Tag: Professional MBA



Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Andrew Smith, Daniel Kalvaitis, Jeffrey Lantz,  and Trent Pavic describe the experience of consulting for their client, Segue Partners.


Every semester, a few undergraduate and graduate students are chosen to participate in the Center for Experiential Learning’s Entrepreneurial Consulting Team (CELect) program. Participants are paired with St. Louis-area startups and tasked with solving a critical business problem.

Our team was selected for this program, and though we’re only a few weeks in, the journey so far has been intense.

WashU’s esteemed entrepreneurship professors prepared us with an intensive, full-day class. After that, it was our responsibility to meet with our client, determine the scope, plan how to meet deadlines, and deliver the most value possible. Professors provided guidance on aligning the team’s work with the client’s vision. But as with a real startup, we are the ones that need to make everything happen.

The following week, our team met with our client’s founder and core team members to discuss their objectives. Our client, Segue Partners, specializes in tackling the unique accounting and financial consulting needs of private funds and venture capital portfolio companies.

After an intense two-hour meeting, our team was tasked with sizing the market and planning next steps for a concept aimed at providing an innovative solution to back-end accounting services for startups and small businesses in the St. Louis area.

An integral aspect of such a project is to understand the market that exists and the needs of potential customers. To get us started, our team was given some initial contacts to interview. This will come as no surprise to those of us familiar with the St. Louis area, but everyone was incredibly welcoming. One contact often led to another…and another…and another.

In fact, the St. Louis entrepreneurial community is so welcoming that even after several dozen interview requests, not a single person has declined to speak with us. Not one.

Several weeks in and nearly a hundred interviews later, we’re starting to get a clear picture of the needs of potential clients. In addition to interviews, our team is studying competitors, modeling assumptions, aggregating data into actionable insights, and formulating a strategy for the potential launch. Leveraging other lessons that we’ve learned in classes at WashU, we’re almost ready to determine final recommendations.

This has been a tremendously rewarding experience for each member of the team. We’re grateful to the CELect program and WashU for giving us the opportunity to engage with the fascinating world of startups in the area, and for allowing us to give back to the St. Louis community.

Guest bloggers: Andrew Smith, BSBA ’18; Daniel Kalvaitis, BSBA ’18; Jeffrey Lantz, MBA ’18; and Trent Pavic, PMBA’18.




The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) is pleased to highlight some of our longstanding partnerships with nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis community. Student teams tackle all kinds of projects for these organizations, ranging from marketing plans to website design to financial planning. Thanks to the Taylor Community Consulting program, these projects are funded and provided to area agencies free of charge.


Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club is a youth-serving organization that annually offers direct-service programming to 3,000 children and indirect programming to over 10,000 in athletics, education, arts, healthy living and leadership, and professional development. Throughout these activities, they work to foster a community centered on their 3R values: respect, restraint and responsibility.

The CEL has worked with Mathews-Dickey on three Taylor Community Consulting projects, focused on building a stronger alumni network and further cultivating scholarships, such as the Blue Chip scholarship for values-driven student-athletes.

Bill Fronczak, vice president for institutional development at Mathews-Dickey, says he is continually amazed by WashU students’ commitment and care about their work through the CEL.

This high level of engagement allows students to find solutions and deliver plans that aid Mathews-Dickey’s overall youth development mission. Bill believes his organization has benefited from having multiple student teams over the years, saying he values the high-quality, timely work the student teams deliver. He says each team builds off one another, and their results add up to progress for the organization that keeps growing.

Bill is energized by his 23 years of work with Mathews-Dickey because of the positive impact that the organization has on the youth who participate in its programs. Bill mentions that a WashU student on a recent CEL consulting team had participated in programs with Mathews-Dickey when she was younger—a perfect example of how this organization works to help children grow up and lead successful lives. The goodwill and good deeds have come full circle with this former ‘client’ now lending her expertise to the very same organization through the CEL.

We are excited to build on our momentum with Bill and Mathews-Dickey to reach lofty goals together and collaborate with a spirit of collective impact.




The Center for Experiential Learning has dozens of practicums and projects each semester that provide students with hands-on experience in all kinds of businesses. The below post highlights one of the CEL’s Taylor Community Consulting Projects with the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective

The best way to introduce you to Story Stitchers is sharing the organization’s compelling story in the words of its president, Susan Colangelo:

“Once upon a time, there was a stitcher who liked to embroider stories from the newspaper. One day, she was stitching a story about two sisters who were shot while sitting on their porch in University City–one of whom died.

The stitcher reflected on the power of stitching throughout history; of the NAMES Project, also known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and quilts used to signal safe passage to escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. Determined to create change, she gathered eight artists in Old North St. Louis and founded the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective. The artists wrote the mission that night: to document St. Louis through art and word, to promote understanding, civic pride, inter-generational relationships, and literacy.

Today, Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to professional artists and minority youth ages 15-24, working together to create social change, focusing on gun violence prevention.”

Story Stitchers has worked with the CEL on four marketing initiatives. Recently, the organization collaborated with students Gary Wang, Aviva Mann, and Taylor Ohman on marketing the nonprofit’s summer program, Pick the City UP.

The Pick the City UP tour aimed to spark community activity among area youth by providing free hip hop performances and presentations on public health issues affecting St. Louis, including gun violence and food insecurity.

The student team went to work defining and creating the deliverables, including project branding with a logo, creating media lists, research on public service announcements for radio, recommendations and oversight for landing page design on the Story Stitchers website, and a social media plan.

What Susan found most remarkable about the Olin CEL team was how much they felt a part of the collective. Taylor sat down with the Story Stitchers youth for extended periods, sketching out potential logos, so that the group could feel a sense of ownership. I visited the storefront recently, and they proudly wore this logo on t-shirts and sweatshirts, showing the community that a simple logo can help create unity and help others to feel involved.

With the fifth team in place for this semester’s Taylor Community Consulting Program, we are excited to help Story Stitchers continue spreading the word about gun violence prevention and creating unique connections in our local community.

This is one in a series of blog posts highlighting partnerships with local nonprofits through the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL).

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18




The 6th annual Real Elevator Pitch Competition is open for submissions. Sponsored by Saint Louis University, this contest is open to all college students. Two cash prizes will be awarded to the best business plan pitches.

The Real Elevator Pitch competition takes place on real elevators in the second tallest building in Missouri: One Met Square in downtown St. Louis. Real students deliver real startup pitches to real investors while riding up 40 stories on the building’s elevators.

Submissions are due by Nov. 7, 2017 at 11:59 CST

Saint Louis University staged the first Real Elevator Pitch six years ago and it has been a successful competition ever since.

Startup business pitches can be submitted in two categories: for profit ideas and nonprofit ideas.

To enter the competition, you must submit a 30 second pitch:

1.) Record your video and upload it to YouTube.

2.) Fill out the SUBMISSION FORM

A blue-ribbon panel of judges will select the top 18 that will move on to the Final Round.

The 18 Finalists will be invited to One Met Square building in downtown St. Louis  to pitch to 30+ wealthy judges while riding up and down on 12 elevators.

See the ‘Real’ Elevator Pitch FAQs to help answer any questions you might have or email ecenter@slu.edu for more information.




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.

 

 

 


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