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Learning the Business Lessons of Hip Hop

At Philadelphia’s new Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship, aspiring businesspeople hone their skills with the guidance of hip hop artists and moguls.
Left to right: IHHE students Kyree Holmes, Marcus Hashim, and Alonzo Goodman work on a team exercise.
Left to right: IHHE students Kyree Holmes, Marcus Hashim, and Alonzo Goodman work on a team exercise.Courtesy of IHHE

On a Sunday afternoon in January, a sleek co-working space overlooking Philadelphia’s City Hall is abuzz with mostly twenty-something students building models of their business concepts with paper and string.

“Prototypes are bullshit meters,” says their instructor Natalie Nixon. “If you’re not able to physically and visually show your idea, you really don’t understand it.” Earlier in the day, Nixon gave the students 90 seconds to come up with a list of unique uses for a paper clip. “Aim for 20,” she challenged them.