Just one year into business, Jared Cannon, MS ’16, founder of the healthy eating startup Simply Good Jars (SGJ) is making a bold pivot away from individual food-in-jars subscriptions toward a smart refrigerator model that the company says will offer growth and sustainability.
“Over the summer, our waiting list grew to over 750 people,” said Cannon. “So we decided to shut down subscriptions and move to a vending model.”
The decision may seem strange given the popularity of meal subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. However, customer loyalty and enthusiasm gave SGJ instant credibility in 2018, when Cannon was selected as a Philadelphia Inquirer Stellar Startup finalist and Independence Blue Cross named him a semifinalist for the Health Hero Challenge.
Cannon and his team are working on securing the capital needed to bring their jars to smart fridges. Plans include nearly 40 of these refrigerators in coworking spaces across Philadelphia. SGJ is already in locations that include WeWork, Pipeline and the Brandywine Liberty Trust corporate office. Business success will mean changing lunch culture at work by building a customer base that is willing to pay for the convenience of healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunches.
There’s a shift happening in the startup landscape, according to Cannon, an energy that is motivating entrepreneurs to solve problems in cities rather than vice versa. He feels a personal responsibility to serve as a part of the solution, something the northern Delaware native may have gained from an unlikely upbringing. Before the chef-turned-entrepreneur took off on his tasty endeavor, Cannon benefited from some unusual experiences.
“In seventh grade I enrolled at a Democratic Free School to learn as an individual,” he said. “There weren’t classes, report cards or standardized tests.”
Cannon attributes his unique perspective as a business owner to his self-governed education. He was given permission to develop differently and to dabble in things he may have never tried—like engineering, computer mechanics and construction. Food wasn’t a focus at the Free School, but at home Cannon learned to love the culinary arts. In their kitchen, the big Cannon family came together. They also instilled a general enthusiasm for the outdoors in their children, which shaped Jared’s value system.
“I think something that’s baked into my generation is an awareness about how our product choices affect the environment,” he said. “My parents taught me to value food and not to waste it—that’s something I’ve carried into my business model.”
Social enterprise is also shifting at SGJ. Instead of contributing meals to Philabundance, the company is now donating funds to help support the Philabundance Community Kitchen. Beyond financial help, Cannon’s team is engaging with the Community Kitchen’s job placement and internship program to offer jobs to their low-income participants and graduates who hope to begin careers in the culinary field.
“We’re young, we’re growing, and there’s nothing better than working on something that you’re passionate about,” said Cannon. “The human element behind a product is the powerful differentiator.”
Beyond the business pivot, there’s more big news for Cannon and the SGJ team. He’s an expecting father just two years out of Temple and a year into business. And beginning in November, SGJ will celebrate another first—a stall at Reading Terminal Market that will be open from Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A refrigerator will be on site, though it won’t be smart. Exclusive breakfast and lunch jars will be sold, created in collaboration with other Reading Terminal vendors like Old City Coffee, Martin’s Meats and Sausages, Iovine Brothers Produce, Godshall’s Poultry, Pequea Valley yogurt and Condiment.
“The most stressful thing right now is having all of these dynamic people around me who have bought in, and are taking the risk with me,” he said. “I’m learning how to be the fearless leader that I’m supposed to be, and I take it very seriously that it’s not just me anymore.”
The Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM) honored faculty and staff members at the second-annual IMPACT Awards ceremony, held in Alter Hall May 8, 2018.
The IMPACT Awards celebrate Fox and STHM faculty and staff for their ability to collaborate effectively as groups to deliver impactful service, teaching, and research contributions.
“As our two schools continue to grow, it is increasingly more important to identify opportunities where our faculty, staff, and leaders can collaborate cross-functionally to achieve truly special outcomes,” says Dean M. Moshe Porat. “In essence, that is the function of the IMPACT Awards, and this year’s honorees met these criteria.”
Applying a peer-review approach, the IMPACT Awards call upon the Fox and STHM communities for review and evaluations of all nominees. Prizes included glass trophies, customized merchandise to commemorate the achievement, a special group experience, and financial rewards. This year, 16 groups representing the accomplishments of 70 faculty and 86 staff members earned nominations.
The winners were: The Fox Global Immersion program, the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA), and the Fox Center for Undergraduate Advising. Here is more on each of these exceptional groups and their achievements:
GLOBAL IMMERSION PROGRAM
Global immersions are short study trips embedded into an international business-oriented course that allow students a chance to experience global business in person rather than simply learning about it in the classroom. These Immersions expose students to the environment of business by taking them to targeted destinations that offer a robust and profound practical experience. Students engage in a number of learning opportunities, including meeting with business executives, touring factories, interacting with government officials and learning about the business environment from locals. After an immersion, students return to their coursework with a unique international perspective. The experience also allows students to develop valuable job skills—such as cultural understanding, tolerance for ambiguity, respect for diversity, adaptability, and self-confidence. Perhaps even more important, students learn about themselves—their values and ideals, limits and aspirations. This heightened self-awareness can unlock passion and creativity, inspiring a more independent, self-reliant, and self-confident student.
Representatives of the Global Immersion program include: Jeffrey Conradi, Kevin Fandl, Christine Kiely, Amy Kumpf, Lauren Letko, and Phyllis Tutora.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACADEMY
The Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA), embedded within Temple’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, formed in 2015 as an initiative created in partnership with the President’s office as one of Temple University’s Six Pillars of Success. TUEA has now reached more than 2,000 students campus-wide, implemented more than a dozen programs covering entrepreneurship topics, and has awarded 12 Conwell Fellowships to faculty who are champions of entrepreneurship. TUEA has leveraged partnerships with the Intellectual Heritage GenEd program and the College of Engineering, creating customized programming for each that has led to outreach to more than 700 students. Additionally, TUEA has supported the Tyler School of Art in launching a BFA with Entrepreneurial Studies, giving Tyler students the opportunity to complement their degrees with an entrepreneurial skillset to widen their career options. TUEA has been integral to spreading the entrepreneurial spirit across campus and creating a culture in which Temple University students are empowered to be creative thinkers, problem solvers, and seekers of success.
