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.
Hundreds of dedicated MBA students like Jessica Rothstein pass through Fox’s doors each year. Put their energy and experience to work on your next business challenge through Fox Management Consulting.
Imagine being thankful your husband allowed you to attend a business meeting. Many of you probably rolled your eyes, but this used to be a common occurrence. While we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The good news is many women are creating their own paths through entrepreneurship.
According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, women comprise 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. At the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference, hosted by the Fox School of Business at Alter Hall, we learned that many of today’s female executives are building diverse and inclusive organizations.
The League, which holds an annual conference, is an advocacy initiative that addresses the growing challenges and interests of entrepreneurial women in the Greater Philadelphia region. It was co-founded by Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate dean of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost for strategic communications. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), under the leadership of Ellen Weber, executive director, co-hosts the event.
Fox Focus spoke to two of the conference speakers. Here is the advice Judith von Seldeneck, founder and chairman of Diversified Search, and Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership, have to offer women who want to start their own companies.
What advice do you have for women starting their own business?
Judith von Seldeneck: Have a good idea for your business. Something that fills a viable, current need. Take it slow, one step at a time. Stay in control of it. Be wary of partners or owners. There’s time for that down the road. Do the work yourself. No delegating early on; hire others to work for you when you can afford it. Have someone you trust who has no interest in the business but who is smart, good at things you aren’t, who you can learn from. You must learn it somehow early on if you don’t have it.
“I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy.” – Allison Francis Barksdale
Allison Francis Barksdale: I thought I had to do it all on my own. It is so much easier now that I am willing to seek help and follow the examples of others who are experts in areas where I am not. It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. You can find mentors and other resources. Take advantage of all that is available. You can learn from things on social media (such as LinkedIn), your alumni association (such as the Temple Women’s Network), and lots of other opportunities.
We’ve seen some inspiring stats about women in business. How do you feel the world has changed for women over the last few decades?
JVS: When I started, I was almost a unicorn, constantly dealing with men, competing with men, which I actually enjoyed being the only woman. Now I am surrounded by strong, successful, younger, executive women, and there is indeed encouraging news for women in business: over the last decade, the number of women-owned firms increased 45 percent, compared to just 9 percent for the national average. Female ownership of businesses is up almost 10 percent over the last decade. But there is also one big, troubling statistic to go with all of that cheery news: Women start 38 percent of new businesses, but still only receive between 2 and 6 percent of all venture capital funding. That’s an issue because it tells me that banks and venture capitalists still do not see women as solid leaders and their businesses as solid investments. There is more work to be done, especially on the VC side of the ledger.
However, I believe the momentum for women has turned a corner very recently and we are much more integrated, respected, capable, savvy, and confident as people, not just women, in our abilities to succeed in building and growing businesses! Today, we have great successful women role models like never before. Plus, women now want to generally help each other be successful.
“I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business.” – Judith von Seldeneck
AFB: We have made great progress! The biggest change I see is that women are leading as they are. When I was coming into the workforce in the late 1980’s, women wore bowties and power suits and acted like men. Today, women are leading with feminine power. I am a big proponent of authenticity. My company, RISE Leadership, helps women build their impact and income through authentic leadership. To be the best speaker, leader, or anything, you have to be yourself. You can’t be anyone else better than you can be yourself. That’s what truly creates connection and power.
How should companies respond to this change to cultivate more diverse and inclusive staffs?
JVS: Any company that wants to develop a diverse and inclusive staff has to make that commitment from the top: at the board level, at the CEO level. If there are not clear and strong mandates from leadership to install mechanisms and performance metrics to produce a more inclusive workforce, particularly at the C-Suite level, it’s all lip service. It doesn’t happen organically. It happens when people in power make a conscious decision to open their doors wider, and implement policies and procedures that are fair and direct and will produce that result. How are you scouting for new talent—and where are you looking? You cannot tap new talent streams if you are only going to look in the same places you have been looking for the past 30 years. You should also hire Diversified Search to help find great talent!
At the conference, you said your path has been like the Game of Life. Can you translate your experience into advice for future generations of women in business?
