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PAA Student Caylin Waller’s Startup Journey Through NYU Entrepreneurial Institute


Caylin Waller (PAA ‘22)

By: Sienna Sherman (Performing Arts Administration, ‘22) 

Usually, the NYU Startup Sprint program helps students launch a tech company or engineering project, however, it is also an effective way to develop performing arts projects. Organized by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, Startup Sprint is a two-week program that teaches aspiring entrepreneur teams -- from any NYU school -- how to transform their ideas and inventions into sustainable businesses. The latest iteration of Startup Sprint, held during J- term, welcomed teams from 13 NYU schools including Steinhardt, Tisch, and Tandon.

Program participants are chosen after an initial application and interview process. Once selected, the program leads teams on a fast-paced journey to build their respective businesses by teaching them how to test assumptions, fail quickly, and pivot to a new idea (when necessary). Past participants have called the Startup Sprint program “transformative and groundbreaking.” During the program, students are provided skill-building workshops, project funding, peer support, and access to expert startup coaches.    

In January, first-year Performing Arts Administration student, Caylin Waller (‘22), was selected to participate with her project Theatre Advocacy Project (T.A.P.). T.A.P’s mission is to create safe and equitable working conditions for all theatre professionals. She and her team are working to create a system of accountability within the theatre industry that supports artists and organizations by serving as an external HR department for theatre owners and managers. Through the Startup Sprint program Caylin has received guidance from top startup coaches and worked through multiple iterations of her project idea. Startup Sprint gave Caylin and her team the opportunity to interview 50 leaders of various regional theaters to identify the specific problem within the industry that T.A.P aims to solve.

Caylin’s journey has not ended with the completion of Startup Sprint as she and her co-founders have continued on and competed in the semi-finals of the NYU InnoVention Competition.

Developing and launching a new project is a daunting task.  Fortunately, the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute is available to help NYU students achieve success. Please visit the Theatre Advocacy Project's website to learn more about the project and to follow Caylin’s journey.  You can also visit the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute’s website to discover more information about their programs and available coaching opportunities.   

[5/3/2021] Updates on Caylin’s project - Caylin presented research that identifies and explores the causes behind the lack of accountability in American theatre at the Ninth Steinhardt Annual Research and Scholarship Showcase on April 21.  She received the Best Oral Presentation Award in the master’s degree student category. Theatre Advocacy Project, which Caylin developed out of inspiration from her research findings, has been selected for inclusion in the Summer Launchpad program organized by the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute.