This past semester, the Temple University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute moved over to the new 1810 building on Liacouras Walk, and with the move came the official launch of Temple’s very own startup accelerator program—aptly called the 1810 Accelerator. The Accelerator offers new and expanded resources to Temple University students and alumni from all 17 schools and colleges, whether they’re looking to learn more about entrepreneurial thinking or hit the ground running to launch their own startup business.
At the head of it all? New Accelerator Director Greg Fegley. This isn’t Greg’s first go-around with Temple Entrepreneurship, though. In fact, he’s been working with student entrepreneurs here on campus for years. We caught up with Greg recently to learn more about his new role, why he wanted to come on board full-time, what’s happening at the new Accelerator, and his words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Your new position as Accelerator Director is not your first connection to IEI. Can you talk about how you became involved with the Institute and what your role has been prior to joining the team full-time?
My first interaction with the IEI was as a mentor for the BYOBB competition 10 years ago. I loved the experience and within two years I was managing a major portion of the mentor pool of over 120 senior business executives. Five years ago I saw an opportunity to get even more involved in the IEI’s mission by teaching entrepreneurship courses to undergraduate and graduate students in the Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship master’s program as an adjunct professor.
Well, now that you’re here full time, we want students to get to know you! Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.
That’s a tough one! Let’s see. Well, I’ve driven cross-country three times. I was a runner in high school, and my sprint relay once won gold watches for first place at the Penn Relays. And I got married at 19 to a girl I met in sixth grade (I won’t tell you how many years it’s been now).
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? What has been your career journey and how have entrepreneurship and innovation been part of it?
Before coming to Temple I would have said no. But my experiences here have taught me there are many versions of entrepreneurship. During my business career I worked primarily for small to mid-size companies. Early in my career two of those companies were pioneering new-to-the-world technology. However, they were constantly going through change resulting from acquisitions as well as major shifts in the market which forced us to evolve and reinvent ourselves. In retrospect, that environment taught me to be an intrapreneur.
I also had the experience of trying my hand at starting a fashion apparel company with a few of my children about 10 years ago. Going from the software and services industry into fashion apparel was a real learning experience but I loved the challenge and found that most of my business and management skills were transferrable. While that business didn’t survive the economic recession, it was a great opportunity for me to work with my children and mentor them in a way that a father typically can’t.
You’ve been a mentor to many Temple entrepreneurs. What has been your favorite part of working with students on their new business ideas?
Without a doubt it is their incredible energy, insights, and perseverance. I think those three qualities can be found in most Temple students. Another aspect is I really enjoy learning from them, too. I think of myself as a life-long learner and working with Temple entrepreneurs allows me to learn about new technology and keeps me in touch with changing trends in multiple industries.
How does the launch of the new Accelerator change IEI’s role in supporting Temple entrepreneurs? In what ways will it work together with IEI’s current programs vs. offer new ones?
Entrepreneurship and innovation truly need a place—somewhere for entrepreneurs to come together and talk about ideas, collaborate on their ventures, and learn from each other. For the first time, Temple entrepreneurs will have this dedicated space in the IEI and the 1810 Accelerator. Any student interested in entrepreneurship can access our space right from Liacouras Walk and all are welcome to come in and explore it. The new Accelerator space has made us more accessible than ever and given us the physical space to provide the level of resources and programs our student entrepreneurs need to move their ventures forward.
Temple entrepreneurs have to apply to membership to the Accelerator. What does it mean to be an official member of the Accelerator? What is the application process?
When you join the 1810 Accelerator you become a ‘member at large’ which allows you access to the space and invitations to a wide range of programming and events we will be offering. Students who are further along in the process and have a verified opportunity and solution identified, or who may be moving toward launching their venture, can apply to become a member of the Startup Studio. The Startup Studio is Temple’s business accelerator cohort program. Only a small group of qualified students/ventures will be chosen to participate in each cohort. In addition to all of the regular accelerator programing, members of the cohort will also participate in specific 8-week program intended to accelerate their ventures and prepare them to launch.
Now that the Accelerator is officially open, what events and programs are coming up that entrepreneurs should look to attend?
One of the biggest problems I hear from students is finding a co-founder or partner with complimentary skills to help them work through the challenging process of creating a business. We will be launching a series of networking events and a platform for students, called Founder Finder, intended to make that process easier. Similarly, entrepreneurs need access to skills they often don’t have but may be available right here on the Temple campus. To help solve that problem we will also be creating a similar workshop series and a platform call Rent-A-Resource making it easier for students who have these needed skills to find opportunities within our entrepreneurial ecosystem at Temple. We’re excited to help students make these connections.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?
There is a reason that most startups fail. It is hard work and most people don’t have the commitment to follow it through. Or, they don’t want to follow the process that leads to success and they skip important steps. So my advice is do your homework; be proactive and find out what others have done that led to their success, and then apply it to the problem you’re passionate about.
Want to know more about the 1810 Accelerator? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the concept has existed since the mid-2000s, gender lens investing is experiencing a popularity boom in recent years. Gender lens investing is the practice of investing for financial return with a dual goal of benefitting women through improving economic opportunities and social well-being.
The reason for the rise of this business trend has been attributed to various factors including #MeToo and the release of data that no longer made the wage gap a subjective topic. For example, a 2017 study by Babson College showed that companies where the CEO is a woman only received 3 percent of the total venture capital dollars from 2011-2013 or $1.5 billion out of the total of $50.8 billion invested.
To dive a little deeper into this topic, Fox Focus met with Ellen Weber, assistant professor in Strategic Management and executive director of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures. Weber is an expert on topics including funding early-stage companies, entrepreneurial ecosystems and women’s entrepreneurship.
Q: Why do you think gender lens investing has become so important in today’s modern business environment?
A: When entrepreneurs sell their companies, many want to invest in startups in order to give back, and this results in a virtuous cycle. When that pool of exited entrepreneurs mostly consists of white men, males typically receive most of the funding, resulting in gaps in funding for women-funded companies. It is only in recent years that we are seeing successful women founders who have money to invest in startups. These days there are many more women entrepreneurs looking for funding and the number of investors has increased.
Q: What impact has this evolution had in improving and shaping global business practices?