AFB: My entrepreneurial journey was not a straight path to success. The first business I started failed. I opened a flower and tea shop in 2005, which could not weather the economic downturn in 2007. People were losing their homes, so they were not buying a lot of small luxuries. As in life, things don’t always go as planned. There is an element of chance. If you take a look at the board in the Game of Life, the roads have lots of curves, twists, and turns that you cannot always anticipate.
As for advice, I learned to never stop believing in myself. Above all else, you cannot give up on you! Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways that you never anticipated. If you stay focused on success, there may come a time when you have to say to yourself, “Okay I am not letting this defeat me. Where’s the good in this, the lesson that I can learn and move on?”
You have to be willing to see your vision of success differently than how you planned it. Rather than going into business to do and make money, focus more on serving and solving problems that you are designed to solve best. Enjoy the day-to-day and not just the final outcome of your future success. Whatever happens along the way, good or bad, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, personally and professionally.
What will the future hold for women in entrepreneurship and business?
JVS: I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business. The future is bright and getting brighter. There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Those kinds of statistics would have been an unthinkable pipedream 40 years ago. Time heals many misevents. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Technology is leveling and normalizing the playing field everywhere and disrupting long-established traditional practices in one fell swoop. I think there is a tremendous benefit for women in business in this explosive transformational environment that is happening so quickly. We need to be riding this tidal wave that is disrupting business everywhere.
“Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways you never anticipated.” – Allison Francis Barksdale
AFB: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, a company will take on the values of its leaders, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. As in my case, authenticity and speaking up are personal as well as organizational values. It’s exciting to see how more and more women are igniting their power and speaking up. Women are leading in various ways—in small businesses, corporations, politics, and nonprofits (I prefer the term for-purpose). Even though we still have quite a ways to go, especially in corporate and board leadership, I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy. Women will play a key role in building a more inclusive, cooperative, and optimally functioning workforce. I plan to do my part to make this happen.
To continue the dialogue on women in business and leadership, feel free to contact Allison: Allison@ImpactwithRISE.com
The Future of Business is Female
The following Temple students and alumnae pitched their companies at the conference:
- Jess Rothstein, Fox MBA, Class of 2018, Play Bucket, playbucketapp.com
- Emily Knight, Engineering major, Class of 2018, Prohibere, biomaterix.com
- Karima Roepel, MTHM ’06, Ambrosia Food Group, ambrosiafoodgroup.com
The Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges at Temple University. IEI offers many years of experience in business development and consulting, a wide variety of skills, extensive networks, and boundless enthusiasm for new ventures and experiential learning.
Nick Delmonico drafted his company’s business plan in an MBA capstone course. He retooled it. He discussed it with mentors. He finalized it. Months later, he tested its viability—and he won more than $60,000 in cash and prizes at a university-wide business plan competition.
“The product’s development, the access to mentors, all of it came together as a result of Temple University and the Fox School of Business,” Delmonico said.
For a third consecutive year, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine have awarded top-10 national rankings to the undergraduate- and graduate-level entrepreneurship programs at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Temple is in exclusive company, as one of five universities nationally to receive Top-10 rankings for two entrepreneurship programs. Its graduate program is ranked No. 8, and its undergraduate program earned a No. 10 ranking.
“These rankings reflect what we have known for a while: There’s no better place than a college campus for entrepreneurs,” said Ellen Weber, executive director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI). “Hands-on classes allow our students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, workshop their ideas, and lean upon our professors’ expertise. We’ve also built strong relationships with industry that grant our students unparalleled access to the business community.”
Published by The Princeton Review Nov. 14 and to be included in the December edition of Entrepreneur magazine, the 2018 rankings recognize 25 undergraduate- and 25 graduate-level programs for excellence in entrepreneurship education. The rankings are based upon a large variety of quantitative and qualitative criteria, including the number of: entrepreneurship-specific courses offered; faculty who are also entrepreneurs and/or serve on the boards of new ventures; businesses started and funds raised by alumni; and entrepreneurship-focused activities, competitions, programs, clubs, and centers.
