Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with Deanna Meador – Ep #38

Have you ever considered taking your skill set and training to the realm of innovation and entrepreneurship? What would it look like to start exploring a career in the marketplace? Here to share her story and encourage postdocs and researchers like you is Vanderbilt University’s, Deanna Meador. 

Deanna is the assistant director of the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University. She joined Vanderbilt in 2009 where she began working with the Peabody Research Institute (PRI), now the Peabody Research Office. 

Deanna and her husband Jason became entrepreneurs in 2007 when they founded a mineral makeup business that grew to multiple retail locations in two states that they ran together until it was acquired by another company. She is 1 of 3 inventors developing a new edtech platform that will allow early childhood professionals to collect data, compare that data, and receive tailored feedback to improve classroom practices for our youngest students. The classroom practices measured by the tool have been demonstrated to relate to children’s academic performance. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Deanna received her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Middle Tennessee State University and her M.A. in Educational Psychology and Counseling from Tennessee Technological University. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:00] Mark introduces his guest, Deanna Meador. 
  • [2:35] Deanna talks about the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University. 
  • [6:20] What is the Innovation Garage? 
  • [10:00] Deanna reflects on the impact of the Wond’ry. 
  • [13:00] How students and researchers from different disciplines come together. 
  • [16:00] What led to the creation of the Wond’ry? How did Deanna end up at Vanderbilt? 
  • [23:15] Deanna’s advice for students who want to get involved with startups. 
  • [26:45] The benefit of working in a team environment. 
  • [29:00] Don’t be afraid about talking about your idea! 
  • [31:30] Red flags for budding entrepreneurs. 
  • [36:50] Simplifying your message. 
  • [38:15] Turn your ideas into action!
  • [41:20] Closing thoughts. 

Connect with Deanna Meador

Resources & People Mentioned

What is the Wond’ry? 

What if there were a program wholly dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship at your college or university? Would you explore a program like that? Too often, researchers and postdocs miss out on marketplace opportunities to use their skill sets simply because they haven’t been exposed to the possibilities. Thankfully – innovative programs like the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University are hard at work to change that narrative. 

The Wond’ry is the epicenter for innovation and entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt University. Its three-story, 13,000-square foot space, located adjacent to the Engineering and Science Building, facilitates transinstitutional collaboration between students and faculty from all schools, levels, and disciplines. From engineers to scientists to entrepreneurs to artists, the Wond’ry is the primary point of connection for students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

At the Wond’ry there is something for everyone, from speaker series and workshops to maker spaces, interactive art exhibits and unique corporate partnerships. The Wond’ry provides students opportunities to gain real-world experience in creating new processes, building new technologies, and forming fresh insights.

Turn your ideas into action!

What is the difference between someone who makes an impact in the world and someone who doesn’t? The key ingredient is action. Action is the catalyst that takes a dormant idea and moves it into the realm of reality. Does that mean that every action-taker is an innovative entrepreneur? Not by a long shot. Taking action is the critical first step that’s needed before you can get to the fun part – experimentation and innovation. 

One of the best ways to take action and start exploring the viability of your idea is to talk about it. Many budding entrepreneurs that Deanna mentors to at the Wond’ry are concerned that talking about their ideas will lead to someone stealing it. In Deanna’s experience, those concerns are largely overblown. Most researchers and postdocs aren’t out to steal your ideas – they are too busy trying to make their ideas and innovations a reality. Deanna also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to keep an open mind when it comes to funding their innovations. The typical route of raising millions and millions of dollars isn’t always the best route to take – there are more options out there. 

This is just a snapshot of Mark’s wide-ranging conversation with Deanna. To hear their full conversation – make sure to listen to this episode of When Science Speaks

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks

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