A: There is newfound importance placed on the need to measure behaviors in order to change them. For example, in 2015, venture firm First Round Capital ran the data on its portfolio and found that companies with a female founder performed 63% better than investments with all-male founding teams. The cause for the better performance is attributed to diversity of thought and experience perspective.
Q: What is the impact of gender lens investing on culture?
A: Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They seek to solve problems that they understand and experience. So, women entrepreneurs are often solving problems that men would not necessarily see.
In the Fox School community alone, there are dozens of examples of this. Emily Kight, the 2018 Social Impact winner of IEI’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), a business plan competition, developed an in-home, non-invasive urine test that screens for ovarian cancer. In 2017, she was awarded second place for bioengineering a leave-in conditioner to lessen the effects of trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder. She was also awarded funding by the Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund.
The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund supports women in entrepreneurship. The Fund provides seed funding ranging from $500-$10,000. Funds are provided with the purpose of supporting companies in proving their concept, and where the money will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to progress.
Q: How is Temple University helping to support women’s entrepreneurship?
A: One of the most exciting things is the ability to offer students and alumni the opportunity to flex their entrepreneurial muscles in a supportive environment with competitions and calls for submission, like the Lori Bush Seed Fund, the BYOBB®, and the Innovative Idea Competition.
There are also a host of women’s organizations for students to get involved in at the Fox School, including Women’s Work, Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Village and the Women’s Entrepreneurial Organization.
On a personal level and in classes like Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship, I place an emphasis on what makes entrepreneurs more powerful. One of the ways to do that is to bring in entrepreneurs who are representative Temple’s student body. I want to show my female students that if they can see it, they can be it.
If you are a student who would like to get involved in entrepreneurship or women in business, feel free to contact email@example.com.
This story was originally published in Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine.
“For me, this is not just an opportunity to flesh out a business venture,” says graduating senior Daniel Couser. “I’m working to really find a solution to a problem that I’ve seen so many people struggle with.”
The problem: Anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older. Couser, an entrepreneurship and innovation management major, is currently developing a device that has the potential to provide relief for 18.1% of the population every year.
“A friend I grew up with had terrible anxiety. It was then that I realized what an interruption this disorder can be in someone’s life—the physical manifestations, the emotional toll,” he says. “I found that there weren’t really options on the market to combat anxiety other than medication and breathing techniques.”
Couser is the CEO and founder of Kovarvic LLC, a medical technology company that designs tools to manage cognitive disorders like anxiety. The company’s flagship product is CALM, a handheld device that uses a series of vibrations to relieve anxiety. After learning about research that explored the potential of using vibrations, electrotherapy or light can stimulate the brain to thwart fight-or-flight impulses.
Over the course of about 18 months, Couser began working with business advisors, medical technology companies and a consumer device company to discuss the feasibility of his new idea. He also partnered with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Temple, an organization that helps students get their inventions and companies off the ground, and CALM began to take shape.
Then, in 2018, his pitch for CALM won the undergraduate track of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business-plan competition hosted at the Fox School of Business. The process of working with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was tremendously helpful for Couser. He explains that the IEI team helped him deconstruct his ideas to build them up bigger and better, and exposed him to a vast and lively entrepreneurial network.
“On top of the prize money, it added credibility to my company and help to legitimize my idea,” he says.
After graduation, Couser will work on Kovarvic LLC and CALM full-time. The team is in the middle of a clinical trial for CALM, and he is continuing to research and beta test the technical as well as the usability of the product.
“I plan to continue the long, full, rewarding days building out CALM,” says Couser.
A professor from the Tyler School of Art and a Beasley Law School student won the $40,000 grand prize—as well as $20,000 for finishing in first place in their category—at Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), which is housed in the Fox School of Business.
Olaitan Awomolo, who teaches architecture and design at Tyler, and her partner, Wesley Davis, a law school student and former community projects coordinator from Pittsburgh, developed BuildLAB as a collaboration and project management tool intended to bring together owners, architects, engineers and foremen. BuildLAB is an online platform for designing, task assigning and managing and a real-time cost and build-time dashboard.
According to Awomolo and Davis, projects run millions of dollars over projected costs because of changes and the miscommunication of those changes between design and construction.
“I wrote a dissertation on the topic (of architectural-engineering-construction collaboration) and I worked as an architect,” Awomolo says.
Davis said the pair plan to use the $60,000 in cash and services to help finish a pilot model of their software so they can take the next step toward putting it on the market.
“I was delighted to see the broad range of participants in today’s event. Lots of us sit home and think ‘I could do this’ and that’s how far that it goes,” says Temple University Provost Joanne Epps. “And what IEI does is help make those dreams a reality.”
The competition featured three tracks, with a first-place finisher in each earning a prize worth $20,000 in cash prizes:
- Social Impact Track Winner: Pay It Forward Live. Shari Smith-Jackson
created the social media app for tracking volunteer hours for her teenage son and is hoping that game-ifying her app will spark more volunteerism and keep volunteers active.
- Undergraduate Track Winner: Mouse Motel. Essentially: a better mousetrap. Engineering student and graduating senior Paul Gehret made simple modifications to the common glue trap that he said has three times the effectiveness of its predecessor.
- Upper Track Winner: BuildLAB.
The audience at the live pitch event at Alter Hall on Temple’s main campus were able to vote for their favorite entry. MailRoom, an app designed by Fox School and Clemson University students, won the crowd favorite award. The app matches users with local businesses, such as coffee shops and bookstores, which contract to safely receive packages through delivery services.
The BYOBB® gave away more than $200,000 in prizes and services to help the participants get their businesses up and running.
Keynote speaker Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, received the Self Made and Making Others Award. Lyons started building The Zebra out of a friend’s basement before moving to an incubator and obtaining funding from billionaire investor Mark Cuban. The Zebra is an online insurance marketplace that reports millions in income each year.
Lyons is now engaged in several efforts to support entrepreneurship including Innovation Works, a seeding program that has invested in more than 200 startups, and The Lyons Foundation, which attempts to inspire entrepreneurship in children.
During his keynote address, Lyons spoke about using the naysayers as inspiration. He also said he ran into several chicken-and-egg type problems with The Zebra—companies wanted users signed up, but users were not going to sign up until there were companies involved. Lyons said he just kept scratching at both sides of the problem until it was solved.
He also said there is no skeleton key for the problems entrepreneurs face. Each case, each problem, each startup is different.
