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Melissa Harris joins Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation./photo supplied 0

Melissa Harris joins U. of C.’s entrepreneur center

September 13th, 2016

Melissa Harris, the former Chicago Tribune columnist who wrote about innovators and innovation, is now helping promote that work.

She’s been named executive-in-residence at University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, where she will mentor entrepreneurs and bring attention to their ideas.

After six years writing stories about interesting people in business, Harris says she wanted to be part of the excitement. “I saw people doing really cool things and decided I wanted to do cool things, too.”

She enrolled at U. of C.’s Booth School of Business to take part in its New Venture Challenge, which helps students start businesses. “If your idea doesn’t work, you’ve failed in a supportive and collaborative environment where there’s a high tolerance for experimentation,” she says.

Harris’s idea–determining the best headlines for online stories–didn’t win but she came away from the project committed to being part of the entrepreneurial community.

With an MBA in hand, she led marketing at Origin Investments before landing her new position.

John Flavin, executive director of Polsky center, says Harris’s communication skills will be an asset to entrepreneurs and the center. “Everyone talks about raising capital, but visibility is just as important.”

Flavin says Harris’s temperament “matches the vibe” of the center, too. They’re both high-energy.

True that. Having competed on stories for years, I know Harris is high-energy–plus some.

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