Representatives of the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy include: Lindsay Clark, Alan Kerzner, Robert McNamee, Erin McShea, and Ellen Weber.
CENTER FOR UNDERGRADUATE ADVISING
The Fox Center for Undergraduate Advising represents the gold standard for advising at Temple. Servicing almost 8,000 undergraduate students, Fox advisors represent both the front end of students’ introductions and orientations to campus, and the culmination of their academic experiences and clearance for graduation. Students work collaboratively with advisors to develop individual plans for academic success, fully utilize campus resources, and engage in the process of reflection/decision making promoting long-term achievement. Departments work collaboratively with advising to promote new initiatives and programs, establish trends within their major, manage registration into required classes, and increase enrollment.
Following the transition to a developmental advising structure in 2013, with targeted services based on academic standing, the office has maintained consistent high marks on Senior Satisfaction Ratings of ‘Ease of Access’ and ‘Quality of Service’. Retention results for the Fox School, now at 95 percent, consistently exceed all other programs on campus, garnering recent high praise from the Provost’s Office.
Representatives of the Fox School’s Center for Undergraduate Advising include: Harriet Butterfield, Jan Cleaver, Camille Fallon, Gavin Farber, Chuck Foster, Jake Hershman, Lisa Hodge, Jeff Hofer, Shelley Hunter, Amanda Jaxheimer, Ross Markman, Dina Maslennikova, Carli Metzler, Lauren O’Brien, Elvita Quinones, Joy Stroman, Natalie Vohra, and Julian White.
The talented, diverse, and driven Class of 2021 at the Fox School of Business are poised to become the next generation of innovators and business disruptors. They arrive highly-accomplished and are excited to hone their skills with the help of our top-tier faculty, market-driven curriculum, and professional development opportunities.
In fall 2017, the Fox School redesigned the Bachelor of Business Administration Core Curriculum to weave critical thinking, communication, and quantitative reasoning skills into the fabric of core business knowledge. The redesign team continues to work with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers to integrate these skills across the curriculum to better position Fox undergraduates for success post-graduation. These four freshmen are among the first to participate in the enhanced curriculum.
Watch the video below and read on to learn more about these four freshmen who are ready to change the world.
- Hometown: Philadelphia
- Age: 18
- Major: Business Management
- Career goals: CEO, creative director, project manager
- Hobbies: Public speaking, reading, writing
- Hidden talent: Making music, playing violin
- Hometown: Royersford, Pa.
- Age: 18
- Major: Business (declaring Accounting)
- Career goals: Grad school, then Certified Public Accountant
- Hobby: Competitive horse rider
- Hidden talents: “I can bake pretty well and I love to make handmade gifts!”
- Hometown: Havertown, Pa.
- Age: 19
- Major: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
- Career goals: Serial entrepreneur, thought leader
- Current businesses: Symbie (social networking app) and eThree (sales engagement platform)
- Claim to fame: Joined rapper Travis Scott onstage at concert and knew every word
- Hometown: Medford, N.J.
- Age: 19
- Major: Finance, Entrepreneurship
- Career goals: Wealth management sales or investment banking firm in mergers and acquisitions
- Dream: “To retire from the financial field after 15 to 20 years and work as a high school math teacher in my hometown.”
- Current business: Has run landscaping company, Robert Z Properties LLC, since freshman year of high school
- Hobby: “I love to travel. I went to Switzerland this fall and Italy this summer.”
- Hidden talents: Good cook and ping pong player
Learn more about Fox School undergraduate programs.
Pennsylvania is a hotbed for technology and innovation, said Governor Tom Wolf, and is more than capable of tackling upcoming talent gaps in its workforce.
Wolf visited Temple University May 2 to discuss innovation, economic development, and technology for a Philly Tech Week event held at the Fox School of Business’ Alter Hall. He addressed Pennsylvania’s need for self-promotion, with regard to its historical reputation in innovation sectors, and acknowledged the commonwealth’s strength in producing high-caliber college graduates.
Wolf participated in the question-and-answer panel alongside Sharon Minnich, Pennsylvania Secretary of Administration; Krystal Bonner, Director of Digital Communications and Strategy; and Julie Smith, Director of Data and Digital Technology.
Calling himself Pennsylvania’s “Cheerleader-in-Chief,” Wolf also tackled subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and marketing, to statewide data access. He reflected on Pennsylvania’s need for a more-robust conversation with its residents “so I can provide them with what they want, and not what the state thinks they need.”
Wolf’s most significant contribution to Pennsylvania’s technological innovation happened in 2016, a year after the first-term governor took office. Wolf introduced an open data portal to improve the state’s transparency with its residents, and to support cross-agency collaboration. In doing so, Wolf told attendees that he had wished for greater civic engagement and bolstered economic opportunity.
The executive order, he said, has since strengthened Pennsylvania’s commitment to technological innovation and improved access to state-agency data sets. Wolf also has overseen the hire of Pennsylvania’s first open-data officer and data scientist.
“Pennsylvania should not be a shrinking violet when it comes to tech innovation. The state needs to tout its strengths,” said Wolf, making his fifth visit to Temple during his two years in office.
“We are a great place to innovate. Pennsylvania has gotten this reputation in the minds of some that we’re not an innovative place. Pennsylvania is where the action is. It has a great workforce, great institutions of higher education, and great people. Modesty is a wonderful thing, but it keeps us from having a sincere discussion about how great we really are.”
