Tag: Entrepreneurship



Zandy Schorsch, MBA ’19, contributed this blog post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning.

Oscar Wilde once said that rugby is a good occasion for keeping 30 bullies far from the center of a city. This semester, students from the undergraduate and graduate levels of Washington University Olin Business School have been working with the Center for Experiential Learning to perform the opposite—assess the viability of bringing a professional rugby team to the city of St. Louis.

Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and Major League Rugby was founded last year to provide fans with professional-level rugby competition here in the states. The league kicked off its inaugural season with seven original teams. With nationally televised games on CBS and sold out tickets in many of the cities, there is a growing sense of optimism as MLR prepares for its second season.

The league has aggressive plans for expansion, with teams in New York and Toronto joining for the 2019 season and Atlanta, D.C., and Boston joining in 2020. St. Louis has emerged as one of the potential cities for an MLR expansion team, and the CEL was hired by a local entrepreneur to determine whether such a venture is feasible.

The CEL’s client, a husband and wife duo with a lifelong passion for rugby, believe the loss of the city’s football franchise has created an opening for rugby. Through dozens of interviews with rugby players, coaches, executives, and MLR league officials, the CEL team developed a strong understanding of how a rugby team in St. Louis would operate and the number of fans it would be able to attract.

Although St. Louis has always been a baseball town, there are hundreds of registered rugby players in the local area across all levels of the sport, as well as several nationally recognized rugby programs.

While the CEL team was able to develop a demand forecast for rugby in St. Louis, only so much can be learned about stadium financing and team operations from phone interviews and emails. As a result, the client decided to bring the CEL team to Glendale, Colorado, to meet with the Raptors, the MLR regular season champions, to learn more about the business side of rugby operations.

Learning about rugby operations from the Raptors.

During a full-day of meetings with the Raptors, the CEL team learned about stadium financing, team and stadium operating costs, revenue drivers, marketing and sales strategies, and unexpected expenses associated with managing a professional sports team.

The CEL team also got to learn the fundamentals of rugby from some of the professional players, such as tackling techniques and field goal mechanics.

While the CEL team requires more practice if they hope to play professionally, the data the team was able to collect from the Raptors proved invaluable for their analysis. The client capped off the trip with dinner at a local pub, a great opportunity for the student team to connect with their client informally.

Upon returning to St. Louis, the CEL team took the lessons learned from the Raptors to develop a financial model the client could use to make an informed decision about bringing professional rugby to St. Louis. The team developed an intuitive financial model that accounted for attendance numbers, concession sales, merchandise sales, stadium costs, advertising, and a host of other variables posed several challenges.

Effectively communicating the outputs from the financial model, as well as highlighting the key assumptions and inputs that produce those outputs, was also critically important.

By building a strong relationship with the client throughout the semester, and leveraging the abundant resources of the CEL and Washington University, the CEL team was able to provide a final deliverable that gave the client a holistic view of everything that goes into managing a professional sports team and stadium.

The financial analysis demonstrated that a team in St. Louis is feasible, so be on the lookout for a local MLR team in near future.

Overall, the CEL is a unique opportunity for students to work on real-world projects that have a direct impact on their community. Bringing a professional sports team to St. Louis is the type of project that major consulting firms and investment banks would be envious of, and for the clients who hire the CEL, they get to receive professional-level services from the very students who, upon graduation, will be joining those types of companies.




Brant Tagalo, BSBA ’20, contributed this post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. Lexi Bainnson, BSBA ’21, edited and formatted this CEL blog post.

In October, the Center for Experiential Learning sent a team of student-consultants to Quito, Ecuador, to advise the innovation and entrepreneurship department of ConQuito: The Agency of Economic Promotion.

The startup or incubation ecosystem is a complex and unpredictable environment that fuels technological progress, the ecosystem in which the seeds of the most innovative and revolutionary technologies are planted and cultivated. The opportunity to step into and examine this environment has been—so far—the highlight of my academic career.

Entering the landmark historical building in which ConQuito operates, the team was welcomed by ConQuito members to their impressive co-working space. Designed with the vision of merging the past with the future—the historical significance of the building and ConQuito’s efforts to engender a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship—the co-working space symbolizes ConQuito’s goal to cultivate the seeds of innovation to pave the way to economical improvement in Ecuador. Our client ConQuito is a pioneer of promoting innovative and entrepreneurial activities that stimulate the economy.

Working with a team of welcoming, collaborative, and dedicated professionals has served to increase the team’s motivation and interest in this project. The team’s objective is to provide the innovation and entrepreneurship department of ConQuito with a recommendation that optimizes the strategy for fostering a culture of innovation, ingenuity and progress.

The CEL practicum is the culmination and application of all the business concepts I have learned in Olin Business School. The experiential value of a real-world consulting project has shaped my future career aspirations. It has given me the assurance that I want to pursue a career in consulting.

Pictured above: Enrique Crespo, director of innovation, ConQuito (the CEL client); David Paquette, MBA ’19; Stephanie Feit, MBA ’19; Brant Tagalo, BSBA ’20; Mimi Wang, MBA ’19; Laini Cassis, MBA ’19.




