Short Term Practicum: Digital Innovation


Ben Schippers ’04

Brief Course Description

Lead Instructor: Ben Schippers ’04; Co-Instructor: Will Schenk;

Overview: This course was held in 2014 as part of the pilot for the Purposeful Work Pracitioner-Taught Course program. From startups to innovative projects within existing organizations, across a wide range of fields, digital innovation and entrepreneurship are fast growing arenas that present exciting challenges and opportunities. This practicum focuses on the tools, techniques and practices used by digital innovators as they develop, design and test products. After an orienting overview of the history and current challenges in this field of practice, students work through a process of product discovery, market research, wireframing, branding, and development aimed at a minimum viable product. At each step in this process, students develop a foundation of relevant skills- including coding, design, marketing, distribution across various platforms, and project management- and apply those skills to the development of a tangible product. Along with those foundational skills, the course introduces students to a wide range of professional roles within the broad field of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

Biographical Information about Practitioner Instructors:

Lead Instructor, Ben Schippers, Class of 2004, and Co-Instructor, Will Schenk;

Co-Founders of HappyFunCorp

About HappyFunCorp: HFC is an agile development firm/incubator that focuses on iteration and is based in Brooklyn, NY. HFC works with a network of senior engineers and designers throughout NYC, building sophisticated web and mobile applications for clients looking to solve difficult problems. HFC works with clients through the entire product spectrum, including but not limited to idea generation, user experience, design, and back-end engineering. Building attractive and dynamic web and mobile products is not an easy task, especially for most HFC clients, who typically expect heavy volume and traffic through their platforms. HFC is built on the premise that the product cycle is iterative. Clients’ needs change; HFC embraces that change by creating a flexible scope of work to build products that are right, not just built to spec. HFC was founded by Ben Schippers and Will Schenk in 2009. It grew out of a natural need for high-end web and mobile development in New York, both for entrepreneurs looking to start businesses, as well as larger agencies looking to develop new or existing products. Ben and Will are well positioned to meet this need, having been in the NY tech space for over fifteen years collectively, and having grown a unique network of web designers, developers, and user experience and product professionals.

About Ben Schippers: Ben Schippers specializes in UX and user experience design, and builds cutting edge products out of strong ideas to solve complicated problems. Ben is also an experienced entrepreneur. His first start-up, Workstreamr (where he met Will), raised more than $1 million from Austin Ventures, a prominent VC firm based in Texas, and was successfully sold to a competitor in 2009. More recently, Ben has led product development for BenchCoach, Emote, Rexly, and TwoSeed through HFC’s start-up incubator.

About Will Schenk: Will Schenk is a graduate of Penn State, where he studied computer science, mathematics, and philosophy. Before co-founding HappyFunCorp, his previous positions included software and application development positions at Sun Microsystems, Catalytic Architects, and Jones Apparel Group, as well as founding several web-based startups.