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Temple’s youngest CEOs encourage students to build up “sweat equity” through start-ups

Attendees listen to the panelists at Temple University¹s Young Alumni Association #TempleMade Entrepreneurship event.

Attendees listen to the panelists at Temple University’s Young Alumni Association #TempleMade Entrepreneurship event.

For some, the decision would have created sleepless nights. For Joseph Green, it was a no-brainer.

While studying entrepreneurship at the Fox School of Business, Green had developed two business plans in completely different fields. Whichever one he chose to pursue, Green said, the risk of starting a business and forging into self-employment outweighed the security of a position in corporate America.

“To me it’s the same gamble,” Green said, “only the payoff is more direct and more beneficial to you because you’ve put in that sweat equity.”

The CEO of Affinity Confections, the bakery and confection company he launched in 2012 in Philadelphia, Green visited Fox’s Alter Hall Jan. 27 to participate in a panel discussion on being a young business owner. Joining Green, FOX ’12, on the panel were fellow Fox alums Dylan Baird, FOX ’12, the CEO of farm share Philly Food Works, and Rachel Furman, FOX ’12, the CEO of cosmetic company Mouth2Mouth Beauty.

Temple University’s Young Alumni Association organized the event, as part of its ongoing #TempleMade Entrepreneur Series, “to increase active student engagement and highlight the business successes of our young alumni,” according to TUYA vice president Latisha Brinson, FOX ’08.

The three 20-something CEOs provided snapshots of their careers and companies, lent insights into their respective startup experiences, and detailed how they sidestepped the inherent risks involved with entrepreneurship.

Furman admitted that she “spent more time playing sports than applying makeup” during her high school days. With Mouth2Mouth, she’s creating socially responsible cosmetic products, like eyeliner and lip stains, for the urban market. Her company and her career may not have come together without her experiences at Temple University.

“This was where I found someone other than my family and friends who could connect with my dreams,” she said.

Baird, whose Philly Food Works delivers high-quality food from farm to neighborhood, serves more than 900 people. In its earliest stages, he said he received poignant advice from a fellow entrepreneur, on pouring capital into the resources upon which a company depends – like a flat-bed truck or a cooler – and not on an office chair, for example.

Latisha Brinson, FOX ¹08, moderates the Temple University¹s Young Alumni Association Entrepreneurship panel, which featured (from left) Dylan Baird, FOX ¹12, Rachel Furman, FOX ¹12, and Joseph Green, FOX ¹12.

Latisha Brinson, FOX 2008, moderates the Temple University’s Young Alumni Association Entrepreneurship panel, which featured (from left) Dylan Baird, FOX 2012, Rachel Furman, FOX 2012, and Joseph Green, FOX 2012.

Green launched Affinity Confections in 2014, believing consumers desired sweet treats in smaller portions, made with premium and natural ingredients. Green, who has 16 years of baking experience, credited Temple with motivating him to excel.

“Temple’s job is to listen to your business plan, then poke holes in it, and push you to find a better way to do it,” said Green.

Dwight Carey, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Fox School, closed the event by asking for a show of hands from the nearly 100 alums and current students in attendance, wondering how many wish to one day own a business.

“Why wait? Ask yourself you aren’t doing it already,” Carey said. “You can do it because the desire is within each of you.”

Added Tim Bennett, FOX ’09, the owner of Philadelphia-based Bennett Compost: “It was great to hear from this panel and see what paths other successful entrepreneurs took to achieve what they have. They make me wonder whether I’m putting enough time into marketing, for example, or into accounting, and it’s a way to be reflective on your own business, while also being inspired by others who are doing what you’re doing.”