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.
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.
Ellen Weber, assistant professor and executive director of the Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, earned the David Freschman Award at the 19th annual Angel Venture Fair.
The award, named after the late venture capitalist and consultant for ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” was given to Weber for her singular impact on entrepreneurship at Temple and the wider Philadelphia community. She has been an inimitable force in supporting entrepreneurs across the region through her work at the Fox School, and with Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures (MADV) and Robin Hood Ventures.
“David was a dear friend, so it was very meaningful to me to win this award,” says Weber. “It was exciting to see so many investors and entrepreneurs under one roof, and to see the continuing growth especially in healthcare, IT, and life sciences.”
Thirty-four early-stage companies came to the Angel Venture Fair, held at the Union League in Philadelphia, to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors in a format similar to “Shark Tank.” Among the pitching companies was Fox School undergraduate Nigel Satenstein’s global e-commerce venture, Pinpointer.
“It gives them the opportunity to get in front of investors early, and we work with them to make sure they’re investor-ready,” Weber says about the work she does preparing students and other entrepreneurs how to pitch ideas to investors. “They don’t just get up and pitch, they’re assigned to coaches, and the coaches add a lot of value. They’re exposed to a large number of investors instead of having to knock on doors. It makes a huge difference for these companies.”
One of the most important steps? Craft a solid elevator pitch. “Elevator pitches are something I work on with students a lot,” she says. “You need to get your idea out clearly and succinctly. If you do, people will ask you for more.”
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.”
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.
Through entrepreneurship, Temple University students, faculty, staff, and alumni united at the 19th annual Innovative Idea Competition.
The competition engages entrepreneurship at Temple, and invites those affiliated with the university to share their innovative ideas for products, services, concepts, and technologies that could lead to new businesses. Ideas in all stages of development were eligible for submission.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at the Fox School of Business hosted the Nov. 10 event, which was held at Alter Hall. IEI received 426 submissions from 14 of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges, marking a 21-percent increase in submissions from last year’s competition. The competition welcomed submissions from local community colleges, as part of a program funded by Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
“The Idea Competition is unique in that it allows participants to take an idea out of the theoretical and see its potential for becoming a reality,” said Ellen Weber, IEI Executive Director. “All of our participants have access to mentors during the application process who can help them develop their ideas and begin that mode of thinking.”
Ideas were put to the test as finalists competed for spots in eight cash prize categories.
Nigel Satenstein, a Business and Management major at the Fox School, won the overall grand prize of $2,500, as well as the first place in the People’s Choice Award category and the Global Innovative Prize. He walked away as the competition’s winner, with prize money totaling $4,000.
His idea – Pinpointer – would connect the more than four billion people worldwide without a home address to global e-commerce markets through the use of precise digital codes. In countries like China, India, and Nepal, the lack of sufficient home addressing infrastructure makes it impossible for online order deliveries to be shipped to someone’s door, Satenstein said. The customer, rather, has to arrange for pick-up of their orders at nearby landmarks, such as a school or a church.
Pinpointer would deliver a “virtal breadcrumb” technology, Satenstein said, that tracks the customer’s journey from his or her home to the pick-up location. This way, the next time the consumer orders a product online, the delivery service can follow the trail of a previous delivery in order to reach the customer’s front door.
“This was an amazing opportunity from Temple to help jump-start our business, and we hope this momentum will carry through for the rest of our current funding round,” Satenstein said. “Pinpointer will use the money we won to expand our efforts at tech development, hire additional workers and bolster our servers used to store collected data. The rest of the funds will be used for marketing and customer-acquisition efforts.”
Lewis Katz School of Medicine student, Conor Vickers, took home first place for the Graduate, Faculty, Staff, or Alumni category. He won $1,000 for SensiFoam, a concept for a product that would prevent pressure ulcers or bedsores with a disposable foam patch that can wirelessly transmit pressure data to a tablet device. Fox School student Peter Agada clinched second place in the same category and earned a $500 prize, for his wearable balance device. His idea involves eyeglasses that have sensors measuring the head, leg, and trunk movements, and changes in elevation that ultimately would help to prevent falls for the elderly.
In the Undergraduate category, both first and second place went to students from the College of Engineering. Christopher Ricci received the $1,000 first prize with his idea of a regenerative suspension system. Designed for automobiles, it would use kinetic energy from road disturbances to create electrical energy. The $500 second prize went to Emily Knight for Prohibere, which would use a hair and skin serum to eliminate the urge for people with trichotillomania to extract their hair.
