I love words. I am always searching for the right word. If you consider yourself a writer, you know how great it feels when you find the right word to describe something. If you write about something often enough, you also know how interesting it is to compare some of your earlier writing with your current writing. You can see how you have grown as a writer, or perhaps, even see how what you have been writing about has changed over time. When you work at a start-up, you might change the way that you talk about your organization very frequently. The program development cycle is fascinating as you continuously search for that Goldilocks “just right” feeling, and more often than not, the third try may not be the charm.
Take the VDC for example.
The VDC’s team has used a lot of words over the past few years to describe what we do. We spend a lot of time with words and with messaging. How do we help our audiences understand what we do? (Note: once you think you know how to do this, you begin questioning who your audience actually is.) My goal is always to help others understand what we do without walking away with more questions than answers. At a PRSSA conference last year, I told marketing strategist David Meerman-Scott that I struggled with the using the word, “innovation” (a word the VDC often uses) in a university setting. He didn’t doubt the struggle and challenged me to bring it back to basics and to avoid “gobbledygook“. (Check out the # 1 top gobbledygook phrase used in 2008).
As the VDC became a physical reality, I started to notice a change in how I described what we do. When the 400 square-foot spaces that are now labs were nothing more than framing and drywall, I would take internal and external community members on tours and say, “we have temporary labs and offices for research and development activities”. Most people understood what this meant but I was hesitant to use the one word that would be most efficient to use to describe the VDC–incubator.
Until now. The VDC opened its doors officially on May 1 and since then 5 companies and one university initiative have moved in. The concept of a VDC at UMass Boston has become a reality and we are discovering more and more about what that means every day. The VDC is providing companies and university initiatives with business mentoring and connections to valuable resources both from within and outside of the university. Our program is designed to help these ventures to grow. When I take members from the university community or prospect partners into one of the VDC’s labs, I now say that the the VDC is UMass Boston’s incubator. And they get it. And so do I. – CDP