Temple University president Richard Englert and Fox School of Business dean M. Moshe Porat delivered opening remarks, welcoming Wolf and thanking him for his ongoing support of higher education.
“Innovation informs our curriculum, drives our students, and leads new program development,” said Porat. “It’s an important subject because innovation is critical to directing us as a nationally ranked provider of business education.”
“It’s very appropriate for the governor to be here,” Englert added. “You are an outstanding supporter of education and innovation. Thank you for all that you do for Temple and fellow institutions across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Temple houses undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs that are ranked top-10 nationally by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, and is home to the renowned Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, which proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit and innovation across all 17 schools and colleges.
Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, editorial director of Technical.ly, moderated the panel discussion featuring Wolf. The Management Information Systems department at Temple’s Fox School of Business sponsored the Philly Tech Week event.
Wolf closed the panel with a bit of self-deprecation. He lauded Pennsylvania for its wealth of elite higher-education institutions. Wolf called attention to what national economists have forecast as the nation’s largest talent gap, as members of the Baby Boomer generation begin to retire. He then pointed to the state’s need for stronger retention of its talented college graduates—even citing his two daughters.
“I’m trying to convince them to come back here, and I think I’m going to be successful,” Wolf said, smiling. “We’re not there yet, but we’re better in that area. We should be considered among the top places in the country, if not the world, for innovation. … Pennsylvania is a very fertile place for the kind of new ideas you’re all interested in.”
Temple University’s Fox School of Business has entered a three-year partnership with Flinders University to deliver its nationally ranked entrepreneurship programs to the prestigious Australian university.
The Fox School of Business will help Flinders University drive South Australia’s economic transformation by training thousands of undergraduate and graduate students annually in the entrepreneurial mindset and skills required to start new businesses and facilitate innovation in existing industries.
To do so, the Fox School will build a series of 12 modules of online education to expose Flinders University’s 26,000 students to entrepreneurship – regardless of their major or course of study. The modules will include videos, exercises, and training manuals, and will be localized by South Australian faculty and executives trained by Fox School faculty.
Additionally, the Fox School will provide RoadMapTM, Fox’s revolutionary higher-education platform that assembles all feedback and assessments to demonstrate personal development and return on investment to students. RoadMapTM will be customized to track the development of those personal enterprise behaviors, or competencies, that have been identified by business and society as valuable in the Australian context.
This partnership leverages Fox’s reputation as a leading provider of online and entrepreneurship education. In January 2016, the Fox Online MBA program earned a No. 1 national ranking from U.S. News & World Report for the second consecutive year. And in November 2015, Fox’s undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs earned top-10 rankings from The Princeton Review and Entrepreneurship magazine. It also leverages the Fox School’s extensive experience in supporting entrepreneurship-based economic development in the Philadelphia region, largely through the 350 projects completed by its renowned Fox Management Consulting program.
“We are proud to enter this partnership with Flinders University,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, Dean of Temple’s Fox School of Business. “There are a number of similarities between students at Flinders and Temple – two universities that have stimulated innovation and promoted entrepreneurship for decades. This partnership enables the Fox School to employ our expertise to power the Personal Enterprise Journey of Flinders students more than halfway around the world.”
Flinders University Chancellor Stephen Gerlach and Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Colin Stirling visited Temple University Aug. 18 and met with Acting President Richard Englert and Provost and Executive Vice President JoAnne A. Epps to make official the contractual partnership and to discuss Temple’s role in extending entrepreneurship throughout the university and into the community.
Flinders University, through its New Venture Institute (NVI), is creating entrepreneurial opportunities for its 26,000 students. Since its founding in 2013, the NVI has overseen 252 student projects and 136 start-ups, trained nearly 1,500 individuals, and generated more than $540,000 in investments.
“Innovation and creativity – those characteristics that underpin entrepreneurial thinking – are a critical part of the picture for all industries,” said Matt Salier, Director of the NVI at Flinders. “Next time someone asks you what job you’d like, challenge yourself by reframing the question as, ‘What problem would you like to solve?’ Our partnership with the Fox School of Business brings the best in global education methods and content to help our students answer this question.”
The Flinders-Fox School partnership also will allow for potential study-abroad opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at both universities. Details on this will be finalized and announced at a later date.
About the Fox School of Business at Temple University
Established in 1918, the Fox School of Business at Temple University is the largest, most-comprehensive business school in the Greater Philadelphia region, and among the largest in the world, with nearly 8,500 students, more than 200 full-time faculty and more than 65,000 alumni. Accredited by AACSB International — a distinction held by less than 5 percent of the world’s business schools — the Fox School offers BBA, Global MBA, Part-Time MBA, Executive MBA, Online MBA, Specialized Masters, and PhD programs, and an Executive Doctorate in Business Administration, on campuses throughout the world.
About Flinders University
Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia, is a world top 2% University that enjoys a well-justified reputation for excellence in teaching and research. It provides exceptional student experience and has a long-standing commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for all, attracting students from more than 100 countries. Established in 1966, Flinders’ leadership in innovative research has seen it rise to equal 10th in the prestigious Time Higher Education rankings of Best Universities in Australia 2016.
This fall, Temple University further strengthened its commitment to entrepreneurship education across all disciplines with the establishment of the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA).
The Academy is geared toward the incorporation of entrepreneurship education in the coursework delivered by faculty members throughout all of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges, and the creation of seminars and services available to students, faculty, and staff at Temple, and enhanced offerings and participation in entrepreneurial activities.
