Social Entrepreneurship finalists
Graduate and undergraduate finalists

At the Social Entrepreneurship Summit, profits and people go hand in hand.

The third annual summit, hosted by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at the Fox School of Business, is focused on supporting entrepreneurship initiatives that make a positive impact on both Temple University and the Philadelphia region. The summit gives students a space to present new innovative ideas for cash prizes and to network with faculty, staff and professionals in the business community.

On Nov. 20, several contestants with their own social entrepreneurship projects went head to head in a competition, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Six graduate and seven undergraduate finalists from across the university demonstrated how their ideas could change the world—and make money.

“There have been a couple of companies that started here and went on to get funding. It’s really incredible; this is a great place for startups,” says Steven Reichert, a junior entrepreneurship student attending the event for the second year in a row.

Natasha Graves, MBA ’18, won this year’s Grand Prize with her idea “VacayAbility.” She describes it as “a user-generated review site where people with disabilities can review places like accommodations and hospitality-based businesses like hotels and restaurants based on accessibility and mobility.”

“I travel a lot and I have a disability. I have chronic illnesses and every time I travel it’s hard to find places that are accessible,” Graves explains. “Recently, I was going to Scottsdale, Ariz. When you google top ten things to do there, it’s [mostly] hiking, and obviously, I can’t hike. So I wanted to make a platform to find things for people even if they have various disabilities.” 

Graves also came in second place in the upper track of this year’s Innovative Idea Competition. Her focus on inclusivity in innovation is an excellent example of the Fox School’s commitment to foster an inclusive community, as one of the four main pillars in the school’s Strategic Plan 2025.

This year, Erik Oberholtzer, a Temple alumnus and co-founder of the company Tender Greens, came to advise the young entrepreneurship students as the keynote speaker.

Oberholtzer’s mission in Tender Greens is to provide broad access to good food, specifically to those in low-income communities. After working as a chef and obtaining his culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University, his passion for the culinary arts is what drew him to launch the company.

His advice? “Start with an inner passion and calling. Then, connect that to something in the world that needs your passion,” Oberholtzer says. “If you build skills, tools and techniques around that passion, then you can find products and services that create positive outcomes.” He goes on to say, “When you innovate a solution to a problem that nobody else is solving, you can monetize. You can add value and make money. In this case, money sponsors good deeds. Money scales positive impact.”

Graves and all the students in this year’s Social Entrepreneurship Summit are an inspiration for the future of double- or triple-bottom-line companies. By competing, they are innovating a better world.

Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.

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Freire students
The first Freire class with Senior Vice Dean Debbie Campbell

Temple University’s Fox School of Business is expanding its partnership with the Freire Charter School System to offer Philadelphia high school students the opportunity to learn that they can thrive in higher education.

Two young men are playing “Connect Four” at the back of a room on the first floor of 1810 Liacouras Walk. They are not in a lecture hall or a high-tech computer lab. They want to start their own business, so naturally, they are eating cookies, downing small plastic cups of iced tea and dreaming big.

They are standing with a half-dozen other teens in the incubator at Temple University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) late in the afternoon on Nov. 6 for an information session about the B4USoar program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The teens are looking for inspiration, for mentorship and, more than anything, for something new to learn.

The B4USoar program started with a single course in the Spring of 2019, but now Temple University is quintupling its investment in the program. That first course, Create and Innovate, brought together 15 high school students from the Freire Charter School System and more than a dozen Temple undergraduate students. It was the brainchild of Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School, and Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement at Build the Future Education Collaborative, a nonprofit that supports education opportunities at the Friere schools. 

The goal was to increase access to high-quality business education and show the Freire students they could thrive in higher education. By all accounts, that first course was a success, and as a result, the program is expanding. 

“Russell Conwell built Temple on the idea that there were people, diamonds, in this city, whom he could educate and in doing that, improve the lives of the entire community,” says Campbell. 

The Fox School will offer two courses in the Spring of 2020. Michelle Histand, director of innovation at Independence Blue Cross and an adjunct professor at the Fox School, is returning to teach the Create and Innovate course which was offered previously. Ellen Weber, executive director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, is teaching the new Empowerment through Entrepreneurship course. 

“The kids in that first Freire-Temple class were diamonds,” says Campbell. The class was fantastic and now we are adding a second business course and looking for more high school students to  prepare for college.”

Many of the Freire students come from financially-challenging backgrounds and for some, there are hurdles to achieving their dreams. In Philadelphia, about 37 percent of the city’s children live below the federal poverty line, according to a study by The Pew Charitable Trust. Of those Philadelphians living below the poverty line, 29 percent did not finish high school, 68 percent did not pursue higher education at all and 87 percent did not achieve a bachelor’s degree. 

According to a 2015 report by the Brookings Institute, low-income families are at a disadvantage in participating in their children’s success in post-secondary education. The institute pointed to a high rate of low-income students failing to complete their degrees. The institute cited several factors for these circumstances: poor preparation, limited funding and limited knowledge of the world of higher education.

B4USoar addresses the “limited knowledge of the world of higher education” and poor preparation challenges that confront many first-generation college students. 

The Freire students partner with Temple students who mentor them throughout the program. They plan projects together, study and create a network of support.

Campbell said the Fox School plans to add at least one more business course and would like to partner with other general education programs at other schools in the university as the program expands.

“The Freire Charter Schools and the Fox School opened these students’ eyes in a way that empowered them to see their potential and the potential in the world around them,” says Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement for a nonprofit organization that works with the Freire schools. “They know they can make the world brighter. That might be the most important part of this program, showing kids that a high school student from Pennsylvania can change the world.”