“I have started to think that entrepreneurship resembles art more than a science,” Lyons says. “I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody, but it is something you can be creative with. If you are passionate about a problem, you can be your own boss. You can make your own destiny.”
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
Business consultants are problem solvers and, oftentimes, fortune tellers. With the rise of technology in industries such as cybersecurity, healthcare and information technology, consultants have become even more popular because they can help organizations address current and future challenges based on insights, market analysis, resource optimization and more.
The Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP)’s Temple Consulting Club recently partnered with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Association to host a panel discussion with the theme of “Women in Consulting.” The four panelists, Daniella Colleta, Gail Blauer, Jessica Podgajny and Katie Stellard have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. We caught up with them to ask what they wish they had known in their 20s, and for any advice they have for women in the consulting field.
Never Shy Away From a Challenge
As an advisory manager at Grant Thornton LLP, Daniella Colleta deploys company-wide change management programs to expose employees to new ways of working. Additionally, she leads with a people-first strategy in order to reinforce new behaviors and achieve collaboration across people, processes and technologies.
“It is never too early to begin building a network of peers, advocates and mentors,” Colleta says. “Don’t shy away from those who challenge you. This will pay off dividends and the power of relationships should never be underestimated. Plus, there’s always much to learn and doing it with and around those you enjoy is the real reward.”
Nurture and Grow Natural Strengths
With twelve years of experience, Blauer specializes in business process improvement, business strategy, business transformation and business process outsourcing (BPO). Currently, she serves as the managing director of Deloitte Consulting.
“Be your authentic self. Often we are told that we have a characteristic that other people don’t find appealing, but that is who we are,” she explains. “I have always been assertive and aggressive, and I go after what I want. When I went to graduate school around the age of 22, I tried to suppress my natural assertiveness. As I have grown in my career, I realized it was something to nurture and grow. I advice young women to embrace the natural strengths that other people think are weaknesses.”
Move Feelings of Intimidation to the Backseat
In early 2017, Podgajny founded Blink Consulting, a firm that helps companies with culture, strategic planning, organizational change and design. She is a seasoned leader, passionate about partnering with both established and emerging organizations to catalyze growth. She has a track record of high-energy, high-touch and high-ROI result that have created long-lasting corporate legacies.
“When looking back on what I wish I’d known early in my career, two things come to mind. The first is to bring your whole self to work,” Podgajny says. “Initially, I kept my personal life and work life very separate until I realized that sharing more about myself as a whole person created room for building strong, meaningful working relationships with colleagues and clients. The second is to remember that ‘the boss’ or senior ranking leaders in the company are really just people. They likely don’t have all the answers and have their own strengths and weaknesses. The advice: Move your feelings of intimidation out of the way and have authentic dialogues with all colleagues regardless of their level. It will go a long way!”
Build a Network of Advocates and Colleagues
As a senior manager at Navigate Corporation, Stellard primarily focuses on project management office (PMO); and project and program management. With twenty years of experience in management consulting, she specializes in many sectors of the industry including, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, higher education and real estate.
“My advice to a just-starting-out consultant would be to build a network of peers and mentors that are working in your areas of interest and learn from their experience. They may also serve as your greatest advocates and center you as you navigate your career, even through job changes and challenges along the way.”
If you are interested in pursuing a career in consulting or entrepreneurship, learn more about the Fox Strategic Management department.
“I would not be at the level I am at right now without IEI or the Lori Bush Seed Fund,” says Stephanie Taylor, CEO and founder of TailorFit Laundry LLC. “And I’m really grateful for that.”
Recently, three beneficiaries of the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, Stephanie Taylor, Emily Kight and Heather Jones sat down together in the new Accelerator at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) to discuss their careers, the role that funding played in furthering their business ventures and offered advice to women entrepreneurs.
The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund provides funding to women entrepreneurs ranging from $500-$10,000 based on defined needs. Funds are provided with the purpose of supporting companies in proving their concept, and where the money will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to progress.
The fund, much like its namesake, supports ideas and models that advance women in entrepreneurship. Lori Hermelin Bush, MBA ‘85, is the former CEO of Rodan + Fields. During her time there, she guided the skincare company to an annualized run rate of over $1B in revenue. To learn more about her, click here.
Taylor, a full-time student at the Fox School, taps IEI’s extensive resources to elevate her business, especially while the company is in the startup phase. Since she was awarded funding, TailorFit Laundry, a mobile laundry service based in Philadelphia, has a host of recurring customers and is being discovered on Google by visitors to the area, including a Los Angeles Lakers sports commentator. She has also seized the opportunity to promote her business during events such as Temple Fest.
She advises women entrepreneurs to believe in their ideas and to dive in headfirst. “You have to know your worth in order for others to know your worth,” she says. “And if you overthink it, you’re never going to jump. That’s what you have to do, you have to just jump.”
In 2017, Emily Kight, BSBIOE ‘18, won second place in Be Your Own Boss Bowl®) (BYOBB®), a business plan competition hosted by IEI. She pitched Prohibere, a leave-in conditioner that she created to lessen the effects of trichotillomania (TTM), a hair pulling disorder that Kight has personal experience coping with. With the funding from BYOBB and the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, she was able to manufacture, create packaging and launch digital marketing for Prohibere, which is now available on Amazon.
“Being selected to compete in BYOBB® and other competitions is nerve-wracking because I had never really talked to anyone about this hair pulling disorder that I have had for 20 years,” says Kight. “I’m not big on public speaking, and this was the last thing I wanted to talk about in front of an audience, but it really helped to get started.”
When getting started with a business, Kight suggests, try to remember that failing isn’t a bad thing. “Failure is how you grow and develop as a businessperson.”
She recently decided to move on to her next challenge and is using her bioengineering education to develop a urine test used to screen for ovarian cancer. Funding from the Innovative Idea Competition, BYOBB® and GoFundMe has helped her partner with an R&D laboratory with the goal of creating an affordable, FDA-approved test prototype.
When Heather Jones came up with the idea for her company Luci, she knew that she
wanted to come back to her alma mater, Temple University, for help from the Fox School. She went to IEI for help building out her concept: a community-driven, multi-benefit skin care line made with vegan, cruelty-free ingredients set at a price that millennial and Get Z consumers could afford.
