Author: CELect at T-REx

avatar

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. 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.




Students in Olin’s CELect course helped create the marketing plan for SafeTrek, a personal mobile safety app that was introduced to the WashU community this fall. Student-led teams in the entrepreneurship consulting course are paired with startups at the downtown accelerator T-Rex and assigned a wide variety of projects.

“The project for SafeTrek is one of many examples where helping a local entrepreneur also helped the community,” said Academic Director for Entrepreneurship Clifford Holekamp.

We asked SafeTrek cofounder Nick Droege about working with CELect teams on the marketing rollout of the app for WashU:

Have the CELect teams provided valuable contributions to your company?

The CELect teams have been extremely valuable in helping us over the past year. From market research to rollout strategies, they’ve made our jobs easier.

The spring 2017 team was diverse mix of law and business students. Did they bring valuable perspectives?

The spring 2017 team was an impressive group. They were able to provide us with valuable insights on campus climate as we geared up to launch at WUSTL’s campus.

[Related: Check out the Spring 2017 CELect team’s take on collaborating with SafeTrek]

What would you tell other startups considering a collaboration with a CELect student team?

Yes. Constantly getting outside perspectives is extremely important as you’re building a company. As founders, it’s easy to hone in on our strategies based on our lenses of how we should execute. Having a group of young, motivated, entrepreneurial spirited students look at what we’re doing and offer their opinions has made us take a step back and evaluate our approaches.


Safetrek recently announced a $3.2 million funding round with St. Louis-based VC firm Cultivation Capital.

The University is continuing to provide SafeTrek FREE OF CHARGE to all students, faculty, staff and Basic Services Contractor employees. To activate your subscription click on the link below and follow the steps: www.safetrekapp.com/affiliate/WUSTL




Givable is a new St. Louis startup that provides a platform for charitable giving and community involvement. Their mission is to “empower individuals and businesses to fuel change by making giving easy, social, and interactive.”

The company was founded on the principle of contributing to and empowering the growth and development of the St. Louis community. While there are numerous charities within St. Louis, individuals and businesses may not be aware of their existence and/or purpose. Givable shines a light on these charities and allows individuals to conveniently contribute to them and/or get involved within their communities.

Through Givable’s interactive micro-donations, charitable giving is easy and fun. Its transparent and trusted platform will allow Givable to lead the way in community-focused, subscriber-based giving mechanisms.

elise_hastings

Elise Hastings

As a team, we are helping Givable develop a marketing strategy to increase subscriber awareness and acquisition. After conducting an industry and market analysis, we now know that St. Louis has tremendous potential to enter into the new era of giving. We have also enjoyed having the opportunity to work with the founder and executive director of Givable, Elise Hastings. Ms. Hastings has truly inspired us to learn more about the St. Louis community and the potential number of organizations that Givable could serve.

Our ultimate goal is to help Givable grow, and through the process we hope to make a positive and lasting impact on both the company’s marketing strategy and the St. Louis community’s involvement with local charities.

Givable logo_darkCompany Background: Founded with the support of the Regional Business Council, the Staenberg Foundation and Cultivation Capital, Givable is a subscription-based daily philanthropy platform designed to engage millennials with awareness of social engagement and habitual giving to local nonprofits.

Project Goal: Identify an audience and create a marketing strategy to target that audience and increase Givable’s subscriber base.

CELect Givable Team: Adam Brock, BSBA; Allison Halpern, BSBA; Andrew Mackin, Law; and Nirav Patel, Law




Pixel Press is a company created by people who weren’t satisfied with simply playing video games – they wanted to make them their own. Many people share this desire, but practical limitations were an obstacle to creating their own universe. Pixel Press allows everyday people to easily overcome these obstacles by offering products that transform paper drawings and building-block configurations into content that can played, edited and shared on a variety of platforms. They help the average person become a mastermind architect by exercising their whole brain – the analytical left side and the creative right side.

Playing video games is fun, but creating your own video game, playing your own video game and sharing it with your friends takes it to the next level. Not surprisingly, Pixel Press’ products have already enjoyed much success on the retail side of their business. Additionally, both Pixel Press and teachers have recognized the educational potential of their products and Pixel Press is planning to expand their educational offerings through their hands-on product Bloxels. Our project is focused on this expansion into the educational market.

bloxelsBloxels uses a grid and color-coded blocks that allow a traditional childhood toy – blocks – to be transformed into an interactive universe. As a standalone product, parents and teachers have already discovered ways to use Bloxels to teach kids STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focused learning principles – such as prototyping, design thinking, teamwork and collaboration, and user empathy. Pixel Press is making it even easier for schools and teachers to use Bloxels as an educational tool by designing lesson plans and related materials that teach specific skills and concepts.

In order to be successful in its expansion into the educational space, Pixel Press has asked our team to research and evaluate the educational software market in order to create a plan for successful expansion. The founders of Pixel Press have explained what makes their company successful, how their products work, and the opportunities they see for expanding into education.

Our team will be making recommendations about how educational services should be modeled, priced, and implemented in accordance with Pixel Press’ vision for success. These recommendations will be backed up by a competitive analysis of the educational software market and data gathered from the customer segment that matters most: the teachers and administrators who will be implementing Bloxels as an educational tool in their classrooms and schools.

CELect Pixel Press Team: Mark Nesdill, Law; Kalin Pearce, MBA; TJ Ragsdale, BSBA; Jordan Sazant, Law




ITEN, the IT Entrepreneur Network, has been a catalyst of the St. Louis region’s IT startup ecosystem since its founding in 2008. ITEN cultivates startups from the idea stage to successful business platforms. ITEN’s success in developing startups has long been rooted in mentorship: successful entrepreneurs and business people have played a role in guiding new companies through their early stages. The mentorship process has been successful in sprouting a network of interconnected entrepreneurs and resources. With the focus on keeping talented entrepreneurs in the St. Louis area, ITEN offers long-term engagement with the entrepreneur which includes numerous opportunities for education and personal growth.

Our team has met with Francis Chmelir, the executive director of ITEN, to discuss how to best move ITEN forward in a changing technological environment.

iten_logo-copyThe fundamental goals of ITEN remain intact from its initiation: connect talented entrepreneurs with each other and with mentors; educate entrepreneurs in how to best navigate early-stage business; and facilitate entrepreneurs’ relationship with St. Louis in a way that incentivizes talent to stay local.

Our team’s plan of attack will cover three general areas; together we will address ITEN’s current concerns and ensure ITEN’s continued success in the St. Louis startup ecosystem.

  • First, we will investigate ITEN’s corporate engagement initiative. In doing this, we will assess the availability of specific partnerships that ITEN can tap into, along with participation incentives for both entrepreneurs and mentors.
  • Next, we will assess the potential for local collaboration on data management and administration. Ideally, we would like to figure out a way to streamline all of St. Louis startup data to facilitate collaboration between groups.
  • Lastly, we will perform a high-level analysis of ecosystems in other similarly-situated cities. We hope to learn from the ITENs of other cities to inform our path forward to assist ITEN as best we can.

We look forward to working closely with Francis throughout the semester and uncovering ways ITEN can continue to reach its full potential in St. Louis!

Our CELect team includes: Danny Kraus (JD ‘17), Andrew Polansky (JD/MBA ‘18), Alana Siegel (JD/MBA ‘17), and Michael Washington (JD ‘ 18).