Alan B. Kerzner joined the faculty at Temple’s Fox School of Business as an Assistant Professor of Practice within the Department of Strategic Management. He also will serve as the Director of TUEA, a role in which he will work with other schools and colleges at Temple to facilitate the spread of entrepreneurial practice across the university.
“Entrepreneurial thinking is not present solely within business schools. It can be found throughout a university, particularly one as dynamic as Temple,” Kerzner said. “Our objective is to work with faculty on the implementation of entrepreneurship education across the university, and with students to foster their enthusiasm for innovation.”
At Temple University, entrepreneurship continues to flourish.
Temple is one of five colleges and universities in the United States to have earned top-10 rankings for both undergraduate- and graduate-level entrepreneurship programs, according to a 2015 publication from The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Temple’s undergraduate Entrepreneurship program received a No. 8 national ranking, and its graduate program earned a No. 10 ranking.
Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) organized its 18th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB), a university-wide business plan competition held in April 2015 and catering to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. BYOBB makes available nearly $700,000 in cash prizes and related products and professional services, earning it a reputation as one of the nation’s most-lucrative business plan competitions, according to Entrepreneur.
Temple also offers access to the Small Business Development Center, which, for the 2015-16 academic year, consulted with 861 entrepreneurs, resulting in the creation of nearly 450 jobs. The SBDC assisted pre-venture clients in the generation of 46 new businesses in the Philadelphia area, with 60 percent of the clients served originating in Philadelphia.
“There is no better time to begin your entrepreneurial journey than when you are a university student,” said Ellen Weber, IEI’s Executive Director. “Here at Temple, entrepreneurship serves as an inspiration to our students, who can test their ideas in classes or in hands-on workshops. At their fingertips, students have a built-in audience through which to test product and market fit as they prepare to launch, and we provide access to highly experienced mentors who can deliver direction, and funding through BYOBB, our annual Innovative Idea Competition, and the Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures, an independent organization that assists emerging technology-based companies in their effort to build sustainable businesses.”
“There are pockets of entrepreneurial activity throughout Temple,” said Dr. Robert McNamee, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Fox School. “With the Entrepreneurship Academy, we’re working to create a community of practice across the university.”
According to Kerzner, TUEA is poised to immediately deliver a suite of educational seminars, sessions, and competitions geared toward Temple’s entrepreneurs. They will build upon the Academy’s inaugural workshop, “Doing Well While Doing Good,” which was offered in April 2015 and centered on social entrepreneurship.
This fall, TUEA has plans to offer educational sessions on the establishment successful freelance businesses; the development of prototypes; and the demystification of technology, among others, Kerzner said. The Academy also will welcome a series of Tyler School of Art alumni who have found success in careers as independent entrepreneurs, to speak to current art students.
The future plan is to expand TUEA into new space on the first floor of the 1810 building on Liacouras Walk, to make all of the entrepreneurial services more readily available to the university community.
Lastly, Kerzner said, TUEA has plans to create an on-campus retail space in a heavy-traffic area. The space, he said, will allow student entrepreneurs “a place to sell their products, as they explore the developmental stages, and receive customer feedback.”
“For this space, think retail store meets entrepreneurship testing lab,” Kerzner said. “It will be managed and staffed by students, and feature kiosks designed by students from the Tyler School of Art.
“The establishment of TUEA, and our abundant plans for this academic year, will take Temple’s commitment to entrepreneurship to the next level.”
A half-dozen students are blurring the line between a place of residence and a place of business.
A pot of coffee is brewing on the stove as the housemates amble through the living room. On this morning, one is eating homemade parfait out of a Tupperware container, while another texts feverishly from the edge of the couch. Two others are gathered near the kitchen table discussing their company, through which their friendship and careers intersect.
In all, six 20-somethings from Temple University inhabit a house near 19th and Diamond streets in North Philadelphia. Five currently live there. The sixth, who used to call the two-story townhouse his home, reports there daily for work.
The housemates refer to the house constantly by its street number. But it could just as well be called the House of Entrepreneurs.
It’s where eight businesses are operated between these six guys – three with Temple degrees, and three more set to graduate within the next two years. A number of those businesses are thriving and profitable. Others are either designated as not-for-profit, or are simply too new to turn a profit – at least for now.
“Money isn’t the priority at the moment,” said Jesse DiLaura, FOX ’16. “We’ve prioritized community, learning, and supporting one another over solidified careers.”
DiLaura would know this better than most. One of the house’s current residents, the rising senior switched majors at the Fox School of Business – from Risk Management, which boasts a 100-percent job-placement rate for its graduating students, to pursue a degree in Entrepreneurship.
While The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine rank Temple’s undergraduate- and graduate-level degree programs in Entrepreneurship among the top-10 nationally, career paths for budding entrepreneurs aren’t so easily defined. That’s why these friends cull from their cumulative expertise to make their dreams more of a reality.
“If we need photography for a website, a social-media campaign, or for Kickstarter, we have somebody for that,” said Justin Swallow, TFMA ‘16. “If we need a videographer, a graphic designer, someone with experience writing business plans or working to secure seed funding, chances are someone in the house has done it already and can help you out.”
DiLaura and Swallow are two of the originals at the house. They moved in more than two years ago with Beau Rosario, TFMA ’14, who with the help of his brother, Clint, as well as Swallow and others operates a successful multimedia business out of the house’s basement. Brandon Study, FOX ’17, Tim Mounsey, FOX ’16, and Sean Hawkins, SMC ’18, live in the house, too.
The friends are a melting pot of skills, opinions, and experiences.
Over the summer, Study and DiLaura attended a Philadelphia-based pitch competition, where DiLaura won $500 and received personal congratulations from FUBU clothing-line founder Daymond John, one of the billionaire investors who appears on “Shark Tank.” At the event, John later fielded Twitter questions, one of which came from Study. He tossed a shirt from his fledgling clothing line onto the stage, where John picked it up and gave his approval for the design and concept behind Study’s business.
