Author: CELect at T-REx

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About CELect at T-REx

Taught at the T-REX technology co-working space and incubator, students in CELect consult for various St. Louis startups from around the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The course includes students from the MBA and JD programs, as well as Undergraduate Business, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences.


Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Anna Cossio, Mark Gum, Nick Rafferty, and Shannon Turner describe the experience of consulting for their client, alum-founded GiftAMeal. 


The CEL entrepreneurial consulting team course (CELect) provides WashU students the opportunity to work with and solve business challenges for St. Louis-area startups. Our team is working with GiftAMeal CEO Andrew Glantz, BSBA’17, to develop a marketing strategy for the company’s St. Louis region. Through this marketing strategy, we hope to increase downloads and engagement on GiftAMeal’s mobile app.

GiftAMeal is the perfect example of the amazing work for-profits can accomplish when they tackle social causes. Since 2015, Andrew and his team have worked with various mentors, accelerators, and investors to develop an app meant to address food insecurity by providing meals to food banks.

[RELATED: Gift A Meal doubles donations]

Here’s how it works: Download the app and check out one of your favorite participating St. Louis restaurants. When your meal arrives at the table, take a picture of your food, and share with your friends via the social media outlet built into the GiftAMeal app. Once your photo has been shared, GiftAMeal will donate a meal to Operation Food Search in St. Louis at absolutely no cost to you. It’s as simple as that!

[RELATED: Glantz named to AKPsi 40 Under 40 list]

Our team has loved working with Andrew and his team on this project. His drive to address food insecurity in the community has proven to be contagious. Beyond that, it is inspiring for us to know that our recommendations will translate into a larger impact for GiftAMeal. Not only are we learning how to formulate and communicate our recommendations in a professional setting, we are also contributing to the success of an application that will provide support to many families in need.

Working on this project has given us the experience of working from the ground up to understand the current needs of clients and users of the app. We have interviewed restaurant owners who are registered under the GiftAMeal application, analyzed feedback from current app users, and experienced using the app first-hand by donating meals as we dine at restaurants. Each of these steps have allowed us to begin formulating ideas for the recommendations we will provide Andrew and his team in the following weeks. Stepping into the business world has given us the opportunity to attain real-world knowledge, an experience not often available to students stuck in the classroom.

Guest Bloggers: Anna Cossio, BSCS/BSSSE ’20, Mark Gum, Law ’18, Nick Rafferty, BSBA ’20, Shannon Turner, MBA ’18 




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Brittainy Cavender, Jinsoo Chang, Masa Ide, and Jenny Kronick describe the experience of consulting for their client, FocalCast. 


St. Louis-based FocalCast is a live collaboration software that allows audiences to connect and interact with presentations. By providing features like live annotations, digital whiteboards, and polling, FocalCast turns standard presentations into engaging dialogues.

Since its founding, FocalCast has provided an easier way for people to communicate, collaborate, and conduct business on the go. Now it is looking to expand into new markets.

As part of the Fall 2017 CELect class, our team is developing a comprehensive marketing strategy to propel FocalCast’s product into new market verticals. Our approach focuses on researching potential clients and developing leveraged distribution and direct sales strategies to target a variety of players within those key verticals.

Our research emphasizes bottom-up approaches—specifically, interviews with current and prospective customers. The interviews help us determine customers’ current needs and pain points, which will guide us in developing a strategy that addresses these consumer interests. The strategy utilizes both traditional and digital marketing, including organic and paid marketing, to create an optimized plan for lead generation and awareness. The goal is to provide FocalCast with a strategy that will allow them to take the next steps in growing their business and create a strong foothold in the targeted verticals.

Guest Bloggers: Brittainy Cavender, Law ’18, Jinsoo Chang, MBA ’18; Masa Ide,  MBA ’18; Jenny Kronick, PMBA ’18 




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Logan Bolinger, Alex Clouser, Myiah Johnson, and Chad Littrell describe the experience of consulting for their client, TechArtista. 


The co-working space trend has been continuously growing over the past few years. Over the years, consumer interests and expectations of those spaces have evolved and co-working spaces have evolved with them. TechArtista in St. Louis has been at the forefront of developing a unique cultural experience for its customers to address these demands.

TechArtista is not just a co-working space. It is a community of art, culture, and innovation. As TechArtista sets its sights on expanding to a second location, they turned to the CELect program to help execute this task.

During this project, our team has gained great insight on how TechArtista’s differentiated culture creates value for members. When a plan and process are developed around that culture and replicated, it becomes even more valuable. Through our research, we have found that the most successful spaces are the ones that have been able to grow while still remaining true to their brand. TechArtista’s culture is well-positioned for growth. We plan to add value by proposing a plan that helps them leverage and replicate that culture by instilling new processes.

This CELect experience has been valuable because it has demonstrated how effective an actionable plan can be in the execution of a company’s vision. We have also been taught the importance of staying true to the established values and mission of one’s company. The reasons people have for joining an organization and the organization’s own values can be more significant and more catalyzing than what the company actually does.