“Entrepreneurship education across all disciplines remains a pillar at Temple University, and we at the Fox School take great pride in leading this effort,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School. “Career paths are not linear. That’s why we strive to prepare our students to think and act like entrepreneurs.”
Delmonico is an example. His company Strados Labs has developed a wearable device that, in conjunction with a mobile app, will help asthma sufferers better manage the condition. Strados Labs won first place at the 2017 Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB), a Temple University-wide business plan competition. Soon, Delmonico will launch a demonstration of the product and is slotted to conduct pilot testing with a large health system.
“Our BYOBB mentor gave us specific experience in the space in which our company and technology is trying to commercialize, and one of my finance professors guided us as we developed our 3- to 5-year financial projections,” said Delmonico, who earned his MBA in 2017. “Our successes would not have been possible without Temple, Fox, and these great resources.”
Click here for more information about the rankings published by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.
The Egg at Alter Hall was standing-room only last night as IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber took the podium to open the 20th Annual Innovative Idea Competition Live Pitch Event. “Sometimes what makes an idea strong is that it’s elegantly simple,” she told the audience in her opening remarks. “The kind of idea that makes you think ‘why didn’t I think of that?'”
That rung true when Emily Kight (College of Engineering ’18), an Idea Competition veteran who landed in second place in the Undergraduate Track at last year’s competition, took home the $2500 Grand Prize for her idea: an affordable, accessible, at-home ovarian cancer menstrual blood test. The test, if it makes it to the market, will allow all women, especially those with a higher risk due to family history, to test for ovarian cancer more often, more privately, and more conveniently. This could drastically reduce late detection, a common risk with ovarian cancer because of how difficult its symptoms are to detect.
Kight was also awarded the $500 Global Innovation Prize funded by CIBER for her idea’s potential to have an impact on a global scale.
Twelve finalists total pitched to the competition’s expert judging panel: Glen Gaddy, Chair of Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures, Yuval Yarden, Director of Ecosystems Engagement at the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and Shelton Mercer, Principal and Chief Innovation Officer at Benjamin’s Desk. Other top ideas from the night included C.A.L.M (Daniel Couser, FSB ’18) and Vibrasoft (Kyle Jezler, College of Engineering ’18), two healthcare-focused ideas that received first and second place in their track, respectively. In the Upper Track, comprised of graduate students, alumni, faculty, and staff, Immersive Therapy (Keith Regan, FSB Alumni) came out on top and Quick ReCon (Alex Garaschenko, FSB Alumni) was awarded second place.
The audience had a say, too! Two People’s Choice Awards were given to the ideas with the most votes from the audience. New and exciting this year was the Facebook Live stream happening throughout the entire competition via the Fox School of Business Facebook Page, where more than 1000 viewers tuned in and were able to cast their votes along with the live audience. When voting closed, My Student Quarters (Jessica Rehrig, CLA Alumni) came out on top to receive the $1000 first place People’s Choice Award, with Atheroprobe (Laura Navarro, College of Science and Technology ’21) in a close second taking home $500.
Click here for a full list of last night’s finalists and idea descriptions.
Up next? The Be Your Own Boss Bowl. 2018 Rules and Guidelines coming soon!
As professional football executives arrived in Philadelphia to ponder the next generation of talent in the 2017 NFL Draft, students from Temple University brought attention to the most-critical issue facing football: concussion prevention.
Temple University recently collaborated with sport innovation enterprise HYPE Foundation to host two on-campus events geared toward football player safety and sport innovation. (And all ideas were welcome — whether a sure touchdown, or just a Hail Mary concept.)
Students throughout Temple’s 17 schools and colleges participated in an all-day Hackathon. The April 25 event, held at Alter Hall, challenged students from all academic disciplines to create new ideas to enhance the safety of football players. Students competed for cash prizes and access to potential investors. The event lured high-profile jurists like Dan Klecko, Temple alumnus and former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman; Temple alumnus Cosmo DeNicola, co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul; and Ryan Tierney, Temple associate professor of kinesiology.
