Tag: Entrepreneurship



Junior Madison Stoecker participated in the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) Small Business Initiative last semester and is excited to share how she applied her in-class learning to drive impact for her client, Always Love and Care. We love to reflect on past success teams have seen—in both their own learning and their client’s growth.

Who is your client and what made you interested in working with them?

Madison: My client last semester was Always Love and Care, an in-home care provider in Ferguson, MO. What made me so passionate about it was the people behind the company: Josh and Lisa Davis. After spending 5 minutes with them, anyone can see the passion and love they have for their community. I love their mission, but I wanted to support the people behind the company as they continue to make an impact.

Can you share a highlight from your time in the Small Business Initiative?

Madison: Before we presented our final solutions, we had a moment with Josh and Lisa where they expressed their gratitude for all their ‘dream team’ had done for them. A new marketing campaign was something they had dreamed about for years, and Josh called it their ‘tipping point.’ Seeing how big of an impact our work had on their lives, and the greater impact that will come from that was worth every single minute of work.

What advice would you give to students interested in participating in the Small Business Initiative?

MS: Prioritize it. This project has a bigger impact than just a final grade. You have the chance to impact, or help someone impact, an entire community. Don’t forget why you are doing it. Also, you are able to apply skills you have learned in other classes to a real-world project.

I would encourage students to create a relationship with their clients. There is so much to learn from them. Most of all, enjoy the experience! It’s an incredible opportunity, so don’t let the stress of deadlines or little things get in the way of doing something amazing!


Check out the CEL’S CampusGroups page to learn how you can get involved in the Spring semester.




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




Entrepreneurship

Arch Grants is practically synonymous with the St. Louis startup community. And Ben Burke, MBA’14, director of entrepreneurship at Arch Grants, is at the center of that synergy. He orchestrates many of the connections that fuel the burgeoning startup community here that is attracting entrepreneurs from around the world.

Burke joined Arch Grants in 2013, a year after it was launched as a nonprofit organization dedicated to “building a new economy by providing $50,000 equity-free grants and pro bono support services to entrepreneurs who locate their early-stage businesses in St. Louis.”

Through its competitive Global Startup Competition, Arch Grants attracts innovative entrepreneurs to the St. Louis region with the goal of keeping their startups here to grow a new economy of  innovative companies.

According to its 2016 Annual Report, Arch Grants has awarded $5.2 million in equity free grants to 96 startup businesses in St. Louis that, in turn, have created more than 1,000 jobs in since 2012, and generated over $51 million in economic output for the St. Louis region in 2016 alone. (source: Arch Grants Annual Report.)

Ben Burke is the guest on the latest episode of STL Community Cast, a podcast that created by Drew Davis who talks with innovative leaders in St. Louis. Give it a listen or check it out on Soundcloud.

 

 

 




Varsity Tutors Online Platform

Chuck Cohn, BSBA ’08, founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, started his company when he was a junior at Olin. The personal tutoring company has grown as an online platform nationally since 2007, and has announced its first foray into the global marketplace with the acquisition of First Tutors, the largest tutoring marketplace in Europe. Read more in the Varsity Tutors News Release, Sept. 28, 2017:

Varsity Tutors, the leading live learning platform for private instructors in the United States, announced today its acquisition of UK-based First Tutors, the largest tutoring marketplace in Europe. The new partnership will enable learners in the UK and internationally to take advantage of Varsity Tutors’ market-leading technology infrastructure, which includes on-demand online and mobile instruction. This acquisition, effective immediately, marks Varsity Tutors’ first entrance into the international market, and reinforces the company’s commitment to providing access to expertise in any subject, anywhere, at any time.

Varsity Tutors connects students to over 30,000 experts for online, mobile, and instant instruction via its award-winning digital platform, as well as to in-person experts nationally. Named the 15th most innovative company in America by Entrepreneur, Varsity Tutors has delivered more than two million hours of live instruction in more than 1,000 subjects on its platform. Online and instant tutoring now account for the majority of its business with a product satisfaction rating of 4.85/5.00.

Since inception, both Varsity Tutors and First Tutors have focused on building robust platforms for students and adult learners to seamlessly connect with experts and receive the instruction they need to achieve academic and personal goals.

