Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group conglomerate, dropped out of high school at the age of 16. His first venture was a student publication which eventually expanded into a constellation of businesses that now carry the Virgin brand. There are so many ventures under that brand that he shared with NPR’s Guy Raz that he has lost count of how many businesses make up his portfolio as a serial entrepreneur. Courtney Jiggetts ’20 regards Branson as a life-long idol and aims to replicate his laser focus on innovation. She already has a head start, having recently been named as a 2019 Forbes Under 30 Scholar.
Jiggetts is an environmental and interior design student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University where she is immersed in a transdisciplinary educational setting that challenges students to rethink the built environment. She is concurrently pursuing a minor in real estate in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and another minor in psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences respectively.
She is also an entrepreneur who is currently working on a revolutionary idea called Inkdustrial. In order to understand Inkdustrial, it is first important to understand the space of Interior design. “Right now as an interior design student, we navigate a bunch of different software programs to get one task done,” she says. “It is a very multi-layered and multi-tiered process.” Design students have to frequently jump between multiple sketching, design, modeling, visualization, editing, rendering and animation software – along with project management platforms — just to finish one project. Designs use dozens of platforms to achieve the complex details that go into environmental and interior design.
As Jiggetts explains, Autodesk, which is an umbrella company that software like AutoCAD and Revit falls under, has built a design empire. Autodesk produces and sells the industry standard programs like AutoCAD, Procore and Revit. And then there is the entire Adobe family of design products, along with dozens of others. However, Jiggetts has increasingly observed that the lack of compatibility between these programs makes it incredibly inefficient for a designer to efficiently complete a project.
That’s why she is working on a solution, Inkdustrial.
Inkdustrial is the concept for a product that integrates the entire process of an interior design for a project into one seamless program. Additionally, Jiggetts’ Inkdustrial platform envisions a holographic program that facilitates designers and clients alike to review finished works.
“We are working on an integration that can be used in many more stages of the design phase,” says Jiggetts.
According to freshhome.com, an interior design information page, an interior designer is largely responsible for space planning and analyzing how current spaces are being used and how best they can be used, not only to maximize utility but also to focus on human behavior and interaction between self and space. For an individual responsible for such a complicated task, the last thing they need are programs that do not sync together in the and make the process longer than necessary. Inkdustrial aims to change that and introduce an element of simplicity and flow that would result in quicker render times and ease of use.
One of the more revolutionary and exciting aspects of the project, is the Holographic component of the platform. More than simply introducing simplicity to the process, Jiggetts aims to introduce a new medium for clients and designers to interact with their own designs. Jiggetts aims to develop a mobile hardware artifact that would have the capability to map out a given room and project interior design concepts into the room. Think Aldridge Killian in Iron Man 3 but developed to emphasize interior designs.
Before starting Inkdustrial, Jiggetts also served as the Co-Founder of the Syracuse University chapter of the Best Buddies International. In this role, Jiggetts helped students with intellectual development disabilities gain leadership skills and employment opportunities.
Jiggetts grew up in Maryland and as a woman of color she understood very early on the importance of challenging traditional limits. She stresses the importance of finding entry into new spaces and alludes to her experience as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar where she learned the significance of being a black woman in a new industry.
Jiggetts also cites the Blackstone LaunchPad, powered by TechStars at SU Libraries as a major resource. She notes the critical role that the LaunchPad has played in helping her develop Inkdustrial and the bonds she has made over the years. She is also thankful for being able to learn from individuals like Kelsey Davis and Matt Schumer, both of whom are Rubin Family Innovation Mentors at the LaunchPad and have been very helpful to her as she develops Inkdustrial.
“Becoming an entrepreneur is all about growing your network,” she says.
And, as Richard Branson says, ““The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” That’s the hallmark of a true entrepreneur.
Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow Krishna Pamidi ’21