When they met as freshmen in Hardwick Hall, Khadijah “Kay” Robinson, BBA ’04, and Kiana “Kay” Muhly, BBA ’03, had no way of knowing that they would grow and flourish as best friends and business partners.
During their time at the Fox School, they honed their skills, Kiana in accounting and Khadijah in marketing and entrepreneurship. They were both very involved with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), a student professional organization (SPO). During their time in the organization, with Khadijah on the board and Kiana serving as the president of NABA, they worked together to expand the reach of the SPO, recruiting members who were not strictly pursuing careers in accounting but were looking to expand their professional network and skills.
After graduation, Kiana began working in one of the big four accounting firms and became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. She gained real-world experience in internal and external audits with companies of all sizes, including an international nonprofit. Then, she left the corporate world to focus on her family and smaller business ventures. Khadijah built a successful career in procurement, project management and most recently working in real estate for the U.S. General Services Administration in Philadelphia.
Kiana and Khadijah remained close, bonded by friendship and a shared entrepreneurial spirit. As their individual careers took shape, so did their company Kay & Kay Group, a joint venture that they founded in 2014. The mission of the company is to create innovative products that function easily and solve everyday problems.
Their flagship product, Aqua Waterproof Headwear, was inspired by a common challenge that women face whenever the summer or a vacation rolls around: a fashionable way to go swimming and enjoy the water without getting their hair wet. Once they had the idea to develop stylish, breathable and completely waterproof headwear, they did research and found that there was nothing else like it on the market.
“We knew that we had a hit after talking through our idea with friends, family and focus groups. It resonated with everyone,” they say. “Not just African American women, but women across all walks of life. When we went to file a patent, even the agent loved the concept for Aqua Waterproof Headwear.”
They note that the key to their success while juggling their own families and careers is to treat Kay & Kay Group not as a side project or hobby, but as a business in its own right. Kiana and Khadijah have weekly meetings to discuss tasks, brainstorm new ideas and ensure that all “i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed when it comes to the quality and legitimacy of their product.
“We work together well,” Kiana says. “I am all business. I take care of the accounting and licensing, and I am very strict. Khadijah is so creative and is great at connecting with people and building relationships. Our skills support and complement each other.”
When it comes to the future of their business, they are tight-lipped about the details but say, “We are going to waterproof everyone’s lives.”
NAO came to Temple University about three years ago, when Li Bai and Carole Tucker, researchers from the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health, and, joined Heidi Grunwald, director of Temple’s Institute for Survey Research, to study robotics and surveys.
The team wanted to explore a big idea: What if NAO, this cute, two-foot tall, human-ish robot, could be programmed to give health surveys to children on the autism spectrum? Could they create a system to collect patient-reported outcomes in this tough-to-survey population?
Potentially, this research could solve a number of difficult problems. Currently, its parents fill out surveys on behalf of their kids. Researchers would prefer patient-reported outcomes. It’s much more accurate than information filtered through a third party, such as a parent. “Kids with autism may be willing to say they are depressed, but not in front of their mother,” says Tucker. When a one-foot-tall robot with a cute robotic voice such as NAO is asking questions instead of a human clinician, researchers might get reliable patient-reported outcomes in a way they have not been able to in the past.
The team’s research would also include another stream of valuable information: para-data. The camera inside the robot would “watch” the subject as NAO asked the survey questions. Additionally, via the sensor the subject wears (a Microsoft wristband), researchers can monitor things like facial expression, heart rate, and body motion. This para-data is a rich vein of knowledge, particularly when combined with the survey questions, response time, and answers.
If the subject pauses an extra long time when a certain question is asked, the NAO can play a game (like rock, paper, scissors), take a break, or give a high five to reduce anxiety. This is one way that the robot uses para-data to adapt to a child’s answers. The para-data also helps the researchers better understand survey responses. “For example, we can tell if a particular question made a subject nervous and then down-weight the answer, or not count it,” explains Grunwald.
“The robot’s face is much less complex than a human face and human facial expressions,” says Tucker. That makes it much less overwhelming for a young person on the autism spectrum who may find it challenging to read people’s faces and maintain eye contact.
Their project received funding through the Office for the Vice President of Research’s Targeted Grant Program at Temple University, with matching funds from all three represented schools.
Planning the research has been an iterative process. On the computer science side, Bai and his engineering students have been exploring the feasibility of using NAO this way. Bai and the students have been answering questions like, “What features would be nice? How can we use sensors to pull in data and incorporate the Microsoft band?” They have iterated and refined the data architecture, a database where the data are meshed together so that the robot can read all of the survey response data–coupled with the para-data (sensor data).
Meanwhile, the questionnaire and para-data collection process have been tested on different groups, starting with older kids not on the autism spectrum. As trial subjects, children aged 10 and up can provide specific, meaningful feedback on interacting with NAO. More recently, a community event brought a group of children on the autism spectrum to campus, and the team had an opportunity to see NAO interact with the intended study subjects. Going forward, they have the kind of pilot data that can win the funding to drive this effort forward.
This work can benefit groups beyond younger people on the autism spectrum. Any time data reported directly from a patient may be skewed or inaccurate—such as dementia patients, for example—the survey methods used in this work could prove enormously helpful to clinicians.
“With future improvement in this type of research, I think we will see more robotic diagnostic platforms that will be developed. One of the functionalities will be surveys of the patients about their health conditions. It could be particularly important for people who can not find a good hospital in their neighborhood,” says Bai.
