In one project, WashU Olin students developed a new and untested go-to-market strategy for a St. Louis-area startup—plus, they identified additional opportunities within the company’s existing strategy.
In another, students worked with a different startup to organize and segment thousands of contacts in the company’s database, helping to target the contacts most likely to be converted to customers.
The two cases are examples drawn from one of WashU Olin’s newest courses, the Marketing Clinic for Startups, launched in spring 2020 and taught by Michael Wall, professor of practice in marketing and entrepreneurship.
“The class creates an opportunity for students to work on a half-semester practicum focused on helping real-life St. Louis startups tackle their sales and marketing challenges,” Wall said. “The inaugural class went incredibly well.”
The course aligns both with Olin’s focus on its strategic pillars of excellence—particularly those around values-based, data-driven decision-making and entrepreneurship—and on WashU’s broader focus on serving the greater St. Louis community.
The course is something of a counterpart to an existing class offered through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning, the Metrics Clinic in Finance. Both task teams of students to work with startup companies to tackle real-world problems.
“We received great insights in the new market as well as validation on our current strategies,” said Fady Hawatmeh, founder and CEO of Clockwork, which uses artificial intelligence to create a customizable tool for businesses to create financial projections, cash flow forecasts, metrics and scenarios all in one place, in real-time.
Hawatmeh was among the startups that participated with student teams in the debut of the Marketing Clinic for Startups. His team worked on go-to-market recommendations. “We’ve made some adjustments based on the team’s findings to our marketing material and our content strategy.”
Fridaouss Nabine was also a client. She’s a mentoring expert and founder of Fyrst Gen, an online platform built to help first-generation college students and business professionals promote their businesses, build their personal brands and connect with other “first gens.”
“The recommendations were extremely helpful in determining our ideal customer profile and segmenting accordingly,” Nabine said. “While we didn’t build the contact-rating system they suggested, we cleaned the list to prioritize those who were most likely to convert to customers.”
Both entrepreneurs connected with Wall and the CEL through the St. Louis region’s startup network—Hawatmeh, through the Arch Grants startup competition, which provides funding for locally based startups, and Nabine through the CEL’s relationship with the T-Rex business incubator, where she is based. Wall is continuing to look for new project opportunities within the St. Louis startup ecosystem.
Wall also said the course is now open BSBA students, as well as marketing and entrepreneurship students in the MBA programs, “so, it’s a course for all Olin programs which is pretty exciting.”
Pictured above: A student team from the CEL meets to discuss a project (photographed before the pandemic).