The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was excited to welcome innovating alumnus, David Paul, back to campus last week to be the latest speaker to be featured in the Innovation Leader Speaker Series. Paul, founder and executive chairman at Globus Medical, stopped by for an intimate conversation about his journey from engineer to entrepreneur to CEO of the now publicly traded Globus Medical Inc.
At Globus, Paul perfected the art of teasing out true problems that doctors were experiencing, which allowed him to design new and superior solutions. When companies fail to identify innovations, Paul said, it’s almost always a failure of leadership.
Paul himself almost failed to invest in robotics despite the recommendations of his team but was enlightened by an experience with his teenage son. Paul spoke about how finding a higher purpose, serving the patients and the healthcare providers who treat them, enabled him to persevere even when facing barriers, such as being sued by his former employer. He described how the key to his success was developing a better, more efficient process for engineering new medical products. This enlightened discovery has allowed Globus to acquire robotics companies and start bringing Paul’s vision for robotics and the future of surgery to fruition.
When the time came to go public in 2012, Paul insisted on maintaining a controlling share of the company. When his investment banker objected, he made them study the long-term profitability of public companies with founder control. Turns out, they discovered that those companies, who founder controlled companies, did significantly better over time.
In 2017, Paul stepped down as CEO but maintains an active role in the company as executive chairman of the board. Paul holds a M.S. in Computer Integrated Mechanical Engineering Systems from Temple University. Paul was interviewed by Dr. Charles Dhanaraj, the H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy, and Founding Executive Director of Fox’s Center for Translational Research in Business.
Takeaways from our attendees:
“IEI’s Dealing with Disruption event with Globus Medical’s Executive Chairman David Paul was excellent. How often do you get the opportunity to meet with somebody who built a billion dollar company from scratch and ask them questions about their entrepreneurial journey? I even had the chance to chat with Mr. Paul during the networking part of the event, which was really terrific.”
“It was interesting to learn about his view on the healthcare industry in the U.S. He pointed out that the operations and marketing teams are important when you launch a venture, as important as the technology and management teams.”
B. PHL—Philadelphia’s first citywide innovation festival—will take place from October 15th-17th, aiming to build the city’s reputation as an innovation hub and highlight entrepreneurial organizations ranging from universities to Fortune 500 companies to individual entrepreneurs. Spearheaded by several of the city’s leading corporate innovators, including Independence Blue Cross, Comcast, and Visit Philadelphia, B.PHL will offer 150+ events featuring hundreds of speakers across three days—all intended to inspire festival attendees and create connections that will move Philadelphia’s innovation efforts forward in big ways.
Temple University will serve as an official location for the festival, hosting nine unique events across campus in partnership with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, the Temple University Office of Research, several University schools and colleges (including the College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Technology, College of Engineering, Fox School of Business, and Lewis Katz School of Medicine), and the brand new Charles Library. The University’s B.PHL efforts are being lead by IEI Executive Director, Ellen Weber, and Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy Director, Alan Kerzner.
“Temple University has always made entrepreneurship and innovation central to its mission,” shares Kerzner. “The school was founded by an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be found everywhere on campus, and, along with other Universities in the city, Temple has been an integral part of the innovation community here in Philadelphia.”
Events hosted by Temple University during B.PHL will include the League for Entrepreneurial Women, a conference focused on female leaders in the entrepreneurship space; a speaker session on Empowering Innovation through Intellectual Property Strategy featuring Aon’s Chief Commercial Officer, Brian Hinman; a talk on the Future of Libraries featuring a tour of the new Charles Library; and an Oktoberfest Beer Garden in Temple’s 1810 Accelerator highlighting entrepreneurship in the brewing and craft beer industries.
Stay tuned for more details on Temple University’s B.PHL programming, and visit the B.PHL website to learn more about the festival.
Just over three months after taking the stage as finalists in the 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl, twelve Temple University entrepreneurs—along with three others who joined them as members of the Summer 2019 Startup Studio Accelerator cohort—once again got up to pitch their big ideas. This time, they presented an update on their progress since the April 19th Bowl.
“This event is really the culmination of the work that the BYOBB finalists do while they are in the Accelerator program,” says IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber, who launched the inaugural Demo Day event in summer 2018. “It gives them the opportunity to share their progress as well as the milestones they’re still working toward reaching, and to describe the support and funding they need to reach those milestones.” To that end, Demo Day provides a platform for presenting entrepreneurs to make connections with the people who can help them get there.
A crowd of 75 packed into the 1810 Accelerator to see this year’s presenters. Made up of local investors, community professionals, student entrepreneurs, and mentors who have volunteered their time working with University entrepreneurship programs, attendees at the event had the opportunity to visit with each of the presenting companies at an expo prior to the official program. Once the program began, everyone in the crowd shared their feedback in real time via feedback forms completed after each presentation and then shared with the companies. Attendees could include constructive comments, suggestions, or offers of ways they can help.
“Feedback from the business and investor community during Demo Day is an important added value the teams receive for participating,” says Accelerator Director, Greg Fegley. “Several of our teams received key feedback on potential pivots with their business and revenue models, as well as great connections they otherwise would not have made.”
Startup Studio member and co-founder of Switch Stream, Sarah Stanton, agrees. “As young entrepreneurs, it’s important to hear from industry experts and entrepreneurs who’ve been in our shoes before. We’ve learned from other’s mistakes, built relationships, shared knowledge with other cohort members, and refined our pitches for an investor audience.”
The combination of the BStartup Studio member and co-founder of Switch Stream, Sarah Stanton, agrees. “As young entrepreneurs, it’s important to hear from industry experts and entrepreneurs who’ve been in our shoes before. We’ve learned from other’s mistakes, built relationships, shared knowledge with other cohort members, and refined our pitches for an investor audience.”e Your Own Boss Bowl, the Startup Studio Accelerator, and Demo Day—all happening over the course of just a few months—is meant to propel participating companies toward progress, milestones, and success they might otherwise not have the resources to reach.
“Coming off of the BYOBB win, I was overwhelmed with what felt like a daunting feeling of ‘where do we go from here?’” shares Izzy Jackson of Dwell City, LLC. “Startup Studio gave my co-founder and me tangible next steps that helped us progress in measurable ways. I loved the fact that we were encouraged to keep a journal during the nine weeks we were in the program. It helped us track the progress we were making and our thoughts along the way. Plus Greg and Ellen kept us informed of ways that we can leverage resources within the city to move forward.”
Demo Day was one of those ways. And, not unimportantly, it was a way for this group of entrepreneurs to celebrate their completion of the program, a success in itself.
