Tag: CELect course

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 

FinLocker provides a secure financial data and analytics platform and works with mortgage lenders to reduce borrower frustrations and lender costs associated in getting a mortgage approved as fast as possible, while increasing certainty for investors. FinLocker accomplishes this by electronically capturing and analyzing borrower data such as employment, income, assets, credit, and other information. Consumers are able to share their financial information without worrying about that information being compromised. FinLocker provides greater certainty to lenders while reducing costs, risk, and potential fraud.

FinLocker has asked the CELect team to determine how it can leverage its technology to aid lenders in areas other than mortgages.

Our team is working with FinLocker to determine which area will provide the best opportunities and make the greatest impact for FinLocker, lenders, and investors. In order to accomplish this, our team will research different types of loans (student loans, auto loans, personal loans, rental, consolidated loans, small business loans, and peer-to-peer lending), and determine which is most attractive. Once we determine which type of loan is most attractive, our team will learn exactly how FinLocker can add value to lenders and investors for those loans.

finlockerOur team is thrilled for the opportunity to work with FinLocker and its experienced team. We are thankful for this real world experience through Washington University in St. Louis’ Center for Experiential Learning and are excited to be a part of FinLocker’s efforts to change the lending landscape.

CELect Team: Mike Manovich, Law; Cole West, BSBA; Tyler Combest, Law; David Allston, MBA

The Problem: The nursing home market is facing unprecedented growth as the 76 million baby boomers across the United States start to enter retirement. Surprisingly, the majority of these facilities have not sufficiently modernized to meet the challenges brought on by this newfound demand. Specifically, over 50% of nursing homes still use a paper-based system to manage the care of their patients and store their health records. Meanwhile many of those who have switched to an electronic system are tied down by un-intuitive programs with bulky and expensive in-house servers run by companies whose customer service often parallels that of the heavily maligned cable industry.

A Solution: In 2012 BlueStrata EHR was founded as a cloud-based solution to this dire problem. BlueStrata’s digital SaaS (Software as a Service)-model system allows nursing homes to dump their paper systems and expensive servers. The platform enables homes to conveniently access their patient records, medication information, and reporting from anywhere and was built from the ground up with an easy to use interface for nurses and other home employees. Most significantly, BlueStrata is dedicated to delivering best-in-class customer service with on-site on-boarding and implementation, a 24/7 live client support desk, and an online suite of webinars and informational documentation.

The Consultants’ Challenge: Despite BlueStrata’s numerous benefits, marketing and sales dollars are limited. In order to determine how the firm can most efficiently utilize their resources to most effectively reach the largest amount of potential customers, the company has enrolled our help. We are a team of multidisciplinary graduate students from the CELect course at Washington University in St. Louis. CELect is a unique class where students perform consulting projects for start-ups in the St. Louis area as a method of experiential learning while also giving back to the community.

Our group – Robert Bailen, Rachael Lin, Michael Foland, and Tarun Sengar, are working directly with Tony Coco, BlueStrata’s president, to help advise on how to best leverage the benefits of their ERP (enterprise resource planning) platform in a targeted multi-media marketing campaign. Working alongside Mr. Coco and the BlueStrata team has been a great opportunity for us thus far. We have not only been able to witness first-hand how BlueStrata helps homes manage their workflow, but also how they save homes significant amounts of money through increased insurance reimbursements and reduction of human error.

BlueStrata is one of the recent success stories of St. Louis’ burgeoning entrepreneurship scene, which has been driven in large part due to Mr. Coco’s leadership. Mr. Coco was the former director of marketing services and brand management for Victor Technologies, a cutting and welding equipment provider. Victor Technologies was acquired in 2014 by the Maryland-based industrial firm Colfax Corp for $947 million. BlueStrata, meanwhile,  raised $1.66 million from the life science fund of St. Louis venture capital firm Cultivation Capital in August 2015. They’re continuing to grow at a rapid pace and just recently moved into new offices in Creve Coeur to house their increasing number of employees as they continue on their path to help nursing homes nationwide.

