Tag: Entrepreneurship



The Madagascar Sustainability Initiative, previously run through University College, is the most recent addition to the Center for Experiential Learning’s portfolio of offerings, in partnership with Missouri Botanical Gardens.

We talked with recent Madagascar alumnus Joseph Park, BSBA ’19, about the course, how it aligned with his personal goals, and his takeaways from the experience.


What is the Madagascar Sustainability Initiative?

It is both an academic and immersive course. Students spend a semester learning about the economic, political, and sustainability issues facing the country. Then, four- to five-person teams develop projects to address the problematic deforestation rate in the country and improve the lives of the people in Madagascar. At the end of the semester, students travel to the Mahabo village to implement projects, live with the native Malagasies, and explore the culture through activities like visiting the free market and going on a lemur walk.

What does the day-to-day work look like in Madagascar?

The trip to Madagascar is three weeks. Two weeks are spent implementing projects in the village of Mahabo, while the other week is spent traveling and sightseeing in Madagascar.

Joseph’s group introduced a method of converting animal droppings into charcoal, creating an alternative to wood for fires and beginning a system of waste management for animal owners. This work is a foundation for larger future projects that have the potential to significantly reduce wood usage in the country.

Projects vary. For example, other groups distributed feminine hygiene products to women and girls or revived a community garden.

The cultural immersion piece is truly what makes this class unique. “Not only do you study the issues facing the country, but you also actually experience it for yourself and have the opportunity to change people’s lives,” Joseph said.

As a business student, Joseph says his goal is to use business for social impact, and the Madagascar class helped him to do so. He described the course as the “perfect opportunity to use the teamwork skills he learned in business classes to create positive change for people living on less than a dollar per day.” Beyond that, his experience taught him how non-profits can help impoverished areas, and he hopes to leverage this understanding to have a larger societal impact in the future.

What would you say to students considering the Madagascar course?

“My advice would be to talk to as many people as you can who have done the program before, and try to understand their experiences as best as you can. That helped me a lot in grasping what exactly the Madagascar environment would be like, and I wish I had done that even more,” Joseph said. “For people on the fence about taking the class, I would say that every penny I spent going on this trip was worth it for me. It’s an experience unlike any other, and is something that is difficult to come by without a program like this. I even got quite a bit of financial assistance from both Student Financial Services and Study Abroad scholarships, so hopefully money isn’t such a large issue.”


We are excited to integrate Madagascar into our offerings at the CEL. The CEL is looking for passionate students who are intrigued to get involved. Please feel free to stop by Simon 100 if you would like to learn more or have any further questions.

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, CEL Marketing Student Associate




What’s not to love about less hassle at the airport?

CheckTheQ is a monitoring system that delivers real-time information on wait times at airport security to airport operations, enabling them to manage and respond to traffic fluctuations quickly.

The startup was co-founded by Martin Locklear, CIO, and three WashU students who met in Olin’s Hatchery course: Colton Calandrella (BSBA ’17), Adam Hoffman (AB ’17), and Stephanie Mertz (BSCS/BSAS ’17). Calandrella had the original idea to use software to monitor airport security lines, and the engineering cofounders conceived and developed the software to deliver real-time information on crowd movement.

“Every traveler has felt their stomach drop when they walk into an airport and see a security line that seems to stretch for miles. But it turns out that long lines are not just a problem for travelers. They also cost airports millions of dollars every year, since we travelers choose not to fly whenever we can avoid it because the security experience is so abysmal. And when we do fly, too much of our airport time is spent in security instead of at concessions or near our gates. We’re CheckTheQ, a technology company that empowers airports to keep lines short and travelers informed. Because we believe that when lines are short, everybody wins.”

CheckTheQ’s first in-airport trial installation took place this summer, and it was a finalist in the most recent Arch Grants competition. Check out the video above to learn more about the group’s innovative idea.

#OlinKudos, CheckTheQ!




Students involved in the Center for Experiential Learning Practicum have a unique opportunity to consult for large Fortune 500 companies. One such notable partner is Red Bull, which the CEL collaborated with last spring.

The Red Bull consulting team was tasked with leveraging analytics to align consumer and retailer views of business performance. By building a comprehensive understanding of how different demographic and geographic segments intersect and engage across the full spectrum of the business, Red Bull can acquire new customers and identify better metrics for measuring success. Students worked directly with Josh Muncke, Director of Data Science at Red Bull. His previous experience in data analytics at Deloitte and IBM made him a great resource and mentor to the team.

During after the team’s work, the CEL talked directly with Josh about his experience, in order to continue improving as an organization and as student consultants. To begin, we wanted to better understand the unique value and perspective CEL students could provide.

Josh said students showed a fresh way of thinking about our consumer/user groups and found opportunities within them.” Beyond simply recognizing opportunities, the consultants identified metrics for measuring the success of pursuing those opportunities. This team of consultants delivered solutions rather than simply identifying problems.

CEL Red Bull Team working on site in California.

Josh’s feedback also helped us identify areas for growth as consultants: knowledge of more robust analytical tools and increased communication.

An understanding of data analytics tools is becoming increasingly more important in the workplace. While Excel is a great foundation, student consultants should be prepared to utilize more robust, professional-grade analysis tools when working with clients.