Eleni Latsios, a junior Entrepreneurship major, represented the first-place team — U-View. The students generated an idea for on-field technology that would allow coaches, trainers, and spectators to review plays from multiple angles and distances, in real-time and replays.
“The Hackathon workshop showed me the power of creativity and collaboration,” said Latsios. “It was a great experience working with a group of students, and hearing the other pitches that day and the next day at the pitch competition. The world of sport is innovating so rapidly and I was happy to be positioned at the forefront of that through this event.”
A day later, the Worldwide Pitch Competition welcomed 10 finalists to present their football safety ideas to sport organizations and leading investors from around the world. Also, Latsios’ team and two other finalists from the previous day’s Hackathon had an opportunity to expose their ideas to investors. The pitch competition welcomed leading judges, including: Ben Alamar, ESPN’s Director of Sports Analytics; Rod Nenner, Washington Redskins’ Vice President of Sports Marketing; and Dr. JoAnne Epps, Temple University provost.
After jury deliberation, RecoverX — a hardware technology company providing innovative products to the injury recovery market — earned the grand prize.
“Temple University and innovation go hand-in-hand,” said Alan Kerzner, assistant professor and director of Temple University’s Entrepreneurship Academy. “Our Entrepreneurship programs are nationally ranked, and our students have built a reputation for turning their ideas into thriving businesses. That’s why we were proud to align with HYPE Foundation to provide this unique opportunity for Temple University, its students, and entrepreneurs everywhere.”
The Temple-HYPE collaborative events took place days before the eyes of football fans globally turned to Philadelphia for the 2017 NFL Draft.
These events demonstrated Temple’s strength in research, innovation, and sport. The university houses undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs that are ranked top-10 nationally by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Temple also is home to the renowned Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), which provides marketing strategies to enhance the economic, social, and environmental stability of sporting events. The NFL and NCAA are among SIRC’s notable research partners.
Additionally, Temple faculty are leading the way in brain-injury research. In November, an interdisciplinary team of Temple researchers received a $20 million award for greater brain-injury research. And a Fox School of Business professor authored an academic text on head trauma from a legal and insurance perspective.
“These events offered unique opportunities for Temple University, its students, and innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere,” Kerzner added. “It was a university-wide effort involving many colleges and departments, and is hopefully just the beginning of our collaboration to help Temple expand its presence in the burgeoning sport innovation field.”
—Erin McShea and Christopher A. Vito
1. Honeygrow: A #TempleMade Venture
Justin Rosenberg, Fox School of Business, MBA ’09, is the founder of Honeygrow, a restaurant offering healthy fare made with seasonal, local ingredients. Starting this summer, Honeygrow will have 18 locations, including one on Temple University’s Main Campus in Morgan Hall. According to Rosenberg, “I’m a Temple guy. I wrote a chunk of my business plan for Honeygrow at Alter Hall, and the business is very much a #TempleMade concept.” Explore Honeygrow.
2. Yasmine Mustafa Roars for Good
Entrepreneur Yasmine Mustafa, BBA ’06, is an advocate for women. In 2016, she won Philly Geek Awards’ Technologist of the Year for ROAR for Good, a company that makes self-defense wearable technology. The product appears as jewelry but acts as an alarm and safety light that, when activated, connects to a smartphone to text family, friends, 911, or campus security. Mustafa is determined to help women live without fear and reduce the violence against them. Watch her story. Hear her TEDx talk.
3. Neha Raman Brings to Market DIY Nail Polish
In 2015, Neha Raman, who will graduate from the Fox School in 2018, launched a make-your-own nail polish business called Rungh, the Hindi word for “color” (pronounced “Rung”). Her product includes six nail-polish bottles with nail-polish base, 18 pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. Rungh was the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week in February 2016, the same month Raman was named runner-up in College Pitch Philadelphia. In April 2016, she placed second in Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl. Learn more about Neha Raman.
