SMU students pitch their Big iDeas at 2016 Dallas Festival of Ideas

SMU Big iDeas students and Prof. Jim Hart were part of the “Dallas Festival of Ideas.”

Dallas Festival of Ideas

By Christina Cox

Three SMU seniors participated in the Dallas Festival of Ideas’ Entrepreneurial Forum Saturday, where each pitched their Big iDeas to a crowd of Dallasites in the hopes of winning several entrepreneurial prizes.

Professor showcases SMU’s arts entrepreneurship program

By John McCarthy 

Jim Hart, the award-winning director of arts entrepreneurship at Meadows School of the Arts, showcased his teaching technique that proves you can learn a lot through fun and games.

Saturday afternoon at The Dallas Festival of Ideas, Hart gave insight into his career and how it influenced the development of the arts entrepreneurship program’s curriculum and his teaching styles.

James Hart of SMU Meadows School of the Arts
Jim Hart

“Our goal is for the term starving artist to disappear…waiting tables and taking auditions is not a professional strategy on which to build a career,” Meadows School of the Arts Dean Sam Holland said.

Hart went to SMU, which taught him how to be and think like an artist, and then continued onto the Yale School of Drama. After graduating, he realized that he could create works of art and compete at that level, but didn’t know how to survive from his art much less his creativity, which led him to self producing.

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The theme of this year’s festival was “The United City,” which aimed to “help shape the city of the future by igniting, uniting and energizing the people of Dallas through the power of ideas.” The pitch contest was in partnership with the Arts Entrepreneurship Program at the Meadows School of the Arts

John Kirby
Jonah Kirby

Each student had three minutes to pitch and three minutes for questions. The winner was chosen using what Susan Kress, the executive director for Engaged Learning at SMU, called “the old-school clap-o-meter.”

Eddie Allegra pitched Biolum, a mobile app that uses Bluetooth technologies to scale user’s exhaled breath and determine the severity of asthma systems; Roberto Hernandez pitched Mexican Bingo, an iOS and Android app that turns the traditional Mexican Bingo game into a digital format; and Jonah Kirby pitched Fiddler, a rooftop wind turbine system that creates battery power on a digital grid.

All three Big iDeas received support, but Kirby’s Fiddler received an overwhelming applause from the room, making him the winner of the Pitch Contest.

His prizes include a 60-minute personalized mentoring session with one of U.S. Trust’s leading strategic advisors, an invitation to five lunches throughout year for the 2016 Social Venture Partners (SVP) Dallas Social Innovation Speaker Series, and a three month free co-working space at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC).

“I’m hoping that the relationships I get from mentoring will be great to help the company along or to find investors,” Kirby said. “The DEC prize of three months of working space is really cool because this summer we needed a home and that is a place we can start”

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Photo of Jonah Kirby courtesy of The Daily Campus/Christina Cox.