Audience members got into the action, too. For the third consecutive year, attendees cast votes for the People’s Choice category using their smartphones.
“The pitch event provides an opportunity for the finalists to use the questions and feedback from our judging panel to identify the next steps toward testing their ideas and building them into something real,” Weber said.
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.”
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.”
Entrepreneurs piled into Alter Hall clinging more than posterboards and presentation materials. They also brought dreams of success and self-employment.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business hosted casting associates from the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” which features self-made millionaires who award mentorship and financial support to budding entrepreneurs in exchange for equity stake in their businesses. More than 170 Temple students, alumni, faculty, and staff applied in the hope that their June 11 pitches would result in selection to appear on a future episode of the show.
“I walked in the room to make my presentation, and I immediately felt so nervous,” said Fox Part-Time MBA student Vinti Singh, who pitched a standing CT scanner for horses that wouldn’t require anesthetization. “I can only wonder what it’s like to deliver a pitch in front of the actual sharks.”
If accepted by “Shark Tank,” Temple entrepreneurs were told they would receive a call from one of the show’s casting associates within two to three weeks.
Casting associates listened to 60-second presentations inside the Steven H. Korman Conference Room, with two Temple entrepreneurs having to deliver their pitches simultaneously and side by side. The associates asked entrepreneurs to reveal both the monetary value they would ask of the Sharks, and to name the Shark with whom they most strongly identified.
Caren Sachs, an associate for the show, told applicants prior to their casting calls that “personality is just as important as your pitch.” She emphasized that “Shark Tank” seeks entrepreneurs who can speak energetically about their businesses, products, and concepts.
Alter Hall’s Undergraduate Commons served as the waiting room for Temple entrepreneurs before their number had been called. Applicants paced the room, rehearsing their talking points and working through their demonstrations.
College of Education alumnus Rich McFillin hoped to sell the casting associates on his Garage Bow Company, which manufactures and sells magnetic red bows that make garage doors decoratively resemble wrapped presents during the holiday season.
“They didn’t throw me any curveballs,” McFillin said of the casting officials. “They asked me questions I knew I had the answers to, and I could tell they were excited, which made me excited, too.”
Joseph Green’s pitch lasted more than five minutes, seemingly attracting the attention of a “Shark Tank” official. The Fox School alumnus is the owner of Affinity Confections, which offers sweet dessert treats in smaller portions. Recently, Green has begun packaging and selling the various sauces and coulees he manufactures using premium ingredients.
“I guess they liked what I had to say,” Green said of his pitch. “I’m looking to expand my products some more, and use any initial investment I would receive for packaging and to continue making a name for ourselves.”
Brandon Study, a Fox School senior majoring in Entrepreneurship, said he felt confident while making his pitch. Temple University “prepares you for moments like this,” he said. “That training is what helps you thrive in crunch-time situations.”
Two days prior to the casting call, Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Blackstone Launchpad offered a pitch-coaching session open to all entrepreneurs hoping to polish their pitches. Jesse DiLaura, a senior Entrepreneurship major at Fox, arrived at the coaching session to prepare for his pitch. Instead, he worked with fellow Temple entrepreneurs to improve theirs.
“I had rehearsed what I was going to say thousands of times,” he said, “and I thought, ‘If I can help out a fellow entrepreneur who had a question about his or her pitch, why not do what I can?’ I wasn’t planning on being a coach, but I had to speak up and try to get at least one person from Temple on the show.
“People need to know that great things are happening with entrepreneurship at Temple.”
“The IEI was delighted to welcome casting associates from ‘Shark Tank’ to Temple University,” said Ellen Weber, Executive Director of Temple’s IEI. “Choosing Temple as a host for an on-campus casting call validates the IEI’s mission, to provide students, faculty, staff, and alumni entrepreneurs with programs and opportunities to succeed.”
Shark Tank, the critically acclaimed, business-themed show is continuing the search for the best entrepreneurs with the best businesses and products that America has to offer. The Emmy-winning show features The Sharks – tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons who give budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their American dreams come true; potentially securing deals that could make them millionaires.
If you’ve got a great product or business and need an investment to propel you forward, Temple University is providing you the opportunity to meet the casting team of Shark Tank.
Note: Pitches will not be filmed. They are preliminary auditions, in which participants will pitch one-on-one to casting managers.
This casting call is open to Temple University students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Come by the Fox School of Business on Saturday, June 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to pitch the casting team!
