Press & Media
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Announces New Assistant Professor and Executive Director
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) is Temple University’s gateway to the entrepreneurial world. After a regional search and selection process, Fox School of Business announced the appointment of Ellen Weber as Assistant Professor and Executive Director of The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
Ellen’s resume includes over 25 years of experience creating strong teams and building leaders for emerging companies and Fortune 500 clients. She is passionate about innovation and helping to build great companies in Philadelphia. For 15 years, Ellen has served as Executive Director at Robin Hood Ventures, a group of angel investors, focused on early-stage, high-growth companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. She also served as angel-in-residence at Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute and is active with Philly Startup Leaders, Philly Tech Meetup, and the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs. Until recently, she was the COO and co-founder of VisionMine, which provides a specialized Open Innovation portal to large corporations. VisionMine is a subscription service that allows corporate clients collaborative access to early start-up innovations, new technologies, and entrepreneurs that solve business problems. Ellen has also served as Managing Director of Antiphony, consulting firm focused on helping clients achieve sustainable innovation.
With her impressive practical background in strategic planning, pitching projects, project management, and advising startups, she is ideally suited to teach these skills to our undergraduate and graduate students in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship area. “We are pleased Ellen Weber will be joining the Strategic Management Department as a faculty member and also leading our IEI/Innovation/Entrepreneurship team to build on its solid foundation. We believe Ellen’s extensive practical experience will be helpful in teaching our undergraduate and graduate students and also positioning the IEI program for continued success in the future,” stated Arvind Parkhe, Strategic Management Department Chair, Temple University, Fox School of Business.
About her role as Executive Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, Ellen stated, “I am excited about the opportunity to leverage Temple’s multi-disciplinary resources to help students, entrepreneurs, alumni and faculty launch businesses and to further build the connection between Temple and the city’s entrepreneurial community.
Fox School of Business, Temple University was established in 1918 and has a distinguished tradition of preparing business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs for successful careers. Today, it is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the greater Philadelphia region, and among the largest in the world with nearly 6,500 students, 180 full-time faculty and more than 59,000 alumni. Its programs continue to be ranked internationally and nationally by leading business publications and organizations, such as U.S.News & World Report and The Princeton Review/Entrepreneur magazine.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) promotes entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges of Temple University. The IEI emphasizes integrated, applied, hands-on learning, bringing together students, entrepreneurs, mentors, alumni, faculty, and business advisors from diverse backgrounds to work on real-time projects. Services offered include: workshops, mentorship, competitions, and academic courses. The entrepreneurship masters, certificate and general courses are highly ranked nationally by The Princeton Review/Entrepreneur Magazine.
A misunderstood emotion, anger plays a vital role in society, including the workplace, according to research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
Dr. Deanna Geddes’ research, which explores both the negative and positive aspects of emotions in the workplace, shows anger expression increasingly equated with verbal abuse or non-physical assault, rather than recognized for its social function of initiating necessary change by identifying improprieties and injustices.
Geddes’ workplace anger research was featured recently in the Financial Times. Along with her co-author Dr. Dirk Lindebaum, of the Management School at the University of Liverpool, Geddes co-chaired a showcase symposium titled, “In Defense of Anger: The Significance of an Under-Appreciated Moral Emotion” at the 74th Annual meetings of the Academy of Management which took place in Philadelphia.
Chair of Fox’s Human Resource Management department, Geddes in previous papers has proposed what she terms “a dual-threshold model” that clarifies when expression and suppression of the emotion is likely to produce positive or negative results.
For her latest research, she tapped into surveys conducted from 2003 to 2010 by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). Following incidents it deemed aggressive and violent, the NHS – Europe’s top employer and the fifth-largest in the world – initiated policies to quell such activity, coinciding with the launch of an advertisement campaign to caution against perpetration of verbal or physical abuse with possible litigation or intervention by authorities.
Geddes said unfortunately the NHS’ designation of verbal abuse is so “loosely defined” that any undesirable anger expression, including raising one’s voice at a caregiver could qualify as verbal abuse or non-physical assault. Calling expressed anger abuse and assault, according to her, was simply inaccurate.
“Anger expression has no inherent intention to harm,” Geddes said. “In fact, it reflects the belief that the angry individual was harmed.”
Given the results of NHS’ survey, Geddes said some response to protect NHS workers from actual assault is completely justified, but NHS went overboard.
“The No. 1 reason given for a patient’s purported verbal abuse of an NHS employee was their mental health condition, closely followed by the length of time they had waited to see a health professional, or a problem understanding instructions, or even dissatisfaction with the service they were receiving,” Geddes said. “How can a health organization threaten to arrest someone because of a mental health condition, or because of their concern over the health condition of either themselves or another?”
