a university campus is as plentiful as students who need money. So when Anand Chhatpar, a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, gathered a group of peers for a casual brainstorming session, a business idea soon hatched.
Chhatpar had recently interned at Pitney Bowes' renowned Advanced Concept Technology Center, where he learned techniques in ethnographic research and prototyping. He recognized that if he could harness the creativity and insight of diverse young minds, he could put them to work solving companies' problems.
The result: BrainReactions, a pool of 200 professional brainstormers who create new product features, crack new market segments, and develop customer-service improvements for clients.
The company's first client, Bank of America, was referred to BrainReactions by Chhatpar's former Pitney boss and mentor, Thomas Foth. Now the fledgling outfit also counts Intuit, the Peace Corps, and Quantum Learning Network as clients.
Though Chhatpar, who graduated in May, is still the company's only full-time employee, a core group of seven part-timers is fast at work developing the capabilities BrainReactions will need in order to grow: IT, video, business development, facilitation, and PR.
"Think of scalability in everything you do, and leverage smart work. Innovative ideas come from fresh minds and exploring new perspectives, so don't jump to conventional wisdom. And remember Richard Branson's code: 'Oh screw it, let's do it.'"
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