The line launched in September of 2018 and currently has multiple retail channels. The Luci team is now focused on growing their Glow Getter program across college campuses, where brand ambassadors can earn commission while sharing and promoting Luci products. Luci products are made in Milan, Italy, so the money Jones was awarded from the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund helped her develop packaging, with shipping logistics and supporting marketing efforts.
“The best feedback is when you get it from the customer. As entrepreneurs, we have to pivot very quickly based on what people say. For me, that has been a very important thing to take on,” she says.
Interested in finding out how IEI can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals? Visit iei.temple.edu.
With $7,000 in prize money on the line, five startups walked away with the cash to grow their ideas at the 21st Annual Innovative Idea Competition in November. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business hosted the contest, which focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and education.
Big ideas were transformed into reality for the five winning pitches. Grand prize winner PureTrip walked away with $3,500 in winnings for a portable, efficient and lightweight washing/drying machine concept. Created by College of Engineering (ENG) seniors Salmon Alotaibi and Yaqoub Bushehri, the PureTrip team also won the “Crowd Favorite” category.
“The washer can be applied in the real world in multiple ways—military, hikers and even third-world countries can use the equipment for different purposes,” says Bushehri. “We’re creating a prototype with more awareness to attract investors before commercializing and trying to figure out the rights to our idea.”
In the “Innovation” category, Athlete Crush won for a sport-specific, user-generated mobile platform that revolutionizes the way athletes and fans connect. To help athletes build and monetize their brands easily, professor Thilo Kunkel of the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) developed a way to help fans learn more about their favorite athletes, and provides athletes with a platform to promote social good through the medium of sport.
“The idea came while working with professional soccer player Michael Lahoud,” says Joonas Jokinen, Athlete Crush COO. “Michael cares deeply about his homeland of Sierra Leone. He even built a school there. But as a successful athlete, he was having trouble growing his brand. That’s where our idea and inspiration came from.”
Another pitch, Invest Out, founded by Tyrone Glover, FOX ’96, won first-place in the “Upper Track” category. Glover’s company partners home sellers with houses that could potentially sell for more if renovated with capital from interested investors.
“We’re currently beta testing the model with a limited target of area home owners and investors through www.investout.net,” says Glover.
The first-place winner in the “Undergraduate” category was Mouse Motel, a modernized mouse glue trap founded by ENG senior Paul Gehret.
“My dad and I knew how ineffective classic glue traps were and wanted to design a new one that would remedy the (mouse) problem,” says Gehret. “Mouse Motel was our solution. Through many experiments in our basement, we achieved a much higher efficiency than the glue traps that are commercially available.”
Other award-winning ideas included second-place “Upper Track” start-up Miranda, an online legal tech company that provides on-demand, 24/7 remote legal service. Founded by Fox graduate student Nikolas Revmatas, the idea came from Revmatas’ first-hand experience of navigating the U.S. legal system as an international student.
“I’ve had to figure out a fragmented legal system that is often expensive and intimidating,” says Revmatas. “In most cases, I only needed a few minutes of a lawyer’s time. I always wished there was a way to quickly, conveniently and affordably get legal advice, so I decided to create one.”
Founded by Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19, and Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19, another second-place winner was Mailroom in the “Undergraduate Track”. Mailroom is a digital platform that connects people with trusted small businesses and peers in their community to receive packages.
“We’re looking forward to making a difference in our communities by turning ideas and prototypes into a fully functional Mailroom mobile application that consumers can use,” says Nimmagadda. “We’re hoping that by this time next year, we’ll be making a dent in the package delivery problems that Philadelphians face.”
List of Winners
PureTrip – Salmon Alotaibi, ENG ’19 & Yaqoub Bushehri, ENG ’19
GLOBAL INNOVATION PRIZE
Athlete Crush – Thilo Kunkel, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management
1ST PLACE – UPPER TRACK
Invest Out – Tyrone Glover, FOX ’96
2ND PLACE – UPPER TRACK
Miranda – Nikolas Revmatas, FOX ’19
1ST PLACE – UNDERGRADUATE TRACK
Mouse Motel – Paul Gehret, ENG ’19
2ND PLACE – UNDERGRADUATE TRACK
Mailroom – Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19 & Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19
1ST PLACE – CROWD FAVORITE
PureTrip – Salmon Alotaibi, ENG ’19 & Yaqoub Bushehri, ENG ’19
2ND PLACE – CROWD FAVORITE
Mailroom – Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19 & Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19
Entrepreneurship at Temple is going campus-wide—and the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA) is at the helm of this effort. The Academy, formed in 2015 in partnership with the President’s office, works to educate faculty on incorporating entrepreneurship into their curriculum, and runs workshops and events on campus to support students who aspire to be entrepreneurial in their careers. So far, the effects have been far-reaching. In three years, TUEA has run more than a dozen programs, reached thousands of students, and created key partnerships in schools like the Tyler School of Art, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
“TUEA works together with faculty across campus with the ultimate mission of enabling students to make an impact and create their own success,” says Professor Alan Kerzner, who is Director of TUEA. “Our programs teach students how to follow their passion and make a living at the same time.”
One of the Academy’s most recent and impactful efforts happened over the past year in partnership with the Intellectual Heritage (IH) program, now in its fifth decade as part of the core curriculum at CLA and a key part of the University’s General Education program, meaning undergraduate students from all of Temple’s schools and colleges enroll in the course. IH courses guide students through the “great texts”—some of the most famous and influential political, social, and scientific works ever written—and ask them to apply the principles from these works to contemporary societal issues. No small feat, although an important one for sure.
But what does it have to do with entrepreneurship?
“Despite common perceptions,” says Professor Robert McNamee, Managing Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at Temple University and head of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship academic programs at the Fox School of Business, “entrepreneurship is not just about starting your own business or getting rich quick. In fact, entrepreneurship is aligned in many ways with what the Intellectual Heritage program is teaching, especially when it comes to doing good for society. Entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation—these can all be harnessed to create solutions to real-world problems. Solutions that can that can ultimately lead to real change.”
During the 2016-2017 school year, TUEA and CLA partnered on a program around Social Entrepreneurship that saw an overwhelmingly positive reaction from students. Knowing it was important to continue supporting this audience, Professors Kerzner and McNamee worked together with CLA leadership and Dana Dawson, Associate Director of Temple’s GenEd program, to identify new ways to reach students wanting to use entrepreneurial thinking to make the world a better place.