Guest Bloggers: Logan Bolinger, Law ’18; Alex Clouser, MBA/Architecture ’18; Myiah Johnson, PMBA, ’17; Chad Littrell, PMBA ’18




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Undergraduate student team George Dunning, Devin Goodkin, Brian Kim, and Josh Rotker describe their experience working with local startup Tallyfy.


Our group met at the first class meeting, where Prof. Cliff Holekamp explained basic strategies to estimate market size using top-down and bottom-up approaches. During this time, we were also able to form a work plan for the semester by identifying our project, delegating responsibilities, and creating a timeline for the deliverables.

One week into the project, we met up with Tallyfy CEO Amit Kothari to flesh out Tallyfy’s needs. Amit is extremely passionate about Tallyfy’s vision and provided us with a plethora of insight on the company’s past, present, and future. He ensured that we were well-equipped to approach the project, and made it clear that he is readily available for communication throughout the duration of the project.

Our team has been consulting with Amit to deliver a go-to-market plan for their newest application, One URL, a process-tracking and workflow tool. Amit tasked us with identifying which markets offered the greatest potential for this new app.

Part of the challenge is narrowing down the vast array of potential markets. We first created a set of criteria for the types of companies and business processes that could best utilize One URL. In our initial brainstorming, our team was able to identify over 30 markets, which we then limited to 10 initial markets.

This stage taught us the value of utilizing research and data. While we initially assumed certain markets would be a perfect fit, those assumptions happened to be short-lived. Prior research and current applications negated the feasibility of implementing One URL into what we originally thought were strong industries. With a deep dive into each of the 10 markets, we narrowed down the top potential to four markets.

We have also utilized interviews as a tool for this process. Talking to professionals within these potential markets has provided incredible and tangible insight. With this information, we can better understand the needs of niche markets and identify the decision makers Amit would need to reach out to in order to implement One URL.

Throughout the process, Cliff has pointed out pitfalls, helped us align consumer willingness to pay with Tallyfy’s price strategy, and clarified the types of markets to pursue. Additionally, Cliff has advised us to interview as many business professionals as possible, in order to fully grasp the “business pains” this product will solve.

Our plan is to deliver a detailed and implementable go-to-market plan for One URL. We will do so by conducting more in-depth interviews, sizing the market, getting as much feedback as we can, and writing out the plan. We look forward to delivering it to Amit and his team!

Guest bloggers: George Dunning, Brian Kim, and Josh Rotker, all BSBA ’18, and Devin Goodkin, Arts & Sciences ’18. 




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Andrew Smith, Daniel Kalvaitis, Jeffrey Lantz,  and Trent Pavic describe the experience of consulting for their client, Segue Partners.


Every semester, a few undergraduate and graduate students are chosen to participate in the Center for Experiential Learning’s Entrepreneurial Consulting Team (CELect) program. Participants are paired with St. Louis-area startups and tasked with solving a critical business problem.

Our team was selected for this program, and though we’re only a few weeks in, the journey so far has been intense.

WashU’s esteemed entrepreneurship professors prepared us with an intensive, full-day class. After that, it was our responsibility to meet with our client, determine the scope, plan how to meet deadlines, and deliver the most value possible. Professors provided guidance on aligning the team’s work with the client’s vision. But as with a real startup, we are the ones that need to make everything happen.

The following week, our team met with our client’s founder and core team members to discuss their objectives. Our client, Segue Partners, specializes in tackling the unique accounting and financial consulting needs of private funds and venture capital portfolio companies.

After an intense two-hour meeting, our team was tasked with sizing the market and planning next steps for a concept aimed at providing an innovative solution to back-end accounting services for startups and small businesses in the St. Louis area.

An integral aspect of such a project is to understand the market that exists and the needs of potential customers. To get us started, our team was given some initial contacts to interview. This will come as no surprise to those of us familiar with the St. Louis area, but everyone was incredibly welcoming. One contact often led to another…and another…and another.

In fact, the St. Louis entrepreneurial community is so welcoming that even after several dozen interview requests, not a single person has declined to speak with us. Not one.

Several weeks in and nearly a hundred interviews later, we’re starting to get a clear picture of the needs of potential clients. In addition to interviews, our team is studying competitors, modeling assumptions, aggregating data into actionable insights, and formulating a strategy for the potential launch. Leveraging other lessons that we’ve learned in classes at WashU, we’re almost ready to determine final recommendations.

This has been a tremendously rewarding experience for each member of the team. We’re grateful to the CELect program and WashU for giving us the opportunity to engage with the fascinating world of startups in the area, and for allowing us to give back to the St. Louis community.

Guest bloggers: Andrew Smith, BSBA ’18; Daniel Kalvaitis, BSBA ’18; Jeffrey Lantz, MBA ’18; and Trent Pavic, PMBA’18.


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