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About Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.


Ben Dalton, MBA ’20, is an 11-year US Army veteran and lives with his wife and two children in Ballwin, Missouri.

Ben Dalton

Last week, in my final semester for an MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University here in St. Louis, I was supposed to be in Barcelona.

Three days before our departure, the trip was cancelled due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. When the class was cancelled, the fantastic staff and faculty at WashU utilized their networks and worked hard to provide an option for those students who needed the class to graduate on time.

Network contacts included Gerard Craft (Niche Food Group), Kevin and Chris Nashan (Peacemaker Lobster & Crab, Sidney Street Café), Chris Kelling (Elmwood) and JiaMin Dierberg (Hermannhof Winery). Charlie Downs and Dave Molina (Sugarfire) as well as Jason Bockman (Strange Donuts) previously prepared students for their trip to Shanghai, China, before the class was cancelled.

Businesses helped students finish coursework

These amazing local restaurateurs and hospitality hosts took time out of their businesses to help us understand what it took to run a business as well as wine distributor operations from different places in the value chain. This class was enjoyable for all students who opted to remain in St. Louis and complete the coursework, thanks largely to those local business owners who brought their expertise to our classroom.

A week later, guidance has been given to close these same businesses due to the global pandemic. Gerard Craft closed all locations (except Cinder House) immediately and complied with the plea for social distancing prior to any mandate, including not allowing pick up or delivery options because it would endanger his staff. Elmwood and Peacemaker dining rooms closed Thursday, and it sounds like pick up orders are still available.

Around the country, hourly workers for large sporting venues are getting help from the professional athletes and ownership. We need the same kind of help from our local community. Our local food scene is getting stronger with every new restaurant, and the community of small businesses seems to support and collaborate to the benefit of many St. Louis people.

Strange Donuts

Last year, I helped write a case study about Strange Donuts as they were supporting WashU with another learning objective and met some of the awesome people that work there as well. These are not people who make tons of money or could not work for a few months. While some of these businesses may be around in a few weeks, the livelihoods of many of their workers will not. Some options available include emergency unemployment benefits, elimination of payroll tax, and rent abatement for impacted workers.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll contribute to the Gateway Resilience Fund, set up to provide short-term monetary relief to employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants and shops in the St. Louis area affected by closures and other circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Photo: On March 9, Olin MBA students visited the Tin Mill Brewing Company in Hermann.




GiftAMeal is a St. Louis startup founded by Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17. The following is a press release from the organization.

Andrew Glantz (BSBA ’17), founder, GiftAMeal

GiftAMeal, a St. Louis based mobile app, is stepping up in the face of the COVID-19 crisis that has hit our community so hard. Today [March 18], GiftAMeal announced an ambitious five-point plan to provide relief to struggling restaurants and the most at-risk segments of our society.

GiftAMeal is a mobile app that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo in a partner restaurant. Just two weeks ago, they announced they had reached 200 partner restaurants, with 400,000 meals provided to those in need.

Founder & CEO of GiftAMeal, Andrew Glantz, explained, “A majority of the community members supported through GiftAMeal are children and the elderly. Schools are closing, and children relying on meals normally provided are facing a new challenge as social services scramble to readjust. At the same time, older community members, the most at-risk population for COVID-19, need our support now more than ever.”

Glantz continued, “Just as the community is struggling, so are many restaurants in the face of public health guidelines designed to contain the spread of this virus. Employees depend on their jobs to pay bills and make rent, and our partners are doing their best to mitigate the effects of this crisis on their staff. But they cannot do it without the support of the public.”

Seeking to assist both local restaurants and those at-risk in the community, Glantz announced the following plan:

Donation program available for delivery/pickup/offsite customers

With the mandated closing this week of dining rooms across the bistate area, Glantz’s team quickly devised a big change to their program that was previously only available to in-restaurant customers at partnering locations.

“We just launched an update to the GiftAMeal app that will temporarily allow users to take pictures off-site to donate meals for takeout, delivery, and gift card purchases. We will do this by lifting the location requirement of needing to be at a partner restaurant when you take the photo and we will move to manual verification. PLEASE support our local partner restaurants that are struggling during this difficult time.” – Glantz

Immediate financial support of hunger relief agencies – $5,000 matching challenge

“Having spoken to Operation Food Search about their needs, we will be making our donations for the next few months early to provide immediate funding to get food to those facing hunger. We may be a small startup with limited means but we’re launching a campaign to match donations, up to $5,000, for our food bank partner. If you would like to contribute, click here: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/GiftAMealMatch.” – Glantz