Practical applications of this work in the future aren’t limited to the realms of research and medicine by any means. “Artificial intelligence and robotics will be the next technology push to drive the economy of our country, There will be countless business world applications—such as personal robotic assistants (such as the iPhone’s Siri) or self-driving cars,” says Bai. He believes that the technology in this project will fuel innovations across all sectors of the economy in the years to come.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Massive amounts of data are created each day. With more than ever available at our fingertips, we need help to make sense of it all. The field of data science unites researchers across disciplines, who extract knowledge from unfathomable quantities of datasets. Whether helping business executives make data-driven decisions, advertisers target likely customers, or teachers identify knowledge gaps in students, the data scientists at the Fox School sort through the noise to discover groundbreaking insights. Learn how in the Fox School’s flagship research magazine On the Verge featuring Data Science.
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How a Robot Reaches Kids on the Autism Spectrum
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Etsy—the online treasure chest for all things handmade—cultivates a community for those who have a knack for crafts like candle-making, knitwear, jewelry, or pottery. With over 1.7 million active vendors and close to 28.6 million active consumers, Etsy has established a peer-to-peer business platform that eliminates the middleman of corporate production. Yet this marketplace is more than just an e-commerce site; it is a community of like-minded individuals who appreciate handicrafts.
Within the site, buyers and sellers interact through a variety of IT-enabled features, like following and messaging shops, reviewing and favoriting products, and curating lists of products. Yet as sellers socialize by favoriting and promoting others’ products, are they redirecting potential customers away from their shops?
Professor Sunil Wattal and doctoral student Ermira Zifla of the Management Information Systems Department at the Fox School of Business investigate how social mingling affects e-commerce marketplaces in their paper, “Understanding IT-enabled Social Features in Online Peer-to-Peer Business for Cultural Goods.”
“What really fascinated us about this platform is that you have this community aspect, but you are also introducing this e-commerce agenda,” says Wattal.
“We thought that sellers may have mixed incentives to participate in the online community,” adds Zifla. “On the one hand, participating by following others and posting in forums may increase the visibility of sellers and subsequently increase their sales. On the other hand,” she continues, “following other sellers and sharing their products could negatively impact sales by diverting traffic away from their own page.”
While online communities have often been the subject of research, this is one of the first studies to link social indicators with economic performance. Using a dataset of nearly 2,000 sellers on Etsy, Wattal and Zifla examined their interactions in the online community and found how socializing with others can inherently affect a shop’s sales.
The researchers identified two categories of social e-features that promote new products and validate users:
1. Community participation features—such as following other sellers and joining teams—which facilitates socializing with other members, and
2. Content curation features—such as curating favorite lists, sharing products, and favoriting shops—which serve as tools for validation and tastemaking.
“When you are following other people on Etsy, those people are listed on your page as a form of validation, for what you like to buy as a consumer or what you can provide as a producer,” said Wattal.
The researchers hypothesized that community participation and content curation would increase a seller’s online status by increasing their number of followers, but would decrease a seller’s sales by diverting attention away from their own products.
Using a web crawler to collect public information, the pair obtained a dataset of 1,728 unique glass sculpture sellers—a randomly chosen subcategory of marketplace shops on Etsy—to compile a year’s worth of data, including sellers’ followers, lists, favorited products, and sales.
Analyzing the data proved the researchers’ hypotheses correct: a 10 percent increase in community participation, like following other sellers, and content curation, like favoriting products, resulted in a 3.89 percent decrease in sales. Yet this reduction was outweighed by the effects of cultivating a stronger social following. In other words, the same activities that led to a direct decrease in sales helped sellers attract more followers, and were associated with an indirect increase in sales by 4.64 percent—an overall net gain.
“IT-enabled features have benefits that supersede the negative,” says Wattal, “since exposure is what can ultimately lead you to be on an influential list or you can simply commercialize yourself to the point of high-status.”
Trends can come and go as quickly as a trendsetting blogger changes her mind. Yet in the realm of vintage trinkets and artisanal finds, relationships stay relevant.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Data-driven decision-making is now the norm in many workplaces. Executives collect and analyze information to inform hiring practices, promotions, and insurance premiums. However, Leora Eisenstadt, assistant professor of Legal Studies at the Fox School, warns that the kinds of data that employers can track should be safeguarded by law, to both protect employees’ privacy and limit employers’ liability.
For many, work and personal time have begun to blur together as smartphones and emails have invaded the home. As this line erodes between the home and office, employees are often left unaware that their employers can glean so much information from their personal lives. “Most of us have left enormous data trails,” says Eisenstadt, “that employers are now beginning to access in order to create the most efficient workplaces possible.”
With social media, FitBits, and online healthcare platforms, Eisenstadt says, employers are gathering data from more than just workplace activities. Healthcare service platforms, for example, can tell by looking at internet searches, prescriptions changes, or specialist appointments that employees are planning to start a family or have major surgery.
The platforms indicate that only top-level numbers are shared with employers, not individual names of employees. However, she argues, “that knowledge could lead to companies making decisions about promotions, hiring, and terminations based on this information.” Narrowing down gender and age, for example, could give employers enough clues to know which of their employees were likely to be trying to have a baby soon.
In her paper, “Data Analytics and the Erosion of the Work/Non-Work Divide,” which was accepted for publication by the American Business Law Journal, Eisenstadt asserts that the current legal statutes do not provide enough protection to both employers and employees. “Laws like HIPAA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act likely do not apply to data gleaned from search queries,” she says. And there are virtually no laws or regulations prohibiting employers from collecting and relying on data gleaned from employees’ social media profiles, from facial recognition software, or from Fitbits.
So why should employers care about overreaches into employee privacy?
“The erosion of the work/non-work divide will impact the concept of a ‘scope of employment’ and employer attempts to avoid liability for their workers’ actions,” says Eisenstadt. Over the years, courts have seen the line blur between personal and work-related activities—like a case in 1928 in which an auto sales manager crashed a car, killing an employee on the way home from a staff appreciation dinner. The courts found the company liable for the death, and considered the events to be “within the scope of employment.” This move toward an expanding “scope of employment” has only grown with the advent of laptop computers, smartphones, and the myriad other devices and technologies that make it easier and sometimes even essential to bring work outside of the traditional physical boundaries of the workplace.
