Not far from where a robot was break-dancing, there were musicians playing, hammocks swinging, smoothies blending, and bacon frying. These were the sights of the first What IF innovation and entrepreneurship festival, held April 19th at Temple University.
The What IF Tower Takeover, launched by Fox School of Business senior Entrepreneurship major Tim Mounsey, invited innovators from the Temple community to showcase their ventures and projects from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Temple’s iconic Bell Tower, before moving inside in the evening for a speaker series featuring seven local entrepreneurs.
“My goal was to have students talking to one another,” Mounsey said. “There weren’t any restrictions; we wanted students from any school who were innovating in any field.”
Mounsey’s idea for the festival originated more than six months ago. He reached out to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), Temple Career Center, Blackstone Launchpad, the Temple Alumni Association, Tyler School of Art, and the College of Engineering to begin gathering students from across Temple’s 17 schools and colleges. The goal? Showcase ideas and inspire future innovators through product demos, projects, and performances that would foster a culture of collaboration.
“The best ideas come from diverse minds,” Mounsey said. “Temple is the platform upon which to start conversations between artists, engineers, business people, and teachers.”
Among the innovators was Zack Logan, FOX ‘15, whose blender never stopped whirring as he offered samples of fruit and vegetable smoothies from his company, Neuro-Nectar. Logan’s company combines nutrition with neuroscience. He researches ingredients, then whips up smoothies to appeal to various brain functions – from memory and energy, to sustained focus. Neuro-Nectar smoothies are available on campus, at the Rad Dish Co-Op Café in Ritter Hall.
Beside Logan’s table, sophomore International Business major Neha Raman asked passersby to paint their nails with shades from her company – Rungh, which allows customers to a create-your-own nail polish experience. With Rungh, which means “colors” in Hindi, customers receive six nail polish bottles with a nail polish base, 18 color pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. In only 60 seconds, users can create the shades they crave. Raman developed the idea while watching paint being blended at a home improvement store when she thought to apply that concept to cosmetics.
“Presenting at What IF is a great opportunity and allows me to see other Temple-related ventures,” said Raman, a finalist at the 2016 Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
Chris Cotteta, senior Marketing major and founder of JOI Electronics, agreed with Raman on the power and excitement of meeting other innovators.
“I love interacting with other entrepreneurs,” said Cotteta, whose company is an engineering-based music technology start-up. “We’re innovators, and being at a festival like this is just natural.”
The What IF festival encouraged networking at its Lighting Speakers Series, held later that day at Mitten Hall. Students heard from local entrepreneurs like Fox School alumni Melissa Alam, founder of co-working space The Hive, and Andrew Nakkache, founder of college-centric food delivery service Habitat. Each entrepreneur emphasized the importance of asking for help, soliciting feedback from the community, and taking advantage of today’s digital world.
“These entrepreneurs emphasized the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, giving students a view of the failure, hustle and reward that comes with being an entrepreneur,” Mounsey said. “There are so many resources available to them to set up an online store and sell a product tomorrow. Students should take advantage of the times we live in.”