Tag: Skandalaris Center

Washington University in St. Louis is among the most entrepreneurial institutions, once again ranking in the top 10 for undergraduate programs (#8) and now rising into the top 10 for graduate programs (#6).

“At WashU, entrepreneurship and innovation is at the heart of so many students’ academic pursuits. Our students intentionally connect with the St. Louis community and beyond in Interdisciplinary ways that enhance startup success”, said II Luscri, assistant vice provost for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “At WashU, entrepreneurship is for everyone—students, faculty, staff, alumni and beyond.”

Hundreds of alumni have launched companies

In the last five years, 174 alumni of WashU undergraduate programs and 286 alumni of WashU graduate programs have launched companies. While at WashU, undergraduates can take advantage of 62 different courses that include entrepreneurship while graduate students can enroll in 54 different offerings. New initiatives like the WashU Venture Network and ongoing improvements to the Skandalaris Center’s “Venture Development” process resulted in a record number of startup ideas (74) entering the signature Skandalaris Venture Competition. New courses in the Olin Business School, including the League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, taught by Doug Villhard, provided an additional platform to grow and scale companies this past year.

“Our recent rankings success top 10 now—in  Poets & Quants, Bloomberg Newsweek, and now Princeton Review and Entrepreneurship Magazine—have the most to do with the entrepreneurial achievements of our students,” said Villhard, Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship and professor of practice in entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurial MBA students are attracted to Olin, and once they get here they team up with other students to create even more amazing ideas and innovations,” Villhard said.  “It’s a joy to guide them and to make available Olin’s vast network of successful alumni, investors and friends.”

Access to entrepreneurial opportunities is among the things that set WashU apart from other programs. Luscri explains: “WashU students can engage in entrepreneurship from day one. Whether that is through our ‘Endgame of Entrepreneurship: Leveraging Capitalism for Good’ class for undergraduates or the MBA Entrepreneurial Platform or attending and pitching startup concepts through our iconic IdeaBounce® platform.”

The rankings news comes at an exciting time on the WashU campus and in St. Louis: November 14 to 18 is Global Entrepreneurship Week and St. Louis Startup Week. WashU startups, students, faculty and alumni will be featured prominently at these programs as the entrepreneurial community continues to grow.

The Princeton Review selected the schools and tallied its rankings based on its summer 2022 survey of administrators at nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate schools offering entrepreneurship studies. The survey asked administrators more than 60 questions about their school’s commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. The Princeton Review analyzed more than 40 survey data points to determine the school lists and rankings. Information about the company’s methodology for the rankings is posted on the company website.

One of the Skandlaris Center’s 2017 Global Impact Award winners is the brainchild of two Olin alumni. Data analytics platform Strayos was founded by CEO Ravi Sahu, EMBA ‘14, and CFO Greg Shapiro, EMBA ‘14, in 2016.

Strayos‘ proprietary 3D photogrammetry software eliminates the need for expensive laser scanners by automating mining and quarry site data collection. They use drone data to provide real-time 3D analytics, predicting efficient and accurate blast patterns while significantly decreasing delivery time and improving safety measures.

The second 2017 GIA winner, Genescopy, developed an RNA extraction method that enables a new wave of noninvasive diagnostic tests to prevent, detect, and treat gastrointestinal disease.

The Skandalaris Center’s GIA competition awards WashU, postdoctoral researchers, and recent alumni whose ventures are scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market with proof of concept and a broad impact. Each of the winning teams receive $25,000 in equity-free funding.

Ravi told the Skandalaris Center that their award will support hiring plans, their global launch in Australia and Asia, and a collaboration with WashU’s Computer Science department “to build novel algorithms for big data image processing.”

Ravi Sahu, EMBA 2014, makes his elevator pitch during the event. Strayos was one of two companies to receive an award. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos

Head over to the Skandalaris website for a Q&A with Ravi and Greg about growing a startup, building strong teams, and more.

As an Olin Business School student, I have been exposed to an exciting curriculum for learning business. A common aspect of classroom learning is the case study, where we learn about the problems a real company faces and ultimately present recommendations to our TAs and professors. Whether reading about potential airport expansion for Southwest Airlines or how Disney should respond to the recent surge in subscriptions to video on-demand services, each case is exciting and makes us think about business from a different perspective.