“We knew working with the IH program would be a unique opportunity,” said Professor McNamee. “The GenEd program at Temple University reaches so many students, and we knew this partnership could be really impactful.”
The plan was to incorporate creative problem solving techniques into the Intellectual Heritage II course. Titled “The Common Good,” this course asks students to consider issues like the balance between individual liberty and the public good and how power and privilege define one’s capacity to make change. The goal? To harness the critical thinking skills the students were practicing and turn their ideas into actionable solutions that could solve the problems they were identifying.
“We learned from IH faculty that students were understanding the issues, but sometimes becoming disheartened by their enormity,” said Professor Kerzner. “They were finding it difficult to identify ways to really address problems this big, this complicated.”
That’s where entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem solving came in. Using these practices, students were taught to shift their thinking so that it was solution-focused. They took time to really understand the problem at hand, and to identify aspects of it that were addressable. Professor Kerzner guest lectured at some class sessions, and students got to work coming up with solutions. Throughout the course, students were given the opportunity to attend workshops that helped them break down problems and develop their ideas for addressing them, and each semester culminated in a pitch competition, where students presented the problems they were studying and their planned solutions.
Intellectual Heritage professor Naomi Taback saw a change in the way her students were feeling. “I saw students,” she said, “Even ones who were often quiet in class, become animated, passionate, and enthusiastic about their ideas and solutions.”
“Many, many students at Temple, regardless of which college they are in, want to make a difference,” added CLA Dean Richard Deeg. “They want to make the world a better place, even in a small way. The collaboration between the Entrepreneurship Academy and Intellectual Heritages exposes a large number of students to practical techniques for turning their passion into action and tangible results.”
Inciting this passion in students, and helping faculty across campus to do it, too, is the heart of TUEA’s mission. With more than 6000 students enrolled in the IH program each semester, this partnership has potential to spread the entrepreneurial spirit on campus in a big way. The initial pilot program expanded from two to seventeen course sections of Intellectual Heritage II between fall 2017 and spring 2018. The program is expected to launch in more than twenty sections this coming fall.
“TUEA resources and expertise have enhanced GenEd courses by connecting classroom- based learning with action,” says Dana Dawson. Under Dana’s guidance, faculty teaching other GenEd courses have reached out to TUEA, and both professors Kerzner and McNamee see high potential for TUEA to expand their work with the GenEd program in the future.
This spring, TUEA was the recipient of the Fox School of Business IMPACT Award, which recognizes high-impact group achievements that define our community, move the school forward, and serve as a role model for others. If the success of the partnership with IH is any indication, this is just the beginning of TUEA’s cross-campus influence.
The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund
Call for Submissions
Submission deadline is Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
- 1-2 page Executive Summary
- Brief company description containing no more than 200 characters explaining your company, product, or service
- Requested dollar amount and an explanation of how funds will be used
- Pitch deck
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UniFi, a mobile app focused on financial wellness and onboarding, won the Bernard and Murray Spain Grand Prize at the 20th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), a Temple University-wide business plan competition.
Led by Jessica Rothstein, an MBA student at Temple’s Fox School of Business, the UniFi team won $60,000 in prize money at the April 19 final presentations. The earnings will immediately support UniFi’s acquisition of talent and technical resources.
“Our team celebrated winning Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, but for us, it was right back to work,” Rothstein said. “We have so much to achieve in the coming weeks and months, and two pilots to launch this summer. Winning this competition will definitely help us reach our goals.”
UniFi’s mission is to solve financial illiteracy through a digital platform purchased by companies and distributed to their employees. The app, Rothstein said, aims to improve communication between employers and employees to curb low adoptive rates of benefits packages—a workplace epidemic that exists nationwide, Rothstein said.
Additionally, UniFi will create “a snapshot of a user’s finances, centralizing statements for employee benefits and mortgages,” Rothstein said, and offer access to critical financial resources “in language everyone can understand.” UniFi also will provide 24/7 support, either through text messaging or social media.
“We’re not financial advisors. We’re translators,” said Rothstein, whose business partners include Lauren Della Porta and fellow Fox MBA alumnus Derek Miller. “The world’s top financial institutions have created this content and shared it on the Internet, but people don’t understand it, or know how to look for it.”
BYOBB® is the flagship program of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), and is ranked one of the nation’s most-lucrative business plan competitions. This year, 12 finalists representing five of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges delivered presentations in competition for more than $200,000 in cash prizes and related products and professional accounting, legal, and marketing services.
BYOBB® features three distinct tracks. The winners from each were:
- Social Impact Track: Ovarian Lab. Led by College of Engineering student Emily Kight, the company produced an in-home, non-invasive urine test that screens for ovarian cancer.
- Undergraduate Track: Kovarvic LLC. The company, led by Fox School student Daniel Couser, developed a handheld device that uses pulses of vibration to influence brain waves and de-escalate anxiety attacks.
- Upper Track: UniFi.
“Even if you don’t win, you’ve already won,” said Temple provost and executive vice president JoAnne Epps, addressing the competition’s finalists. “You are our future. The notion going forward that says, ‘We do things this way, but why can’t we do it differently?’ That’s you who are posing those important questions, and that’s you who are forcing us to answer them.”
IEI recognized Steve Charles, KLN ’80, with the Self Made and Making Others Award, celebrating lifetime achievement in entrepreneurship. A Temple University Trustee, Charles recently gifted $10 million to support the university and Temple Libraries.
And for the ninth year, IEI recognized students who best demonstrate the passion for entrepreneurship that was embodied by former Fox School professor Dr. Chris Pavlides. Entrepreneurship major Douglas Trachtman and Real Estate major Jalen West received the Pavlides Family Award.
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2018 BE YOUR OWN BOSS BOWL WINNERS!