Fox School of Business
Alter Hall – Undergraduate Commons, 1st Floor
1801 Liacouras Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Need help preparing for your pitch? The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute and Blackstone Launchpad are offering an open pitch coaching session:
Thursday, June 9 | 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Lab
Alter Hall, 5th Floor, Room 503D
If you have questions, please contact the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at email@example.com.
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.”
The developers of a mobile application that culls continuous, competency-based feedback won the grand prize at the 18th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl, a Temple University-wide business plan competition.
DevelapMe — developed by the Leadership Analytics Group, LLC — took home more than $60,000 in cash and prizes, including the Bernard Spain, FOX ’56, and Murray Spain, FOX ’65, Grand Prize.
The flagship program of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), the Be Your Own Boss Bowl is one of the nation’s most-lucrative business plan competitions, according to Entrepreneur magazine. This year, 12 finalists representing five of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges delivered business plan presentations. They competed more than $500,000 in related products and professional services, and $160,000 in cash prizes – including $120,000 from The Wolfington Family.
Created by Dr. Tony Petrucci, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management; Dr. Michael Rivera, Associate Professor of Strategic Management; and Cliff Tironi, Performance Analytics Manager for the Fox MBA and MS Programs, among others external to Fox, DevelapMe modernizes the performance review process by providing individuals with a platform for continuous feedback exchange, while simultaneously enabling employers with the ability to aggregate and analyze data that gets at the heart of workforce development. It stands to replace what Petrucci called “pulse surveys,” which are typically sent via email within a company to take the pulse of an organization.
“Instead of traditional surveys, employees have access to real-time feedback that is ongoing,” Tironi said. “Users can review their competency scores and comments, and develop action plans with unprecedented ease.”
In the last year, the creators of DevelapMe conducted “significant user testing,” Rivera said, and changed its gradation from a thumbs-up/thumbs-down model to one in which users can be scored on a 1-to-5 sliding scale. Using DevelapMe, professionals across all industries can quickly and easily congratulate a coworker on a job well-done, for example, or give a team member a piece of constructive advice, even anonymously if they choose.
“DevelapMe brings the topic of feedback to the forefront,” Petrucci said. “When a strong feedback culture is already in place, anonymity should not be needed, but it is often needed as companies are building that culture.”
Clients must partner with DevelapMe, which is available through the iTunes App Store and Google Play, before it is available for rollout within an organization. Rivera said the company already has achieved a number of sales, and has more within its pipeline.
The Be Your Own Boss Bowl features three distinct tracks: the Undergraduate Track, open to current Temple undergraduate students; the Upper Track, open to Temple graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff; and the Social Impact Track. Winners from each track were:
- Upper Track: DevelapMe
- Social Impact Track: Green Matters Apparel Company, which makes T-shirts from plant materials grown locally (Tyler Stoltzfus, FOX ’16)
- Undergraduate Track: Parking Bee, an online marketplace for finding and renting available parking spaces (Richard Armitage, CST ’16)
For the seventh year, the IEI awarded the Chris Pavlides Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a strong passion for entrepreneurship. This year’s recipient was sophomore Entrepreneurship major Benjamin Thomas. Glen Gaddy, an angel investor and professional in the real estate and consumer product development sectors, received the 2016 Self-Made & Making Others Award.
Be Your Own Boss Bowl 2016, by the numbers
$700,000 — Value of monetary, products, services and mentorship prizes awarded
$120,000 — Value of cash prizes sponsored by the Wolfington Family
$40,000 — Value of the Bernard and Murray Spain Grand Prize, plus an additional $10,000 toward the IEI Summer Studio accelerator
236 — Preliminary judges
223 — Overall participants in BYOBB, representing 13 of Temple University’s 17 schools and colleges
94 — Senior executive mentors
97 — Registered company submissions
34 — Participating finalist team members
12 — Sponsors
12 — Presentation coaches
12 — Finalist teams representing five Temple schools and colleges
6 — Finalist judges
The bottom line isn’t always an entrepreneur’s end game. For some, it’s the balance of doing well while doing good.
The work of social entrepreneurs served as the focus of an interactive workshop that kicked off a new collaboration between Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and the College of Public Health (CPH). Social entrepreneurs are creative problem-solvers driven to create solutions that have a positive impact on their communities and the world.
The workshop, and a Fall 2016 semester course in Social Entrepreneurship offered by CPH, are fueled by the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy, a new program created by Temple President Dr. Neil D. Theobald as the embodiment of his commitment to foster innovation and entrepreneurship university-wide. The Entrepreneurship Academy is geared toward the incorporation of entrepreneurship education into the coursework of faculty members throughout all of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges.