By gathering data from nonwork activities, Eisenstadt cautions that employers may be pushing this trend to new, more troubling places. By eroding the work/non-work divide so dramatically, companies may be opening themselves up to new liabilities for employee health issues, violent outbursts, or other employee behavior that would previously have been considered to be outside the “scope of employment.”
Data analytics can be an extremely powerful tool. “It allows humans to capture, analyze, and use massive quantities of data,” says Eisenstadt, “that the human brain can not make sense of on its own.” Yet, in today’s environment of data concerns and privacy breaches, Eisenstadt warns, companies should be cautious of data mining that goes too far.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
It’s the moment every woman dreads: A routine breast self-examination during an otherwise relaxing shower ends in the panic-inducing discovery of a lump.
Often, what happens next is a long, harrowing journey through a combination of biopsies, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While it’s true that, thanks to advancements in screening and treatment, more and more women survive breast cancer, it’s also true that 80 percent of breast cancer cases have already advanced to an invasive stage at the time of diagnosis.
Today, just 20 percent of breast cancers are identified at the earliest stage, when treatment is most effective and the five-year survivorship rate hovers near 100 percent.
Carlos Barrero, MD, and Oscar Perez-Leal, MD, assistant professors in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy, wants to change all that. “I believe we can invert those numbers so we’re discovering 80 percent of breast cancers at the very earliest stage,” he says.
The research Barrero and Perez-Leal are conducting may represent a major breakthrough in breast cancer screening. Their work could lead to a simple routine blood test that detects breast cancer sooner than ever before for more women. To do this, Barrero and Perez-Leal are working on identifying a set of biomarkers for breast cancer, a specific signature of early-stage breast cancer detectable in a blood sample.
Their work on this project received funding through the Office for the Vice President of Research’s Targeted Grant Program, and the team is currently in the process of securing additional funding from the National Institutes for Health, and the National Cancer Institute. Perez-Leal is also using the knowledge gleaned from his master’s degree from the Fox School’s Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship program to turn the idea into a feasible product.
Though mammograms are a recommended cancer screening for women age 40 and older, only 65 percent of women over 40 have had one in the past two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“Many women avoid mammograms because they can be uncomfortable, and because of the hassle of needing to make a separate appointment. If screening for early-stage breast cancer became a part of routine blood work, more women would be screened regularly,” says Barrero. That would likely result in more early diagnoses, more effective treatment, and ultimately more long-term cancer survivors.
Through systems biology, advances in mass spectrometry technology that allow the detection of very low concentration of proteins and metabolites, and the availability of large public datasets from thousands of breast cancer tumors, Barrero and Perez-Leal can move this cutting-edge work forward. “Most research of this kind starts with analyzing the blood sample. We start by analyzing the data,” says Perez-Leal. It’s a fresh approach to a longstanding problem.
The researchers start by looking for specific proteins secreted by breast cancer tumor cells across many thousands of samples drawn from breast cancer tumors. The team is searching for a signature set of proteins that can be detected in very low amounts. A vast data set and formidable computing power are essential for finding the precise biomarkers that could, in five to 10 years, lead to the blood test. Recently upgraded mass spectrometry equipment at Temple’s School of Pharmacy allows him to carry out this innovative research.
The promise of this research extends even beyond the hopes of early detection into the possibility of new, more effective medicines to battle breast cancer. Going forward, biomarkers are likely to be an increasingly hot topic for those in the pharmaceutical industry, which represents a significant part of the U.S. economy. Biomarkers such as these are often used as a reference point in drug development; when the biomarkers diminish or disappear in blood tests, it’s evidence that the new drug is working.
Current treatments for breast cancer are effective, but they come with their own health risks and side effects, some of which lead to different health challenges years after patients have recovered from cancer. The identification of these biomarkers would also mean that, in addition to early intervention, a breast cancer patient could get a form of personalized medicine, which is another area of potential business growth for the pharmaceutical industry. For patients, that might mean fewer side effects and complications down the line.
“It’s rare to find a scientist with a business background,” says Perez-Leal. He praises the Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship program with helping him take an idea, establish a business plan, and pitch to investors. “The research community should continue to focus on finding solutions and products to real problems.”
Clearly, breast cancer is a real problem, as the most common cancer among women: one in eight will face a diagnosis in her lifetime. But if Barrero and Perez-Leal succeed, it will be a game-changing advance. Many more women will be diagnosed in cancer’s earliest stages, receive more personalized treatment, overcome the disease, and lead long and healthy lives.
This story was originally published in On the Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting a few of the women who have inspired us by making an impact on their communities, careers, and the business world at large.
For Dr. Leila Bouamatou, DBA ’17, women’s leadership in business is deeply personal
As the daughter of the founder of a family-owned bank in the West African country of Mauritania, Bouamatou studied the challenges that women in francophone Africa face when seeking to take over the family business during her time in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program.
Bouamatou found that women’s biggest struggles included the institutionalized stigma of working outside the home; resistance from both older male and female members of the family, who were often unwilling to break with tradition; and the convention of women taking their husband’s last names, thus having a different last name than the family company.
To succeed in leading a family business in this environment, Bouamatou identified several key factors—such as modern-thinking fathers, supportive husbands, access to educational opportunities, and personality traits like determination and ability.
