The Anderson College of Business (ACB) recently partnered with Denver business Craft ATI to facilitate a two-day design sprint so Regis students could help a local startup develop its strategic plan.

“When you do design thinking, you listen first. Empathy is the first thing you develop even before you define the problem,” said Ken Sagendorf, director of the Innovation Center at ACB. “We want our students to have the opportunity to listen to this business owner talk about her own experience.”

Craft ATI helps entrepreneurs develop strong business foundations. After a client, icu2, sought their help,  Craft ATI owners Zack Dorman and Derek Bennington asked Sagendorf to host a design sprint to allow students to participate in the process.

About 20 people, including students, faculty and community partners, attended the design sprint.

“Opportunities like this are very important to me,” said MBA student Stephanie Linnet, who took time off work to attend the sprint. “It is one thing to go to class and engage there, but it is critical to gain practical skills through these types of offerings that I can apply to my work and everyday life.”

Victoria St. John, founder of icu2, is an adult living with autism. She has firsthand experience with the difficulties of working in a traditional space, one that doesn’t support individuals on the autism spectrum.

“The reason icu2 was born is based on my own personal story,” St. John said. “Its mission is not about me, but is about a population I am part of.”

St. John proposes creating a workspace that is more inclusive and accepting for this population. It’ll be equipped with acoustics designed for those who have sound sensitivities, ambient lighting and other features to provide a pleasing environment for people with autism.

The sprint gave icu2 a clear business model.

“The two-day process left us exhausted, invigorated and grateful for the experience to work with both Craft ATI and Regis’ Innovation Center,” St. John said. “It was a gift to us, to our mission and to all the people that will benefit from the work we do.

According to the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, autism affects more than 70 million people worldwide.