Those moments are not uncommon for these housemates.
From time to time, the guys within the house will develop business-plan models, then gather his housemates and curate his idea among them as though he’s pitching to John and the rest of the “Shark Tank” panel. More often than not, however, the friends discuss their separate ventures over informal meetings – in meet-ups over lunch, while squeezing in a video-game break to cut the tension from work, or on after-hours rides through the neighborhood on their longboards.
And friendship, they all agreed, does not get in the way of candor.
“We all accept and seek each other out for feedback,” Hawkins said. “We are all radically different people and we embrace that any comment is coming from a place of positivity. That’s why, while living here, it’s very easy to be inspired by one another.”
A stroll through the home, at 19th and Diamond, offers a glimpse of their collective creativity. The living-room walls are littered with samples of their work: Photography portraits of their friends, cropped tightly to show only their faces. Posterboards of past business-plan events that they have either hatched, competed in, or won. Discarded Philadelphia streetsigns rigged with lightbulbs, and converted into impromptu lighting fixtures.
Creativity, like entrepreneurship, is a thread that binds these students.
“The collective drive of this house and the diversity of projects being undertaken at any given time provides us with a depth of insight and experience that I think we all apply in our projects and businesses,” said Mounsey. “The collaboration that goes on here not only fuels professional success, but it fuels our personal success.”
“It’s safe to assume we talk a lot about our work, but we talk about our lives, too,” added Study. “It’s not just about forwarding our businesses; it’s about forwarding our friendships.”
Ellen Weber can attest to the value afforded by entrepreneurial collaborative space. As the executive director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), Weber has spent most of her professional career working in the areas of entrepreneurship, investing, start-ups, and consulting.
With these students, Weber sees “a group that gives as much as it takes.”
“When entrepreneurs occupy collaborative, co-working spaces, they push one another, share ideas, and make one another better,” Weber said. “You can see the energy magnifying within entrepreneurs when they have mentorship opportunities like this. And for these specific students, they not only eat, sleep, and breathe entrepreneurship; they’re living it, too. It’s 24/7 for them, and it’s pretty remarkable.”
Like their academic majors, their business ventures are just as unique.
DiLaura, who will graduate from Fox in January, founded RepairU. The company offers iPhone and iPad repair services for college students by college students at discounted rates. He hopes to operate it out of a food cart near Temple’s Bell Tower by the start of the academic year.
Rosario, who in 2014 graduated from Temple’s School of Theater, Film and Media Arts (TFMA), got his start as a provider of wedding photography, videography, and disc jockey services. He turned Beau Rosario Photography into Philamedia, a commercial media provider. His brother Clint, who lived at the house during his breaks from Eastern University, is the company’s sound engineer. And Swallow, who graduated from TFMA in May, is Philamedia’s commercial videographer.
“We’ve grown from getting free furniture for doing a photoshoot at Kardon/Atlantic (Apartments at Temple) to now generating ads for SEPTA Silverliner, the Mann, the Philly Pops, and many more,” said Beau.
While Swallow is employed by Philamedia, he supports his housemates’ ventures. A graphic designer, Swallow has provided input and collateral for “pretty much every business that’s ever come through here,” DiLaura said.
Study, who will graduate in May, twice considered art school before pursuing an Entrepreneurship degree from the Fox School. He started a non-profit in 2015 called Into The Nations, to help artisans in developing countries develop sustainable business models. And in July, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for Understand Your Brand, an apparel company that utilizes all-natural dyes and an ethically responsible, no-waste factory in Cambodia that pays its employees above the living wage.
“We were learning about the state of the apparel business in this class at Fox, and I wondered, ‘Why is no one else panicking about this like me?’” Study said. “It started as a social-awareness campaign for the class, and it’s become so much more.”
Mounsey, who earned his Entrepreneurship degree in 2016, is a business development analyst by day with Philadelphia-based private equity firm, LLR Partners. He’s also founded a Temple-wide innovation festival, What IF, which held its inaugural events in April. Back in 2015, Mounsey also paired with Study to develop Cycle Clothing Company, a zero-waste lifestyle apparel company which became the foundation for Study’s Understand Your Brand Kickstarter. Their venture placed third in the social-impact track of Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, which is considered one of the nation’s most-lucrative college business plan competitions, according to Entrepreneur magazine.
“The success and marketing effort of What IF wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of our house,” Mounsey said. “Every design, marketing flyer, and video script was created in collaboration of at least two to three house members. It was the perfect opportunity for all of us to combine our expertise.”
Lastly, there’s Hawkins, who will graduate in 2018 with a Communication Studies degree from the School of Media and Communication. He’s presently in the pilot phase of launching a branding company, Big Boi Studios, and a related YouTube channel.
Six friends. Eight businesses. One house.
“If you would have asked me years ago about my college experience, I never could have envisioned it would look anything like this,” Rosario said, “and I hope I’m still doing something like this, and with these same guys, in 10 or 20 years.”
Not far from where a robot was break-dancing, there were musicians playing, hammocks swinging, smoothies blending, and bacon frying. These were the sights of the first What IF innovation and entrepreneurship festival, held April 19th at Temple University.
The What IF Tower Takeover, launched by Fox School of Business senior Entrepreneurship major Tim Mounsey, invited innovators from the Temple community to showcase their ventures and projects from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Temple’s iconic Bell Tower, before moving inside in the evening for a speaker series featuring seven local entrepreneurs.
“My goal was to have students talking to one another,” Mounsey said. “There weren’t any restrictions; we wanted students from any school who were innovating in any field.”