Geddes defended anger expression that is not simply self-serving and reasoned that its functionality should remain dependent upon a particular situation, with those in positions of power doing all they can to assist and exercise forbearance toward the angry, distressed individual.Geddes said unintended consequences that carry a societal impact arise if consumers are not permitted to express even intense emotion and dissatisfaction with service providers.
“We’re seeing more instances of this in the airline industry where complaints toward flight attendants can be reclassified as terroristic threats and passengers are themselves threatened with police involvement once off a plane,” Geddes said. “It’s a fine line, I understand, because safety issues are always going to be important and we’re not saying people should yell at a service provider. But this is intriguing and scary, that zero tolerance policies are creating a homogenous, suppressive environment for human emotion.”
What began as a modest proposal has since developed into what one Fox School of Business alumnus hopes is a sustainable business.
Ofo Ezeugwu is President and Chief Executive Officer of WhoseYourLandlord.com, which allows users – in this case, college-age and 20-something property tenants – the chance to rate the people from whom they rent.
The website, which launched its first mobile application Aug. 28, has made tremendous strides since Ezeugwu, graduated from Fox with an MIS degree, in May 2013.
“You look at sites like Yelp and Angie’s List and Amazon, and what they’ve done is taken a product and added an interpersonal aspect to it to make something powerful,” said Ezeugwu, 22. “You not only look at your product, but you also look at peer ratings of the seller, and when that’s the case, the consumer can make a more-educated decision on what it is they’re purchasing.”
Ezeugwu said he hatched the idea for WhoseYourLandlord while sitting in a late-night planning meeting with fellow representatives of Temple Student Government (TSG), as they developed their platform. His role, as Vice President of External Affairs, covered off-campus goings-on.
“So I thought, ‘What if students could rate their landlords so that the students who follow them know what they’re getting into before they even sign the lease?’” Ezeugwu said.
That meeting was in February 2012, only seven months prior to WhoseYourLandlord.com going live. From there, Ezeugwu’s day-planner quickly filled up.
In January 2014, WhoseYourLandlord took first place at Fordham University’s 3-Day Startup competition. Three months later, Ezeugwu’s idea netted $20,500 by taking the top prize in the Graduate Student/Alumni/Faculty/Staff track of Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
In May, following his graduation, Ezeugwu and his team were among six chosen from a field of 120 by the National Minority Angel Network to pitch their idea to a room of investors in California’s Silicon Valley.
And recently, Rose Tech Venture’s real estate tech accelerator accepted WhoseYourLandlord, giving Ezeugwu $10,000 and making David S. Rose, the founder of prominent investment group New York Angels, one of his personal business contacts.
“It’s been a fun ride,” said Ezeugwu, who moved his site’s operations to New York City.
WhoseYourLandlord’s six-person team is Temple-heavy. Co-founder Nick Korablin, who developed its first website, is an alumnus. Kacper Rams, the Chief Financial Officer, is a graduate of Fox’s Finance program and a current Master’s student in MIS’ Information Technology Auditing and Cyber-Security program. And Phillip Meyer, WhoseYourLandlord’s Creative Director, is an undergraduate student in Fox’s Legal Studies department.
“Temple and the Fox School are well-represented around here,” Ezeugwu said.
For those who question WhoseYourLandlord’s grammatical integrity, Ezeugwu said he chose the possessive form of the word ‘who’ because “we want the tenant to know that the power in the decision-making process is being returned to them.”
For those who question the monetization capability of a site that requires no money for user registration, Ezeugwu is not fazed. He said advertising and potentially an internal publication to trumpet WhoseYourLandlord’s services will attract a wide audience.
“I look at what we’re doing as big-impact data, and this information isn’t out there,” he said. “You can find out if the structure has incurred water damage or fire damage, or you can see if the doors creak, but there’s nowhere to go to find out about the person servicing your property and returning your security deposit. There’s a natural need for us in the marketplace.”
Soon, Ezeugwu envisions WhoseYourLandlord incorporating a landlord-run component. The reason? Using Philadelphia as the site’s first test market last spring, he and his team found that the landlords who scored poorly “were more adamant about having a presence on the site, noting that while it may be rough for them in the beginning, that the site would help them address changes.”
The Fox School of Business’s Department of Management Information Systems was named “a major national player” in a report by a review team that systematically evaluated the department.
The review team included internationally recognized professors from Oklahoma State University and The University of Texas at Austin. The reviewers were selected by Temple University’s Office of the Provost based upon their stature in the MIS discipline. According to the team which submitted a report after evaluating a self-study document and following a two-day site visit: “The MIS department at Temple is one of the best examples of how good leadership and investment can create a stellar program in such a short time.”
