Members of the Olin Sports Management Association (OSMA) meet with St. Louis Rams’ front office staff prior to the Rams vs. 49ers game at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, November 1, 2015. The group was introduced to internship and
CATEGORY: Career, News, Student Life

This week, Olin’s MBA Business Management & Technology club and the Weston Career Center hosted two MBA alums from San Francisco, Justin Lowdermilk of Twitter and Gaurav Lokesh of StubHub.  Both Justin and Gaurav shared their unique insights related to the technology industry, how they got started, their career growth since graduating from Olin, what it’s like to live in SF and work in ‘Tech’. 

Olin’s MBA Business Management & Technology Club and the Weston Career Center sponsored the lively, interactive exchange. A networking reception allowed for further relationship building and learning in a casual atmosphere where Justin and Gaurav were able to further share and enjoy Olin’s Bauer Hall and Knight Hall facilities.



A few weeks ago, approximately forty-five Olin sophomores and juniors boarded a bus and made their way up to the Windy City. Once they had checked into Chicago’s illustrious Palmer House Hotel, the students had some time to explore the city, be it by meeting up with friends or sampling some authentic deep-dish pizza.

OBC in ChicagoGuest Blogger: Adam Taitz is a BSBA ’18 student with a minor in Computer Science.

After a goodnight’s sleep, the students split into two groups, consulting and finance, and prepared for the long day ahead of them. While the consulting group made stops at Crowe Horwath, Navigant, and Bain & Co., those on the finance portion had visits at Citi, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Lazard. After completing the visits, the two groups reconvened, boarded another chartered bus, and began the drive back to campus.

The trip was undoubtedly a resounding success. Students on both treks gained invaluable knowledge about the consulting/finance industry, as well as greater insights into the individual firms. Augmenting this success is the fact that students from the Olin Business Council were entirely responsible for the successful planning and subsequent implementation of the trip. Washington University and the Olin Business School are fantastic resources for students to utilize in their search for jobs and internships, be it through faculty or peer run programs.

CATEGORY: Career, Student Life

Jimmy Sansone, BSBA’10, is a recipient in the latest round of $50,000 Arch Grants announced last week. Sansone’s startup is called the Normal Brand – a line of casual clothing with Midwestern sensibilities.  The 27-year-old finance major tells the St. Louis Business Journal that he’s been an entrepreneur since he was a kid.

“I started my first business when I was 12 years old with my brother. We were always doing something as kids – sealing driveways, running summer camps, selling poinsettias during Christmas.”

Congratulations, Jimmy!

Link to article.

Related Blog post.


The Prosper Startup Accelerator hosted its Fall 2015 Demo Day in Emerson Auditorium in Knight Hall on Wednesday, November 12, sponsored by the Olin Executive MBA Program. The program included pitches from the five CEOs in the Fall 2015 cohort of the accelerator.

Meg Shuff, EMBA Alum and Assistant Dean of EMBA Recruiting and Admissions, opened the program with an introduction and acknowledgement of EMBA alum Mary Jo Gorman, Lead Managing Partner of Prosper Capital. Shuff said, “It’s truly a treat to be part of the energy that’s going on right now in this community. I so applaud Mary Jo and the other founders of Prosper for the energy and excitement you have brought around women’s entrepreneurship, and we’re thrilled to host this. I actually am an entrepreneur myself. I have a communications consulting business that I started six years ago so I am well-equipped to know the challenges of juggling many things and to be supportive of your efforts.”

Gorman introduced the five CEOs of the Fall 2015 cohort, but began with a thank you to their families. She said, “Without you they wouldn’t be here, and they wouldn’t be presenting. So a big thank you to all of you.”

Gorman then explained the mission of the accelerator. “The goal of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator is really to promote the success of women by investing in them and also helping them to get success in receiving early stage capital.

“You may know that women only get 1% of the venture capital. There is a lot of research on why that happens, despite the fact that they start many,many companies. Part of what we do in the accelerator program is help our entrepreneurs understand how to navigate through those sorts of areas and work on their business models in a way that will be fit for investment and will encourage investment.”

Potential investors listening to the Prosper Demo Day pitches.

Potential investors listening to the Prosper Demo Day pitches.

The five pitches heralded a broad range of products including a firewall product from Bandura Systems LLC, medical tourism services through SkyMedicus, Inc.  a pharmaceutical intelligence software tool through EDIS Solutions, LLC, a hospital discharge tool through JanusChoice, LLC and a transparent LCD product through Taptl.

For example, Suzanne Magee, CEO of Bandura Systems said, “15 years ago I co-founded a company in direct response to a call from the White House to join the effort to secure the critical infrastructure of the United States. We built a team and some technology in collaboration with the Department of Defense and then spun out the technology in order to bring the Polliwall to the commercial marketplace. And that is through Bandura.”

Each presenter introduced potential investors to the current state of their company, and how venture capital could take them to the next level.

The next Prosper Demo Day will be in April 2016.