Publicity for restaurants undergoing fast changes

With hundreds of restaurants forced to quickly find new avenues to pay their staff, Glantz is keeping the app’s 35,000+ loyal restaurant customers aware of all avenues to support their favorite restaurants:

“We will keep you up-to-date on the latest with our partner restaurants on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Many are expanding take-out and delivery programs to keep serving the community and are implementing extremely thorough health precautions to keep us all safe.” – Glantz

Direct coordination of food donations from restaurants

We are working to coordinate food donations with Operation Food Search. If you know of any restaurant that has a surplus that is interested in donating food to the community, please let me know or have them contact Jack Baran of OFS directly at jack.baran@operationfoodsearch.org. It’s tax-deductible too!– Glantz

Program cost relief for struggling restaurants

In a message to restaurants (who normally pay $49-$149/month to fund the program costs and donations), Glantz extended an offer to self-fund the program for restaurants unable to contribute in the months of March and April so that food donations and restaurant customers could continue to flow at a time when they are most needed. When asked how he came to that decision, he explained,

“We are a small startup with limited means, but this is a time where we can shine the brightest. It’s important to me that our donations continue to flow to hunger relief organizations, and I know that the visibility of restaurants on our platform can have a big impact on cash-flow for these local businesses. I’ve always been struck by the generosity and love of community that our partner restaurant operators have shown, and even if it’s a drop in the bucket, I am going to help however I can.”

The response by the community has been overwhelmingly positive and grateful. Kristen Wild, Executive Director of Operation Food Search, commented on GiftAMeal’s fast and community-centered response:

 “We are so very grateful to GiftAMeal for its innovative approach to providing more people with access to healthy food. Socially-conscious businesses like this are changing the way people approach giving, and the generous support of GiftAMeal is making an impact in our community every day.”

The free GiftAMeal app is available on iPhone and Android devices – giftameal.com/download

If you need help during this time, please visit www.operationfoodsearch.org/emergency-response-2020.

Check out www.giftameal.com for more information.

Facebook: facebook.com/giftameal

Instagram: instagram.com/giftameal

Twitter: twitter.com/giftameal




Tim Edwards

By Megan Oliver, Special to Olin Blog

Two phrases that typically aren’t found together are “excellent wine” and “protecting the planet.” But to WashU Olin alumnus Tim Edwards, PMBA ’90 they couldn’t be any more related.

Since his time at Olin, Edwards has exemplified the core values of integrity, leadership, and excellence with his role as owner of the prolific St. Stephen Organic Vineyards. As a result, last month he was invited to address the United Nations Climate Change Division’s Annual Conference in Madrid about his ideas to finance actions to globally mitigate climate change.

Creating really great wine, with a mission

After leaving St. Louis, Edwards traveled across the world, ending up in the Colchagua Valley wine region of Chile—a country famous not only for its spectacular views and climate but also for its auspicious ability to make wine. There, Edwards purchased the land that would become St. Stephen Organic Vineyards.

In line with Olin’s entrepreneurial pillar of excellence, the primary goal of the vineyard was first and foremost to make the best possible organic wines, something specifically possible in this small corner of the world.

See Tim Edwards’ address to the UN climate conference. The address begins at the 3:29 mark.

Boasting a similar distance from the equator as Napa Valley, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the Colchagua Valley the best wine region in the world in 2005. Founding his business in this particularly capable region of the planet not only emphasizes his entrepreneurial spirit but also his commitment to being globally oriented, another pillar in Olin’s mission.

The secondary mission of the vineyard was to do something that betters this world. Staying true to the values-based and data-driven pillar of Olin’s mission, Edwards wanted to live up to his social and moral obligations in the best way he knew how.

After researching the effects of global emissions on the environment, Edwards decided that proceeds from every bottle of wine sold from St. Stephen would benefit organizations that are committed to helping the planet. “The idea that we could give a little bit of money to help it seems like the absolute least we could do,” Edwards said.

Speaking at the United Nations

This was the same philosophy that inspired Edwards’ speech at the UN Climate Change Conference, where countries negotiated ambitious plans to limit global warming. In Edwards’ address, he states his belief that the world already has the solutions to the crisis that faces us, but the problem lies in financing these changes.

Very simply, his idea relies on goodwill from major corporations and fostering influential consumer behavior. In order to finance much-needed change, Edwards calls upon Fortune 500 companies to fulfill the same social and moral code he has led by. He explains if Fortune 500 companies contribute, “1/100th of 1% of their revenue stream, that would be $1.4 billion.”

While Edwards understands “that won’t solve the problem,” he does believe “it’s a big step forward.”