As the general manager at the Mauritanian General Bank, Bouamatou hopes to inspire young African girls and women to become leaders in business. She wants others to receive the encouragement that she felt at home from her parents and siblings. “I am particularly lucky to be the daughter of a modern-thinking father who has great respect towards women,” said Bouamatou, “and who believes in the potential of his daughters.” She recalls her mother teaching her from an early age about the importance of education and ambition.
Despite the barriers that remain, she sees hope for the future. “Africa is changing, and so is the mentality,” Bouamatou said. “Women are getting more and more educated and becoming more and more ambitious. Fathers are more and more supportive of their daughters and more open-minded, compared to previous generations.”
“I am fully aware that it would be hard for one single African woman to change the world,” said Bouamatou. “But I know that this African woman can shape her world and destiny.”
Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, International Change Agent
Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, worked in the Global Diversity and Multicultural Team at IBM before becoming the founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a diversity and inclusiveness solutions company. At IBM, she experienced the diversity and inclusion challenges across various countries. The experience prepared her to found Interweave and lead it to be a pioneer in India, where the arena was a non-existent market when the company began operations.
Through Interweave, Menon works with companies to implement progressive policies to support diverse groups. The company has touched the minds and hearts of over 150,000 people, including senior leaders and managers through its workshops and initiatives. Others receive these messages through e-modules and webinars.
“Diversity and inclusion is still a new area of work in India and it is hard to provide a direct ROI on the efforts,” said Menon, addressing the impact of her efforts. “However, there are several anecdotes that show that the efforts have translated into positive behaviors at work. A better understanding of respectful behaviors at work and more conscious efforts at gender, disability, and LGBT inclusion are all, we believe, influenced by our efforts.”
When asked how she is making the world a better place, Menon said, “In my mind, everything we do dovetails into building a better world! The work we do has a tremendous positive impact as it is directly focused on building inclusion. From helping organizations understand the value of diversity and inclusion and helping to build enabling workplace policies to support the same, it has a direct impact for the nation.”
She believes organizations are powerful vehicles of change and teach people to become influencers. “A mind expanded or enriched with knowledge and sensitivity is bound to be applied not just at work but equally in their behaviors at home and in society.”
As a result, Interweave is building the foundations for social change in India and beyond.
How much is a hashtag worth to you?
This simple symbol has become ubiquitous across many social media platforms. Started in August 2007, the hashtag, also known as the pound (#) sign, was officially adopted by Twitter in 2009 as a way to group conversations and aggregate similar themes. Now, having spread to sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, the hashtag has become a key element of many companies’ social media strategies. With that pervasiveness comes power—and pitfalls.
“Creating an original hashtag gives a firm control over a specific social media space,” says Subodha Kumar, professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. Businesses can use this tool to increase recognition of their brand, generate buzz, and expand their audiences.
Yet creating a hashtag does not automatically mean the company owns it, says Kumar. Hashtags are susceptible to hijacking, in which competitors or consumers use the hashtag for unofficial messaging—like when McDonald’s attempted to generate positive publicity with #McDStories but instead received thousands of complaints about the fast food chain.
So, how can a company protect its social media reputation? For some, the answer lies in trademarking.
“The trademark protection of hashtags can increase consumer confidence,” says Kumar. Since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began allowing hashtags to be registered trademarks in 2013, more and more companies are protecting their intellectual social media property. In 2015, nearly 1,400 hashtags were submitted in trademark applications. “It prevents other competitors from using similar hashtags to mislead consumers.”
However, trademarks may come with a price. “Trademarking a hashtag may prevent or restrict its use,” Kumar says. The successful spread of a hashtag lies in its ability to be used by anyone, connecting millions of Twitter threads and Instagram photos into one conversation. By trademarking, companies could be stifling this kind of organic engagement.
Little research has been done to understand whether a trademarked hashtag makes a firm’s social media audience more or less engaging. Kumar, along with Naveen Kumar of the University of Memphis and Liangfei Qiu of the University of Florida, wanted to know: does trademarking a hashtag defeat its original purpose?
Kumar and his co-authors investigated the tension in these two opposing sides—the organic nature of a hashtag and the restrictive nature of a trademark—in their paper, “A Hashtag is Worth a Thousand Words: An Empirical Investigation of Social Media Strategies in Trademarking Hashtags.”
The researchers compared firm-level tweet data from 102 companies, split between a “treated” group of companies who had trademarked a hashtag between 2014 and 2017 and a “control” group of similar firms. The study compared tweets from before and after the hashtag’s trademark approval, analyzing the level of engagement through likes, comments, and tweets, as well as the linguistic content of the tweet, including its emotions, tone, and style.
Based on this study, Kumar and his colleagues discovered some key factors of making a trademarked hashtag work for a company:
1. Companies that trademark hashtags have higher social media engagement.
This study is the first to identify that trademarking hashtags can improve firms’ engagement with its audiences on social media—though the effects have varying levels of intensity for different types of firms and social strategies. “Trademarking a hashtag can increase the number of retweets by 27 percent,” says Kumar, “which is a considerable amount.”
Yet firms can not trademark hashtags arbitrarily. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office treats hashtags like any other trademark: in order to be approved, the company needs to prove that the hashtag is a key part of the firm’s identity and that trademarking works in the consumers’ favor by preventing or reducing confusion.
2. Trademarking hashtags works better for smaller, less popular companies with fewer Twitter followers.
While the study demonstrates that trademarking increases social media engagement, Kumar and his colleagues investigated how this effect varies among different types of firms. After comparing the companies in the top and bottom percentiles in terms of Twitter followers, the researchers found that firms with fewer Twitter followers had more significant increases in their engagement after trademarking hashtags than companies with larger followings.
Kumar hypothesizes that small companies see larger positive effects because fewer consumers are aware of their brands and products. “Without trademark protection, other competitors can easily use similar hashtags to mislead consumers,” he says. “In contrast, for popular firms with more Twitter followers, it is more difficult to mislead consumers, even in the absence of trademark protections.”
