Marketing graduate student helps Energize Colorado with data visualization project
By Kristal Griffith
Lauren Bell got her bachelor’s degree in California in studio arts before pursuing a Master’s in Marketing at the Daniels College of Business. She wanted to gain quantitative experience, and see how she could better use her creative skills in business. In her first quarter at DU, she took consumer behavior and learned about the Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center at Daniels. The Center conducts research on consumer insights to expose students to different types of methods and create stronger connections with businesses, particularly within the Denver area.
A couple quarters later, Bell (MS 2022), who graduated in June, had a lightbulb moment. “I realized that businesses and marketers are collecting all this data, and I might be able to use my design skills that I got during undergrad on a data visualization project,” Bell said. But, she needed experience. Bell reached out to CiBiC Co-Founder Melissa Archpru Akaka to see if there were any projects she could work on to gain more experience. The opportunity didn’t take long to present itself.
Melissa Archer Akaka, PhD
Co-Director & Research Faculty
Melissa Archpru Akaka research investigates the co-creation of consumption experiences and collaborative innovation and entrepreneurship within dynamic business ecosystems. Dr. Akaka’s scholarly work has been published in a variety of academic journals, and her work was recently recognized for being “highly cited” (in the top 1%) by Thompson and Reuters.
Masters’s Graduate, Daniels College of Business
Akaka had been connected with Energize Colorado, a nonprofit designed to help Colorado’s micro businesses and entrepreneurs, specifically focused on BIPOC, women, veteran and rural small businesses. Energize Colorado needed help understanding the results of one particular survey, and that’s where Bell and Akaka came together to support this need.
“CiBiC took the survey responses our Women-Owned Business segment collected, and helped us analyze the data,” said Wendy Lea, CEO and Co-Founder of Energize Colorado. “The survey was important to help our team and our volunteers identify the overall state of women-owned businesses in Colorado this year. We wanted to better understand what support they need to help us plan our future programs.”
Akaka realized this would be an excellent project for Bell, and Bell jumped at the opportunity. She sat in on weekly standups calls with Energize Colorado volunteers from across the state to better understand the project. Once she had a clean data set, her responsibility was to explain that data through visual graphics.
“It was really exciting, and it was inspiring to work with women-owned businesses,” Bell said.
“One of the main goals of CiBiC is to give students opportunities to experience different aspects of consumer insights and marketing research; and data visualization is a key component of presenting data, identifying trends and making recommendations,” Akaka said.
The project did just that, giving Energize Colorado clear insight into the survey enabling them to serve their stakeholders better. For example, approximately 60 participants wrote that they need marketing support. In September, Energize Colorado offered a speaker series where a marketer shared how she successfully engages with customers.
“Melissa and Lauren through CiBiC have been great to work with,” said Lea. “Our mantra is Coloradans helping Coloradans, and CiBiC’s involvement with this project has been a perfect example of just that. The data visualization serves as a roadmap for us to navigate this data and turn it into actionable plans.”
“Lauren was instrumental in developing a presentation deck that can be used to showcase the work Energize Colorado is doing and how they are supporting local women-owned businesses,” Akaka said. “The partnership between Energize Colorado and CiBiC provides opportunities for research on entrepreneurs, unique student experiences, and makes a strong connection between Daniels and the local community. We’re looking forward to continuing this partnership as both Energize Colorado and CiBiC grow and evolve.”
The project also gave Bell some useful insights.“It gave me great experience,” Bell said. “It also helped me understand that I’d like data visualization to be part of my job, but not the only responsibility I would have at an organization.”