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Parsons becomes first fashion school to use Peaqs software for entrepreneurship

By Jackie Mallon


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“It’s a cross between Shark Tank and Kickstarter,” explains Keanan Duffty, Program Director of Masters in Fashion Management at Parsons School of Design. Designed for entrepreneurship, project development, marketing and business planning, Peaqs is a high level learning game platform that combines a project development process with a virtual stock market engine for real-time valuation and peer feedback. Designed in Denmark, and released in late 2018, it quickly found its way to Copenhagen Business School and Denmark Technical University ,and in 2019 was a finalist at the Nordic Edtech Awards. It is currently live in 7 countries on 3 continents and expanding across new subjects and curricula that stand to benefit from its unique approach to driving the learning process. Duffty is proud that theirs is the first fashion education program to feature the software and, while much has been said about the drawbacks of online learning during the pandemic, the MPS Fashion Management team were already on the lookout for ways to enhance the student online learning experience prior to Covid. Duffty explains to FashionUnited why Peaqs was the ideal platform partner for his entrepreneurship-focused class during its five-week intensive course this fall.

How does the platform work in your classroom?

Students form groups and develop ideas for a viable business, product or service. This output is then presented on a stock market simulation platform where the same students act as individual investors who buy, sell and manage portfolios of the products listed. This provides instant market feedback in the guise of investment choices and motivates the groups to develop their ideas to even greater refinement. The end result is a stock market of ready-to-go business plans, perfectly ranked in popularity under the well-informed scrutiny of their investing and academic peers.

Why is this an asset to you as an educator?

We really want to equip our students with the best possible foundation for starting and running a business of their own––because so many of them end up forming startups once they are done studying. With Peaqs we see two main advantages in helping them get there. One is that we provide a safe simulation type of environment where they get real-time feedback from faculty, their peers and outside experts. And two, it compels them to consider the business aspects of their product/ideas in a structured way, which is very important in helping them succeed in the real world.

The platform is also highly customizable allowing teachers to timebox game-phases according to course progression and define headlines that match curriculum and method of approach. Also, projects are displayed in a way that gives everyone involved an easy and instant overview which has been great for our faculty team, because often in this type of teaching we can at some point lose touch with students’ progress. With the platform providing structure we have a much better vantage point for giving feedback, assessing their progress, and propelling their business plan to the next level.

Do you feel there is any risk involved in introducing software that’s still new and unvetted within fashion education?

My Parsons colleague Professor Joshua Williams introduced the software to me. Peaqs had reached out to him on LinkedIn and set up a meeting to discuss opportunity. As faculty we didn’t feel there was any sense of risk but instead felt it was important to collaborate with Peaqs right away. Higher education during the ongoing pandemic has had to overcome many restrictions and we felt that Peaqs provided the opposite––a digital approach that enhances the student experience by simulating a real world scenario for building a business.

FashionUnited reached out to a few students on the Fashion Management course to get their impressions of the user experience. Ivonne Mojica Thulson who already has 10 years of experience in advertising, fashion, and technology, says, “Peaqs so far seems to be an entirely new way of learning new skills through practice, that will prepare us to navigate future career challenges and interactions, such as pitching to an investor and knowing your numbers by heart.”

At first, unfamiliar with the platform’s features and functions, some of which she found not entirely intuitive, Thulson felt slightly intimidated, but that passed when she experienced one of its most exciting features: “I have witnessed a couple of live fundraising pitches and investment negotiations between entrepreneurs and investors during my career, but I haven’t been actively part of them. This game forces players/students to become leaders and decision makers inside a safe business ecosystem. It even shows me how my decisions can impact a whole market. I am challenged now to learn more about fundraising strategies to make better decisions inside this simulation. As a bonus, the platform is also giving me the chance to experience a second in the lifetime of my favorite female investor, Carmen Busquets.”

Meanwhile, fellow student Maria Soubbotina, says, “I like that it mimics the stock market in a way and that I can invest in my classmates’ businesses and watch them develop and grow over time. I can focus on the competitor landscape and market one week and the product/service description the next. I’m excited to see my business continue to develop on Peaqs!”

Images provided by Parsons

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry

Fashion Studies