The WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge is a competition that provides an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills needed to put innovative ideas into action, as well as a chance to win a share of $10,000 toward jump starting that idea.

Michael Pelley, a senior Public Relations major and Arts Administration minor, is one individual from Treedome who won the challenge last year. He is the Director of Public Relations at Treedome Productions, and act as an Arts Administration advisor for their business team.

In an interview with Michael, I was able to learn more about what Treedome does and hear Michael’s experience being one of the WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge winners last year!

What is Treedome?

Treedome is an idea that started with a small group of friends and artists, just about a year ago, who decided that we wanted to take the production and distribution of art into our own hands. We decided to start an organization/company that could act on behalf of the modern music and evolving art scene in the Winona area. Our goal was to make it easier for artists to produce, display, and collaborate on their ideas – in a way that complimented the culture and modern methods of DIY.

What was your experience like participating in the WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge?

We had a great experience as a team going through the process of the WarriorINNOVATE Challenge. It was definitely a new experience for all of us, even those of us on the team with business like-minds. It helped us set deadlines and go through the process of developing our ideas in a productive and unified way.

To get to the end of it all, and come away with not only a new and beneficial experience, but also getting the chance to see the fruits of our labor pay off – that was special for all of us. To receive that kind of direct public validation of our ideas, from individuals we look up to and respect, made it all the more special.

Did you have a mentor to help you through this process?

Yes, we had an assigned mentor from the WarriorINNOVATE Challenge. He was a professor in the College of Business who helped guide us through the steps of properly structuring our pitch.

He also gave suggestions as to what kind of questions the judges might ask us after, which ended up being very helpful in knowing what to expect from the competition.

How is it going now that the competition has ended?

It is going very well! Since completing the WarriorINNOVATE Challenge, our company has finished furnishing our base studio in downtown Winona, purchased a high industry grade video camera, and legally established ourselves as an LLC.

These bigger milestones also coincide with dozens of more shows, band tours, work contracts, recorded albums, public events and even another competition since then.

What opportunities has WarriorsINNOVATE lead to?

The Challenge helped us become an official LLC company, establish our studio headquarters, compete in other competitions, and network with countless people. Even just the opportunity to put our brand out there for people to recognize was a great advantage.

Where do you see Treedome in 5 years?

If all goes well, I see Treedome being the premiere one-stop-shop for all Winona area artists to accomplish their goals and bring their visions to life. A successful modern business with a unique brand and a strong community foothold.

Michael’s advice after undergoing the WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge is:

“If you have a good idea, and you think that good idea belongs in an environment you’re connected with, go for it. Use all the passion and inspiration that this powerful idea grants you to find the use of your time and energy to bring it to life.”

The WarriorsINNOVATE Challenge provides an opportunity to network with professionals and connect with other students. This could be you! Give it a shot.

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Samantha Johnson

Samantha graduated in 2019 with a BA in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. She is from Rogers, MN and her hobbies include camping, hiking, reading, listening to music and hanging out with friends.

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