4. Adam Lyons Streamlines Shopping for Car Insurance
Founder and chief executive officer Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, launched TheZebra.com to simplify car insurance shopping. TheZebra.com allows drivers to compare over 200 insurance providers on factors such as coverage types, coverage levels, claims rankings, and price. Lyons and co-founder Joshua Dziabiak were named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the Consumer Tech category, which highlights “game changers” under 30 years old who are revolutionizing industries with a goal nothing short of breaking the status quo and transforming the world. Meet Adam Lyons. Read about his experience pitching his dream investor (hint: it’s Mark Cuban).
5. Chris Wallace Says, Sales Remains People-Centric—Even in the Digital Age
“Sales teams often aren’t aligned with their organization’s strategy,” says Chris Wallace, MBA ’10, managing director, GrowthPlay. In his recent Harvard Business Review article, Wallace discusses how organizations typically spend three times more on sales than advertising, but only deliver 50-60 percent of the forecasted revenue. His passion for sales led him to pursue an MBA at the Fox School and a year after he graduated he founded Incite, a sales force strategy and effectiveness firm. GrowthPlay recently acquired Incite to strengthen its position in the sales effectiveness market. “I could never be where I am today if I didn’t earn my MBA. It changed my career, and helped me see the value of putting people at the center of any business strategy. Today, I help develop better performing sales teams using the skills, knowledge, and business acumen I learned at Fox.” Read his HBR article.
6. Ofo Ezeugwu Wants to Rate Your Landlord
Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13, is the chief executive officer and co-founder of WhoseYourLandlord (WYL), which enables renters to rate their landlords and housing complexes. He graduated from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, where he was the vice president of the student body. He is a Techstars’ Risingstar, one of BET’s #30Under30, and his work has been featured in TechCrunch, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more. Ezeugwu is based in New York and Philadelphia, is a professional actor and model, has been featured on the Today Show five times, and has worked with Nike, ESPN, and Alfani. Explore WhoseYourLandlord. Watch Ofo pitch on MSNBC:
7. Got a Broken Cell Phone? Call Jesse DiLaura for Repairs.
“I have an obsession with improving,” said Fox School alumnus Jesse DiLaura, BBA ’16, the founder of Repair U—a phone repair company for college students. He is an Entrepreneurship graduate of the Fox School of Business who learned how to turn his hobby, cell phone repair, into a business. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Temple’s Blackstone Launchpad fed his obsession by offering constructive feedback on every aspect of his business plan. Along the way, he learned the intricacies of launching a business, branding, publicity, and much more. Discover Repair U.
8. Séverine Bandou Adds Scent to Curly Hair Products
“Myjé will enable women with textured hair to neutralize airborne odors without any drying effect,” said Séverine Bandou, a student in the Fox Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship graduate program. “They will experience the sensation of freshly washed hair while saving time and avoiding hair damage due to frequent shampooing, treatments, and styling.” Bandou, who will graduate this year, participated in the Fox School Innovative Idea Competition and placed second in the Graduate, Faculty, Staff, or Alumni category. Read about Bandou on Technical.ly Philly.
9. Nick Delmonico Combines Business, Tech, and Healthcare
Fox School student Nick Delmonico is currently enrolled in Global MBA program. He’s the chief executive officer and co-founder of Strados Labs, a health technology company working on innovative ways to help patients better manage chronic illness in order to live happier and healthier lives. His company is the maker of Pulmawear, a wearable device and companion application providing asthmatics with real-time symptoms monitoring, medication tracking, and personalized analytics to improve self-management. Explore Strados Labs.
10. Brandon Study Wears His Heart on His Sleeve
Understand Your Brand creates awareness about human rights and environmental issues through the apparel manufacturing industry and designs products that tell a better story. Founder Brandon Study is committed to using non-exploitative and minimal environmental impact production, and previously ran Into the Nations, a nonprofit seeking to empower artisans in developing countries. Study, Class of 2017, is a student in the Entrepreneurship Program at the Fox School who has a passion for creativity and social entrepreneurship. Discover Understand Your Brand.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute hosted it’s 19th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl live pitch competition yesterday, where Temple University students, faculty, staff and alumni pitched their companies to a judging panel comprised of industry experts—including Temple’s own Adam Lyons (Fox ’09), founder of TheZebra.com, and Paxton Baker (CLA ’16), Vice President of BET.