“Demo Day was so much fun,” shares Rachel Cox, founder of Airapy. “It was the biggest crowd I have ever presented to but I wasn’t nervous. The audience was very positive. We got connections to a few potential customers and a local investor that wants to learn more about us. It was very productive.”
Thanks to recently expanded resources and programs for entrepreneurs at Temple University, Demo Day is not the end of the support these entrepreneurs will receive. This past spring, the 1810 Accelerator was launched, and the space includes co-working areas, a creativity lab, a collaboration lab, storage lockers, and conference rooms that can be used by members and alumni. Greg Fegley remains on board full-time and will spearhead the growth of current programs and the creation of new ones to continue supporting entrepreneurs and helping them launch their companies.
“With Greg on Board, teams can stop in at any time to ask questions, share progress, and get advice and guidance,” shares Ellen Weber. “Greg’s being here provides important continuity throughout the program.”
“With the new 1810 Accelerator we now have the space to build our entrepreneurial community within Temple and to leverage the Philly entrepreneurial ecosystem as well,” says Greg. “It also allows us to scale and offer a broader range of programs to shepherd our entrepreneurs through the process from inspiration to fund and launch. We’re excited about these new opportunities and to see our entrepreneurs succeed as a result.”
Want to learn more about the 1810 Accelerator? Email email@example.com.
“For me, this is not just an opportunity to flesh out a business venture,” says graduating senior Daniel Couser. “I’m working to really find a solution to a problem that I’ve seen so many people struggle with.”
The problem: Anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older. Couser, an entrepreneurship and innovation management major, is currently developing a device that has the potential to provide relief for 18.1% of the population every year.
“A friend I grew up with had terrible anxiety. It was then that I realized what an interruption this disorder can be in someone’s life—the physical manifestations, the emotional toll,” he says. “I found that there weren’t really options on the market to combat anxiety other than medication and breathing techniques.”
Couser is the CEO and founder of Kovarvic LLC, a medical technology company that designs tools to manage cognitive disorders like anxiety. The company’s flagship product is CALM, a handheld device that uses a series of vibrations to relieve anxiety. After learning about research that explored the potential of using vibrations, electrotherapy or light can stimulate the brain to thwart fight-or-flight impulses.
Over the course of about 18 months, Couser began working with business advisors, medical technology companies and a consumer device company to discuss the feasibility of his new idea. He also partnered with the Blackstone LaunchPad at Temple, an organization that helps students get their inventions and companies off the ground, and CALM began to take shape.
Then, in 2018, his pitch for CALM won the undergraduate track of the Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, an annual business-plan competition hosted at the Fox School of Business. The process of working with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was tremendously helpful for Couser. He explains that the IEI team helped him deconstruct his ideas to build them up bigger and better, and exposed him to a vast and lively entrepreneurial network.
“On top of the prize money, it added credibility to my company and help to legitimize my idea,” he says.
After graduation, Couser will work on Kovarvic LLC and CALM full-time. The team is in the middle of a clinical trial for CALM, and he is continuing to research and beta test the technical as well as the usability of the product.
“I plan to continue the long, full, rewarding days building out CALM,” says Couser.
A professor from the Tyler School of Art and a Beasley Law School student won the $40,000 grand prize—as well as $20,000 for finishing in first place in their category—at Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), which is housed in the Fox School of Business.
Olaitan Awomolo, who teaches architecture and design at Tyler, and her partner, Wesley Davis, a law school student and former community projects coordinator from Pittsburgh, developed BuildLAB as a collaboration and project management tool intended to bring together owners, architects, engineers and foremen. BuildLAB is an online platform for designing, task assigning and managing and a real-time cost and build-time dashboard.
According to Awomolo and Davis, projects run millions of dollars over projected costs because of changes and the miscommunication of those changes between design and construction.
“I wrote a dissertation on the topic (of architectural-engineering-construction collaboration) and I worked as an architect,” Awomolo says.
Davis said the pair plan to use the $60,000 in cash and services to help finish a pilot model of their software so they can take the next step toward putting it on the market.
“I was delighted to see the broad range of participants in today’s event. Lots of us sit home and think ‘I could do this’ and that’s how far that it goes,” says Temple University Provost Joanne Epps. “And what IEI does is help make those dreams a reality.”
The competition featured three tracks, with a first-place finisher in each earning a prize worth $20,000 in cash prizes:
- Social Impact Track Winner: Pay It Forward Live. Shari Smith-Jackson
created the social media app for tracking volunteer hours for her teenage son and is hoping that game-ifying her app will spark more volunteerism and keep volunteers active.
- Undergraduate Track Winner: Mouse Motel. Essentially: a better mousetrap. Engineering student and graduating senior Paul Gehret made simple modifications to the common glue trap that he said has three times the effectiveness of its predecessor.
- Upper Track Winner: BuildLAB.
The audience at the live pitch event at Alter Hall on Temple’s main campus were able to vote for their favorite entry. MailRoom, an app designed by Fox School and Clemson University students, won the crowd favorite award. The app matches users with local businesses, such as coffee shops and bookstores, which contract to safely receive packages through delivery services.
The BYOBB® gave away more than $200,000 in prizes and services to help the participants get their businesses up and running.
Keynote speaker Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, received the Self Made and Making Others Award. Lyons started building The Zebra out of a friend’s basement before moving to an incubator and obtaining funding from billionaire investor Mark Cuban. The Zebra is an online insurance marketplace that reports millions in income each year.
Lyons is now engaged in several efforts to support entrepreneurship including Innovation Works, a seeding program that has invested in more than 200 startups, and The Lyons Foundation, which attempts to inspire entrepreneurship in children.
During his keynote address, Lyons spoke about using the naysayers as inspiration. He also said he ran into several chicken-and-egg type problems with The Zebra—companies wanted users signed up, but users were not going to sign up until there were companies involved. Lyons said he just kept scratching at both sides of the problem until it was solved.
He also said there is no skeleton key for the problems entrepreneurs face. Each case, each problem, each startup is different.
“I have started to think that entrepreneurship resembles art more than a science,” Lyons says. “I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody, but it is something you can be creative with. If you are passionate about a problem, you can be your own boss. You can make your own destiny.”
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
Business consultants are problem solvers and, oftentimes, fortune tellers. With the rise of technology in industries such as cybersecurity, healthcare and information technology, consultants have become even more popular because they can help organizations address current and future challenges based on insights, market analysis, resource optimization and more.
The Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP)’s Temple Consulting Club recently partnered with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Association to host a panel discussion with the theme of “Women in Consulting.” The four panelists, Daniella Colleta, Gail Blauer, Jessica Podgajny and Katie Stellard have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. We caught up with them to ask what they wish they had known in their 20s, and for any advice they have for women in the consulting field.
Never Shy Away From a Challenge
As an advisory manager at Grant Thornton LLP, Daniella Colleta deploys company-wide change management programs to expose employees to new ways of working. Additionally, she leads with a people-first strategy in order to reinforce new behaviors and achieve collaboration across people, processes and technologies.
“It is never too early to begin building a network of peers, advocates and mentors,” Colleta says. “Don’t shy away from those who challenge you. This will pay off dividends and the power of relationships should never be underestimated. Plus, there’s always much to learn and doing it with and around those you enjoy is the real reward.”
Nurture and Grow Natural Strengths
With twelve years of experience, Blauer specializes in business process improvement, business strategy, business transformation and business process outsourcing (BPO). Currently, she serves as the managing director of Deloitte Consulting.
“Be your authentic self. Often we are told that we have a characteristic that other people don’t find appealing, but that is who we are,” she explains. “I have always been assertive and aggressive, and I go after what I want. When I went to graduate school around the age of 22, I tried to suppress my natural assertiveness. As I have grown in my career, I realized it was something to nurture and grow. I advice young women to embrace the natural strengths that other people think are weaknesses.”
Move Feelings of Intimidation to the Backseat
In early 2017, Podgajny founded Blink Consulting, a firm that helps companies with culture, strategic planning, organizational change and design. She is a seasoned leader, passionate about partnering with both established and emerging organizations to catalyze growth. She has a track record of high-energy, high-touch and high-ROI result that have created long-lasting corporate legacies.
“When looking back on what I wish I’d known early in my career, two things come to mind. The first is to bring your whole self to work,” Podgajny says. “Initially, I kept my personal life and work life very separate until I realized that sharing more about myself as a whole person created room for building strong, meaningful working relationships with colleagues and clients. The second is to remember that ‘the boss’ or senior ranking leaders in the company are really just people. They likely don’t have all the answers and have their own strengths and weaknesses. The advice: Move your feelings of intimidation out of the way and have authentic dialogues with all colleagues regardless of their level. It will go a long way!”
Build a Network of Advocates and Colleagues
As a senior manager at Navigate Corporation, Stellard primarily focuses on project management office (PMO); and project and program management. With twenty years of experience in management consulting, she specializes in many sectors of the industry including, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, higher education and real estate.
“My advice to a just-starting-out consultant would be to build a network of peers and mentors that are working in your areas of interest and learn from their experience. They may also serve as your greatest advocates and center you as you navigate your career, even through job changes and challenges along the way.”
If you are interested in pursuing a career in consulting or entrepreneurship, learn more about the Fox Strategic Management department.
“I would not be at the level I am at right now without IEI or the Lori Bush Seed Fund,” says Stephanie Taylor, CEO and founder of TailorFit Laundry LLC. “And I’m really grateful for that.”
Recently, three beneficiaries of the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, Stephanie Taylor, Emily Kight and Heather Jones sat down together in the new Accelerator at the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) to discuss their careers, the role that funding played in furthering their business ventures and offered advice to women entrepreneurs.
The Lori Hermelin Bush Seed Fund provides funding to women entrepreneurs ranging from $500-$10,000 based on defined needs. Funds are provided with the purpose of supporting companies in proving their concept, and where the money will have a significant impact on the company’s ability to progress.
The fund, much like its namesake, supports ideas and models that advance women in entrepreneurship. Lori Hermelin Bush, MBA ‘85, is the former CEO of Rodan + Fields. During her time there, she guided the skincare company to an annualized run rate of over $1B in revenue. To learn more about her, click here.
Taylor, a full-time student at the Fox School, taps IEI’s extensive resources to elevate her business, especially while the company is in the startup phase. Since she was awarded funding, TailorFit Laundry, a mobile laundry service based in Philadelphia, has a host of recurring customers and is being discovered on Google by visitors to the area, including a Los Angeles Lakers sports commentator. She has also seized the opportunity to promote her business during events such as Temple Fest.
She advises women entrepreneurs to believe in their ideas and to dive in headfirst. “You have to know your worth in order for others to know your worth,” she says. “And if you overthink it, you’re never going to jump. That’s what you have to do, you have to just jump.”
In 2017, Emily Kight, BSBIOE ‘18, won second place in Be Your Own Boss Bowl®) (BYOBB®), a business plan competition hosted by IEI. She pitched Prohibere, a leave-in conditioner that she created to lessen the effects of trichotillomania (TTM), a hair pulling disorder that Kight has personal experience coping with. With the funding from BYOBB and the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund, she was able to manufacture, create packaging and launch digital marketing for Prohibere, which is now available on Amazon.
“Being selected to compete in BYOBB® and other competitions is nerve-wracking because I had never really talked to anyone about this hair pulling disorder that I have had for 20 years,” says Kight. “I’m not big on public speaking, and this was the last thing I wanted to talk about in front of an audience, but it really helped to get started.”
When getting started with a business, Kight suggests, try to remember that failing isn’t a bad thing. “Failure is how you grow and develop as a businessperson.”
She recently decided to move on to her next challenge and is using her bioengineering education to develop a urine test used to screen for ovarian cancer. Funding from the Innovative Idea Competition, BYOBB® and GoFundMe has helped her partner with an R&D laboratory with the goal of creating an affordable, FDA-approved test prototype.
When Heather Jones came up with the idea for her company Luci, she knew that she
wanted to come back to her alma mater, Temple University, for help from the Fox School. She went to IEI for help building out her concept: a community-driven, multi-benefit skin care line made with vegan, cruelty-free ingredients set at a price that millennial and Get Z consumers could afford.
The line launched in September of 2018 and currently has multiple retail channels. The Luci team is now focused on growing their Glow Getter program across college campuses, where brand ambassadors can earn commission while sharing and promoting Luci products. Luci products are made in Milan, Italy, so the money Jones was awarded from the Lori Hermelin Bush Fund helped her develop packaging, with shipping logistics and supporting marketing efforts.
“The best feedback is when you get it from the customer. As entrepreneurs, we have to pivot very quickly based on what people say. For me, that has been a very important thing to take on,” she says.
Interested in finding out how IEI can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals? Visit iei.temple.edu.
With $7,000 in prize money on the line, five startups walked away with the cash to grow their ideas at the 21st Annual Innovative Idea Competition in November. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business hosted the contest, which focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and education.