3. Writing styles are more important to firms that use trademarked hashtags.
The researchers also studied how companies used language in their social media strategies to understand the key drivers that cause trademarking hashtags to increase engagement. “This is based on the assumption that the way that people use words reflect how they think,” says Kumar. For example, using pronouns can reflect a self-centered focus, or using prepositions and conjunctions can indicate more nuanced thinking.
The study found that when hashtags are trademarked, a firm’s writing style becomes more important to its social media engagement. “People tend to like a more narrative and informal writing style in tweets,” Kumar says. The researchers saw that more positive, colloquial, and confident writing increase retweeting by up to 10 percent.
4. Effects of increased social media engagement last longer when hashtags are trademarked.
Recognizing that trademarking is a lengthy and expensive process, the researchers sought to discover whether the increased engagement lasted in the long term.
“Before trademarking hashtags, writing more tweets with desirable linguistic styles has only a contemporaneous effect,” says Kumar, meaning that the tweets’ increase in engagement was immediate, but dropped off quickly. After one month, it was no longer significant. “Trademarking hashtags makes things different,” Kumar says. After trademarking, the researchers found that the effects of increased engagement were still happening a month later.
Based on their research, Kumar and his colleagues believe that, especially for smaller companies with fewer followers, trademarking their intellectual social property, like hashtags, is a worthwhile investment. However, to get the maximum bang for your buck, Kumar suggests that companies consider the longevity of their chosen hashtag.
Social media can be fleeting, so invest wisely.
To swipe or not to swipe?
Online dating has come a long way since the days of OKCupid in the early aughts. Today, phrases like “Tinder date” have become part of society’s lexicon, and we have stopped buying a stranger a drink in a bar and started double tapping an Instagram photo from home.
What is different today? Instead of logging into a dating site on a computer, romance seekers now have mobile apps at their fingertips.
JaeHwuen Jung, assistant professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at the Fox School of Business, investigated the changing business behind online dating to learn why companies are spending more money on developing mobile applications instead of web platforms.
With apps like Tinder and Bumble, data scientists have a trove of unbiased data from which they can extract insights. “We are able to trace the actions of both parties,” says Jung. “We are able to see who is meeting who, what type of profiles they have, and [what] sort of messages they are exchanging.” This provides a unique opportunity for researchers to analyze data untainted from other collection processes, like simulated experiments.
Jung says that dating is only one of many examples of how our phones have completely transformed the way in which we behave—and companies have caught on.
In his paper, “Love Unshackled: Identifying the Effect of Mobile App Adoption in Online Dating,” which has been recently accepted for publication at MIS Quarterly, Jung used the online dating world to identify three drivers of why users, and subsequently companies, are moving from web to mobile: ubiquity, impulsiveness, and disinhibition.
- Ubiquity: the capacity of being everywhere, especially at the same time
- Impulsiveness: having the power to be swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses
- Disinhibition: a lack of restraint and disregard to social norms
With the ubiquity of smartphones, users are able to access mobile apps at any given time and location. Features like instant notifications, location sharing, and urgency factors, like Tinder’s daily allowance of five ‘Super Likes,’ have allowed users to stay constantly connected.
“We use our mobiles in the most personal locations, like our beds and bathrooms,” says Jung. For some, their phones may seem surgically attached to their hands.
With phones constantly by their sides, people more readily give in to their impulses, reacting to their moods or thoughts instinctively. Users can respond to such feelings—such as responding to a flirtatious message or liking a post—without a second thought.
“We found that [mobile platforms] change users’ daily lifestyle patterns,” says Jung. “Compared to those who use web platforms, mobile users have the luxury to log on earlier, later, and more frequently.”
When a sense of privacy is assumed, users feel more anonymous on mobile—and are thus less likely to follow social norms. This disinhibition creates higher levels of engagement on mobile devices, Jung found, as users were more likely to engage in actions that they were less likely to do outside of the app.
“We saw that replies and views of [profiles of people with] different races, education levels, and even height, became more apparent through mobile apps,” says Jung. “This has us questioning, can this [disinhibition] change viewpoints in real life?”
Like any business plan, owners try to keep customers coming back for more. These three key features—ubiquity, impulsiveness, and disinhibition—help companies keep users online every time they unlock their phones. With the convenience provided by apps, dating has become more successful for users and has benefited companies as well.
“If people leave happy,” Jung says, “they will bring more new customers [to the app.]”
With the surge of app monetization, developers are able to make 55% of their mobile revenue through video ads, display ads, and native ads, according to Business Insider. Mobile apps have become a win-win situation as more people choose to scroll on the go.
Jung’s paper is the first of its kind to examine the causal impact of companies’ mobile channels in addition to their web presence. What can we say? All’s fair in love, war, and big data.
Seven alumni-owned food and beverage businesses taking taste buds to the next level
Some people say music is the one true universal language. But, let’s be honest, the one true universal language is food. Nobody knows this better than these Fox School alumni who have launched exciting businesses in the food space. From healthy stir-fries to mouthwatering donuts, fancy cocktails to salads-in-jars, learn more about these seven food and drink businesses owned and founded by Fox foodies.
After studying finance at the Fox School, David Restituto, BBA ’96, ran Rita’s Italian Ice and Meineke franchises in the Philadelphia area. In 2017, the self-confessed “sweet tooth” opened Factory Donuts in Northeast Philly. The shop, which boasts a hip, industrial aesthetic, sells coffee and about two dozen different types of donuts, including the Maple Bacon Explosion and the Blueberry Bake. The business has already moved into its next phase: franchising. “We have so much positive interest from people,” Restituto says. “We’re ready to launch the franchise end of the business and we’re planning for future growth. It’s a very exciting time.”
