Technical Advisory Committee at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Karl is a Managing Partner of Material Growth Partners, LLC, a firm focused on working with both new product
developers and the investment community in commercializing new technologies.
Throughout Karl’s time at the Temple SBDC, he has advised numerous successful business start-ups and provided insightful one-on-one business consulting and advice for many entrepreneurs seeking help with their business endeavors. He has had a great deal of experience working in multiple industries such as pharmaceuticals, air pollution control, textiles, and industrial equipment.
Below, Karl discusses his experience as a consultant as well as provides meaningful advice for individuals interested in learning or expanding their skills as an entrepreneur.
What areas do you specialize in?
I specialize in business strategy, marketing strategy, technology commercialization, manufacturing, and science & technology. I work with companies specializing in areas of manufacturing technology commercialization and bringing new technologies to market.
What is your favorite aspect of working as a consultant?
My favorite aspect of working as a consultant is learning about unique business ideas and all the different markets as well as the satisfaction about helping clients and enjoying the clients’ success.
What did you study in college? Do I need a college degree to start my business?
I obtained a MBA in International Business and received a B.S. in Chemistry.
And, No – just ask Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, Russell Simmons, or Michael Dell. There are examples of successful entrepreneurs as young as 14 years old. Formal education and age have never been a barrier to starting a business.
Were there any obstacles you had to overcome when you entered the consulting/entrepreneurial world?
Yes – When I started Material Growth Partners, I had to figure everything out on my own. I didn’t know that the SBDC even existed! I had to build my professional network of people in order to get the word out and establish the company in the region.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in starting a business?
Realizing how much time is required to start-up and run a business, and financial issues such as a variability in week-to-week/month-to-month income and having enough funding not only to start the business but to support the growth of the business.
What are some common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when starting a business?
Some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs making when starting their business is insufficient planning, not vetting their business concept and revenue model with an experienced entrepreneur or advisor, and not dedicating their full efforts to their business.
What was the unique business idea you have worked on?
The most unique business I have worked with created a collapsible bike helmet to encourage bicycle commuters to protect themselves: Kova Helmet Website. Not only was this entrepreneur mission-driven to promote safety, but she also had to learn how to develop and fund a new-to-the-world product and utilize her network to get the assistance she needed to make her vision a reality.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Know what you are selling
Know who you are targeting as customers
Understand why they would buy what you’re selling rather than other solutions for their problem/need
Determine how you will make money selling it
In everything, double the amount of time you think it will take
Thanks to Karl for speaking with us and offering his guidance to the businesses who come to the SBDC. If you would like to set up a (free!) appointment with Karl or one of our other business consultants, please sign up here.
Construction management combines two of the most important industries in Philadelphia – building and business. According to Pennsylvania and U.S. government statistics, Construction Managers are one of the most in-demand and fastest-growing careers.
Construction managers oversee the overall construction project. They act as an interface between the owners or architects and the construction workers. They take responsibility for the day-to-day work and report back on progress, costs, and issues. So if you’re a problem-solver able to prioritize and delegate tasks while effectively communicating with your team – you may have what it takes!
Our Construction Management Certificate (CMC) is an intensive 9-month program designed for existing and aspiring independent contractors who want to succeed in this $1 trillion industry. You get the tools you need to meet tighter project delivery times while learning to navigate the complex environment of regulatory and economic challenges. Temple University Small Business Development Center (TU SBDC) teaches you the specialized project management techniques you need to manage the planning, design, and construction of a project, from beginning (pre-design) to end (closeout). After completing the program you’ll be able to control a project’s time, cost, safety record, and quality – for all types of projects.
If you’re ready to learn more about the CMC, please join us on Saturday July 28th at 10am for coffee and conversation with our expert instructors.
An added bonus – just for fun!
Here are the Eight Traits of a Great Construction Manager:
Although construction projects are always a team effort, construction managers take the lead. As such, the difference between weak and strong leadership can play a huge role in the final results of a whole group’s efforts.
Sometimes, people are so hard at work that they forget the purpose of what they’re doing; they begin to see the individual steps as the whole job, rather than considering what the finished product will be.
An awareness of what a construction project is ultimately meant to be—the why this thing is being built? factor—is key to what makes a great manager. Their enthusiasm to see the project through to its ultimate purpose will motivate the entire team to respect the significance of what they do, and work harder to do it the best they can.
Construction projects almost always go through changes, whether it’s shifting deadlines, a bump (up or down) in budget, or a change in the availability of resources.
That means, as a construction manager, you will absolutely need to write and rewrite the plan, likely several times over. Being able to prioritize what needs to be done soonest, and always staying on top of what you have at your disposal (in terms of minutes, money, and materials) are pivotal to success.
3. Knowing Your Workers’ Skills
As a construction manager, you’ll be looking after a (fairly sizable) team. You should be aware of who excels at what, and give the right job to the right person.
Everyone in your team will have skills and experience, and of course the hope is that they’ll be able to adapt these skills to various problems, but that doesn’t negate the fact that individual workers will shine brightest in certain areas, and therefore be best utilized in certain tasks.
