How The Nice Center Measures Success & Q1 2020 Results

Learn more about our objectives & impact as we pursue our mission of entrepreneurship for all.

Our audacious mission at The Nice Center is entrepreneurship for all. We believe the best way to teach and inspire entrepreneurship is to do entrepreneurship.

To pursue this moonshot, it’s essential that we learn what works and how we can have the greatest impact on our community. To focus our efforts, we have formalized our objectives and the metrics we measure to better guide our work.

Today, we’re excited to share what we’re measuring, why those objectives matter, and how we did in 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020. You can jump to our 2019 annual report here or our Q1 results here.

We hope as we continue to transparently share our learning, we can spark discussion that will improve our work and help other entrepreneurship centers have a larger impact.

Objectives at The Nice Center

We know that we should measure what matters. Having too many metrics will mean we don’t look at them or use them to guide our decision making. We base our measurements around the framework made popular by Google, OKRs – Objectives and Key Results.

The objectives are the small number of goals that matter most to us. The key results are the tactics that help us reach our goal. We set the objectives at the leadership level of The Nice Center and then give our Nice Production student employees the freedom to create their own key results that will help us meet our objectives.


Our first objective is impact, meaning the number of people that we reach through our efforts. This objective keeps us focused on our mission of entrepreneurship for all and reaching as many people as possible both on campus, in the community, and across the state.

Student Impact

Our second objective is student impact, which is a segment of our first objective of impact. We believe our students are perfectly positioned to create the future and impact their communities. By identifying this as an objective, it helps us keep our programming centered at high schools and universities where our efforts are most needed.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

We don’t want to work with someone once and never see them again. Instead, we want our efforts to inspire action and be recognized as the highest quality available. To that end, we wanted an objective that measured if we met and exceeded the expectations of students, faculty, and community members. Net Promoter Score was the best proxy we could easily measure that got us close to this objective. While it has its flaws, it gives us an average rating per program by the people who participate so we know what to improve and what is successful.

Student Projects/Teams

Impact ensures that we are reaching as many people as possible. NPS helps us provide a quality product. Student projects/teams is our fourth objective. It encourages us to move from exposing someone to entrepreneurship to doing entrepreneurship. We know many students are not ready, or even interested, in starting a company. Before they actually start, we want them to practice creating with others. This is a skill they will take with them into the workplace, regardless of where they work or what they do. Student projects/teams are defined as a specific group of students that ship. They work together on an idea and put it out into the world. We know that if our students work in teams to launch, they will be more likely to have the confidence to pursue their own ideas in the future.

Number of New Companies Within 10 Years

Ultimately, we want to do entrepreneurship. That’s why our fifth and final metric is the number of new companies that are created within 10 years of working with The Nice Center.

We purposefully create a long time frame because we know that our work plants seeds that may sprout years later. We also want to make a concerted effort to build a network for our students and participants. When we are keeping in touch with alumni for at least 10 years, we are building a network of mentors and collaborators that can provide value to Nice Center participants.

How We Measure Our Objectives

Objectives are only helpful if they are a focus of our work. At The Nice Center, we review the objectives and our progress on a weekly basis. We set quantitative goals for each objective, broken up by quarter and year. As we check the data each week, we know if we are on track to reach our objectives.

We keep track of our data on Airtable, which is a fancy spreadsheet that allows us to sort, and most importantly, integrate other tools we use.

  • Whenever someone registers for a webinar on Zoom, they are automatically added to our Airtable.
  • When a student attends an event on campus and swipes their ID, they get added to Airtable.
  • When a community member or student books a meeting with someone on our team, they are added to Airtable.

By automating our data collection, it helps us spend more time on analyzing the results and making strategic decisions on where to spend our time and resources to reach our mission of entrepreneurship for all. It also provides historic data so we can continually improve and helpful visuals – like you’ll see in this article – to share what we’ve been doing.

The next step that we look forward to adding in Q2 of 2020 is the cost per objective. Knowing which programs have lower cost per objective will help us allocate resources efficiently.


2019 Annual Report

In January 2020, The Nice Center released its first-ever annual report. It captures our activity from our first year of work. You can download a PDF of the report here: First-Year-Report.

We also created our annual report in an online format, so you can learn more about The Nice Center and help us pursue our mission of entrepreneurship for all.

As we began 2020 and solidified our objectives, we were able to look back at our work in our first year as benchmarks for our continued work.

Results in 2019

In our first year, The Nice Center reached 5,698 people.

87% of those were students, meaning our Student Impact in 2019 was 4,958. We were proud to grant $185,000 in scholarships and stipends to students and faculty. You can read about some of our most notable programs in our full annual report.

We didn’t measure Net Promoter Score in 2019, but we did measure formation of student teams and businesses launched. We had 40 student teams created in 2019 through our Innovation Challenge event, along with four faculty teams as a part of our CoSearch event. Five businesses were launched in 2019 by our students. You can read more about these businesses in our annual report here.

Q1 2020 Results

The first quarter of 2020 saw strong results despite changes in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We used March to quickly pivot to providing essential services to businesses in our state through business support and online education for people working in isolation. Most of these results were seen in strong April numbers in Q2.

For Q1 2020, we saw:

Total Q1 2020 impact: 1,136 people

The most successful program, in terms of impact, was our Passport Program.

This program, in partnership with the College of Business and the Challey Institute, gives students the opportunity to earn scholarship by attending events on campus. This includes events we helped host, like 1 Million Cups, as well as events in the community such as Creative Mornings. We count community and student attendance at events we host – such as 1 Million Cups at Barry Hall – and only count student attendance at events in the community like Creative Mornings.

Total Q1 Student Impact: 527

The most successful program, in terms of student impact, was our partnership with the Challey Institute.

We helped Challey host Johan Norberg to a large number of students in two different events, which drove the majority of attendance. The student impact is the metric most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, as numerous planned events in the spring were canceled without a remote replacement.

Total Q1 NPS Results: N/A

We began measuring NPS score in April as we moved to online events, so this metric is not included in Q1 data.

Total Student Projects/Teams: 25

All of our student projects/teams were created as a part of our Nice Starts program.

This program taught students how to launch a crowdfunding campaign. At the end of the process, we launched 7 teams, raising over $12,000 for their new ventures.

Total Businesses Launched: 14

Our one-on-one meetings led to all of the business formations in Q1 2020.

The outbreak of COVID-19 spurred this activity as The Nice Center offered to help businesses move online in response to the outbreak. We have helped over 70 businesses launch online operations or new offerings. The majority of those started in April, but we did have our first group begin in late March, leading to our 14 business launches.


events at the nice center

Looking Ahead

We know that business and higher education is undergoing a massive change due to COVID-19. Now, more than ever, entrepreneurship and innovation are essential skills to get people back to work and to mount a response to the challenges from COVID-19. The Nice Center is well positioned to take advantage of trends in digitization and increased demand for innovation.

Additionally, we believe The Nice Center can provide a model for higher education to work with the community to educate and create impact at the same time.

We look forward to sharing our results on a monthly basis via social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram) and quarterly on our blog. Make sure to subscribe at the bottom of any page to keep up with our results.

Let us know what questions or suggestions you might have on how we can continue to effectively measure our work to help us make the largest impact possible.

Posted on April 30th, 2020 by Scott in News and Stories