Justin Rosenberg, MBA ’09, is no stranger to the pages of Fox Focus—when we caught up with him in the last issue, he told us all about how honeygrow uses virtual reality to onboard new employees. Rosenberg designed the business plan for honeygrow, the fast- casual salad and stir-fry restaurant, while working on his MBA at
the Fox School. Since opening the rst location in 2012, honeygrow has grown quite a bit. Now there are more than 24 locations in eight states and Washington, D.C. Not to mention three minigrow locations, honeygrow’s new build-your-own dish carryout concept.
Dylan Baird, BBA ’13, worked with Urban Tree Connection, an urban farm in West Philadelphia, while studying entrepreneurship at the Fox School. His passion for the intersection of food and community development morphed into Philly Foodworks, which he co-founded in 2014. The mission? To create a platform for small, non-mainstream food producers—including local farmers, coffee roasters, chocolatiers, tofu makers, and bakeries—to deliver healthy, fresh foods to people. Thanks to Baird and Philly Foodworks, the farmers market now comes directly to your front door.
Do you love pizza? Of course you do, everybody loves pizza. And if you’re a Philadelphian, you also likely love tomato pie. Conshohocken Italian Bakery has been serving up tomato pies (including a custom Philadelphia Eagles version following the team’s Super Bowl LII victory), pizzas, breads, desserts, and more since it was co-founded by Domenico Gambone in 1973. The family business is now run by sister and brother Christina Gambone, BBA ’92, and Michael Gambone, BBA ’91—Christina is the director of business operations, and Michael is the vice president.
“Mike and I have been working here since our early teens,” says Christina. “There’s no better way to learn the business than from the ground up. We’ve always been close siblings, so working together is very natural. And our dad is still very active in the business and our goal is to support him and his passion. We keep that in mind with every new avenue we pursue.”
Ever watched an episode of Mad Men and wondered how in the heck they make those delicious looking cocktails? Jungeun Park, BS ’16, knows the secrets and she’s here to
help you craft that perfect old fashioned. After completing her studies in marketing and being named a finalist in the Temple University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s 2016 Be Your Own Boss Bowl® for the business concept, Park launched Cocktail Culture Co., which offers interactive cocktail and mixology workshops. They also host whiskey and wine tastings so you know what you’re talking about next time you step up to the bar.
Healthy food is oftentimes not the most convenient to find for lunch at work or on-the-go. That’s where Simply Good Jars, founded by Jared Cannon, MS ’16, comes in. Cannon, a chef, came up with the idea as a Fox School grad student studying innovation management and entrepreneurship. Each convenient plastic jar includes a healthy meal made with local ingredients while creating zero waste for the Philadelphia community.
Melissa Wieczorek, BBA ’93, MBA ’02, always loved food, cooking, and entertaining. So, when she left her position as the director of the Fox School’s Executive MBA program in 2005, she knew exactly what to do: Zest Culinary Services, a personal chef and boutique catering company, was born. “There’s always something new to discover in food—a recipe, an ingredient, a technique, a favor combination, or even a new business model,” says Wieczorek when asked why she loves working with food. “The possibilities are endless and the food industry is constantly evolving so it never gets boring. And the ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives on a daily basis through food—whether it’s a meal, an educational talk, or a dining experience—is extremely gratifying.”
3 Fox School alumnae shaking up their industries
There’s a new ultimate compliment in business today–Fox alumnae are go-getters, and they are shaking up the status quo in their elds and starting revolutions across the business world. Find out how these three alumnae are changing the rules of the game. See who they are and how they’re disrupting their industries in the best possible way:
1. Yasmine Mustafa, Fox ’06
Born in Kuwait, Yasmine Mustafa emigrated to the United States with her family as a child. She has chosen to make a difference using what she learned as an entrepreneur at the Fox School. It took Mustafa over seven years of part-time classes— first at community college, then at Fox, while working two jobs, to dream up her best idea yet.
“After traveling alone for six months, everywhere I went I encountered women who had been assaulted in different ways,” she said.
Mustafa decided to do something about it and started ROAR for Good.
“Just a week after I returned to Philadelphia, a woman was raped a block from my apartment when she went out to feed her meter,” she said. “I was enraged and inspired to create something to make women safer.”
As president and CEO of ROAR for Good, Mustafa has led the development of ‘Athena,’ a safety wearable device that helps to keep people safe. As a smart tech device, Athena shares user locations when activated.
“In reality, our goal is to have a world where technology like ROAR’s doesn’t need to exist,” she said. “In the meantime, why not create something that improves the situation?”
Not one for the sidelines, Mustafa and ROAR have been proactive about taking a role in the cultural paradigm surrounding sexual assault prevention and #MeToo. The ROAR Back program exists in tandem with the Athena device. ROAR Back has been designed as a series of nonprofit partnerships—with the goal of educating men about violence prevention and empathy training. In addition, an app provides educational tools on safety and situational awareness.
Awards and attention have been rolling in for Mustafa, who was selected as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in 2016, Philadelphia Magazine’s Top 20 Best Philadelphians, Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 Tech Disruptors, Innovator of the Year by Rad Girls, and many more. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this dynamic, young maker.
“I see a long-term vision of changing the world and ROAR having a profound impact,” she said.
2. Lori Bush, MBA ’85
Scientist to CEO isn’t the normal career trajectory for a pre-med major, but Lori Bush learned early on to defy expectations.
Driven to push the boundaries, Bush went beyond her work as a research scientist and eventually led production, innovation, marketing, and business development for Johnson & Johnson. Once established in the eld, Bush became an expert in beauty products.