Mounsey’s idea for the festival originated more than six months ago. He reached out to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), Temple Career Center, Blackstone Launchpad, the Temple Alumni Association, Tyler School of Art, and the College of Engineering to begin gathering students from across Temple’s 17 schools and colleges. The goal? Showcase ideas and inspire future innovators through product demos, projects, and performances that would foster a culture of collaboration.
“The best ideas come from diverse minds,” Mounsey said. “Temple is the platform upon which to start conversations between artists, engineers, business people, and teachers.”
Among the innovators was Zack Logan, FOX ‘15, whose blender never stopped whirring as he offered samples of fruit and vegetable smoothies from his company, Neuro-Nectar. Logan’s company combines nutrition with neuroscience. He researches ingredients, then whips up smoothies to appeal to various brain functions – from memory and energy, to sustained focus. Neuro-Nectar smoothies are available on campus, at the Rad Dish Co-Op Café in Ritter Hall.
Beside Logan’s table, sophomore International Business major Neha Raman asked passersby to paint their nails with shades from her company – Rungh, which allows customers to a create-your-own nail polish experience. With Rungh, which means “colors” in Hindi, customers receive six nail polish bottles with a nail polish base, 18 color pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. In only 60 seconds, users can create the shades they crave. Raman developed the idea while watching paint being blended at a home improvement store when she thought to apply that concept to cosmetics.
“Presenting at What IF is a great opportunity and allows me to see other Temple-related ventures,” said Raman, a finalist at the 2016 Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
Chris Cotteta, senior Marketing major and founder of JOI Electronics, agreed with Raman on the power and excitement of meeting other innovators.
“I love interacting with other entrepreneurs,” said Cotteta, whose company is an engineering-based music technology start-up. “We’re innovators, and being at a festival like this is just natural.”
The What IF festival encouraged networking at its Lighting Speakers Series, held later that day at Mitten Hall. Students heard from local entrepreneurs like Fox School alumni Melissa Alam, founder of co-working space The Hive, and Andrew Nakkache, founder of college-centric food delivery service Habitat. Each entrepreneur emphasized the importance of asking for help, soliciting feedback from the community, and taking advantage of today’s digital world.
“These entrepreneurs emphasized the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, giving students a view of the failure, hustle and reward that comes with being an entrepreneur,” Mounsey said. “There are so many resources available to them to set up an online store and sell a product tomorrow. Students should take advantage of the times we live in.”
Young entrepreneurs from Temple University took home top honors at last week’s College Pitch Philly competition, geared toward unearthing the top business concepts of undergraduates from Philadelphia’s colleges and universities.
Andrew Nakkache, FOX ’16, won the $7,500 top prize with Habitat, a mobile app that lets students and faculty to order food, via pickup or delivery, from their favorite food trucks and restaurants around campus.
Neha Raman, a sophomore international business major at the Fox School of Business, claimed the $5,000 second prize for Rungh, a create-your-own nail polish system.
Nakkache and Raman competed among 33 other students or teams of undergraduates Feb. 24 at the University Science Center’s Quorum. Organized by Campus Philly and the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (PREEC), College Pitch Philly offered a pool of $15,000 in prize money for new business ventures. After making two-minute pitches in the first round, six finalists delivered five-minute pitches and conducted five-minute Q&As to determine the winners.
The Fox School of Business’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was among the founding members of the PREEC, which aims to connect students with Philadelphia’s startup ecosystem.
Through Nakkache’s Habitat app, users submit orders to their favorite vendors, who receive the orders via text, email, fax, or the app itself. Orders are completed in an average of 20 minutes, and then promptly delivered by Habitat’s student-led delivery force.
“We have scheduled shifts that pay $8 an hour,” said Nakkache, 23, a native of Dallas, Pa. “Whether a student makes one delivery or five within an hour, they will make a guaranteed wage. Our whole approach is in creating a top-tier user experience, from beginning to end.”
Habitat launched in September and has since on-boarded 21 food vendors near Temple’s campus, including 14 food trucks. He hopes to expand to Philadelphia’s University City section by the end of the academic year, and possibly to one of three East Coast markets by Fall 2016. This week, Habitat launched an off-campus meal plan that offers nearly a dozen pre-paid options, said Nakkache, who in January earned a degree in economics. (Users can receive a discount on their next orders with the promotional code TUfood.)
Raman first developed her Rungh nail polish system as a high school student, after struggling to find her favorite shades on the retail market. With Rungh, customers receive six nail polish bottles with a nail polish base, 18 color pigment capsules, and a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. In only 60 seconds, users can create the nail polish shades they crave.
A trademarked system, Rungh is also patent-pending. It launched and made its first sales in November. The company served as the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week, which wrapped in February. The company is gaining traction via YouTube and Instagram from popular influencers, as well.
“At College Pitch Philly, I made a point of identifying my competition and target markets, and that worked in my favor,” Raman said. “Next, my goal is to continue developing the brand. I’d like for consumers to associate Rungh with offering a wide range of color choices, in nail polish or even other cosmetic products as we expand.
“But for now, I’m still in shock. I still have the giant check from the competition in my room.”
Do ethical entrepreneurs earn more?
“Yes,” said Bernard “Bernie” Marcus, answering the question that also served as the title of his lecture.
The co-founder and former CEO of The Home Depot, Marcus visited Temple University’s Fox School of Business Feb. 9 as the inaugural 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 spending a term at the Fox School to mentor students in the early stages of their ventures.
A businessman and philanthropist, Marcus co-founded The Home Depot after he and coworker Arthur Blank lost their jobs with a California hardware store. The Home Depot went public in 1981 and has since become a billion-dollar, home-improvement empire. Marcus retired in 2001 to focus on philanthropy.