CATEGORY: Career, News

Management Consulting and Human-Centered Design company XperienceLab hosted a panel discussion of St. Louis innovation heavy-hitters and an innovation workshop on Friday, October 30 at Third Degree Glass Factory titled “Innovation in St. Louis!” The event included the insights of Chris Meyerpeter, Chief Information Officer and Commercial Operations Lead Monsanto Vegetable Seeds; Travis Sheridan, Executive Director, Venture Cafe – St. Louis; Susan Lang, Founder & CEO, HooPayz and adjunct professor at Olin; and Scott Welz, senior vice president Wells Fargo Advisors.

From left to right: Scott Welz, Chris Meyerpeter, Susan Lang, and Travis Sheridan.

From left to right: Scott Welz, Chris Meyerpeter, Susan Lang, and Travis Sheridan.

The topics of innovation and entrepreneurship often bring to mind small start-ups but these panelists shared the particular challenges faced by innovators in large corporate environments and some techniques that lead to success. Meyerpeter emphasized that at Monsanto it is important to focus on the ultimate value of a proposition, not whether or not it’s innovative. “Monsanto has never not funded the right idea. I would challenge the teams, regardless of if you believe the idea is innovative or not, if you can understand the value in the idea, how will it show that value? That’s where the creativity comes in. To me it’s not that different than going to get funding for anything.”

XperienceLab interviewing Scott Welz, SVP & Director of Innovation, Wells Fargo Advisors.

XperienceLab interviewing Scott Welz, SVP & Director of Innovation, Wells Fargo Advisors.

Welz described Wells Fargo as a relative late comer to the conversation about innovation due to the highly regulatory nature of the financial services industry. He described two approaches they use, however, that have been effective in accelerating buy-in. “When we’ve got a new idea, historically, in our business, the compliance and regulatory voices have strong seats at the table, and they are very quick to say why you can’t do it. We use the power of the words, “How might we” to start a discussion around the fact that certainly we understand there will be regulatory issues around this idea, and let’s keep those in mind as we’re going through this, but as we start, lets just explore the idea. We acknowledge up front that we have these constraints, but we don’t apply them early in the process. We wait until we have created something that everyone is really excited about and interested in and understand the value of, and then we make sure that we make that work in the regulatory framework.”

The second technique Welz described involves starting from the client experience. “We say, ‘Wait a second, the point of the regulation has a fundamental client experience impact.’ What if we start with recreating  the client experience around that, so that by the time we’re done creating a really cool client experience  we happen to be in compliance with that regulation?  Also, in doing this, we’ve separated ourselves from our competitors  by creating  this new way of going about our business that differentiates us and, oh, by the way happens to be in compliance with the new regulation as well.”

Susan Lang, founder and CEO of HooPayz, describing innovation at the medical wellness company.

Susan Lang, founder and CEO of HooPayz, describing innovation at the medical wellness company.

Before starting HooPayz, LLC, Susan Lang was the Vice President of Supply Chain at Express Scripts and worked for years to innovate from the C-suite. “There was the issue of the cost of capital how they wanted to spend their dollars. Then there were the issues of competing priorities, political boundaries and obstacles, and then the issue of regulatory obstacles before you ever got to a board decision (depending upon how big an investment you were making). I would say in that environment there are absolute strategies we can talk about of how you first convert your team and then your colleagues and then one level up from you. These strategies work when trying to gain acceptance of ideas in very large political organizations.”

The panel illustrated that although similar needs –such as capital and buy-in–must be met when  innovating within an existing corporate environment and when innovating as an entrepreneur, the approaches require different skill sets.

Susan Lang said, “As an entrepreneur who is disrupting outside of the corporate environment, what you really need is to find early adopters that who either knew you before, or believe in you and/or believe in the product and are willing to take a shot at it. You turn them into your other tier that is going on to sell it to the market. So not having corporate marketing money, what I needed was some early clients that became evangelical about what we were doing. Once we got acceptance of that idea, the actual outcome was what we promised.”

Lance Leonard, PS Operations Manager, Strategy & Innovation, World Wide Technologies, presenting his group's findings in the Innovation Methods & Tools breakout.

Lance Leonard, PS Operations Manager, Strategy & Innovation, World Wide Technologies, presenting his group’s findings in the Innovation Methods & Tools breakout.

Travis Sheridan described the value of failing and how important it is for entrepreneurs to spend their capital carefully by sharing a story about his own start-up that failed. Investing their own bonus money, he and a friend created a start-up that Sheridan now calls a ‘bad idea.’

“This was a financial failure of mine that helped me to learn how to help other people avoid that financial failure and to really be able to articulate every dollar that they are putting into a venture, be it their own, or asking someone else for that money.”

Following the panel, attendees were given the opportunity to choose between two Breakout Sessions facilitated by XperienceLab: Innovation Methods & Tools, and Case Studies: Disruptive Innovation.

Joyce Mellow, Communications Professional, participating in the Innovation Methods & Tools breakout session.

Joyce Mellow, Communications Professional, participating in the Innovation Methods & Tools breakout session.

Morgan Noel, Director at XperienceLab led one of the Innovation Methods & Tools workshops called, “Next Year’s Headlines.” In this workshop, participants came up with an idea based on what they wanted the next year’s headline to say about the idea.