4. Team Player
Construction managers are responsible for bringing everyone together and keeping morale high. Directly related to these characteristics, a construction manager should be friendly and approachable.
Because when workers are happy with their management, it fosters better work habits, and it also opens communication for feedback, which lets the manager improve even further (and make sure everybody is on the same page)!
5. Communication Skills
Communication skills are central to good management of any kind. There’s simply not much as important as a construction manager’s ability to delegate tasks; furthermore, good communication might mean being able to look at the total scope of the construction project, and break it down realistically into small, doable tasks given to each member of your team.
On a simpler level, making sure no detail gets ignored or forgotten about and that everybody has gotten the memos that apply to them are essential parts of managing a team.
Being down is no good. When you’re leading a team, you need to be optimistic and confident that the project will be successful, believe that every one’s role is important and every worker is valuable, and that level-headed problem-solving will always get you through the day (more on this in #8).
7. Calmness under Pressure
Related to #6, calmness under pressure means understanding that a construction project will force you to face particular challenges, and there is always a way to figure out a solution if cool heads are put together and everybody stays on course. Panicking simply doesn’t do any good for anyone.
8. Problem Solving
Problem solving of every kind—whether technical, monetary, or social (i.e. addressing complaints about a particular project)—is a must in the world of construction management.
You don’t know ahead of time what obstacles a construction project will face, and as such, you need to think quickly, pragmatically, realistically, and diplomatically, sometimes figuring out solutions within a month, and other times within an hour.
Ready for more? Register for the July 28th information session here
Greetings! Whether you’re an entrepreneur who needs support getting your big idea to market or an established company looking to scale, Temple’s SBDC is here to help! TU SBDC is part of a statewide network of 18 centers that provide high quality one-on-one consulting, training and information resources to empower new and existing businesses. The SBDC program is a public/private partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and are the only statewide, nationally accredited program here is PA.
Our mission is to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with the knowledge needed to make smart decisions and prosper. We put our resources to work to help you right now – right where you are. TU SBDC consultants work with entrepreneurs just like you, in confidential, one-to-one sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities, and much more. We also offer two training programs: the 10-week Entrepreneur Success Workshop Series (ESWS) and the nine-month Construction Management Certificate (CMC).
Call 215.204.3856 or email email@example.com to register.
Maura Shenker has been named the director of Temple University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Shenker brings a wealth of professional experience and entrepreneurial excellence to her role in directing Temple’s SBDC, which has supported small and startup businesses since 1983.
“We are proud to welcome Ms. Maura Shenker to our leadership team with the statewide Pennsylvania SBDC network,” said incoming Pennsylvania SBDC state director Ernie Post. “By supporting thousands of jobs in all 67 counties, our network demonstrates a commitment to helping Pennsylvania become a leader in job creation and small business growth and startups. With 18 centers statewide, the PA SBDC network is making an impact on the Commonwealth every day.
“There is no doubt that an experienced leader, such as Ms. Shenker, will only add to the success of our network.”
Temple’s SBDC, housed at the university’s Fox School of Business, serves Philadelphia and the surrounding communities. The center’s highly trained and experienced staff provides knowledge, support, training programs, and other valuable resources that facilitate the growth and success of the region’s startup and small businesses.
“The Small Business Development Center is a vital resource for economic development in Philadelphia, and we are pleased to welcome Maura as the center’s new director,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “Maura is a creative thinker, a successful entrepreneur, and a community development specialist whose experience as a business coach and consultant will continue the proud legacy of our university’s SBDC.”
Before joining Temple University, Shenker served as director of Saint Joseph’s University’s Center for Professional Development. In that role, Shenker coordinated and oversaw all custom and open-enrollment programs in executive education at the university’s Haub School of Business, while also developing growth strategies for the center. She previously served as vice president of development for Finanta, a community-based, mission-driven nonprofit financial institution.
Shenker earned a Master of Organization Development and Leadership degree from Saint Joseph’s University, where she also completed an executive coaching leadership program. She attained a Master of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design.
About Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
The Pennsylvania SBDC network is the only statewide, nationally accredited program that provides high quality one-on-one consulting, training and research resources to empower new and existing businesses. SBDC consultants work with entrepreneurs in confidential, individualized sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities, and much more. The SBDC program is a public/private partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and 18 universities and colleges across the Commonwealth. http://www.pasbdc.org
About Temple University’s Fox School of Business
Established in 1918 and celebrating its Centennial, the Fox School of Business at Temple University is the largest, most-comprehensive business school in the Philadelphia region, and among the largest in the world, with more than 9,000 students, more than 220 full-time faculty, and more than 65,000 alumni around the globe. Accredited by AACSB International—a distinction held by fewer than 5 percent of the world’s business schools—the Fox School has a proud tradition of supporting the development of businesses and delivering innovative, entrepreneurial programs for the last 100 years. With facilities that provide access to market-leading technologies, the school fosters a collaborative and creative learning environment. fox.temple.edu