“Ethics are critically important,” Marcus told the standing-room only crowd at Alter Hall. “Everyone has that desperate moment in business when someone tries to break your conscience.”
Marcus’ “desperate moment” came when, at age 49 and unemployed, he decided to open The Home Depot. The former medical student hadn’t encountered the sometimes-unprincipled and amoral dealings that one can encounter with owning a business. Undaunted, Marcus refused to work with those who were dishonest and resolved that his business wouldn’t be about cutting corners or taking bribes.
“The Home Depot is the fastest-growing retail company in history, and it’s ethical in every way,” Marcus said.
Marcus elaborated. When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in 2012, The Home Depot opened its doors to all customers who had been located in the hurricane’s path, offering supplies to them free of charge. A year later, when a tornado ravaged Moore, Okla., Marcus said The Home Depot took note of the area’s numerous displaced pets and set up cages in its stores.
“We became a pet store,” Marcus said, of the nearly three weeks during which The Home Depot housed the lost animals. “We did that then, and we’ll do it today. That’s ethics. That’s how you treat people and get the culture at The Home Depot.”
Leveraging his wealth, Marcus supports autism advocacy group Autism Speaks, and supports veterans employed by The Home Depot and their families employed. For Marcus, the purpose of the company’s good deeds is not to garner media attention. Running a business with an end game of fame or fortune, he said, simply is not ethical.
In addition to its support of veterans, The Home Depot seeks to instill in each of its employees — from store managers to new hires — a sense of pride, charity and professional drive. After all, Marcus said, he wouldn’t be in the position he is today without the men and women who worked nights and weekends for the company he founded.
“People don’t have to be recognized for doing their jobs, but when they do something exceptional, you congratulate them,” Marcus said.
Similar to Marcus, entrepreneurship is a pillar at the Fox School of Business. Its undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs are nationally ranked Nos. 8 and 10, respectively, by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Fox is also one of only five schools nationally to attain two top-10 rankings. And Fox’s Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship degree program offers a course in Ethical Entrepreneurship.
For the students in attendance, Marcus discouraged them against compromising their values or giving up.
“Creative philanthropy is about hanging onto an idea, pursuing it, and not letting it get you down,” Marcus said. “You will win.”
For some, the decision would have created sleepless nights. For Joseph Green, it was a no-brainer.
While studying entrepreneurship at the Fox School of Business, Green had developed two business plans in completely different fields. Whichever one he chose to pursue, Green said, the risk of starting a business and forging into self-employment outweighed the security of a position in corporate America.
“To me it’s the same gamble,” Green said, “only the payoff is more direct and more beneficial to you because you’ve put in that sweat equity.”
The CEO of Affinity Confections, the bakery and confection company he launched in 2012 in Philadelphia, Green visited Fox’s Alter Hall Jan. 27 to participate in a panel discussion on being a young business owner. Joining Green, FOX ’12, on the panel were fellow Fox alums Dylan Baird, FOX ’12, the CEO of farm share Philly Food Works, and Rachel Furman, FOX ’12, the CEO of cosmetic company Mouth2Mouth Beauty.
Temple University’s Young Alumni Association organized the event, as part of its ongoing #TempleMade Entrepreneur Series, “to increase active student engagement and highlight the business successes of our young alumni,” according to TUYA vice president Latisha Brinson, FOX ’08.
The three 20-something CEOs provided snapshots of their careers and companies, lent insights into their respective startup experiences, and detailed how they sidestepped the inherent risks involved with entrepreneurship.
Furman admitted that she “spent more time playing sports than applying makeup” during her high school days. With Mouth2Mouth, she’s creating socially responsible cosmetic products, like eyeliner and lip stains, for the urban market. Her company and her career may not have come together without her experiences at Temple University.
“This was where I found someone other than my family and friends who could connect with my dreams,” she said.
Baird, whose Philly Food Works delivers high-quality food from farm to neighborhood, serves more than 900 people. In its earliest stages, he said he received poignant advice from a fellow entrepreneur, on pouring capital into the resources upon which a company depends – like a flat-bed truck or a cooler – and not on an office chair, for example.
Green launched Affinity Confections in 2014, believing consumers desired sweet treats in smaller portions, made with premium and natural ingredients. Green, who has 16 years of baking experience, credited Temple with motivating him to excel.
“Temple’s job is to listen to your business plan, then poke holes in it, and push you to find a better way to do it,” said Green.
Dwight Carey, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Fox School, closed the event by asking for a show of hands from the nearly 100 alums and current students in attendance, wondering how many wish to one day own a business.
“Why wait? Ask yourself you aren’t doing it already,” Carey said. “You can do it because the desire is within each of you.”
Added Tim Bennett, FOX ’09, the owner of Philadelphia-based Bennett Compost: “It was great to hear from this panel and see what paths other successful entrepreneurs took to achieve what they have. They make me wonder whether I’m putting enough time into marketing, for example, or into accounting, and it’s a way to be reflective on your own business, while also being inspired by others who are doing what you’re doing.”
Brandon Study still remembers the oppressive sunshine beating down upon his back last summer. Study had been crouched atop a home in El Salvador as he applied the final bolt to a repaired rooftop.
Handiwork is just one element of Study’s plan.
The junior Entrepreneurship major at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is the co-founder of Into The Nations, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower artisans in developing countries.
During the summer of 2014, Study met Amparo del Carmen Valle Velis, an El Salvadoran hammock weaver. Study, a Littlestown, Pa., native who has worked in El Salvador on a volunteer-basis for four years, credits Amparo with inspiring him to create the business model for Into The Nations.
Study is an amateur photographer with an appreciation for artistry. He admits he was amazed more by Amparo’s life story than with the beauty her hand-woven hammocks.