According to Jodi Levine Laufgraben, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Assessment and Institutional Research who oversees the review process: “Temple University implemented Periodic Program Review in 2003 and since that time has conducted over 90 reviews. Now in our second cycle, the program review process gives us the opportunity to evaluate the quality of our academic programs while also providing advice on strategic opportunities for further improvement.”
The review team evaluated departmental research performance, noting: “Faculty in MIS at Fox have achieved national reputation and catapulted the MIS department to a very high rank in terms of research publications.”
“I am very grateful to the review team for their comprehensive and positive report,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat, who decided to form the MIS department in 2000. “It is a great honor to receive accolades for our MIS department from such distinguished scholars representing major national universities.”
The team met students and reviewed the MIS academic programs. “Students in the MIS department at Fox are the major beneficiaries of all the exciting activities and initiatives underway,” the report stated. “These include an innovative curriculum, internships, industry interactions, professional development opportunities, and placements.”
The review team recommended areas for improvement, including hiring more faculty, creating endowed chairs and investing further in analytics. Finally, the review team commended the department for excellent relationships with industry through an active advisory board, innovative research centers and institutes, vibrant professional faculty and visionary, stable, and collaborative departmental leadership.
Research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that good vibes in the workplace, unfortunately, might be good for nothing.
Dr. In-Sue Oh’s research into organizational behavior and human resources found that organizational cynicism has a greater tendency to impact an employee’s job performance than does organizational trust.
Oh’s research is featured within a co-authored paper, titled, “Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Organizational Cynicism: A Meta-Analysis,” which was published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior and featured in Human Resource Executive Online.
So in this installment of the age-old battle good vs. bad, bad likely wins out.
“Organizational cynicism and organizational trust should be the opposite of each other, but what we found is that is not the case,” said Oh, an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management. “You may trust in your organization, but that does not mean you have a lot of positive experiences or that your job performance will improve, whereas organizational cynicism is almost always based upon tangible negative experiences and will lead to a reduction in effort and harming one’s job performance.”
Before reaching that conclusion, Oh and his co-authors had to delve into the two variables at play.
Organizational trust, Oh said, is “often based upon the lack of negative experiences at work, but not necessarily based upon the presence of positive experiences.” That is almost a complete juxtaposition of their definition of organizational cynicism, which is based solely upon negative experiences.
From there, Oh and his co-authors analyzed the responses of 9,186 employees of 34 organizations, within studies conducted between 1998-2011.
“What we found was mixed,” Oh said, “in that in predicting organizational commitment or an intent to leave the organization, organizational trust is more important than organizational cynicism. Good wins out, whereas in predicting job performance, the opposite was found.”
Another interesting finding, Oh said, was uncovered in a bid to determine whether cynical people are born or made. “They’re both born and made, we found,” Oh said, “but organizational mistreatment such as injustice and lack of support has a bigger influence on organizational cynicism than individual differences like cynical personality.”
Oh suggests companies adhere to careful hiring practices, in order to screen out cynical individuals who have negative and critical tendencies.
“However, perhaps what’s more important is the need to treat employees in a fair manner and to offer them proper support,” Oh said, “because the fact remains that cynical people can develop into nice people in the organization in which they work.”
Oh co-authored the paper with Dan S. Chiaburu and Laura C. Lomeli, of Texas A&M University; Ann C. Peng, of Michigan State University; and George C. Banks, of Virginia Commonwealth University.
For perpetrators of petty crimes, a handful of high school students think they’ve “Gotcha!”
Eleven students participating in a program through Temple University’s Center for Design + Innovation, which is led by Fox School of Business professor Youngjin Yoo, are working to develop a social-media network that encourages the reporting of crime through community activism.
The students in the program, called the Urban Apps & Maps Studio, have laid the foundation for ‘Gotcha!’ For now, the students see their creation as a web-based platform within which a witness or a victim of underreported criminal acts – like theft or vandalism – can report the location, time and circumstances of the purported activity.
Gotcha!, the students said, has the potential to curb crime, as well as alter the patrol assignments of local police departments, dependent upon the locational frequency of crimes, as indicated through a real-time map feature their platform incorporates.
The students envision Gotcha! eventually transitioning into a mobile application. They believe they can have their web app running in the fall, before most of them get into the thick of their senior years of high school, though they will need to secure a patent and a domain name in order to do so.
“We built this in four weeks,” said Kory Calicat-Wayns, a rising senior year at The Haverford School. “The possibilities are out there for us. We plan to take this very far, so we can cover not just Philadelphia, but maybe the entire nation.”