Grant Goldman, BSBA ’17, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He wrote in to report that his company, PAIR Eyewear, will be presenting their concept on the episode of Shark Tank, airing tonight (7 p.m. central) on ABC television.

UPDATE 3/16/20: PAIR Eyewear received a $400,000 deal during the March 6 appearance. Read more.

Olin and WashU have played an instrumental role in my career thus far. I arrived at Olin knowing I wanted to be “in business,” but not certain about which vertical. I began in the finance track, but after several introductory business school courses, like Management 100, I found a love for marketing.

While I wanted to start my career in marketing, financial literacy was still crucial. Through my finance coursework, I found myself in Managerial Accounting with Professor Zawadi Lemayian. And even though I struggled with the coursework at times, Professor Lemayian became one of my closest confidants and a source of strength. We still chat regularly, and she continues to offer incredible advice, for which I can’t thank her enough.

Career launch

After graduation, I joined GREATS, a startup sneaker brand in Brooklyn, New York. There, I focused on analytics and digital marketing. Classes like Managerial Statistics and Marketing Research provided me with the knowledge and tools to raise the bar of analytical standards and processes at GREATS, even in an entry-level position. After about two years, I was promoted to manager of growth marketing and analytics, overseeing digital marketing, and eventually our more traditional, out-of-home efforts.

In August of 2019, GREATS was acquired by Steve Madden and I decided to explore new opportunities. I reconnected with a high school classmate, Sophia Edelstein, who had recently launched a direct-to-consumer children’s eyewear brand with her friend Nathan Kondamuri.

Pivot to peeps

As a second-grader, Nathan had to get glasses for the first time and found the experience to be medical and scary. After interviewing hundreds of families, they discovered not much had changed. With PAIR’s continually customizable frames and colorful options, kids are excited to wear glasses and change up their look every day. Having worn glasses since kindergarten, I immediately connected with their mission.

Although “Shark Tank” is an atypical way to fund a venture, it allowed us the opportunity to seek strategic investment from some of the most creative business minds. What’s more, it was the perfect platform to connect with the millions of viewers and families who have experienced the same challenges Nathan had as a child.

We’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible investors, having now raised $3 million in seed funding since launch in the summer of 2018. Most importantly, we’re proud to have helped thousands of families and kids be enthusiastic about their glasses and excited to wear them every day.

Pictured above: Grant Goldman, BSBA ’17, who is the head of growth for PAIR Eyewear. His company is presenting on “Shark Tank” tonight, although he himself will not be appearing.




Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Ian Belkin, who worked with MUTE International in Shanghai.

I spent my summer interning at a startup in Shanghai named MUTE International. MUTE is an acronym for Multiple Urban Transport Evolution. The company provides green, energy efficient, electric scooters to consumers, eschewing ownership in favor of month-to-month usership.

The business model is similar to the WeWork or Cort models, but functions in the transportation space through an app that provides a streamlined and frictionless set-up, requiring no down payment or credit card.

My role as an intern has comprised creating cashflow and other financial projections of expected growth as well as constructing pitch decks to court potential investors in future rounds of funding.

One fear inevitably shared by participants in internships with such truncated timelines is that the challenges and responsibilities conferred upon them will be rote and lack significance. Fortunately, my personal experience at MUTE has been quite the opposite.

There exists a plethora of substantive, engaging and challenging assignments to be tackled. Since its inception, MUTE has been aggressively expanding into nascent markets and now boasts offices across three continents, in locations as diverse as London, Bali, Shanghai, Perth, and Lyon.

A large portion of my early efforts were spent investigating the financial viability of three additional proposed outlets in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City (to my great disappointment, I was not invited to participate in the on-the-ground due diligence in any of these exotic locales).

Accounting for the nuances associated with breaching new markets is an interdisciplinary exercise: marketing and scaling bleed into operations and logistics, all of which are framed and constrained by the vagaries and realities of financing.

This internship experience has provided ample opportunity to develop and meld the various core tenets of business espoused in the first year of our Olin MBA program.

Inevitably, start-ups succeed based on the unbridled passion and proclivity towards masochism of their founding members. MUTE is the brainchild of Patrick Davin, an intrepid and indefatigable Aussie with 25 years of experience in the electric scooter market and a successful IPO already to his credit.

Beyond the evolution of my technical skills, bearing consistent witness to Patrick’s inimitable enthusiasm and perseverance were the most valuable commodity I left with. Leadership, another often-touched upon trope within Olin is not only preached, but practiced on a daily basis at MUTE.

I feel fortunate to have earned the opportunity to learn directly from Patrick, and hope to impart my newly acquired wisdom upon my return to Olin and upon all future endeavors thereafter.