As the informational session ended, 17-year-old Cameron Johnson, who has already taken the Create and Innovate course, said she was thinking of going to Temple University after graduation next year. 

The B4USoar program starts again in the Spring 2020 semester. The Freire students go through a rigorous selection process. Temple students are able to apply to the courses through the normal registration process. 

To learn more about this initiative and the vision for the future of Fox School of Business, visit the Fox Strategic Plan 2025 website.

Attendees of the LFEW

What do you want?

That’s the question Lisa Wang, USA Hall of Fame gymnast and co-founder and CEO of SheWorx, asked the crowd at the 20th Annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference at the Liacouras Center. As the keynote speaker, Wang challenged attendees to shift their personal goals from perfectionism to “enoughness.”

Lisa Wang at LFEW
Lisa Wang presenting at the 20th Annual League for Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference

“There is a significant difference between trying to make myself proud, versus simply being proud of myself,” says Wang. A self-proclaimed overachiever for most of her young adult life, Wang shifted her perspective after an unsuccessful attempt at qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It was then that she realized that nothing is ever “enough” in the pursuit of perfection. 

After a return to intensive training and victory in the form of a USA Hall of Fame induction, Wang left the world of gymnastics and founded SheWorx, which aims to close the funding gap for women through collaboration and support. Through her experience, she learned what she believes are the three traits of successful leaders. 

  • Self-awareness – the ability to recognize within yourself the fears and desires that are motivating you.
  • Anti-fragility – the ability to grow stronger from the things that hurt you.
  • Abundance – the ability to trust that what you know deep down is right.

Wang ended her address with a piece of advice: “Trust what you want, trust in your abilities to make it happen and trust that that it is enough.”

The conference also included Temple Talks featuring 10-minute talks from successful entrepreneurs and a Q&A moderated by Sheila Hess, BBA ’91, Philadelphia City Representative. Avi Loren Fox, CLA ’10, of Wild Mantle, Charisse McGill, STHM ’03, of Lokal Artisan Foods, LLC and Adriana Vazquez of Lilu presented their business concepts to the crowd and fielded questions on their entrepreneurial journeys thus far. 

Sheila Hess at LFEW Conference
Sheila Hess, BBA ’91, Philadelphia City Representative

The talks were followed by a conversation with Shirley Moy, executive director of Temple University Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, who discussed the state of the organization’s efforts to career-building resources to residents of North Philadelphia. 

The “Power Pitches” portion of the day brought back competitors from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s 2019 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, including Olaition Awomolo of BuildLab, Shari Smith-Jackson of Pay it Forward Live, and Elina Khutoryansky of Haelex, to give three-minute pitches on their early-stage ventures. 

The event concluded with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony to “recognize alumnae who have demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and made outstanding achievements as innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.” Samantha Berger, Aisha Chaudry, DPM and Donna Lynne Skerrett are this year’s inductees. 

The League for Entrepreneurial Women, 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 Betsy Barber, professor and executive director of Business Development and Partnerships 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 Executive Director Ellen Weber, co-hosts the event.

It was Philadelphia that Ben Franklin called home when he tied a key to a kite, flew it during a storm, got struck by lighting and discovered the harnessing power of electricity. Since then, the City of Philadelphia has not only been known as the birthplace of our country but a haven for thinkers, innovators and misfits looking to create the next big thing. Commonly known as the City of Brotherly Love, it was here that Todd Carmichael, founder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee, felt he could live up to his full potential.

Last Friday morning, Todd joined the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute’s Executive Director, Ellen Weber, for a sit down conversation about what it takes to be an innovator, changes in the coffee industry, and the core values he championed when starting La Colombe Coffee. Todd began by explaining how he views innovators, and his belief that “innovation favors the restless and the unhappy.”

When Todd moved to Philadelphia in the 1980’s, he was at the bottom and so was the city. “Everything starts with an urge, and if you’re going to get on the elevator it might as well be at ground zero,” explained Carmichael. He moved into a cheap apartment in Rittenhouse Square, and opened his first La Colombe cafe. When he began, all that he knew was that he wanted to be what his grandfather always taught him to be—a decent person. He wanted to create a decent company.

To his surprise, the first several months were spent explaining to customers—used to drinking regular hot coffee—about lattes, cappuccinos, and the many variations of coffee that can make it such a treat. The La Colombe brand began to grow into the industry staple it is today, and Carmichael noted that its always been clear to him that innovation played a role in continual market shifts—even if they weren’t always thought of as “innovations.” The biggest of them all? What Carmichael referred to as the “ice age” of coffee—the beginning of drinking your coffee cold, now a societal norm. 

In realizing the importance of innovation in the continued success of any large company, Carmichael makes it a priority in La Colombe’s overall business strategy. “In any company, innovators have to be in close proximity to the decision makers,” Carmichael emphasized. He meets with his innovation team twice a week, for at least four hours each time. “If you lessen the importance of the innovation team, they become cost savers, less like dreamers, and your company will get left behind.” 

The Innovation Leader Speaker Series is an on-going series that features breakthrough leaders in innovation from a variety of industries from food and beverage to the medical industry. For more information on additional upcoming events from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute visit iei.temple.edu or email us at iei@temple.edu

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.

BYOBB Grand Prize winner, Olaitan Awomolo of BuildLab, presents at Demo Day.

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.

Summer 2019 Startup Studio cohort members with Greg Fegley and Ellen Weber.

“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 1810@temple.edu.

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.

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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.  

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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.”

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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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