Crime-map sites similar to Gotcha! exist, but none incorporates a newfeed, social-media component like the one designed by the students in Urban Apps and Maps, said Michael Korostelev, a graduate-student instructor of the program.
In other ways, the offerings of Gotcha! overlap with those of preexisting programs. The students said users will have to register, with a log-in name, zip code and phone number to which only the site’s administrators will have access. And posts made anonymously will require a vetting process and approval from Gotcha! administrators to verify their credibility.
“And to avoid spam and other fraudulent reports,” said Jimik Ligon, who will soon begin his senior year at Simon Gratz High School. “We want to help stop small crimes any way we can, and we’re planning full cooperation with the police to help in that.”
“We want to build a sense of community through Gotcha!, so people know what’s going on in their neighborhoods,” Calicat-Wayns said.
Gotcha! is one of several projects to have been generated through the 200 participants this summer in Urban Apps & Maps, which is in its second year.
“Through this program, we’re not just teaching coding. That’s not enough,” said Yoo, a Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School. “They need to know where that coding skill will apply to.”
Take me out to the ballgame? Why bother? An alumnus of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is bringing the game to you.
Jonathan Retano, MBA ‘02, is the co-founder of Fun Fieldz LLC, a mobile entertainment venture that converts backyards into ballfields for functions of any size.
“It really started when my wife would drag me to family barbecues, and I was bored,” said Retano, who studied Finance at Fox. “I started getting materials together to build a mobile Wiffle Ball field and, right from the get-go, we would have fun at these parties rather than talking about refinancing a mortgage.”
Retano’s wife, Melissa, who earned her PhD in 2009 from Temple’s School of Media and Communications, may have been his inspiration, but it wasn’t until Retano received encouragement from a friend, Dante Parenti, to turn his idea into a business that Fun Fieldz’ potential was realized. Co-founders Retano and Parenti, with additional support from partner Aaron Keller, got Fun Fieldz off the ground in 2012.
The concept is unique. Retano and Fun Fieldz bring the ballfield accouterments to your function, setting up and cleaning up without clients ever having to lift a finger.
If folks fancy baseball, Retano’s team draws the chalk lines, raises an outfield fence, sets up foul poles and drops the bases for an authentic ballpark experience for the Wiffle Ball enthusiast. (There’s even a strike zone situated behind home plate, so there’s no need for an umpire to call the game.) If football is on the menu, Retano paints the field with yardlines, puts downs pilons to distinguish the end zone and even erects uprights for participants to kick extra points and field goals. If the sport of choice is soccer, the set-up is a less cumbersome and requires only field lines and goals at each end. But to make it more authentic, the field’s perimeter is adorned with advertising that one might see at a European soccer match.
“It’s fun to take kids who are used to computer games and then watch them hit a home run,” said Retano, who resides in East Norriton, Pa. “It’s just amazing to see the smiles on their faces. And then parents get involved, too. That’s what we love about our business, is that it’s for all ages.”
Additional features to the experience include: a master-of-ceremonies who announces lineups prior to game time, providing color commentary and playing organ music; specialized packages that include custom cakes and banners; and indoor options for events scheduled during the winter.
Fun Fieldz also posts statistics from the games to their website. (So after your family party or company cookout, the home run you smacked over the fence may have been long, long gone, but the memory of it won’t be.)
The crowning achievement in the company’s brief history occurred earlier this year, when Retano and Fun Fieldz had six ballfields running simultaneously at a home-and-school association event at an elementary school in Warrington, Pa.
“We thought we might’ve stretched ourselves a little thin there,” said Retano, whose day job is in managed care for a pharmaceuticals company. “But we pulled it off.”
Fun Fieldz’ reach is limited to the Greater Philadelphia region – for now
“We’ve been talking to a consultant on how to franchise this opportunity,” Retano said. “While we’re focused on improving our product locally, we’re looking for how to expand it, too. We have been able to hit other market segments besides birthday parties including corporate picnics, summer camps, community days and, most proudly, providing fun events for special-needs children.
“If you do something fun, you never have to work a day in your life.”
A defining moment, early in Peter Gurt’s life, shaped his career path in many unexpected ways.
The youngest of eight children from Northeast Philadelphia, Gurt had a non-traditional upbringing. His father, Ray, died prior to Gurt’s second birthday. To make ends meet, and on a family friend’s suggestion, Gurt’s mother enrolled him and his two brothers in the Milton Hershey School, a private boarding school located in Hershey, Pa., where children from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds are offered an education free of cost.