Varsity Tutors CEO Chuck Cohn“Expanding our platform globally has always been a priority for us. This partnership is a strategic move as we enter Europe by teaming up with the largest tutoring platform in the market,” said Chuck Cohn, founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors. “With First Tutors, we continue to expand our reach and scale our technology so more students can connect with expert instructors.”

First Tutors hosts 150,000 highly vetted experts on its platform, and has made more than 220,000 matches since inception. The website allows anyone to search for, browse and contact tutors. Once a tutor has accepted an offer from a student, First Tutors charges a one-time £4.99-24.99 introduction fee.
With the acquisition, Varsity Tutors plans to operate First Tutors under its current business model for the near term.

“First Tutors is excited to bring premier on-demand online instruction to Europe and beyond. The reality of students being able to use their smartphone to instantly connect with an expert across the world was compelling to our team,” said Anita Lee, co-founder of First Tutors. “With Varsity Tutors, we will be able to accelerate our efforts to connect students with tutors regardless of location or subject.”

About Varsity Tutors
Varsity Tutors is a live learning platform that connects students and professionals with personalized instruction to achieve any goal. To date, students have accessed more than two million hours of live instruction on the platform. Experts are available to meet in person or through the Company’s award-winning online and mobile platforms, which currently support the majority of all sessions. Varsity Tutors was founded in 2007 at Washington University in St. Louis.

About First Tutors
First Tutors is a global tutoring marketplace that helps families find experts in hundreds of subjects from academic courses, music and languages, to dance, business and computer programming. The online platform ranks 150,000 highly-credentialed tutors based on user feedback and specialist requirements. Founded in 2005, the company is dedicated to allowing students the widest range of choice possible for expert instruction.


Colton Calandrella, BSBA’17, is a CEL rock star. He set a record for the number of Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) projects he participated in over the past four years. He also served as a CEL Student Fellow helping other student teams manage their projects. (Watch video about Colton’s CEL marketing project with a local high school.) This year, he’s working with Teach for America as a math and special education teacher in Chicago before he joins consulting firm Bain & Co. Colton sends advice to undergrads in this blog post about what you can learn by participating in CEL projects.

Graduation will be here before you know it! Here’s some advice for all my younger Olin peers as I begin my first post-college working adventure. There is a simple way to learn about a variety of industries while still in school. Thanks to my engagements with the CEL, I know what it is like to work at a nonprofit, a tech startup, and a family-owned small business. These invaluable experiences equipped me to discern my ideal career path. Specifically, I worked with: a digital health company through the CEL Entrepreneur Consulting Team; an antique store in Ferguson through the Small Business Initiative; and Kirkwood High School, the St. Louis Crisis Nursery, and Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program through the Taylor Community Consulting Program.

All three programs allowed me to explore my academic and professional interest of using business as a tool for doing good. I learned that nonprofits are not the route for me while showing me how exciting and challenging a startup can be. Overall, the consulting experience combined with the social impact directly and perfectly prepared me for my work with Teach for America following graduation, and for my return to Bain & Co. in 2019.

Ultimately, the greatest lesson I gained from working on a team with the CEL is the importance of relationships. On one particularly challenging project, I realized that no amount of individual work on my part could salvage the client’s desired outcome—it was that moment when I learned how paramount team buy-in and motivation is. Successfully building and maintaining relationships is what defines a leader.  Any manager can delegate, but only a leader can truly inspire and motivate their members to achieve more.

Relationship building is also the root of my proudest moment with the CEL. When we helped our SBI client Jeniece install her new inventory system, her store had just opened for the first time since being burned down in 2014. The joy on her face mattered because of my personal relationship with her – I knew deep down what this business meant to her, and how our contribution would help her be successful with her life’s work.

I am so grateful to the CEL mentors who invested time in our relationship to help me become a stronger leader. While leadership opportunities abound at Olin, the CEL’s hands-on coaching really helps leaders grow and expand their skills. Working in the trenches with the CEL’s Micah Northcutt, Beth Doores, and Daniel Bentle helped me take my leadership abilities to the next level by focusing on how to empower my team members. Without the relationships cultivated at the CEL, I would not be the leader I am today.

The Center for Experiential Learning has dozens of practicums and projects each semester that give you hands on experience with all kinds of businesses from local startups to multinational corporations to nonprofits in North St. Louis and around the globe. Find out more here.


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