Team: Robert Bailen, MBA; Rachael Lin, PMBA; Michael Foland,Law; Tarun Sengar, MBA

SafeTrek is one of the leading personal safety apps available for iOS and Android. When feeling unsafe, a SafeTrek user can simply launch the app and place his or her thumb on a large safety button. When the user feels safe again, they need only release their thumb and enter their passcode. If circumstances necessitate help, however, the user can just release their thumb and wait —  911 is dispatched immediately when the user’s passcode is not entered in time. As such, the SafeTrek app enables users to discreetly notify authorities if and when they are in need of assistance.

Who are they?
SafeTrek’s dedication to the well being of its users is what initially drew our team to the company. SafeTrek’s practices illustrate just how strong their emphasis is on customer service. Last year, for instance, a safety assistant helped direct a distraught college student who had gone out drinking and lost her friends, back to her dorm in New York City. Although the student’s situation fortunately did not require the intervention of law enforcement, the SafeTrek employee remained on the phone with the student throughout her ordeal.

Why did the founders start SafeTrek?
After getting numerous reports concerning the incidents that were occurring on their college campus, the founders of SafeTrek brainstormed an idea about how to develop a safety system that was better suited to ensuring safety than the standard Bluelight System. The founders came up with SafeTrek and the app has since become an enormous success.

Our experience:
Our group has already enjoyed learning from a promising startup on a broad range of topics. As students who each have an interest in one day starting businesses of our own, SafeTrek has been a great partner for our group to consult with and we hope to continue to learn more about the many responsibilities that entrepreneurs must assume to build successful companies. We look forward to providing SafeTrek with helpful market research in the future and are grateful for the opportunity given to us by WashU’s CELect program.

Sandy Kugbei, Law’17; Kimaya Hemdev, BSBA; Christian Luetkemeyer; PMBA; Jason McCloskey, Law

Currently, apps are becoming one of the most important forms of digital interaction. Recent data demonstrates that Americans spend much more time on mobile devices, either on phone or tablet, than on any other type of media devices. For example, app analytics firm Flurry found that people spend at least two and a half hours per day on mobile devices, compared with the fact that merely half an hour is spent on print media. More interestingly, 80% of the mobile time is spent in apps.

Consumers use apps because they are  simple and convenient to use; businesses need apps because they provide unique sales, marketing, and communication opportunities.

However, the process of transferring a website to an app is always costly and time-consuming. Large companies are lucky enough to have abundant capital to hire top talent for developing and maintaining their apps. But small businesses, especially early-stage start-ups, do not have the necessary funds to to hire their own app developers. This is why the existence of Appnotch is so important to these small businesses. As a mobile app builder, Appnotch instantly transfers a business’ existing website into an app.  With the help from Appnotch, small businesses finally have an inexpensive and convenient way to reach new clients and expand their business.

We are very excited to be working with Appnotch this semester, as part of the Entrepreneur Consulting Team in collaboration with the Center for Experiential Learning.  Our team consists of students with diverse backgrounds, Kailey Dreyfus, BSBA; Erica Lasala, BSBA; Grace Han Velker, MBA; and Wei Zhu, JD. Our goal is to determine Appnotch’s target market and value proposition and identify a go-to-market strategy.

We will be putting together the estimated ROI metrics and customer scorecards to help evaluate potential customer’s success, their potential to continuously engage with Appnotch, and any upsell opportunities. We will be spending significant time evaluating end consumers’ needs and pivoting our value proposition to better address their pain points.

We believe this project will help Appnotch gain a better understanding of its potential market and how to better position itself in the market place. It has been an eye opening experience working hand in hand with a technology based start-up company, where our input will truly make a difference.  Experiencing the culture at T-REX has been an exciting opportunity, and we are looking forward to the solutions we will develop.

Guest Blogger: Erica Lasala