What happened soon after helped shape Gurt’s life.
Rising above challenging moments and seizing afforded opportunities were skills that ensured Gurt’s story would have a happy ending.
He was provided a chance to study at Milton Hershey School, and later continued his education at Temple University.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunity to attend Milton Hershey School,” said Gurt, BBA ’89, “and as a first-generation college-goer, I was worried I wouldn’t have the wherewithal to persist and succeed (at Temple). I had those moments of doubt, but there were always professors around to plug me into an activity to keep me going. I have the fondest of memories from my time at Temple.”
At the time Gurt attended Milton Hershey School, it was a tight-knit, boys-only institution. Today, it serves children – grades pre-kindergarten through 12th – of all backgrounds. While its student population has changed, the Milton Hershey School has never altered its mission: to provide an education for children who are facing the strongest odds.
“Mr. Hershey once said that if his school could help 100 kids then it would be worthwhile,” Gurt said.
At Temple, and in what was then known as the School of Business and Management, Gurt found an institution steeped in similar educational traditions.
“I remember coming from a small, protective environment like Milton Hershey School, coming to a large, urban school, but with the same type of intimacy feel,” Gurt said. “I never felt like it was too big. It’s what made me feel at home here.”
Perhaps that was why Gurt was so pleased to announce a partnership between his two alma maters.
Labeled the College and Career Transition Program, which begins in the spring 2015 semester, 16 seniors from Milton Hershey School will complete a general-education courseload of 15 college credits through Temple University Harrisburg. Professors from TU Harrisburg will teach the courses, in subjects like math, English, U.S. society and psychology, on Milton Hershey School’s campus.
The program will run annually, between Milton Hershey School seniors and Temple University Harrisburg professors.
“One of the things we wanted to establish for our seniors was the opportunity to earn those credits under our supervision, support and guidance, before they even technically graduate from high school,” Gurt said.
“One of the reasons we chose Temple,” he added, “was it has been exceptionally successful with our students. We serve approximately 450 students from the (Philadelphia) area, so it’s close to their home. Twenty of our grads are enrolled at Temple, and Temple has a high success rate with our students in terms of graduating on time and helping them find jobs after college.”
The College and Career Transition Program will give select Milton Hershey School students a leg up, a concept to which most of them are probably unfamiliar.
“Kids who grow up in an environment where they are disadvantaged need champions and cheerleaders, too,” Gurt said. “Both Milton Hershey School and Temple University provided that for me, and gave me the strength to convince myself that I could succeed even after I hit that first wall.
“Temple was a special place for me in my life, and to have students start their college educations there is terrific.”
A PhD student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business proved she can stand out in a crowd.
Michelle Andrews received the Best Conference Paper Award at the 2014 American Marketing Association Summer Educator Conference Aug. 2 in San Francisco.
Andrews’ paper, titled, “Using Mobile Technology to Crowdsense,” employed crowdedness as an environmental factor that affects how people respond to mobile advertisements. The study for her research paper, which was co-authored by Xueming Luo, a Professor of Marketing in the Fox School’s Marketing and Supply Chain Management department, was conducted within subway trains.
In the context of a subway train, the measurement of crowdedness – a sometimes-abstract entity in research, Andrews remarks – becomes more precise.
“The reason we chose the subway train context was that it was unique,” said Andrews, who will earn her PhD in Marketing from the Fox School in Spring 2015. “During a subway commute, you’re surrounded by others in a public environment with little to do.”
Andrews, who signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding her research paper, could not specify which specific subway system she used for her research paper, but noted it was located in southeastern China, where, as Andrews pointed out, subways are mobile-equipped. That enabled Andrews and her co-authors to determine the number of mobile users within the specific dimensions of a subway train.
“We predicted crowdedness would increase immersion into mobile devices,” she explained. “We found that in congested trains, purchase rates were significantly higher than in uncongested ones.”
Andrews’ winning paper was co-authored by Zheng Fang, of China’s Sichuan University and Anindya Ghose, of New York University.
Also at the conference, Andrews’ research papers earned two further distinctions. The same paper that received the conference’s overall Best Paper Award also garnered the Best Track Paper Award in the Digital Marketing & Social Media track. Another of her research papers, titled “The Effectiveness of Cause Marketing” received the Best Track Paper Award in the Social Responsibility & Sustainability track.
“Michelle is so hard-working and innovative in her thinking for what’s coming next for the Marketing discipline, and the Best Conference Paper Award recognizes her for that,” Dr. Luo said. “Hopefully, this significant award will be influential, not only for our school but also for marketing on the whole, in demonstrating how to connect with consumers anytime, anywhere.”