Tag: Bear Studios

It was only a year ago when I stood, notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other, in the center of Mudd Field. The Activities & Club Fair had just begun.

Surrounding me, on all sides, was a river of freshman, snaking its way around a perimeter composed of countless booths. The diversity of clubs and opportunities was overwhelming and the energy palpable, drawing me into the chaotic crowd of students. As I move from booth to booth, I become fascinated learning about each club’s unique mission, culture, and story. While each group is vastly different from the next, there’s a single element present at every table I visit: passion.

It was contagious, and, before I knew it, my inbox was booming with messages encouraging me to try out for countless organizations. I couldn’t wait to get started, but was soon warned by peers and professors, ‘Be careful not to get too involved, if you spread yourself too thin, your experiences won’t be as meaningful.’

Ultimately, I was told to find a single passion of mine to devote myself to, but I just couldn’t bring myself to narrow my interests down. I decided to simply do what seemed the most fascinating and see where it took me.

As I watched the free hours on my calendar gradually disappear, anxiety began to build. I feared committing to too much would detract from my experience in each organization. However, once I adjusted to my new schedule, I found, counterintuitively, that the opposite effect seemed to be occurring. The more interests I pursued and clubs I became involved in, the greater impact I felt I was having in each of them.

The best analogy to capture this comes from the book No Ordinary Disruption, which describes how “with every doubling of a city’s population, each inhabitant becomes, on average, 15 percent wealthier, more productive, and more innovative.” Likewise, as the number of activities I was involved in grew, I found I could deliver more creativity and value to each of them, leveraging skills I’ve gained and people I met from previous projects.

During the training process for Arch Consulting, Olin’s case competition team, senior members imparted years of case competition knowledge within just a few sessions. My first application of these skills, however, wasn’t in Arch, rather in TAMID. During our intra-organizational case competition, the analytical, research, and design techniques gained from Arch helped our team condense what would’ve ordinarily been a 3-hour project into less than an hour’s worth of work. That competition helped refine my ability to effectively manage a project under a short time constraint which, later in the semester, translated into improving my management of six WUMUNS committees for WashU’s International Relations Council.

The most valuable asset I’ve gained through my involvement, though, hasn’t been the skills or experiences, rather the network of incredibly talented, motivated individuals whom I’ve come to deeply respect and admire. One such person, a member of Arch Consulting I met during pledging for DSP, connected me with what I’ve found to be the most meaningful experience I’ve had thus far at WashU. Over the summer, she reached out to me with an opportunity to interview for a position at Bear Studios, a consulting company founded by three WashU undergraduates that provides strategy, accounting, design, and technology services to a wide range of clients. After a challenging case interview that tested the many skills I’d gained over the past year, I got an email congratulating me that I received the job.

Bear Studios has been the culmination of my experiences with extracurriculars at WashU. Being able to deliver value to entrepreneurial clients who are so passionate about their work is both deeply rewarding and intellectually enriching. In addition to receiving the edifying opportunity to discover more about exciting new industries or products, I can see the tangible impact my work has on their business plan and pitches to investors. There’s truly no feeling more rewarding than seeing your work improve the lives of others.

So, to freshman currently embroiled in the stressful challenge of finding that one interest or activity that defines you – don’t. Get involved in everything and anything that piques your interests. The experiences and friendships you gain will be exponentially more rewarding than the time you commit.

Guest Blogger: Alec Johnson, Class of 2020, is majoring in Economics and Strategy; he is a Strategy Fellow at Bear Studios LLC.


Activities Fair photos by James Byard, WUSTL Photo Services



I was just boarding a plane, about to return to reality after an incredible study-abroad experience in Spain, when I received a message that kept my head high above the clouds passing me by. I was offered an interview at Bear Studios, a student-run strategy and development firm. I had expressed interest in the organization at the end of my freshman year.

The message asked me to prepare for a “case interview,” and I wasn’t the least bit sure of what that entailed. I had heard buzzwords tossed around in my freshman management class: consulting, strategic management, and venture, but I could only match a definition to each term. I quickly realized that the real-world applications of these concepts were exponentially more fascinating than learning their definitions in the classroom.

Bear Studios began in 2014 when Washington University students Peter Delaney (BA ’18 Global Health), Avi Felman (BS ’17 Chemical Engineering), and Will Papper (transferred to Stanford, BS ’18 Symbolic Systems), entered the niche market of start-up consulting and development assistance by leveraging student talent. Through strategy, design, technology development and accounting services, the three student entrepreneurs sought to provide start-ups with reasonably priced resources and assistance from Washington University’s talented pool of undergraduates.

Bear Studios now has two branches, located in St. Louis and Baltimore, with the St. Louis branch led by Delaney and Bill Feng (BSBA ’18 Economics & Strategy). Bear Studios is currently working on over a dozen strategy and development projects in and around the St. Louis area, as well as some projects across the nation.

One of Bear Studio’s most valuable partnerships is with the Skandalaris Center. Through this partnership, Bear Studios has formed relationships with some of its business partners and the companies that are attracted to the Center. Additionally, the Skandalaris Center has worked with Bear Studios to ensure the success of the LEAP Challenge—a tri-annual venture funding challenge in which postdoctoral researchers and innovators seek to commercialize novel research and compete for capital from industry judges. The Skandalaris Center offers LEAP competitors the opportunity to work with Bear Studios fellows to develop their venture, prepare a slide deck, and presentation materials for the LEAP Challenge.

I joined Bear Studios during the summer cycle of the LEAP Challenge. I was provided with materials to begin my case interview—tasked with the challenge of creating a slide deck with content I had gathered from research, and an executive summary that was provided.

As a novice case interviewee, I spent hours researching, even more hours compiling content for the presentation, and even more hours designing the aesthetics of the presentation. I anxiously awaited my first check-in with Feng and Delaney to see if the experience had added more to my understanding of a “case interview” than just a buzzword in my vocabulary.

Feng and Delaney were impressed, and asked if I had any questions. While I explained to them that I knew the executive summary may not have been written by a real person and was merely being used for the case interview, I asked if there was anyone I could talk with who could answer the technical questions I had about some of its content. Feng immediately got me in touch with the summary’s writer who, as it turned out, was indisputably real.

Once I hung up the phone with Feng and Delaney, I realized that this “case interview” was more than an interview—it was a project. I began to question myself and my ability to apply what I had learned in class in the “real world.” All I knew to do was apply the same dedication to the call with the client and to the remainder of my work on the project as I had applied to the initial research. And I enjoyed every moment of it.

I created the final content version of the presentation while working side-by-side with my client, asking frequently for his review and input. I began to understand the Bear Studios process and how consulting works. I sent my slide deck to another Bear Studios fellow who worked on the design of the slides. After functioning as a liaison between my client and the designer, we finalized a slide deck that looked and read beautifully. I flipped through the slides feeling proud of what I had helped create and awestruck by how much I had learned in such a short time.

I received an email a little less than two weeks later, informing me that my client had won the LEAP Challenge and had secured funding for his groundbreaking venture! I smiled ear-to-ear.

And to think it was only a case interview…

Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20, is majoring in Economics & Strategy, Political Science