The day opened with remarks from Dean Porat and Ellen Weber, Executive Director of IEI. Then it got down to business—the pitches. Each finalist presented an 8-minute pitch followed by 3-minute judge’s Q&A. During judges deliberation, the audience heard keynote speaker and Temple alumna, Danielle Cohn (SMC ’95), Comcast Corporation’s Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement.
At 5pm the winners were announced and Strados Labs, pitched by Nick Delmonico (Fox ’17), was named the grand prize winner of the day, taking home the $40,000 cash prize.
See below for the full list of winners!
1st Place: Vitris, Jack Perrotta, Fox School of Business ’18
2nd Place: Prohibere, Emily Kight, College of Engineering ’18
3rd Place: Pinpointer, Nigel Satenstein, Fox School of Business ’18
4th Place: Pitch, Rishi Sheth, Fox School of Business ’17
1st Place: ToothShower, Lisa Guenst, Tyler School of Art’ 13
2nd Place: Viral Ideas Marketing, David Feinman, Fox School of Business ’15
3rd Place: Envizzo, Ariel Maidansky, Fox School of Business ’11
4th Place: Sensifoam, Conor Vickers, Lewis Katz School of Medicine ’19
Social Impact Track
1st Place: Reels on Wheels, Anmol Gupta, Fox School of Business ’20
2nd Place: SONTEFA Power, LLC, Thierno Diallo, Fox School of Business ’17
3rd Place: Understand Your Brand, LLC, Brandon Study, Fox School of Business ’17
4th Place: Keystone Legal Incubator, Stephen Fox, Beasley School of Law ’17
Urban Health Track
1st Place: Strados Labs, Nick Delmonico, Fox School of Business ’17
2nd Place: Entoli Health, Meghan Mallouk, Fox School of Business ’18
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
Strados Labs, Nick Delmonico, Fox School of Business ’17
Competition in the 19th Annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl was tough. More than 150 Temple students, alumni, faculty and staff registered to participate in this year’s BYOBB, and after weeks of developing business plans, attending workshops and partnering with mentors, nearly 100 participating individuals and teams submitted their completed business plans for review. This week, 14 finalists were selected to compete at the BYOBB Live Pitch Competition, happening April 20th in Alter Hall.
Each finalist will make an 8-minute pitch to the expert judging panel and conduct a 3-minute Q&A session with the judges following their presentations. At the end of the day, a winner in each track will be announced, and one presenting company will go home with the $40,000 grand prize!
See below for the full list of 2017 BYOBB Finalists, and click here to register now for the Live Pitch Competition!
Undergraduate Track Finalists
Pinpointer submitted by Nigel Satenstein, Fox School of Business
Pitch submitted by Rishi Sheth (Fox School of Business), Andrew Sauber, and Anthony Poidomani (College of Science & Technology)
Prohibere submitted by Emily Kight, College of Engineering
Vitris submitted by Jack Perrotta, Fox School of Business
Upper Track Finalists
ENVIZZO submitted by Ariel Maidansky, Alumna, Fox School of Business
Nisoltus Medical, LLC submitted by Conor Vickers, Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
ToothShower, submitted by Lisa Guenst, Alumna, College of Liberal Arts
Viral Ideas Marketing, submitted by David Feinman, Alumnus, Fox School of Business
Social Impact Track Finalists
Frontier Legal Incubator, submitted by Stephen Fox, Student, Beasley School of Law
Reels on Wheels, submitted by Anmol Gupta, Student, Fox School of Business
Sontefa Power, LLC, submitted by Thierno Diallo, Student, Fox School of Business
Understand Your Brand, LLC, submitted by Brandon Study, Student, Fox School of Buisiness
Urban Health Track
Strados Labs, submitted by Nick DelMonico, Student, Fox School of Business
Market Street Moms, submitted by Meghan Mallouk, Student, Fox School of Business
When Dr. Jean Wilcox first envisioned her Entrepreneurial Marketing course, it started with a piece of currency.
It was January 2010 when Wilcox divided her students into 10 groups, and presented each group with a $10 bill out of her own pocket. The goal? The students were tasked with multiplying their modest seed money by a factor of 10, to be donated to various charities, non-profits, foundations, and community organizations.