Submitted by Jessica Rothstein, Student, Fox School of Business
Submitted by Jessica Rothstein, Student, Fox School of Business
Kovarvic LLC – (C.A.L.M.)
submitted by Daniel Couser, Fox School of Business
submitted by Kavun Nuggihalli, College of Science and Technology
submitted by Shreyas Chandragiri, Paul Gehret, and Kyle Jezler, College of Engineering
submitted by Justin Asaraf, School of Theater, Film, and Media Arts
UPPER TRACK FINALISTS
submitted by Jessica Rothstein, Student, Fox School of Business
Y Space, LLC
submitted by Zilong Zhao, Alumni, Fox School of Business
Osprey Drone Services
submitted by David Ettorre, Alumni, Fox School of Business
submitted by Robert Arnold, Alumni, Fox School of Business
SOCIAL IMPACT TRACK FINALISTS
submitted by Emily Kight, Student, College of Engineering
submitted by Thomas Dixon, Alumni, College of Education
Seeds Job Fair
submitted by Aiman Azfar A Rahman, Student, Fox School of Business
submitted by Abdulrahman Mohammed, Student, Fox School of Business
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute‘s 20th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, where Temple University students and recent alumni live pitch their bold business ideas, happens Thursday, April 19, at Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.
The 12 finalists will compete for $200,000 in prizes, which will help launch their businesses and take them to the next level. For more information, and to RSVP to the live pitch contest, click here.
In preparation for BYOBB® 2018, we spoke with several past winners and finalists to learn more about the state of their businesses back when they competed, where they are now, and what their next big move will be.
Founder: Joe Green, BBA ’12
About Affinity Confections: “Affinity Confections creates pastries and desserts featuring premium natural ingredients without any artificial flavors or colors. All of our confections are created to be portion controlled and seasonally inspired to highlight seasonal flavors.”
BYOBB® 2015 prize: Third place, upper track ($5,000)
Then: “We were in the growth stage of the business, framing out additional revenue streams, but we were already profitable as a company during the pitch. We wanted the prize money to build out operations.”
Now: “We are currently in another growth phase, expanding our baking operations and creating more packaged products for retail sale. We’ve also gotten several contracts in Philadelphia, with institutions such as University Of Pennsylvania and CHOP.”
What’s next: “We’re working on building production and retail space.”
Founder: Jung Park, BBA ’16
About Cocktail Culture: “Cocktail Culture Co. offers a booking platform for immersive experience-based activities such as cocktail classes and whiskey tastings. We teach the art & craft of mixology with freshly squeezed juices, homemade syrups, and premium ingredients. Our interactive classes offer a promotional channel for liquor brands to market their products for consumer purchase and usage.”
BYOBB® 2016 prize: Third place, undergraduate track ($5,000)
Then: “We were going through the formation/ideation phase. I was still brainstorming the concept, sizing the target market, figuring out how to create value for the consumer, and how to make the idea scalable.”
Now: “We are in the middle of the validation stage. Last year, 2017, was our first real year in business! The first six months were kind of scary, but we saw all our hard work pay off after August. After August was still scary, but a different type of scary, because we were getting flooded with sales and it was definitely overwhelming for our small staff. Some other big changes and growths we had since we were in the BYOBB® ? Well, our website isn’t on GoDaddy Website Builder anymore, so that’s good! That was definitely an ugly time for us. In the beginning, when you don’t have money, resources or help in general, you’re forced to do everything yourself, even when you’re not good at it). We also got a real logo and we’re building traction on corporate sales. We’ve served major names, like Viacom, Microsoft, and ATKearney; and we’re doing an event with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, so that’s exciting. We’ve been chasing bachelorette parties for a whole year (and some change), so we’re happy to see our hard work pay off. We have bachelorette parties all the time now and they’re almost always $500 to $1200 sales.”
What’s next: “The next step for Cocktail Culture Co. is more sales! We’re trying to figure out the maximum market potential in Philadelphia right now. Last year was proof that it’s a profitable concept. We’re getting our numbers up at our current location and figuring out if it’s a good idea to open a second location in the Philly suburbs. We’ve been talking a lot about Atlantic City in the past two months, so I’m hoping that works out by the end of this year or beginning of next year.”
Founder: Andrew Nakkache, BS ’16
About Habitat: “Founded in 2013, while at Temple University, Habitat is a Philadelphia-based company passionate about helping local businesses and committed to accelerating new ways to live and work within the ‘convenience economy.’ Today, Habitat helps restaurants by providing them a single delivery fleet for all of their orders. We do this through aggregating orders from various ordering sources (Grubhub, Eat24, Phone-ins, etc.).”
BYOBB® 2015 prize: First place, undergraduate track ($21,000)
Then: “We were trying to do too many things then. Our app was a hyperlocal marketplace that looked like Instagram, and functioned like Craigslist, but only for college students and local businesses.”
Now: “We pivoted twice since the BYOBB®. Our first pivot was to focus on food delivery on college campuses: think Caviar for campuses. This pivot gave us focus and insight into the market, which ultimately led to our more recent and successful pivot. We realized that restaurants had a much bigger pain around managing online orders rather than receiving more of them. We’re now B2B, working behind the scenes, and the best part is, as Grubhub gets bigger, so do we!”
What’s next: “This year is all about distribution partnerships that give us scale. We recently signed two partnerships with online ordering companies that have over 50,000 restaurants combined!”
Founder: Nick Delmonico, GMBA ’17
MBA concentration: Health Sector Management
About Strados Labs: “For clinicians seeking critical respiratory data, Strados utilizes proprietary technology to collect and transmit data in a simple, non-invasive manner, improving outcomes and saving money.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: Grand prize; First place in the Urban Health Innovation track ($60,000)
Then: “Strados Labs had designed a proof of concept prototype and conducted several customer journey maps and studies. As an early start-up, we focused heavily on understanding the pain points of our stakeholders, both patients and caregivers in managing and monitoring exacerbations and complications due to airway compromise. We found that there was a major data gap between what patients knew about their own signs and symptoms and what care teams know about patients in advance of a hospitalization event. We competed in BYOBB® to raise the necessary funding to further the development of our product, and to refine our value proposition to health organizations.”
Now: “Since 2017, Strados has raised more than $200,000 through a combination of business competitions, grants, and early investors. We have finalized our minimum viable product (MVP) and are in the process of conducting a clinical study at a major health system in New York. We have also participated in three globally ranked accelerator programs including NextFab RAPID, Brinc.io Global IoT, and Texas Medical Center Accelerator (TMCx) Cohort 6. The programs not only provided access to capital, but enabled our company to create collaborative partnerships with leading health institutions and care platforms across the country. Strados expanded its management team to include a highly experienced medical device CTO with successful exits and a clinical advisory team that includes physician leaders in pulmonary medicine and respiratory therapies with multiple successful medical devices and drug launches.”