Big ideas were transformed into reality for the five winning pitches. Grand prize winner PureTrip walked away with $3,500 in winnings for a portable, efficient and lightweight washing/drying machine concept. Created by College of Engineering (ENG) seniors Salmon Alotaibi and Yaqoub Bushehri, the PureTrip team also won the “Crowd Favorite” category.
“The washer can be applied in the real world in multiple ways—military, hikers and even third-world countries can use the equipment for different purposes,” says Bushehri. “We’re creating a prototype with more awareness to attract investors before commercializing and trying to figure out the rights to our idea.”
In the “Innovation” category, Athlete Crush won for a sport-specific, user-generated mobile platform that revolutionizes the way athletes and fans connect. To help athletes build and monetize their brands easily, professor Thilo Kunkel of the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) developed a way to help fans learn more about their favorite athletes, and provides athletes with a platform to promote social good through the medium of sport.
“The idea came while working with professional soccer player Michael Lahoud,” says Joonas Jokinen, Athlete Crush COO. “Michael cares deeply about his homeland of Sierra Leone. He even built a school there. But as a successful athlete, he was having trouble growing his brand. That’s where our idea and inspiration came from.”
Another pitch, Invest Out, founded by Tyrone Glover, FOX ’96, won first-place in the “Upper Track” category. Glover’s company partners home sellers with houses that could potentially sell for more if renovated with capital from interested investors.
“We’re currently beta testing the model with a limited target of area home owners and investors through www.investout.net,” says Glover.
The first-place winner in the “Undergraduate” category was Mouse Motel, a modernized mouse glue trap founded by ENG senior Paul Gehret.
“My dad and I knew how ineffective classic glue traps were and wanted to design a new one that would remedy the (mouse) problem,” says Gehret. “Mouse Motel was our solution. Through many experiments in our basement, we achieved a much higher efficiency than the glue traps that are commercially available.”
Other award-winning ideas included second-place “Upper Track” start-up Miranda, an online legal tech company that provides on-demand, 24/7 remote legal service. Founded by Fox graduate student Nikolas Revmatas, the idea came from Revmatas’ first-hand experience of navigating the U.S. legal system as an international student.
“I’ve had to figure out a fragmented legal system that is often expensive and intimidating,” says Revmatas. “In most cases, I only needed a few minutes of a lawyer’s time. I always wished there was a way to quickly, conveniently and affordably get legal advice, so I decided to create one.”
Founded by Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19, and Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19, another second-place winner was Mailroom in the “Undergraduate Track”. Mailroom is a digital platform that connects people with trusted small businesses and peers in their community to receive packages.
“We’re looking forward to making a difference in our communities by turning ideas and prototypes into a fully functional Mailroom mobile application that consumers can use,” says Nimmagadda. “We’re hoping that by this time next year, we’ll be making a dent in the package delivery problems that Philadelphians face.”
List of Winners
PureTrip – Salmon Alotaibi, ENG ’19 & Yaqoub Bushehri, ENG ’19
GLOBAL INNOVATION PRIZE
Athlete Crush – Thilo Kunkel, School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management
1ST PLACE – UPPER TRACK
Invest Out – Tyrone Glover, FOX ’96
2ND PLACE – UPPER TRACK
Miranda – Nikolas Revmatas, FOX ’19
1ST PLACE – UNDERGRADUATE TRACK
Mouse Motel – Paul Gehret, ENG ’19
2ND PLACE – UNDERGRADUATE TRACK
Mailroom – Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19 & Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19
1ST PLACE – CROWD FAVORITE
PureTrip – Salmon Alotaibi, ENG ’19 & Yaqoub Bushehri, ENG ’19
2ND PLACE – CROWD FAVORITE
Mailroom – Rahul Nimmagadda, FOX ’19 & Jonathan Huynh, FOX ’19
Over the summer, the Fox School brought together the top academic marketing researchers from all over the world to present on some of the most pressing issues in marketing science at the 40th annual INFORMS Society of Marketing Science (ISMS) Conference. Professor Xueming Luo, Fox School’s Charles Gilliland Distinguished Chair, served as the general chair for the event that delved into topics like cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, the shared economy and autonomous driving.
“The conference was a great way to learn about the cutting-edge ideas top scholars are developing, and it is also a great forum in which to discuss research with other scholars outside of our own institutions,” says Michelle Andrews, a graduate of the Fox PhD Program and assistant professor of Marketing at Emory University.
With over 850 attendees, the ISMS Conference appealed to a broad audience that included professors, marketing executives, doctoral students and others. Andrews presented on why marketers should invest in search advertising on mobile. Newsworthy companies like Amazon, AirBnB and Uber were vigorously discussed in terms of marketing algorithms, customer targeting and Big Data.
“The unique thing about the conference was that we presented our research, but there were also opportunities for CEOs to give feedback and share their ideas with the academic community,” says Luo.
Planning is already underway for future ISMS conference sites, with Rome hosting in 2019 and Duke in 2020.
Additionally, the National Innovation Conference was hosted at the Fox School in May 2018. With over 200 registrants, professionals and their families networked and discussed the latest in innovation.
“Every two years, the Greek America Foundation hosts a conference that focuses on prominent Greek-Americans, or Greek-related people who have done innovative work,” says Angelika Dimoka, director of the Center for Neural Decision Making at the Fox
School. “The 2018 conference featured several people of Greek origin who came up with creative business ideas during the unrest in the Greek economy.”
NIC hosted an impressive lineup of Greek-American professionals in the contributed commentary regarding innovation and entrepreneurship in the areas of food and beverage, education, nonprofit, science and business. Panels included dynamic women speaking about their professional experiences to “Slay in Your Lane” in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and a discussion around innovation of traditional Greek foods into upscale, modern culinary art in “Food 2.0.” The conference also offered Camp NIC to children of attendees, with hands on innovation-themed activities in food, arts and chemistry.
Other impressive contributions to the event included Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington’s “Be Fearless” message, as well as presentations from Axios Wines master winemaker Gus Kalaris, President of NowThis Media Athan Stephanopolous, and tech entrepreneur and chairman of Roa Ventures John Roa.
Just one year into business, Jared Cannon, MS ’16, founder of the healthy eating startup Simply Good Jars (SGJ) is making a bold pivot away from individual food-in-jars subscriptions toward a smart refrigerator model that the company says will offer growth and sustainability.
“Over the summer, our waiting list grew to over 750 people,” said Cannon. “So we decided to shut down subscriptions and move to a vending model.”
The decision may seem strange given the popularity of meal subscription services like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. However, customer loyalty and enthusiasm gave SGJ instant credibility in 2018, when Cannon was selected as a Philadelphia Inquirer Stellar Startup finalist and Independence Blue Cross named him a semifinalist for the Health Hero Challenge.
Cannon and his team are working on securing the capital needed to bring their jars to smart fridges. Plans include nearly 40 of these refrigerators in coworking spaces across Philadelphia. SGJ is already in locations that include WeWork, Pipeline and the Brandywine Liberty Trust corporate office. Business success will mean changing lunch culture at work by building a customer base that is willing to pay for the convenience of healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunches.
There’s a shift happening in the startup landscape, according to Cannon, an energy that is motivating entrepreneurs to solve problems in cities rather than vice versa. He feels a personal responsibility to serve as a part of the solution, something the northern Delaware native may have gained from an unlikely upbringing. Before the chef-turned-entrepreneur took off on his tasty endeavor, Cannon benefited from some unusual experiences.
“In seventh grade I enrolled at a Democratic Free School to learn as an individual,” he said. “There weren’t classes, report cards or standardized tests.”
Cannon attributes his unique perspective as a business owner to his self-governed education. He was given permission to develop differently and to dabble in things he may have never tried—like engineering, computer mechanics and construction. Food wasn’t a focus at the Free School, but at home Cannon learned to love the culinary arts. In their kitchen, the big Cannon family came together. They also instilled a general enthusiasm for the outdoors in their children, which shaped Jared’s value system.
“I think something that’s baked into my generation is an awareness about how our product choices affect the environment,” he said. “My parents taught me to value food and not to waste it—that’s something I’ve carried into my business model.”
Social enterprise is also shifting at SGJ. Instead of contributing meals to Philabundance, the company is now donating funds to help support the Philabundance Community Kitchen. Beyond financial help, Cannon’s team is engaging with the Community Kitchen’s job placement and internship program to offer jobs to their low-income participants and graduates who hope to begin careers in the culinary field.
“We’re young, we’re growing, and there’s nothing better than working on something that you’re passionate about,” said Cannon. “The human element behind a product is the powerful differentiator.”
Beyond the business pivot, there’s more big news for Cannon and the SGJ team. He’s an expecting father just two years out of Temple and a year into business. And beginning in November, SGJ will celebrate another first—a stall at Reading Terminal Market that will be open from Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A refrigerator will be on site, though it won’t be smart. Exclusive breakfast and lunch jars will be sold, created in collaboration with other Reading Terminal vendors like Old City Coffee, Martin’s Meats and Sausages, Iovine Brothers Produce, Godshall’s Poultry, Pequea Valley yogurt and Condiment.
“The most stressful thing right now is having all of these dynamic people around me who have bought in, and are taking the risk with me,” he said. “I’m learning how to be the fearless leader that I’m supposed to be, and I take it very seriously that it’s not just me anymore.”
On a bluebird Tuesday morning in Alter Hall, the Fox School of Business hosted the 19th annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference. With nearly 300 people in attendance, this year’s conference was the largest to date, evidence of strong interest in investing in female innovation. According to stats from the Women’s Business Owner’s Association, there are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.—yet only 17% of startups are headed by women.
“From recognizing women who have excelled in the fields of law, business, theater, and sports, along with advice about how to ‘Ask for What You Want’ from entrepreneurs, to the three current students pitching their ideas, the conference represented a true cross-section of entrepreneurship,” said Ellen Weber, executive director of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
As the keynote speaker, Yasmine Mustafa (Fox ’06) shared her story of perseverance and inspiration as an undocumented immigrant who is now a proud American citizen and co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good. As a wearables startup, ROAR for Good helping thousands of women to feel safer around the world. Mustafa relayed a few small business learnings she’s come to embrace over the past few years:
- Others are happy to help
- Get as many no’s as possible
- Give, give, and give some more
Four Temple alumni were inducted into the League’s Hall of Fame during the event, including Arbill CEO Julie Copeland, Blackstar Film Festival founder Maori Karmel Holmes, Axelrod Firm president Sheryl Axelrod, and retired professor and diversity trailblazer Tina Sloan Green. Generosity in words and actions abounded as Copeland doled out “Weapons for Success” to young entrepreneurs in the audience:
- A sense of belief in yourself
- Gratitude, even in the worst times
- Show up every day with love
In candid conversation, Temple Executive Vice President and Provost Joanne A. Epps made a pitch to start-ups to move the needle in innovation.
“I do think it’s important to change the numbers, change perspectives and attitudes,” she said. “It matters profoundly that we don’t have enough female leaders.”
Making pitches of their own, three young entrepreneurs had the opportunity to let the room in on what they were up to. Two Temple students—Stephanie Taylor of TailorFit Laundry and Emily Kight of Ovarian Lab & Biomaterix, gave three-minute pitches. Adding one final voice, eighth-grade student Anna Welsh, founder and CEO of Little Bags, Big Impact, shared her textile recycling business model with a bit of social enterprise mixed in for good measure.
“I design, hand cut, and sew small bags from locally sourced materials,” she said. “I have an accountant, a lawyer, have received an official U.S. trademark, have sold over 1,000 bags and employ two people two part-time. Expansion plans include moving my business out of my parent’s house.”
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute‘s 20th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, where Temple University students and recent alumni live pitch their bold business ideas, happens Thursday, April 19, at Alter Hall, home of the Fox School of Business.
The 12 finalists will compete for $200,000 in prizes, which will help launch their businesses and take them to the next level. For more information, and to RSVP to the live pitch contest, click here.
In preparation for BYOBB® 2018, we spoke with several past winners and finalists to learn more about the state of their businesses back when they competed, where they are now, and what their next big move will be.
Founder: Joe Green, BBA ’12
About Affinity Confections: “Affinity Confections creates pastries and desserts featuring premium natural ingredients without any artificial flavors or colors. All of our confections are created to be portion controlled and seasonally inspired to highlight seasonal flavors.”
BYOBB® 2015 prize: Third place, upper track ($5,000)
Then: “We were in the growth stage of the business, framing out additional revenue streams, but we were already profitable as a company during the pitch. We wanted the prize money to build out operations.”
Now: “We are currently in another growth phase, expanding our baking operations and creating more packaged products for retail sale. We’ve also gotten several contracts in Philadelphia, with institutions such as University Of Pennsylvania and CHOP.”
What’s next: “We’re working on building production and retail space.”
Founder: Jung Park, BBA ’16
About Cocktail Culture: “Cocktail Culture Co. offers a booking platform for immersive experience-based activities such as cocktail classes and whiskey tastings. We teach the art & craft of mixology with freshly squeezed juices, homemade syrups, and premium ingredients. Our interactive classes offer a promotional channel for liquor brands to market their products for consumer purchase and usage.”
BYOBB® 2016 prize: Third place, undergraduate track ($5,000)
Then: “We were going through the formation/ideation phase. I was still brainstorming the concept, sizing the target market, figuring out how to create value for the consumer, and how to make the idea scalable.”
Now: “We are in the middle of the validation stage. Last year, 2017, was our first real year in business! The first six months were kind of scary, but we saw all our hard work pay off after August. After August was still scary, but a different type of scary, because we were getting flooded with sales and it was definitely overwhelming for our small staff. Some other big changes and growths we had since we were in the BYOBB® ? Well, our website isn’t on GoDaddy Website Builder anymore, so that’s good! That was definitely an ugly time for us. In the beginning, when you don’t have money, resources or help in general, you’re forced to do everything yourself, even when you’re not good at it). We also got a real logo and we’re building traction on corporate sales. We’ve served major names, like Viacom, Microsoft, and ATKearney; and we’re doing an event with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, so that’s exciting. We’ve been chasing bachelorette parties for a whole year (and some change), so we’re happy to see our hard work pay off. We have bachelorette parties all the time now and they’re almost always $500 to $1200 sales.”
What’s next: “The next step for Cocktail Culture Co. is more sales! We’re trying to figure out the maximum market potential in Philadelphia right now. Last year was proof that it’s a profitable concept. We’re getting our numbers up at our current location and figuring out if it’s a good idea to open a second location in the Philly suburbs. We’ve been talking a lot about Atlantic City in the past two months, so I’m hoping that works out by the end of this year or beginning of next year.”
Founder: Andrew Nakkache, BS ’16
About Habitat: “Founded in 2013, while at Temple University, Habitat is a Philadelphia-based company passionate about helping local businesses and committed to accelerating new ways to live and work within the ‘convenience economy.’ Today, Habitat helps restaurants by providing them a single delivery fleet for all of their orders. We do this through aggregating orders from various ordering sources (Grubhub, Eat24, Phone-ins, etc.).”
BYOBB® 2015 prize: First place, undergraduate track ($21,000)
Then: “We were trying to do too many things then. Our app was a hyperlocal marketplace that looked like Instagram, and functioned like Craigslist, but only for college students and local businesses.”
Now: “We pivoted twice since the BYOBB®. Our first pivot was to focus on food delivery on college campuses: think Caviar for campuses. This pivot gave us focus and insight into the market, which ultimately led to our more recent and successful pivot. We realized that restaurants had a much bigger pain around managing online orders rather than receiving more of them. We’re now B2B, working behind the scenes, and the best part is, as Grubhub gets bigger, so do we!”
What’s next: “This year is all about distribution partnerships that give us scale. We recently signed two partnerships with online ordering companies that have over 50,000 restaurants combined!”
Founder: Nick Delmonico, GMBA ’17
MBA concentration: Health Sector Management
About Strados Labs: “For clinicians seeking critical respiratory data, Strados utilizes proprietary technology to collect and transmit data in a simple, non-invasive manner, improving outcomes and saving money.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: Grand prize; First place in the Urban Health Innovation track ($60,000)
Then: “Strados Labs had designed a proof of concept prototype and conducted several customer journey maps and studies. As an early start-up, we focused heavily on understanding the pain points of our stakeholders, both patients and caregivers in managing and monitoring exacerbations and complications due to airway compromise. We found that there was a major data gap between what patients knew about their own signs and symptoms and what care teams know about patients in advance of a hospitalization event. We competed in BYOBB® to raise the necessary funding to further the development of our product, and to refine our value proposition to health organizations.”
Now: “Since 2017, Strados has raised more than $200,000 through a combination of business competitions, grants, and early investors. We have finalized our minimum viable product (MVP) and are in the process of conducting a clinical study at a major health system in New York. We have also participated in three globally ranked accelerator programs including NextFab RAPID, Brinc.io Global IoT, and Texas Medical Center Accelerator (TMCx) Cohort 6. The programs not only provided access to capital, but enabled our company to create collaborative partnerships with leading health institutions and care platforms across the country. Strados expanded its management team to include a highly experienced medical device CTO with successful exits and a clinical advisory team that includes physician leaders in pulmonary medicine and respiratory therapies with multiple successful medical devices and drug launches.”
What’s next: “Strados will be launching pilot studies with clinical partners over the course of the summer and will be moving the Strados product further through a full commercial launch. We have some additional partnerships in the pipeline that we are excited to announce in the near future.”
Founder: Lisa Guenst, BA ’13
Major: Community and Regional Planning
About ToothShower: “ToothShower is an oral home care suite for the shower.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: First place, upper track ($20,000)
Then: “It was our first business plan ever written and there was no revenue. We were in the prototype stage.”
Now: “We have our tooling completed from money we raised on crowdfunding—we raised more than $325,000 through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And our first run sample has been tested and we are waiting for our second sample to test.”
What’s next: “Once we deliver the product to our crowdfunding backers, we will move into ecommerce sales.”
Founder: David Feinman, BBA ’15
Major: Entrepreneurship, Marketing
About Viral Ideas Marketing: “At Viral Ideas, we create to inspire. We work with companies as their dedicated video partner. We are a modern video production company built for new media. We believe in the power of defining companies why and sharing their why through video and modern media production.”
BYOBB® 2017 prize: Second place, upper track ($10,000)
Then: “Two and a half years ago, while still in college, Zach Medina and I started Viral Ideas with $250 of our own money and just one client. At the time of BYOBB, we had 42 clients and were working out of our office space in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Other than BYOBB® winnings and our original $250, we are proud of the fact that we’re entirely self-funded while sustaining 2x year over year growth.”
Now: “Growing the business hasn’t been easy. It’s meant putting our heads down to focus only on work, overcoming the challenges that most startups face, giving up a social life and making significant sacrifices along the way. Now, less than three years into the business, we were voted Best in Bucks for Media production by Bucks Happening and have more than 120 clients while also working with some of the most significant brands in the world. In 2018, we’re on track to double our revenue again and fully launch our technology platform.”
What’s next: “We’re working to simplify the process of creating a video. After building more than 700 videos for some of the most significant companies in the world, we’ve learned that the process can be drawn out, time-consuming, and complicated. We intend to solve this problem by creating a technology which reduces the amount of time required to develop a video through a technical solution.”
Founder: Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13
About Whose Your Landlord: “WYL is a web platform empowering and informing the rental community by providing landlord reviews, neighborhood and community-driven content, and access to more than 500,000 listings across the U.S.”
BYOBB® 2014 prize: First place, upper track; Best plan by a minority entrepreneur ($20,500)
Then: “We had just launched, with maybe 10,000 or 20,000 users.”
Now: “750,000 users, people looking for reviews/rentals (25% MOM growth). 70,000 blog readers/mo (43% MOM growth). More than 500,000 active listings nationwide. Renter search queries, 230% MOM growth. 10,000 landlord reviews in the Northeast. Corporate partnerships with American Express, Allstate, Roadway Moving, Dominion, etc. Recent coverage in Forbes, New York Post, NowThis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Blavity, Curbed, Newsweek, TechCrunch, etc.”
What’s next: “We are raising capital at republic.co/whoseyourlandlord (go invest!) and working with Univision on a podcast focusing on the following: ‘WhoseYourLandlord (founded in 2013) is a web platform empowering and informing the rental community through landlord reviews, neighborhood-focused content, and by providing access to quality listings across the United States. Their brand has become synonymous with realness, community, and growth. In a time where multicultural communities are under attack in many places across the world, The Take Ownership podcast highlights insightful stories and people who are really doing the work to enlighten folks on mentally and economically taking ownership of the spaces they live in.'”
For more information about Be Your Own Boss Bowl 2018, and to RSVP, click here.
Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.
Imagine being thankful your husband allowed you to attend a business meeting. Many of you probably rolled your eyes, but this used to be a common occurrence. While we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The good news is many women are creating their own paths through entrepreneurship.
According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, women comprise 40 percent of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. At the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference, hosted by the Fox School of Business at Alter Hall, we learned that many of today’s female executives are building diverse and inclusive organizations.
The League, which holds an annual conference, is an advocacy initiative that addresses the growing challenges and interests of entrepreneurial women in the Greater Philadelphia region. It was co-founded by Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate dean of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost for strategic communications. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), under the leadership of Ellen Weber, executive director, co-hosts the event.
Fox Focus spoke to two of the conference speakers. Here is the advice Judith von Seldeneck, founder and chairman of Diversified Search, and Allison Francis Barksdale, EMBA ’00, CEO of RISE Leadership, have to offer women who want to start their own companies.
What advice do you have for women starting their own business?
Judith von Seldeneck: Have a good idea for your business. Something that fills a viable, current need. Take it slow, one step at a time. Stay in control of it. Be wary of partners or owners. There’s time for that down the road. Do the work yourself. No delegating early on; hire others to work for you when you can afford it. Have someone you trust who has no interest in the business but who is smart, good at things you aren’t, who you can learn from. You must learn it somehow early on if you don’t have it.
“I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy.” – Allison Francis Barksdale
Allison Francis Barksdale: I thought I had to do it all on my own. It is so much easier now that I am willing to seek help and follow the examples of others who are experts in areas where I am not. It isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. You can find mentors and other resources. Take advantage of all that is available. You can learn from things on social media (such as LinkedIn), your alumni association (such as the Temple Women’s Network), and lots of other opportunities.
We’ve seen some inspiring stats about women in business. How do you feel the world has changed for women over the last few decades?
JVS: When I started, I was almost a unicorn, constantly dealing with men, competing with men, which I actually enjoyed being the only woman. Now I am surrounded by strong, successful, younger, executive women, and there is indeed encouraging news for women in business: over the last decade, the number of women-owned firms increased 45 percent, compared to just 9 percent for the national average. Female ownership of businesses is up almost 10 percent over the last decade. But there is also one big, troubling statistic to go with all of that cheery news: Women start 38 percent of new businesses, but still only receive between 2 and 6 percent of all venture capital funding. That’s an issue because it tells me that banks and venture capitalists still do not see women as solid leaders and their businesses as solid investments. There is more work to be done, especially on the VC side of the ledger.
However, I believe the momentum for women has turned a corner very recently and we are much more integrated, respected, capable, savvy, and confident as people, not just women, in our abilities to succeed in building and growing businesses! Today, we have great successful women role models like never before. Plus, women now want to generally help each other be successful.
“I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business.” – Judith von Seldeneck
AFB: We have made great progress! The biggest change I see is that women are leading as they are. When I was coming into the workforce in the late 1980’s, women wore bowties and power suits and acted like men. Today, women are leading with feminine power. I am a big proponent of authenticity. My company, RISE Leadership, helps women build their impact and income through authentic leadership. To be the best speaker, leader, or anything, you have to be yourself. You can’t be anyone else better than you can be yourself. That’s what truly creates connection and power.
How should companies respond to this change to cultivate more diverse and inclusive staffs?
JVS: Any company that wants to develop a diverse and inclusive staff has to make that commitment from the top: at the board level, at the CEO level. If there are not clear and strong mandates from leadership to install mechanisms and performance metrics to produce a more inclusive workforce, particularly at the C-Suite level, it’s all lip service. It doesn’t happen organically. It happens when people in power make a conscious decision to open their doors wider, and implement policies and procedures that are fair and direct and will produce that result. How are you scouting for new talent—and where are you looking? You cannot tap new talent streams if you are only going to look in the same places you have been looking for the past 30 years. You should also hire Diversified Search to help find great talent!
At the conference, you said your path has been like the Game of Life. Can you translate your experience into advice for future generations of women in business?
AFB: My entrepreneurial journey was not a straight path to success. The first business I started failed. I opened a flower and tea shop in 2005, which could not weather the economic downturn in 2007. People were losing their homes, so they were not buying a lot of small luxuries. As in life, things don’t always go as planned. There is an element of chance. If you take a look at the board in the Game of Life, the roads have lots of curves, twists, and turns that you cannot always anticipate.
As for advice, I learned to never stop believing in myself. Above all else, you cannot give up on you! Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways that you never anticipated. If you stay focused on success, there may come a time when you have to say to yourself, “Okay I am not letting this defeat me. Where’s the good in this, the lesson that I can learn and move on?”
You have to be willing to see your vision of success differently than how you planned it. Rather than going into business to do and make money, focus more on serving and solving problems that you are designed to solve best. Enjoy the day-to-day and not just the final outcome of your future success. Whatever happens along the way, good or bad, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow, personally and professionally.
What will the future hold for women in entrepreneurship and business?