Dr. TL Hill, Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Fox School of Business, led the April 8 workshop at Temple’s Science Education and Research Center, with support from Dr. David B. Sarwer, CPH’s Associate Dean of Research, and Dr. Robert McNamee, IEI’s Managing Director and Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Fox.
The workshop, titled, “Doing Well While Doing Good: Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Public Health,” engaged students, faculty, and staff from around the university to consider the business structures of social entrepreneurial ventures.
As an example, Hill turned to Go Baby Go, an initiative that modifies standard toy electric cars for use by children who suffer from physical disabilities. He also made mention of Lucky Iron Fish, a social enterprise dedicated to eradicating anemia around the world, through the use of a cast-iron fish which can be added to a pot in which food is cooking.
Social entrepreneurs need to research problems and target users, appreciate multiple funding streams, and think about user adoption and behavioral change, which “can be a huge undertaking, and require just as much ambition,” Hill said. Following further discussion on social impact and social entrepreneurship, Hill asked workshop attendees to assemble smaller groups, in order to develop examples of social venture business models.
“Social entrepreneurship is the attempt to draw upon entrepreneurial and business approaches to find scalable solutions to social problems,” said Hill, the Academic Director of the Fox Global MBA program.
Hill has been responsible for creating the Fox Management Consulting Practice (Fox MC), in which the MBA candidates provide professional-grade strategic solutions to clients including non-profits and social-impact ventures. In addition, Hill has created the Fox Board Fellows program in which MBA students sit on the board of directors of a non-profit for a year. These programs have led to the creation of a number of thought-leading approaches to social entrepreneurship.
The plan for the 2016-17 academic year, said McNamee and Sarwer, is to build on this inaugural event through a series of workshops and courses in the College of Public Health that will focus on social entrepreneurship and healthcare innovation.
“Most individuals who work in the area of public health receive little to no training in the area of entrepreneurship,” Sarwer said. “This workshop, and the course being taught this fall, is a great opportunity for students to learn how to be forward-thinking about their work and develop impactful strategies to address public health issues. I wish I had the opportunity to take a course like this when I was a student.”
Dr. Ram Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategy at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has been recognized for his research contribution to international entrepreneurship and innovation.
In March, Mudambi received the Schulze Award for his article, “The Spectacular Rise of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry,” which was co-authored by Dr. Kristin Brandl, of the University of Reading’s Henley Business School, and Dr. Vittoria Scalera, of the University of Amsterdam Business School. The paper demonstrates that for emerging economies to thrive, they do not necessarily require their local industries to partner with multinational giants of research and innovation.
“While most economies may benefit when local industries gain knowledge from multinationals,” Mudambi wrote, “India’s example shows that there are alternatives – but they all require strategic government investment.”
The Schulze Award recognizes the level of contribution made by an article published to the Entrepreneur and Innovation Exchange (EIX), an online resource committed to achieving marked improvement in the success rate of new business ventures. Issued annually, the Schulze Award recognizes achievements in various categories, including: theory and research; applied and practice; teaching and education; and commentaries.
The collaboration between Mudambi and his co-authors was made possible through the Fox Visiting Scholars Program. Founded in 2005 by Mudambi, the program serves as an invitation to international scholars – from doctoral candidates to full professors – to spend anywhere from a week to a year at the Fox School of Business conducting research and interacting with Fox faculty.
“It is critical for all PhD students to develop skills in pure academic research, business outreach, and policy,” Mudambi said. “The paper is a strong example of what is achievable through the Visiting Scholars Program, helping doctoral students develop as well-rounded individuals and have the ability to apply their work to real-world situations.”
Mudambi joined the Fox School’s faculty in 2000. The Perelman Senior Research Fellow, Mudambi spearheads the research initiative International Business, Economic Geography, and Innovation, dubbed iBEGIN, which studies the connections between global value chains (GVCs) and the location of economic activity. Mudambi’s peers elected him the Program Chair of the 2015 Academy of Business (AIB) annual meeting. In his role, Mudambi developed the program and arranged a prominent lineup of scholars and global business leaders for the conference, which was held in Bangalore, India.
He recently had a paper titled, “Knowledge connectivity: An agenda for innovation research in international business,” published in the Journal of International Business Studies. Co-authors of the paper include: Dr. John Cantwell, of Rutgers University; Dr. Jaeyong Song, of Seoul National University; and Fox PhD alumni Dr. Marcelo Cano-Kollmann, of the Ohio University College of Business, and Dr. Tim Swift, of Saint Joseph’s University’s Haub School of Business, co-authored the paper.