During her 25 years in the consumer and healthcare products industry, Bush led product innovation for several global brands. She has also held leadership positions as the worldwide executive director of Skin Care Ventures and vice president of professional marketing at Neutrogena.
In 2006, Bush was approached by Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, who solicited her insight when they were in the startup phase of their premium skincare line. A year later, Bush accepted the role of president and CEO at Rodan + Fields. Her leadership helped the company to reach $600 million in revenue by 2015.
While Bush’s story is motivational, she’s providing financial inspiration to the next generation of female entrepreneurs—people like Camille Bell. Bell, a twenty-something Temple graduate, won $10,000 for a pitch she did in 2016 for her company, Pound Cake, an inclusive cosmetics company. Assistance for projects like Bell’s is possible partially through a lump sum donated by Bush to Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
“I think of myself as an enabler, moving obstacles for people and empowering them to do what they can do,” said Bush.
That’s not to say things have always been easy for Bush. She had a habit of tackling difficult projects that no one else wanted to touch, which didn’t fit in with the typical corporate resume progression.
“In the mid-1990s, I was very frustrated,” she said. “I was watching my peers being promoted to higher titles because they seemed to t the corporate prototype.”
Today she recognizes that not fitting in was the best thing that could have happened. “Ironically,” she says, “what I thought I wanted would have trained the courage out of me, to take on the crazy initiatives.”
3. Rakia Reynolds, BBA ’01
For Rakia Reynolds, a CEO, tastemaker, and influencer, re-defining what it means to work for herself has been a learning experience. As a wife and mother of three, Reynolds’ time is always in demand as the founder and president of Skai Blue Media, a public relations agency based in Philadelphia. She has worked with brands like Comcast NBCUniversal, Dell, the Home Shopping Network (HSN), United By Blue, Ted Baker, and others including Serena Williams’ clothing brand.
“The most successful people are the ones who find the secret sauce where work doesn’t feel like work,” said Reynolds in a 2017 interview with Marie Claire. “You wake up before your alarm goes off. You know the elevator pitch of your company without having to practice. You know what your career path is if you nd yourself thinking about it at night.”
Her touch seems to be on all things Philadelphia lately—she was Visit Philadelphia’s ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ and also helped to lead the charge for Philly’s Amazon H2 bid.
“You have these defining moments where you have that window and you say, ‘It is my time’” she said in a 2017 interview with Philly.com.
Doling out advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is something Reynolds does on the regular, and she encourages people to establish a “friendtor” board, a combination of friend and mentor. She credits the word to her friend and colleague Almaz Crowe, now the chief of staff at Skai Blue. Reynolds relies on her own diverse group of friendtors for real talk, feedback, and opinions. She also believes in quality over quantity when it comes to social media, something she knows a bit about as the face of small business for Dell.
“Influence goes back to the basics—understand your audience and deliver value,” she said in an interview with FastCompany.com.
Hosted by the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT), the NBCUniversal Analytics Competition challenged students across Temple University to solve important industry-specific problems. In its sixth year, participants were asked:
- How can media companies align with esports?
- Why do pharmacies buy drugs from non-primary vendors?
- Who are the winners and losers in healthcare funding and payments?
Roughly 354 students from six schools and colleges developed submissions in one of two categories: analytics or graphics. Finalists submitting analyses were judged based on presentation relevance, completeness, depth and consistency, while graphics were judged on clarity, novelty, insight and utility. The final judging and awards event took place on Nov. 13, 2018 in the Commons of Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business. The first, second, third and honorable mentions winners took home $12,000 in cash prizes.
“For this years Temple Analytics Challenge, we received some of the highest quality viral submissions in the six year history of the competition,” remarked Interim Dean Ronald Anderson of the Fox School of Business and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The winning team in the analytics category was comprised of students Jake Green, Sergio Aguilar and Rohit Bobby. They used analytics to identify which mainstream sport (soccer) was best aligning itself with the esports audience, and provided data-driven recommendations how major media companies can mirror that pattern of engagement and brand recognition. You can read the team’s full analysis here.
“Our team really came together and worked hard to understand what it meant to ‘align’ with esports. For our team, the hardest part was to apply a particular outcome to the question. To do that, we reframed it and thought about how NBCUniversal could adapt and remain a leading platform for sports entertainment,” said Jake Green, a management information systems major.
The graphics competition winner was Xi (Cynthia) Cheng, a graphic and interactive design major. She developed a video to explore the demographic connections (such as gender, total viewership and age range) between viewers of esports and traditional sports in order to explain how media companies can use this data to develop appropriate advertising for both groups.
“I got inspiration, and selected elements from old school video games. I had different visions for traditional sports and esports, and used aspects of various games such as a Pokeball or a Super Mario power-up to illustrate statistics,” she explained.
“The drive of Temple students is inspiring,” said Laurel Miller, assistant professor of management information systems, IBIT director, and the co-founder of the Analytics Challenge. “It is unique that 354 students from across campus took the initiative to participate in a voluntary contest, learned how to interpret complex data and tools on their own, and prepared a time limited presentation for an industry judging panel. I was really impressed with the winners this year, their analysis and visualizations were so well done that they were able to provide new insights to an expert industry panel.”
Learn more about the Temple University Analytics Challenge.
Steve Casper spent the spring of 2018 teaching his students about stocks, bonds, time value of money, cash flow and cost of capital. This does not sound unusual for a finance professor, except that particular semester he was on sabbatical in Cambodia.
Most of his students, who came from rural farms on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, had a limited academic background in finance. Many did not have a personal relationship with traditional financial institutions that Americans accept as commonplace, like banks and stock markets. Casper, associate professor of finance and managing director of the DBA program at the Fox School of Business, says, “It was the most challenging class I’ve ever taught, but it was so much fun.”
