The entrepreneurial spirit in Shannon Milligan, BBA ’23, runs deep. From an early age, she liked working with her hands, sharing her creations with friends and started her first business in fifth grade, baking cupcakes.
“I even got a few orders,” says Milligan.
When she was just 16, she worked for an event rental company that sold helium balloons. When a helium shortage struck, Milligan came up with new ways to make air-filled balloons just as popular as their helium counterparts.
“I would spend hours playing with the balloons, attaching them together with string or (adhesive) hooks. Whatever I could think of to make them more festive,” says Milligan. She saw the demand for balloon garlands and sculptures grow. Later, she enrolled in the Fox School of Business as a double major in entrepreneurship and finance, and she continued working for the company as one of their lead balloon artists.
In October 2019, a classmate asked for a balloon garland for an event. After that experience, in true entrepreneurial fashion, she wanted to do more garlands and make them more intricate each time. In June 2021, she decided to start her own business: Balloon Girls Philly.
“I knew what an asset I was to the company,” says Milligan. “I wanted more growth. And I wanted something I could do while I was at college!.”
While researching for resources to turn her idea into a booming business, Milligan found the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI). The IEI gives resources to Temple students, faculty and alumni to start their own entrepreneurial journey in the form of mentoring, networking and educational opportunities.
As a member of the Entrepreneurial Student Association (ESA), which meets every Wednesday in the IEI’s 1810 Accelerator, Milligan gained feedback from her peers and advice from seasoned entrepreneurs through workshops and presentations throughout her time at the Fox School. She also hustled—creating balloon garlands for the IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition and the Changemaker Challenge.
Her biggest advice to all entrepreneurs is to find all available resources and go after what they believe in.
“If you have an idea for something, go out and pursue it,” Milligan says.