This Spring semester, the Bay Area Entrepreneur Center launched the Accelerate Fellowship, a semester-long program that uses a human-centered design approach to improve the San Bruno downtown business district. 

Students spent February and March exploring the business district; learning about the issues local businesses face; conducting interviews and surveys with owners, professional experts, and potential customers; and conducting observations of other business districts to see what makes them successful. 

Based on their research and findings, students developed four marketing campaign ideas to attract new customers to the area and presented mockups of their concepts to the local community. 

Students will work with Maria Langbauer, the new Economic Development Manager of San Bruno, as well as local business leaders to build a website, social media accounts, and marketing campaign content and to build engagement with business owners and the community over the summer. 

So far, business and community members have responded positively to the student’s ideas and are happy to see the influx of new energy and enthusiasm from young people.  One member responded, “Thank you, guys, for taking the step forward on this and helping the small business owners to progress in the long run.”

Students are enjoying the real-world experience the Fellowship has given them. 

“For me, seeing the whole building process of the project,  figuring out how everything works together, I’ve never seen that before from start to finish so that’s really exciting. I’ve also learned how to talk to new people.  For example, talking to business owners, it felt awkward at first. I was not confident in articulating my thoughts but with more experience in going door-to-door with the other fellows, I became more comfortable in communicating with professionals.” Jacob Martin. 

“The moment when we started putting ideas on the board with everybody, that was really enjoyable for me because it’s so collaborative and I get to see what different people think.” Marynette Queseda

“Going from nothing to now we have a project that we are working on, we’re looking to have it out in the real world, that’s been the highlight.”  Ryan Tsui

Moving forward, BAEC and the fellows will be working with the new Economic Development Manager of San Bruno to implement other projects to help activate the downtown. The students identified several areas for improvement and will be presenting their findings and recommendations to the City. 

Article by Leah McGlauchlin | Photo by Olivia Vialau

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *