Daniel Couser Speaking “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.

Daniel_Couser_BYOBB
Couser presenting at BYOBB in 2018

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.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

From left to right: Jerry Miller, Pamela Rainey Lawler, Ellen Weber, Wesley Davis, Olaitan Awomolo, Francisco Garcia, and Luke Butler. Credit: Chris Kendig Photography

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
    BYOBB judges with Social Impact Track winner Shari Smith-Jackson. Credit: Chris Kendig Photography

    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.

Keynote speaker Adam Lyons and Senior Vice Dean Debbie Campbell. Credit: Chris Kendig Photography

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.

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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.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute: Lori Bush Seed Fund from Fox School of Business on Vimeo.

“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.”

Emily Kight

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

Heather Jones

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.

Grand prize winners Salmon Alotaibi and Yaqoub Bushehri

“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.”

First place “Upper Track” winner Tyrone Glover

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

GRAND PRIZE

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.  

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Photo: Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University

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.”

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Attendees at the 19th annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference (Photo: Chris Kendig)

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).

Yasmine Mustafa, BBA ’06, delivering the keynote presentation. (Photo: Chris Kendig)

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:

  1. Others are happy to help
  2. Get as many no’s as possible
  3. 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:

  1. A sense of belief in yourself
  2. Gratitude, even in the worst times
  3. 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.

A conversation with Temple Executive Vice President and Provost Joanne A. Epps (Photo: Chris Kendig)

“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.”

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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.

 

Joe Green, Affinity Confections

AFFINITY CONFECTIONS

Founder: Joe Green, BBA ’12

Major: Entrepreneurship

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.”

 

Jung Park, Cocktail Culture Co.

COCKTAIL CULTURE CO.

Founder: Jung Park, BBA ’16

Major: Marketing

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.”

 

Andrew Nakkache, Habitat

HABITAT

Founder: Andrew Nakkache, BS ’16

Major: Economics

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!”

 

Nick Delmonico, Strados Labs

STRADOS LABS

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.”

 

Lisa Guenst, ToothShower

TOOTHSHOWER

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.”

 

David Feinman, Viral Marketing Ideas

VIRAL IDEAS MARKETING

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.”

 

Left to right: Felix Addison, Kelley Green, Ofo Ezeugwu, and Nik Korablin of Whose Your Landlord (Photo: Durrell Hospedale)

WHOSE YOUR LANDLORD

Founder: Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13

Major: Entrepreneurship

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.'”

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Allison Francis Barksdale at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

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.

Judith von Seldeneck at the 2017 Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Conference. (Photo: Melissa Kelly)

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.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Faculty Headshots of Fox School of Business Faculty Members FSB Staff photos 2015.
Ellen Weber

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 Governor Tom Wolf, far right, sits with Temple University President Richard Englert, center, as Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat delivers opening remarks.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, far right, sits with Temple University President Richard Englert, center, as Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat delivers opening remarks (Ryan Brandenberg/Temple University Photography).
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.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf answers a question from moderator and Technical.ly editorial director Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, far left, at the Philly Tech Week event.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf answers a question from moderator and Technical.ly editorial director Christopher Wink, CLA ’08, far left, at the Philly Tech Week event (Ryan Brandenberg/Temple University Photography).
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.”

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAvGAAAAJDRjNjE2ZTdiLTMxZWEtNDRhYi05MTVhLWFlZDYzZTgyNTg3Zg1. Honeygrow: A #TempleMade Venture

Justin Rosenberg, Fox School of Business, MBA ’09, is the founder of Honeygrow, a restaurant offering healthy fare made with seasonal, local ingredients. Starting this summer, Honeygrow will have 18 locations, including one on Temple University’s Main Campus in Morgan Hall. According to Rosenberg, “I’m a Temple guy. I wrote a chunk of my business plan for Honeygrow at Alter Hall, and the business is very much a #TempleMade concept.” Explore Honeygrow.

 
2. Yasmine Mustafa Roars for Good

Entrepreneur Yasmine Mustafa, BBA ’06, is an advocate for women. In 2016, she won Philly Geek Awards’ Technologist of the Year for ROAR for Good, a company that makes self-defense wearable technology. The product appears as jewelry but acts as an alarm and safety light that, when activated, connects to a smartphone to text family, friends, 911, or campus security. Mustafa is determined to help women live without fear and reduce the violence against them. Watch her story. Hear her TEDx talk.

 
3. Neha Raman Brings to Market DIY Nail Polish

In 2015, Neha Raman, who will graduate from the Fox School in 2018, launched a make-your-own nail polish business called Rungh, the Hindi word for “color” (pronounced “Rung”). Her product includes six nail-polish bottles with nail-polish base, 18 pigment capsules, a battery-operated mixer, and disposable mixing wands. Rungh was the official nail polish of Philadelphia Fashion Week in February 2016, the same month Raman was named runner-up in College Pitch Philadelphia. In April 2016, she placed second in Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl. Learn more about Neha Raman.

 
4. Adam Lyons Streamlines Shopping for Car Insurance

Founder and chief executive officer Adam Lyons, BBA ’09, launched TheZebra.com to simplify car insurance shopping. TheZebra.com allows drivers to compare over 200 insurance providers on factors such as coverage types, coverage levels, claims rankings, and price. Lyons and co-founder Joshua Dziabiak were named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the Consumer Tech category, which highlights “game changers” under 30 years old who are revolutionizing industries with a goal nothing short of breaking the status quo and transforming the world. Meet Adam Lyons. Read about his experience pitching his dream investor (hint: it’s Mark Cuban).

 
5. Chris Wallace Says, Sales Remains People-Centric—Even in the Digital Age

“Sales teams often aren’t aligned with their organization’s strategy,” says Chris Wallace, MBA ’10, managing director, GrowthPlay. In his recent Harvard Business Review article, Wallace discusses how organizations typically spend three times more on sales than advertising, but only deliver 50-60 percent of the forecasted revenue. His passion for sales led him to pursue an MBA at the Fox School and a year after he graduated he founded Incite, a sales force strategy and effectiveness firm. GrowthPlay recently acquired Incite to strengthen its position in the sales effectiveness market. “I could never be where I am today if I didn’t earn my MBA. It changed my career, and helped me see the value of putting people at the center of any business strategy. Today, I help develop better performing sales teams using the skills, knowledge, and business acumen I learned at Fox.” Read his HBR article.

 
6. Ofo Ezeugwu Wants to Rate Your Landlord

Ofo Ezeugwu, BBA ’13, is the chief executive officer and co-founder of WhoseYourLandlord (WYL), which enables renters to rate their landlords and housing complexes. He graduated from the Fox School of Business at Temple University, where he was the vice president of the student body. He is a Techstars’ Risingstar, one of BET’s #30Under30, and his work has been featured in TechCrunch, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more. Ezeugwu is based in New York and Philadelphia, is a professional actor and model, has been featured on the Today Show five times, and has worked with Nike, ESPN, and Alfani. Explore WhoseYourLandlord. Watch Ofo pitch on MSNBC:

 
7. Got a Broken Cell Phone? Call Jesse DiLaura for Repairs.

“I have an obsession with improving,” said Fox School alumnus Jesse DiLaura, BBA ’16, the founder of Repair U—a phone repair company for college students. He is an Entrepreneurship graduate of the Fox School of Business who learned how to turn his hobby, cell phone repair, into a business. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and Temple’s Blackstone Launchpad fed his obsession by offering constructive feedback on every aspect of his business plan. Along the way, he learned the intricacies of launching a business, branding, publicity, and much more. Discover Repair U.

 
8. Séverine Bandou Adds Scent to Curly Hair Products

“Myjé will enable women with textured hair to neutralize airborne odors without any drying effect,” said Séverine Bandou, a student in the Fox Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship graduate program. “They will experience the sensation of freshly washed hair while saving time and avoiding hair damage due to frequent shampooing, treatments, and styling.” Bandou, who will graduate this year, participated in the Fox School Innovative Idea Competition and placed second in the Graduate, Faculty, Staff, or Alumni category. Read about Bandou on Technical.ly Philly.

 
9. Nick Delmonico Combines Business, Tech, and Healthcare

Fox School student Nick Delmonico is currently enrolled in Global MBA program. He’s the chief executive officer and co-founder of Strados Labs, a health technology company working on innovative ways to help patients better manage chronic illness in order to live happier and healthier lives. His company is the maker of Pulmawear, a wearable device and companion application providing asthmatics with real-time symptoms monitoring, medication tracking, and personalized analytics to improve self-management. Explore Strados Labs.

 
10. Brandon Study Wears His Heart on His Sleeve

Understand Your Brand creates awareness about human rights and environmental issues through the apparel manufacturing industry and designs products that tell a better story. Founder Brandon Study is committed to using non-exploitative and minimal environmental impact production, and previously ran Into the Nations, a nonprofit seeking to empower artisans in developing countries. Study, Class of 2017, is a student in the Entrepreneurship Program at the Fox School who has a passion for creativity and social entrepreneurship. Discover Understand Your Brand.

Representatives of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute meet with winners of the 2016 Innovative Idea Competition.
Representatives of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute meet with winners of the 2016 Innovative Idea Competition.

Through entrepreneurship, Temple University students, faculty, staff, and alumni united at the 19th annual Innovative Idea Competition.

The competition engages entrepreneurship at Temple, and invites those affiliated with the university to share their innovative ideas for products, services, concepts, and technologies that could lead to new businesses. Ideas in all stages of development were eligible for submission.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at the Fox School of Business hosted the Nov. 10 event, which was held at Alter Hall. IEI received 426 submissions from 14 of Temple’s 17 schools and colleges, marking a 21-percent increase in submissions from last year’s competition. The competition welcomed submissions from local community colleges, as part of a program funded by Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

“The Idea Competition is unique in that it allows participants to take an idea out of the theoretical and see its potential for becoming a reality,” said Ellen Weber, IEI Executive Director. “All of our participants have access to mentors during the application process who can help them develop their ideas and begin that mode of thinking.”

Ideas were put to the test as finalists competed for spots in eight cash prize categories.

Nigel Satenstein, a Business and Management major at the Fox School, won the overall grand prize of $2,500, as well as the first place in the People’s Choice Award category and the Global Innovative Prize. He walked away as the competition’s winner, with prize money totaling $4,000.

His idea – Pinpointer – would connect the more than four billion people worldwide without a home address to global e-commerce markets through the use of precise digital codes. In countries like China, India, and Nepal, the lack of sufficient home addressing infrastructure makes it impossible for online order deliveries to be shipped to someone’s door, Satenstein said. The customer, rather, has to arrange for pick-up of their orders at nearby landmarks, such as a school or a church.

Pinpointer would deliver a “virtal breadcrumb” technology, Satenstein said, that tracks the customer’s journey from his or her home to the pick-up location. This way, the next time the consumer orders a product online, the delivery service can follow the trail of a previous delivery in order to reach the customer’s front door.

“This was an amazing opportunity from Temple to help jump-start our business, and we hope this momentum will carry through for the rest of our current funding round,” Satenstein said. “Pinpointer will use the money we won to expand our efforts at tech development, hire additional workers and bolster our servers used to store collected data. The rest of the funds will be used for marketing and customer-acquisition efforts.”

Lewis Katz School of Medicine student, Conor Vickers, took home first place for the Graduate, Faculty, Staff, or Alumni category. He won $1,000 for SensiFoam, a concept for a product that would prevent pressure ulcers or bedsores with a disposable foam patch that can wirelessly transmit pressure data to a tablet device. Fox School student Peter Agada clinched second place in the same category and earned a $500 prize, for his wearable balance device. His idea involves eyeglasses that have sensors measuring the head, leg, and trunk movements, and changes in elevation that ultimately would help to prevent falls for the elderly.

In the Undergraduate category, both first and second place went to students from the College of Engineering. Christopher Ricci received the $1,000 first prize with his idea of a regenerative suspension system. Designed for automobiles, it would use kinetic energy from road disturbances to create electrical energy. The $500 second prize went to Emily Knight for Prohibere, which would use a hair and skin serum to eliminate the urge for people with trichotillomania to extract their hair.

Audience members got into the action, too. For the third consecutive year, attendees cast votes for the People’s Choice category using their smartphones.

“The pitch event provides an opportunity for the finalists to use the questions and feedback from our judging panel to identify the next steps toward testing their ideas and building them into something real,” Weber said.

David CohenTemple University’s Fox School of Business welcomed Comcast Corporation executive David L. Cohen as the Warren V. “Pete” Musser Visiting Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Established in 2015, the Musser Professorship is an endowed term professorship filled by experienced and well-known practitioners who are interested in visiting the Fox School to mentor and engage with students.

Cohen serves as the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer with the Comcast Corporation. Students, young professionals, and business leaders alike packed into the seventh-floor MBA Commons of Alter Hall to hear Cohen’s Nov. 7 presentation, titled “Leaders Lead.” Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) sponsored the event.

As a leader in Philadelphia for many years, Cohen shared what he has learned, the challenges he has faced, and his top-10 traits possessed by effective leaders. Paramount to all, he said, Cohen stressed the importance of volunteer work and involvement with nonprofits.

“I really wanted to be successful and help people outside of the classroom and outside of school,” Cohen said of his early years as a professional. “I volunteered and served leadership roles in nonprofits. Leaders have the opportunity to get involved with issues beyond their businesses. They have a chance to help the community around them.”

Cohen beamed with pride in discussing Comcast’s investment in philanthropy. The company has donated close to $4 billion to communities in which its employees live.

Cohen also shed light on his work with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, for whom he served as Chief of Staff from 1992-97, a span of Rendell’s two terms as Philadelphia mayor.

David Cohen“There were a lot of challenges Ed faced when he took office: high crime rate, declining population, declining economy,” Cohen said. “The two leadership traits for which I most admired him for were his team-building skills and his communication skills. He had a clear vision for the city and he knew how to communicate that well.”

Cohen then shared his list of 10 must-have leadership skills, a list which included humility, sense of humor, ability to inspire, vision, communication, and others, and showed brief video clips to punctuate each one of them. Cohen answered questions from the audience with topics ranging from challenges in diversity and inclusion, to complexity in building teams.

“Mr. Cohen is such an incredible and influential person, and it’s really beneficial to hear his experiences and advice,” said first-year graduate student Jeffrey Stern, who added that he was grateful to hear first-hand from a business leader like Cohen.

“He placed emphasis on leaders remaining humble and being able to give back to their communities, and those are traits that I’ll always keep in mind for the future,” said senior Economics major Dan McLaughlin.

Following his question-and-answer session, Cohen left attendees with a final piece of advice.

“Learning never stops,” he said, “and it certainly doesn’t stop after you’re finished school. Nothing is impossible.”