What’s next: “Strados will be launching pilot studies with clinical partners over the course of the summer and will be moving the Strados product further through a full commercial launch. We have some additional partnerships in the pipeline that we are excited to announce in the near future.”
Founder: Lisa Guenst, BA ’13
Major: Community and Regional Planning
About ToothShower: “ToothShower is an oral home care suite for the shower.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: First place, upper track ($20,000)
Then: “It was our first business plan ever written and there was no revenue. We were in the prototype stage.”
Now: “We have our tooling completed from money we raised on crowdfunding—we raised more than $325,000 through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And our first run sample has been tested and we are waiting for our second sample to test.”
What’s next: “Once we deliver the product to our crowdfunding backers, we will move into ecommerce sales.”
Founder: David Feinman, BBA ’15
Major: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
About Viral Ideas Marketing: “At Viral Ideas, we create to inspire. We work with companies as their dedicated video partner. We are a modern video production company built for new media. We believe in the power of defining companies why and sharing their why through video and modern media production.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: Second place, upper track ($10,000)
Then: “Two and a half years ago, while still in college, Zach Medina and I started Viral Ideas with $250 of our own money and just one client. At the time of BYOBB, we had 42 clients and were working out of our office space in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Other than BYOBB® winnings and our original $250, we are proud of the fact that we’re entirely self-funded while sustaining 2x year over year growth.”
Now: “Growing the business hasn’t been easy. It’s meant putting our heads down to focus only on work, overcoming the challenges that most startups face, giving up a social life and making significant sacrifices along the way. Now, less than three years into the business, we were voted Best in Bucks for Media production by Bucks Happening and have more than 120 clients while also working with some of the most significant brands in the world. In 2018, we’re on track to double our revenue again and fully launch our technology platform.”
What’s next: “We’re working to simplify the process of creating a video. After building more than 700 videos for some of the most significant companies in the world, we’ve learned that the process can be drawn out, time-consuming, and complicated. We intend to solve this problem by creating a technology which reduces the amount of time required to develop a video through a technical solution.”
Founder: Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13
About Whose Your Landlord: “WYL is a web platform empowering and informing the rental community by providing landlord reviews, neighborhood and community-driven content, and access to more than 500,000 listings across the U.S.”
BYOBB® 2014 prize: First place, upper track; Best plan by a minority entrepreneur ($20,500)
Then: “We had just launched, with maybe 10,000 or 20,000 users.”
Now: “750,000 users, people looking for reviews/rentals (25% MOM growth). 70,000 blog readers/mo (43% MOM growth). More than 500,000 active listings nationwide. Renter search queries, 230% MOM growth. 10,000 landlord reviews in the Northeast. Corporate partnerships with American Express, Allstate, Roadway Moving, Dominion, etc. Recent coverage in Forbes, New York Post, NowThis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Blavity, Curbed, Newsweek, TechCrunch, etc.”
What’s next: “We are raising capital at republic.co/whoseyourlandlord (go invest!) and working with Univision on a podcast focusing on the following: ‘WhoseYourLandlord (founded in 2013) is a web platform empowering and informing the rental community through landlord reviews, neighborhood-focused content, and by providing access to quality listings across the United States. Their brand has become synonymous with realness, community, and growth. In a time where multicultural communities are under attack in many places across the world, The Take Ownership podcast highlights insightful stories and people who are really doing the work to enlighten folks on mentally and economically taking ownership of the spaces they live in.'”
For more information about Be Your Own Boss Bowl 2018, and to RSVP, click here.
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
Business consulting—a $250 billion industry in 2017—is growing thanks to hot sectors like cybersecurity, healthcare, and information technology. The demand for trained consultants is greater than ever and there are numerous students at the Fox School of Business eager to pursue careers in the rising industry.
The Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP)’s Temple Consulting Club recently partnered with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Association to host a panel discussion with the theme of “Women in Consulting.” More than 150 people attended the event where four professional women consultants—Liz Bywater, of Bywater Consulting Group; Anwesha Dutta, of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Michele Juliana, of RSM; and Jennifer Morelli, of Grant Thornton—discussed the state and bright future of the profession.
“Consulting has a special glamour to it,” says executive principal of Victrix Global Araceli Guenther, who also works with TUMCP, teaches consulting and International Business courses at the Fox School, and moderated the discussion. “People are attracted to consulting because you’re working on very high-level projects and with very interesting companies and people.”
Some of the big questions students had for the panelists regarded work-life balance and the personal sacrifices required to thrive in the industry. Guenther, a 15-year veteran of the consulting industry who has worked for major clients like GlaxoSmithKline, knows first-hand that the consulting lifestyle can be a grueling one.
“The stress level is high and there’s normally lots of travel,” Guenther says. “You’re usually on a plane Sunday afternoon and you’re back home Friday evening. People glamourize it from the outside, but what they don’t realize is that, even when I was somewhere beautiful like Verona, Italy, we were working from morning to night and it was a year-long project. It’s not a profession for everyone and it’s definitely more of a challenge for women.”
Many students at the Fox School are excited to face the challenges and embrace the opportunities of a career in consulting. For instance, Nhi Nguyen, a sophomore MIS major and international student from Vietnam. Nguyen, who as the vice president of the Temple Consulting Club helped organize the event, has studied abroad in Japan, where she worked for the Japan Market Expansion Competition. She can’t wait to keep traveling and hopes to do so while pursuing a consulting career in the technology industry.
“I love traveling, working with a team, and working on interesting projects,” says Nguyen. “I like unexpected challenges and I like to solve problems. When you work in consulting, you get to work across industries and with different teams. And you get to travel everywhere! The workload is really heavy and you are on the road constantly, but that’s what I want to do.”
Panelist Liz Bywater had a professional background in clinical psychology before launching her own consulting firm, Bywater Consulting Group, in 2003. She has since worked with clients such as Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and focuses on working with CEOs and top executives. Launching her own company allowed her to avoid some of the work-life pitfalls that worry students, but also to pursue the specific type of work that inspired her the most.
“I’ve always loved being my own boss,” says Bywater. “I love being able to create my own calendar and to take on the type of work that’s most exciting to me and most beneficial to my clients. And I have flexibility and the endless potential to evolve my business.”
With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Bywater has good advice for students considering careers in consulting.