JVS: I can’t think of a better career path for women than owning your own business. The future is bright and getting brighter. There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Those kinds of statistics would have been an unthinkable pipedream 40 years ago. Time heals many misevents. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. Technology is leveling and normalizing the playing field everywhere and disrupting long-established traditional practices in one fell swoop. I think there is a tremendous benefit for women in business in this explosive transformational environment that is happening so quickly. We need to be riding this tidal wave that is disrupting business everywhere.
“Deciding to take an entrepreneurial path will push you to grow in ways you never anticipated.” – Allison Francis Barksdale
AFB: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, a company will take on the values of its leaders, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. As in my case, authenticity and speaking up are personal as well as organizational values. It’s exciting to see how more and more women are igniting their power and speaking up. Women are leading in various ways—in small businesses, corporations, politics, and nonprofits (I prefer the term for-purpose). Even though we still have quite a ways to go, especially in corporate and board leadership, I know that the inclusion of additional voices—diversity—will lead to better decision making in our global economy. Women will play a key role in building a more inclusive, cooperative, and optimally functioning workforce. I plan to do my part to make this happen.
To continue the dialogue on women in business and leadership, feel free to contact Allison: Allison@ImpactwithRISE.com
The Future of Business is Female
The following Temple students and alumnae pitched their companies at the conference:
- Jess Rothstein, Fox MBA, Class of 2018, Play Bucket, playbucketapp.com
- Emily Knight, Engineering major, Class of 2018, Prohibere, biomaterix.com
- Karima Roepel, MTHM ’06, Ambrosia Food Group, ambrosiafoodgroup.com
The Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit throughout all 17 schools and colleges at Temple University. IEI offers many years of experience in business development and consulting, a wide variety of skills, extensive networks, and boundless enthusiasm for new ventures and experiential learning.
Ellen Weber, assistant professor and executive director of the Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, earned the David Freschman Award at the 19th annual Angel Venture Fair.
The award, named after the late venture capitalist and consultant for ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” was given to Weber for her singular impact on entrepreneurship at Temple and the wider Philadelphia community. She has been an inimitable force in supporting entrepreneurs across the region through her work at the Fox School, and with Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures (MADV) and Robin Hood Ventures.
“David was a dear friend, so it was very meaningful to me to win this award,” says Weber. “It was exciting to see so many investors and entrepreneurs under one roof, and to see the continuing growth especially in healthcare, IT, and life sciences.”
Thirty-four early-stage companies came to the Angel Venture Fair, held at the Union League in Philadelphia, to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors in a format similar to “Shark Tank.” Among the pitching companies was Fox School undergraduate Nigel Satenstein’s global e-commerce venture, Pinpointer.
“It gives them the opportunity to get in front of investors early, and we work with them to make sure they’re investor-ready,” Weber says about the work she does preparing students and other entrepreneurs how to pitch ideas to investors. “They don’t just get up and pitch, they’re assigned to coaches, and the coaches add a lot of value. They’re exposed to a large number of investors instead of having to knock on doors. It makes a huge difference for these companies.”
One of the most important steps? Craft a solid elevator pitch. “Elevator pitches are something I work on with students a lot,” she says. “You need to get your idea out clearly and succinctly. If you do, people will ask you for more.”
Pennsylvania is a hotbed for technology and innovation, said Governor Tom Wolf, and is more than capable of tackling upcoming talent gaps in its workforce.
Wolf visited Temple University May 2 to discuss innovation, economic development, and technology for a Philly Tech Week event held at the Fox School of Business’ Alter Hall. He addressed Pennsylvania’s need for self-promotion, with regard to its historical reputation in innovation sectors, and acknowledged the commonwealth’s strength in producing high-caliber college graduates.
Wolf participated in the question-and-answer panel alongside Sharon Minnich, Pennsylvania Secretary of Administration; Krystal Bonner, Director of Digital Communications and Strategy; and Julie Smith, Director of Data and Digital Technology.
Calling himself Pennsylvania’s “Cheerleader-in-Chief,” Wolf also tackled subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and marketing, to statewide data access. He reflected on Pennsylvania’s need for a more-robust conversation with its residents “so I can provide them with what they want, and not what the state thinks they need.”
Wolf’s most significant contribution to Pennsylvania’s technological innovation happened in 2016, a year after the first-term governor took office. Wolf introduced an open data portal to improve the state’s transparency with its residents, and to support cross-agency collaboration. In doing so, Wolf told attendees that he had wished for greater civic engagement and bolstered economic opportunity.
The executive order, he said, has since strengthened Pennsylvania’s commitment to technological innovation and improved access to state-agency data sets. Wolf also has overseen the hire of Pennsylvania’s first open-data officer and data scientist.
“Pennsylvania should not be a shrinking violet when it comes to tech innovation. The state needs to tout its strengths,” said Wolf, making his fifth visit to Temple during his two years in office.
“We are a great place to innovate. Pennsylvania has gotten this reputation in the minds of some that we’re not an innovative place. Pennsylvania is where the action is. It has a great workforce, great institutions of higher education, and great people. Modesty is a wonderful thing, but it keeps us from having a sincere discussion about how great we really are.”
Temple University president Richard Englert and Fox School of Business dean M. Moshe Porat delivered opening remarks, welcoming Wolf and thanking him for his ongoing support of higher education.
“Innovation informs our curriculum, drives our students, and leads new program development,” said Porat. “It’s an important subject because innovation is critical to directing us as a nationally ranked provider of business education.”
“It’s very appropriate for the governor to be here,” Englert added. “You are an outstanding supporter of education and innovation. Thank you for all that you do for Temple and fellow institutions across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Temple houses undergraduate- and graduate-level Entrepreneurship programs that are ranked top-10 nationally by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, and is home to the renowned Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, which proactively promotes entrepreneurial spirit and innovation across all 17 schools and colleges.
Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, editorial director of Technical.ly, moderated the panel discussion featuring Wolf. The Management Information Systems department at Temple’s Fox School of Business sponsored the Philly Tech Week event.
Wolf closed the panel with a bit of self-deprecation. He lauded Pennsylvania for its wealth of elite higher-education institutions. Wolf called attention to what national economists have forecast as the nation’s largest talent gap, as members of the Baby Boomer generation begin to retire. He then pointed to the state’s need for stronger retention of its talented college graduates—even citing his two daughters.
“I’m trying to convince them to come back here, and I think I’m going to be successful,” Wolf said, smiling. “We’re not there yet, but we’re better in that area. We should be considered among the top places in the country, if not the world, for innovation. … Pennsylvania is a very fertile place for the kind of new ideas you’re all interested in.”