Since the summer of 2016, Casper had been volunteering his time teaching rural students in Cambodia. After first getting involved via Habitat for Humanity, Casper has built a relationship with these students, teaching finance and leadership during two-week seminars. Last spring, the director of the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, the leading English-speaking university in the country, asked Casper to teach a full semester.
“Most of these students have never had a calculator before,” says Casper, FOX PhD ’10. “I was told I had 30 students. I get over there and I brought 30 TI-BA II+ financial calculators. My wife was coming two weeks later and I said, ‘Liz, I have 54 students. I need you to bring another 24 calculators, I just ordered them on Amazon.’ Eventually, it got up to 94 students.”
This past October, four of these students came to Philadelphia for a week of leadership and business practice. The trip was organized by the Cambodian Rural Student Trust, an NGO founded in 2011 that aims to help bright Khmer, or Cambodian, students from poor, rural families go to high school and university in Cambodia.
Casper brought the students to meet with representatives from all over the financial world, from companies like SAP, B-Lab and Saul Ewing. He invited the students to speak to his finance classes at the Fox School. The Khmer students shared the story of their lives, which often included uneducated family members, the loss of one or both parents and financial hardships. But each had a strong, unrelenting belief in the power of education to transform lives.
One student named Sompeas, who is majoring in law and hopes one day to become a lawyer, shares her philosophy. “I believe men and women are equal. I believe education will provide women with the knowledge to believe this and give them the skills to follow their dreams, have amazing careers and be greater contributors to society.” She continues, “The special thing about this trip is that I can share my voice and bring back many ideas that will inspire other girls to be adventurous and ambitious, while also expanding how I see things in my small world.”
Casper is grateful to the Fox School for allowing him to expand his world as well through his sabbatical. Casper loves the opportunity to teach both his American and Khmer students. “I always wanted to do this,” he says. “To have great classes, you have to be thinking about it all the time—how can I make it better, how can I get this point across?”
His passion for education translates into his enthusiasm about the mission of the Cambodia Rural Students Trust. The completely student-run organization, Casper says, “can give a student a place to live, feed them, and pay for their college or high school,” all for $2,000 a year.
“In Cambodia, education is a privilege,” says Casper. “I am honored to be part of something that empowers students to lead themselves and lead society.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.
What’s Next For the Fox School of Business?
Dean Ron Anderson speaks with Business Because about the school’s centennial and his appointment as dean marking a new chapter in Fox history. “We’re going to use this as an opportunity to refocus the school,” he says. Read more>>
One Fox Student’s Dreams for Inclusivity
Shawn Aleong, a legal studies freshman, will study in San Francisco on a trip organized by the Fox School to learn digital and alternative financial services to further his advocacy efforts for inclusive business. Read more>>
The Odds of a Winning Ticket
Laurie Burns used her statistical reasoning and games of chance class to calculate the odds of winning October’s billion-dollar jackpot with Fox29. Watch now>>
Inquirer | October 19
David Schuff, chair of the Management Information Systems department, provides insight into how the rollout of SEPTA’s Key program led to an untold number of free rides since August. Read more>>
College Magazine | October 25
What does a financial advisor actually do? Cindy Axelrod, certified financial planner and assistant professor of practice in the Finance department, gives advice to college students interested in wealth management. Read more>>
On a brisk, fall morning, 30 crisply-dressed Fox School of Business graduates and friends gathered for a Breakfast With Fox & TWN event on the topic of executive presence, at Temple University Center City.
Over breakfast, Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership and a member of Temple Women’s Network (TWN), presented Executive Presence–Do You Have IT? How To Cultivate the IT Factor In You. She discussed the concept of authenticity, and when pressed had this to say:
“I don’t think authenticity is worn out as a buzzword. When we get to its essence, buzzwords should be retired when we have achieved a certain level of understanding and I view authenticity as being tied to integrity, in which we’re making progress but still have a long way to go.”
Barksdale shared a few tangible resources, including an online quiz, “Test Your Executive Presence”, and also encouraged attendees to lead with their values, and discover their own answers to the following three questions:
- What is executive presence?
- Why is it important?
- How can you cultivate it?
Ashley Rivera, IME ’18, was one of the millennials in attendance. She commented on how important networking opportunities were to her career progression and how crucial it was to keep her network relevant after graduate school.
“I worked so hard for my degree—am I going to be a leader?” she wondered.
Like many other recent Fox School graduates, Rivera has experience working in startups and is hoping to create her own business. While at Fox, she attended events like the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, which helped to instill her with a self-confidence that she could eventually turn an idea into a viable business.
“I know I can add value to a company with my leadership skills,” she said. “I have a diverse knowledge base and a strong group of supportive colleagues and former classmates.”
During her presentation, Barksdale—a certified life coach, encouraged people like Rivera to cultivate an executive presence by “ACE-ing” it.
“Awareness, know what your skills are,” said Barksdale. “Commit to make changes in areas you’d like to improve. And exercise your new skills until you’ve achieved the desired level of improvement.”
Former risk management student Derek Jones, BBA ’09, walked away feeling inspired.
“Allison said things about expressing your personality and to use that as an advantage,” he said. “In previous jobs, I found that I didn’t fit the culture. I think it’s important to be self-aware and inspire change or make a change if necessary.”
Barksdale thinks current Fox School students should work on developing three specific leadership qualities in order to jump-start their careers.
“Students should invest in developing competence, poise, and emotional intelligence,” she said. “Those skills will really help them with self-awareness and control as managers and leaders.”
Next up for Fox networking events will be the Holiday Party, hosted by the Fox School of Business Alumni Association on December 13th, from 5:30-8 p.m at The Acorn Club (1519 Locust St.). Early bird tickets are available until 11/23 here.