Daniel Schindler

Chronic dehydration is a widely reported problem among Americans. We may drink plenty of liquid, but researchers often say it’s the wrong kinds of liquid. Diuretics such as caffeine-rich coffee and soft drinks—or alcohol—cause us to urinate more, rather than retain the water we drink.

Most of the current hydration products are consumed before or after exercise or alcohol consumption, instead of while engaging in these activities and when people need to hydrate most. Daniel Schindler says BetterTomorrow can come to the rescue.

After realizing that he and others were not hydrating effectively, especially when drinking alcohol, exercising, and traveling, Schindler came up with a solution: a flavorless liquid supplement for any drink—including water, coffee, beer, wine, or cocktails—that BetterTomorrow began marketing in May. BetterTomorrow is focused on helping people hydrate when they need it most, as opposed to before or after.

His company developed its formula based on World Health Organization recommendations for rehydration. A few dashes of the BetterTomorrow additive provide consumers with the electrolytes and other supplements needed to better retain water as they take it in.

Work on the company began two years ago, but Schindler credits his past year in Cliff Holekamp’s entrepreneurship classes— including the “Hatchery” course—for helping him hone his business plan, make insightful connections, and develop the business.

That work has yielded a partnership with St. Louis’ Mission Taco Joint, the Austin Beer and Run Club, and other wellness-focused businesses across the United States. Meanwhile, he’s working on getting in front of potential investors to take BetterTomorrow to the next level.

Startup stats

  • Incorporated in March 2017.
  • May 1, 2018: Began serving in partnership with St. Louis-based Mission Taco.
  • Each 40-serving dasher bottle of BetterTomorrow concentrate costs $20.

Team members

  • Daniel Schindler, MBA ’19, CEO/Co-Founder
  • Eddie Zelenak, CMO/Co-Founder
  • Cole Puchi, COO/Co-Founder
  • Lianli Li, Pharmaceutical Expert

Competition participation

  • February 2018: The TigerLaunch Startup Competition in Chicago selected BetterTomorrow as a regional finalist.
  • March 2018: Product demonstration at the Nightclub and Bar trade show in Las Vegas to 10,000 attendees. The team received over 500 interested leads and was selected as one of 12 emerging companies to pitch to influential leaders in Las Vegas’s bar and nightclub industry.
  • Recipient of Holekamp Seed Fund grant.



Jerry Steiner, EMBA

A St. Louis-based ag tech startup led by a WashU Olin alum has closed another round of financing as it moves toward the commercial launch of a new cash crop in 2021.

Jerry Steiner, EMBA ’92, is CEO of CoverCress, a post he’s held since January 2015, two years after the company was founded as Arvegenix. Steiner has 15 years’ experience previously with Monsanto.

CoverCress closed its latest $2 million round of funding November 14. Two prominent organizations co-led the funding round, Bayer Growth Ventures, the venture capital arm of Bayer and formerly Monsanto Growth Ventures; and BioGenerator, the investment arm of local nonprofit BioSTL. The round brings the company’s total funding to nearly $8 million, according to the St. Louis Business Journal (subscription required).

The company at the same time rebranded to CoverCress, reflecting its focus on developing a cash crop based on the native plant pennycress. According to the firm’s news release, “CoverCress is a new winter oilseed cash crop designed to provide winter and early spring soil cover between corn harvest and soybean planting, while producing an oilseed crop. CoverCress oil and protein meal are similar to that of canola.”

“Many farmers have told us that they want to do more to protect soil and water as well as find new sources of income from their land,” Steiner said in the release. “We are responding with CoverCress, a unique product to deliver both benefits to farmers.”




Arch Grant recipients Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15, Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17, and Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17.

Three startups spawned on the WashU campus joined the latest class of 20 companies to receive Arch Grants worth $50,000 each. All three companies were launched through Olin’s Hatchery course, one of the longest-running entrepreneurship courses in the United States.

The three Arch Grants recipients established at WashU are:

Balto, founded by Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15. The company markets software that uses artificial intelligence to improve the success rate of sales reps working in call centers.

CheckTheQ, founded by Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17. The company has created a monitoring system that delivers real-time information on wait times at airport security to airport operations.

GiftAMeal, founded by Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17. The company markets a mobile app that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo on its app at a partner restaurant.

“The entrepreneurial drive of these young alums, and the progress they are making with their companies is really remarkable,” said Cliff Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship, who teaches the Hatchery course. “It wasn’t that long ago that these students were sharing their new business ideas with me in my office, now to see them win Arch Grants is very exciting and a meaningful validation of the traction they are making with their companies.”

The three companies, along with 17 others, learned they’d each receive the $50,000 grant on November 16 at the Arch Grants gala, according to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Arch Grants organization does not take an ownership stake in the companies it supports, but does require them to operate for at least a year from St. Louis in order to qualify for the money.

The Olin Hatchery course involves student teams that work on a commercial or social venture idea proposed by a student or community entrepreneur. The students work to produce two presentations to a panel of judges and a complete business plan for the startup enterprise. The course is open to any WashU student who has taken the prerequisites.

Watch the Arch Grants video about all the 2018 grant recipients.

Pictured above: Arch Grant recipients Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15, Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17, and Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17.