“Students should be thinking about what type of consulting is most interesting to them and what they want their lives to look like from a holistic perspective,” she says. “They can work with a large firm, which means very long hours, travel, and demanding work. Or some may want to carve their own path and create their own firm, where there will be more flexibility, but also more risk. Students should be clear on what their strengths are, and on what they really want to do with their lives and careers in the short and long-term.”
“Also,” she continues, “students shouldn’t allow the focus on skill set to get in the way of what truly makes a successful consultant, which is being able to have positive, value-added relationships, to listen and communicate well, and to be reliable, trustworthy, and creative.”
Based on the success of this event, TUMPC and the Temple Consulting Club are planning a similar event next spring.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Department of Strategic Management.
See below for the full list of 2018 BYOBB Finalists, and click here to register now for the Live Pitch Competition!
Undergraduate Track Finalists
Kovarvic LLC – (C.A.L.M.) submitted by Daniel Couser, Fox School of Business
Jewish EDM submitted by Justin Asaraf, School of Theater, Film, and Media Arts
HemaSense submitted by Shreyas Chandragiri, Paul Gehret, and Kyle Jezler, College of Engineering
ConsiderCode, LLC submitted by Kavun Nuggihalli, College of Science and Technology
Upper Track Finalists
Y Space, LLC submitted by Zilong Zhao, Alumni, Fox School of Business
UniFi submitted by Jessica Rothstein, Student, Fox School of Business
RFPeasy submitted by Robert Arnold, Alumni, Fox School of Business
Osprey Drone Services, submitted by David Ettorre, Alumni, Fox School of Business
Social Impact Track Finalists
ZAKYA submitted by Abdulrahman Mohammed, Student, Fox School of Business
Seeds Job Fair submitted by Aiman Azfar A Rahman, Student, Fox School of Business
Ovarian Lab submitted by Emily Kight, Student, College of Engineering
ME.mory submitted by Thomas Dixon, Alumni, College of Education
Jessica Rothstein describes herself in many ways.
“I’m a confident problem solver. I gravitate toward problems that are meaningful to me. And I’m not afraid to fail.”
One word is notably absent from the Fox MBA’s self-description. “I don’t think of entrepreneurship as a personality trait,” Rothstein explains. “Everyone is entrepreneurial these days—it’s what the workforce is calling for.”
Rothstein may not use the word herself, but of all the careers she tried, entrepreneurship was the one that stuck. “I studied mechanical engineering at Lafayette College, and by the time I was a sophomore I realized I didn’t want to be an engineer,” she says. She stayed engaged in her education by designing a water filtration system for a small community . “We tested it with a family in Haiti,” she recalls, but decided against pursuing the project after graduation.
Instead, Rothstein worked as a consultant, helping companies design better products and use their resources more efficiently. “I did that for about two years, and one day I got a call asking if I wanted to play lacrosse for the Israeli national team,” she says, laughing. “Someone was going to pay me to travel the world. How could I say no?”
Israel was an incredible adventure full of new experiences, but Rothstein was still the same problem-solving adept. “The organization that hired me was trying to develop the sport of lacrosse in Israel,” she says. “At that time, they were growing very quickly but their structures weren’t built for that growth.” Rothstein became the interim director of business development and helped the organization restructure to accommodate that growth.
Meanwhile, Rothstein was also working on a personal problem. “I loved Israel but I missed my friends! Social media lets you talk with people, but I missed sharing experiences,” she recalls. Rothstein started sending her friends scavenger hunt-style tasks to complete. After each task they would send her pictures and stories, allowing them to build new experiences together from across the world.
“When I came home in 2016 my friends and I realized we were on to something,” Rothstein says. Bucket was born, a mobile application designed to bridge the gap between digital communication and in-person connection.
In 2016, Rothstein decided to pursue her MBA. “I was looking for places that had resources for a start-up business,” she recalls. Rothstein had heard of Ellen Weber, executive director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at the Fox School. “Ellen was one of the first early-stage investors in Philly, and she is a leader in the investor scene here,” Rothstein says. “I knew that I wanted to work for her and get to know her.”
Rothstein found the connections she was looking for at Fox. She began working for Weber at Robin Hood Ventures, a network of angel investors that Weber runs. Her team continued developing Bucket, winning the Laura Bush Seed Fund Grant from Temple University and receiving over 1,000 social media likes in one week.
Rothstein has even had opportunities to use her experience to help other companies through Fox. As part of her MBA capstone through Fox Management Consulting she worked with bSafe, a mobile safety application which allows users to quickly notify friends and family when they have safety concerns.
“Tangibly and intangibly Bucket mirrored bSafe. Starting a business always has some of the same aspects and ambiguity,” Rothstein explains. “You are constantly sprinting in one direction and hitting a wall, so you go the other way. You never know what you’re going to hit, so you’re also trying 50 different angles. That’s the mindset you have to have when you’re working on a project like bSafe because the problem will change every day.”
bSafe engaged Rothstein and her colleagues to design a market launch strategy for the app and create an investor deck, which Rothstein was uniquely positioned to do. Through her work at Robin Hood Ventures, Rothstein reviews dozens of new business proposals each week, deciding which projects will pass to the next stage.
“I have exposure to 40+ incredible people in that network who are early-stage investors and take the time to explain their decisions to me, and have trust in me,” Rothstein says. “That has given me some tangible skills that I was able to use with bSafe.”
MBA student teams work with project executives, experienced professionals with specific expertise in each project area. “I’ve worked with two incredible project executives-Nicole Naumoff last semester and Tess Kristensen this semester. In some ways, I’ve learned more from them than from the actual projects,” Rothstein says.
Rothstein has also loved working with her MBA cohort. “The Temple program is not the typical MBA class of former consultants and bankers. Every person in our class comes from a different background and is passionate about something different. That’s the number one thing I’ve really enjoyed.”
This spring as Rothstein graduates she will be entering a rotational program with Comcast and preparing to launch Bucket publicly, but she already knows that more start-ups are in her future.
“My dream is to open a theme park run completely on kinetic energy that serves people with physical disabilities-a therapeutic theme park. Overcoming physical challenges is hard work and I’d like to help people who are on that journey.”
Call her what you will—problem solving, curious, visionary, or entrepreneurial—Rothstein bears watching. Wherever she goes you can bet that innovative solutions to nagging problems will follow close behind.