Seven years later, the impact of Wilcox’s course at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has left her in awe.
“The best comment I’ve ever gotten came from one of my colleagues, who said, ‘Business school is so much about analytics and numbers, and what you’re doing is giving these students heart,’” said Wilcox, an Assistant Professor of Marketing. “That’s most important to me in the long run.”
The 10-10-10 Foundation, launched out of Wilcox’s Entrepreneurial Marketing course, has experienced remarkable reach: The course has been offered over 14 semesters, and has enrolled more than 1,000 students. As of Fall 2016, the students have generated more than $320,000 of value in monetary, in-kind, and matching donations. Wilcox’s students have supported more than 100 organizations, and have eclipsed 4,500 volunteer hours.
Students have supported non-profit and charitable organizations focusing in the sectors of music, environmental awareness, healthcare, cancer research, education, social services, and animal welfare.
This past semester, Wilcox’s students generated more than $26,000 for their organizations.
One student group planted flower bulbs along Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Boulevard, to support the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. One team of students collected more than $2,000 and volunteered 100 hours for the Travis Manion Foundation, a non-profit to empower veterans and the families of fallen veterans. Another team supported Back On My Feet, which uses running to instill discipline and restore confidence and self-esteem among Philadelphia’s homeless population. Every Wednesday, the students ran at 5:30 a.m. alongside Back On My Feet’s homeless runners.
“To me, their efforts are worth so much more than the dollars they have raised,” she said. “As I told them after class, they are my rays of hope in a crazy world. They can, and already have, made it a better place.”
–Christopher A. Vito
Temple University’s Fox School of Business welcomed Comcast Corporation executive David L. Cohen as the Warren V. “Pete” Musser Visiting Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Established in 2015, the Musser Professorship is an endowed term professorship filled by experienced and well-known practitioners who are interested in visiting the Fox School to mentor and engage with students.
Cohen serves as the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer with the Comcast Corporation. Students, young professionals, and business leaders alike packed into the seventh-floor MBA Commons of Alter Hall to hear Cohen’s Nov. 7 presentation, titled “Leaders Lead.” Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) sponsored the event.
As a leader in Philadelphia for many years, Cohen shared what he has learned, the challenges he has faced, and his top-10 traits possessed by effective leaders. Paramount to all, he said, Cohen stressed the importance of volunteer work and involvement with nonprofits.
“I really wanted to be successful and help people outside of the classroom and outside of school,” Cohen said of his early years as a professional. “I volunteered and served leadership roles in nonprofits. Leaders have the opportunity to get involved with issues beyond their businesses. They have a chance to help the community around them.”
Cohen beamed with pride in discussing Comcast’s investment in philanthropy. The company has donated close to $4 billion to communities in which its employees live.
Cohen also shed light on his work with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, for whom he served as Chief of Staff from 1992-97, a span of Rendell’s two terms as Philadelphia mayor.
“There were a lot of challenges Ed faced when he took office: high crime rate, declining population, declining economy,” Cohen said. “The two leadership traits for which I most admired him for were his team-building skills and his communication skills. He had a clear vision for the city and he knew how to communicate that well.”
Cohen then shared his list of 10 must-have leadership skills, a list which included humility, sense of humor, ability to inspire, vision, communication, and others, and showed brief video clips to punctuate each one of them. Cohen answered questions from the audience with topics ranging from challenges in diversity and inclusion, to complexity in building teams.
“Mr. Cohen is such an incredible and influential person, and it’s really beneficial to hear his experiences and advice,” said first-year graduate student Jeffrey Stern, who added that he was grateful to hear first-hand from a business leader like Cohen.
“He placed emphasis on leaders remaining humble and being able to give back to their communities, and those are traits that I’ll always keep in mind for the future,” said senior Economics major Dan McLaughlin.
Following his question-and-answer session, Cohen left attendees with a final piece of advice.
“Learning never stops,” he said, “and it certainly doesn’t stop after you’re finished school. Nothing is impossible.”