“She has a second-grade education,” Study said. “El Salvador had a war when she was in grade school, so she was constantly getting pulled out of school. I wanted to create something that would help an individual. I don’t mind if the impact we have doesn’t grow exponentially, but as long as we can help one person in a huge way, that’s really all I care about.”
In The Nations uses a small team of volunteers to identify an artisan. Then the team alleviates the artisan’s pressing needs, like Amparo’s dilapidated roof, before they develop a business model to help the artist sustain his or her work and bring it to the market.
Study will visit El Salvador over an upcoming holiday break from the Fox School to discuss with Amparo his vision for her business model. He said he plans to develop a supply chain by sourcing materials, before setting up necessary distribution channels to sell her work both in the United States and in El Salvador.
“We plan to work with her for about a year, sell her hammocks on our e-commerce site for a year and then, after that, really allow her to take ownership over it,” Study said.
Study’s ability to create a business model, he said, stemmed from his experiences within the Fox School and last year’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl®. In BYOBB, a university-wide business-plan competition for students, faculty, staff, and alumni, one of Study’s ventures advanced to the finals.
“I would really not know where to start if I had not gone through some of the curriculum at Fox, as well as the BYOBB,” Study said.
Study entered the Be Your Own Boss Bowl® with his Fox mentor, senior Entrepreneurship major Tim Mounsey. Their now-dissolved business, Cycle Clothing Co., used non-exploitative production and zero-waste manufacturing through a producer in Cambodia. Mounsey said Study’s passion for social impact was visible as they worked together for the competition.
“Helping people and making sure people’s wellbeing comes first is important for him,” Mounsey said. “I think he’ll carry that through anything he does in his life, especially with Into The Nations.”
Mounsey and Study are working with a team to create an innovation-themed festival for the Spring 2016 semester that would collaborate with several schools and colleges at Temple University.
“I’ve found that when you are willing to learn about people and really invest in what they need and walk alongside them, it is more of an empowerment than an investment,” Study said of Into The Nations. “In business school at Fox and in entrepreneurship work, I’ve started to understand that empowerment can come through creating a business.”
At Temple University’s Ritter Hall Annex, the elevator bay is abuzz with students and staff members talking about the building’s newest addition: Rad Dish Co-Op Café. The vegetarian, cash-only eatery has become a hotspot for foodies looking for locally sourced meals.
Keeping an eye on a midday lunch rush, Lauren Troop, Rad Dish co-founder and its head of outreach, said her involvement in the café inspired her transfer into the Fox School of Business.
“Through this project, I was able to see that you can use business to solve problems like these and be a leader in your community,” said Troop, a junior entrepreneurship major.
Troop and fellow Fox School student Trevor Southworth are among the Temple students who are behind the primary operations and day-to-day management of Rad Dish Co-Op Café.
Troop said she’s always been fascinated by eating habits and the sustainability of the slow-food movement, which promotes the use of a local ecosystem to support traditional meals. It wasn’t until Troop opened Rad Dish in January and started her courses at the Fox School in Fall 2014 that she saw how to turn her interests into a business.
“I took a class that explored innovation through different business plans and Rad Dish’s business plan, being a co-op, is so unique,” Troop said.
Utilizing skills gleaned from her Marketing and Human Resource courses, Troop said she began to problem-solve issues of promotion and business management while working to maintain the idea of opening a locally sourced restaurant at Temple.
Rad Dish Café, as a co-op, embraces a purely democratic leadership that allows all students equal voting rights, and invites students and community members to buy into the co-op for $25, which affords them a 10-percent discount on purchases and voting privileges in the co-op.
Among the committee leaders is Trevor Southworth, who not only supports Rad Dish’s cause, but also views the venture as an ideal application for the skills he’s learning in the Fox School.
“I’m in Cost Analysis right now and that’s everything I do for Rad Dish,” said Southworth, a sophomore accounting major at the Fox School.
Rad Dish is primarily funded by seed money provided by Temple University’s Office of Sustainability. Southworth, who heads Rad Dish’s finance committee, focuses on creating a financial plan that allows the restaurant to meet and exceed overhead costs and saving to pay back the seed funding within five years. Southworth and Troop also worked to launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that raised $2,000. The idea came from alumna Rachel Voluck, FOX ’14, the former president of Fox School student professional organization Net Impact, a responsible business coalition.
Prior to its February soft opening, Rad Dish worked with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s (IEI) Living Learning Community to plan the grand opening and formulate outreach programs. Troop also said she plans to work with Sustainable Marketing business students to pitch the co-op model, and hopes to resume a series of independent studies available through the Fox School to get students involved.
“This semester we hope to create those relationships and plan out more organized internships,” Troop said. “A big thing for us is collaboration between colleges.”
Troop and Southworth have also reached out to Dylan Baird, FOX ’13. The alumnus, who took second place at the IEI’s 2010 Be Your Own Boss Bowl, a university-wide business plan competition, launched Philly Foodworks, an aggregator for local farms to sell their crops locally. Rad Dish uses Baird’s community-sourced agriculture delivery service as a drop-off/pick-up zone for the café’s food stores. And the café’s breads and pastries are courtesy of Lauren Yaghoobian, FOX ’01, who launched Northeast Philadelphia-based Wildflour Bakery with her husband, Nishan, shortly after graduating.
“We would use Temple alumni over anyone else because they get so excited about it,” Southworth said. “It’s natural networking and I’ve learned a lot.”
Both Troop and Southworth look forward to continuing their business educations and applying their skills to Rad Dish’s everyday operation.
“I want to learn these news skills and have this business succeed,” Troop said. “I’m excited to continue collaboration between a variety of Temple schools and colleges.”