Josh also sympathized with the challenges that come from distance. The student team traveled to Santa Monica, California to meet in person with Josh, but increasing the number of video conference check-ins and on-site visits can better ensure alignment between the team and the client. Distance can be difficult, but using technology to our advantage can help decrease this gap.

However, the most important metric for success is: Would the client hire our student consultants again? Josh “definitely” would.

Like any team, our consultants faced challenges, but Josh believes the team’s output will help Red Bull drive more coordinated sales and marketing tactics at a regional level. We are excited to see how we can further our partnership with Red Bull and their incredible brand marketing tactics.

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, CEL Marketing Student Associate




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Brittainy Cavender, Jinsoo Chang, Masa Ide, and Jenny Kronick describe the experience of consulting for their client, FocalCast. 


St. Louis-based FocalCast is a live collaboration software that allows audiences to connect and interact with presentations. By providing features like live annotations, digital whiteboards, and polling, FocalCast turns standard presentations into engaging dialogues.

Since its founding, FocalCast has provided an easier way for people to communicate, collaborate, and conduct business on the go. Now it is looking to expand into new markets.

As part of the Fall 2017 CELect class, our team is developing a comprehensive marketing strategy to propel FocalCast’s product into new market verticals. Our approach focuses on researching potential clients and developing leveraged distribution and direct sales strategies to target a variety of players within those key verticals.

Our research emphasizes bottom-up approaches—specifically, interviews with current and prospective customers. The interviews help us determine customers’ current needs and pain points, which will guide us in developing a strategy that addresses these consumer interests. The strategy utilizes both traditional and digital marketing, including organic and paid marketing, to create an optimized plan for lead generation and awareness. The goal is to provide FocalCast with a strategy that will allow them to take the next steps in growing their business and create a strong foothold in the targeted verticals.

Guest Bloggers: Brittainy Cavender, Law ’18, Jinsoo Chang, MBA ’18; Masa Ide,  MBA ’18; Jenny Kronick, PMBA ’18 




Failing… sucks. Whether it’s failing a class, failing to meet new people on your first-year floor, or failing to connect with a professor, feeling inadequate is one of the worst feelings in the world.

Fear of failure makes it that much harder to leave your comfort zone. It’s uncomfortable to start from square one and join a new club or friend group, where everyone else seems to be one step ahead of you. It’s hard when people throw around complex terms or concepts in casual conversation, and they’re all going over your head. One bad experience can set you back for months, afraid to take another chance.

But it’s only by putting yourself out there, asking stupid questions, and failing that we can stumble upon some great opportunities. For me, the great opportunity was Bear Studios.

When I first came to WashU, I tried to branch out and suffered (more than) a couple of setbacks.

I faked my way through the spring rush process for one of WashU’s business fraternities, only to be cut in the final round. My pride was hurt. I was ready to throw in the towel on business and move forward with my Arts & Sciences education, shutting the door on a huge realm of possibilities.

But then somebody introduced me to Peter Delaney (BA’18, Global Health), the co-founder and a director of Bear Studios. And Peter welcomed my stupid questions; he met me halfway. Peter and the team didn’t throw around esoteric terms—they explained them.

This is my advice—my plea, really—for student groups: Meet your new members where they’re at. Don’t call out the first-year student huddled in the corner of your general body meeting. Walk up to them after the meeting and engage in a meaningful way. Welcome the stupid questions, allow new members to grow, and foster that sense of curiosity.

I have been with Bear Studios since March. I’m still asking stupid questions, and I’m still learning on the job. But I think that’s the point: I am learning.

My advice for the Class of 2021 would be to fail. Branch out. You’re an engineering student? Take a history class. IAS (International and Area Studies) major like me? Look into some of the Olin student groups. Take some Sam Fox classes. Get outside your comfort zone and fail a little.

It’s not so bad after all.

Guest Blogger: Jacob Finke, BA’20 is majoring in International and Area Studies, concentrating in international affairs; he is a strategy fellow at Bear Studios LLC.

 

 




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Logan Bolinger, Alex Clouser, Myiah Johnson, and Chad Littrell describe the experience of consulting for their client, TechArtista. 


The co-working space trend has been continuously growing over the past few years. Over the years, consumer interests and expectations of those spaces have evolved and co-working spaces have evolved with them. TechArtista in St. Louis has been at the forefront of developing a unique cultural experience for its customers to address these demands.

TechArtista is not just a co-working space. It is a community of art, culture, and innovation. As TechArtista sets its sights on expanding to a second location, they turned to the CELect program to help execute this task.

During this project, our team has gained great insight on how TechArtista’s differentiated culture creates value for members. When a plan and process are developed around that culture and replicated, it becomes even more valuable. Through our research, we have found that the most successful spaces are the ones that have been able to grow while still remaining true to their brand. TechArtista’s culture is well-positioned for growth. We plan to add value by proposing a plan that helps them leverage and replicate that culture by instilling new processes.

This CELect experience has been valuable because it has demonstrated how effective an actionable plan can be in the execution of a company’s vision. We have also been taught the importance of staying true to the established values and mission of one’s company. The reasons people have for joining an organization and the organization’s own values can be more significant and more catalyzing than what the company actually does.

Guest Bloggers: Logan Bolinger, Law ’18; Alex Clouser, MBA/Architecture ’18; Myiah Johnson, PMBA, ’17; Chad Littrell, PMBA ’18


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