Yet all of these cases are missing an essential aspect of consulting: interaction with the client. They are interesting to read, but our team could not directly interact with the client and learn even more about the business from personnel.

During one of my business school courses, I was on a team tasked with helping a company improve its client communication outreach. Working directly with a client of the company, we spent a whole semester communicating and developing recommendations. However, instead of a final presentation to the professor, teaching assistants, and fellow classmates, we sat around a table with the actual client and presented our solutions.

These experiences taught me how fulfilling it was to develop client relationships, learn about their business from employees, and then present the recommendations directly back to the client. Seeing the client be genuinely interested in our recommendations, engaged during the presentation, and curious about our ideas allowed me to recognize the value in developing a relationship with the client when providing recommendations. I quickly realized that I wanted to continue interacting with clients and helping them improve their businesses.

As a sophomore, I heard of a company called Bear Studios through the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Bear Studios is a student-founded and run business development firm offering consulting, design, accounting, and technology services to WashU and area businesses. Bear Studios provides services to companies that are small and large, young and old—to improve their models, change their strategies, or create whole new perspectives of their operations.

After my initial meeting with the directors, I was captivated by Bear Studios’ direct involvement with the client and knew this organization would present me with chances to interact with clients and help them develop their businesses.

Throughout the semester, I helped with smaller projects—learning the processes, seeing the operations behind the organization, and sitting in on client meetings. Over the summer, I was given my first major project. The night before my first phone call with the client, I read the executive summary, as I’d done so many times before during my business classes, and prepared questions. I was slightly nervous, but excited to be leading my own project.

Over the course of the next month, with the help of Bear Studios fellows, I communicated with the client and turned an executive summary into a fully-developed presentation. Being able to build a relationship with the client and talk through ideas, refine others, and produce a finished product they were excited about, was incredibly rewarding. Seeing the development of skills and interests I’d picked up in the classroom and applying them directly to my extracurricular involvement excites me for future projects with Bear Studios.

Guest Blogger: Tommy Elzinga, BSBA’19, is majoring in Finance, Film and Media Studies

A message from the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Calling All Creators at WashU – Submit Your Work
Think of anything you’ve created that you’re proud of—show it off to the WashU community as an exhibitor at our first ever Creator’s Gallery on the weekend of November 10th.

Examples for submission include, but are not limited to: fine art, robotics, engineering prototypes, visual design, business models, performance art, poetry, photography, etc.

Who Can Submit? All WashU students, alumni, faculty & staff. If it’s yours and it’s creative, submit by the deadline: Oct. 20, 2017.

Submit your work by Oct. 20 here.

If you have any questions regarding the Creator’s Gallery, feel free to contact Rob Hall at krhall@wustl.edu.

Out of 28 applications from across the world, seven finalists have been selected to compete for an award of up to $50,000 in the 4th annual Global Impact Award (GIA) finals in October. Four of the seven finalists have Olin alumni or current students on their teams.

Hosted by the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Skandalaris), GIA is made possible by the generous donation of alumnus Suren G. Dutia and his wife, Jas K. Grewal. The competition is for early stage ventures that are scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market with proof of concept and a broad impact. In order to apply, ventures must have at least one Washington University in St. Louis student, postdoctoral researcher, or recent alumnus (less than 10 years) holding a significant role on the team.

Each of the finalists will be assigned mentors who are experts in fields relevant to their ventures. Over the next six months, finalists will work alongside their assigned mentors and Skandalaris staff as they prepare their deliverables for the final pitch competition in October.

Emre Toker, Managing Director of the Skandalaris Center, commented, “We look forward to the Global Impact Award each year, as it is an opportunity for Washington University to see what both our students as well as alumni are achieving in entrepreneurship. We are excited about this year’s finalists and look forward to watching the progress they make in the next six months.”

Congratulations to the four finalist teams with Olin alumni or current students:

AirZaar, Inc

AirZaar is an enterprise software company providing image-processing & data analytics for mining, construction & infrastructure clients to make actionable decisions while disrupting accuracy levels of surveying reports utilizing visual intelligence. AirZaar’s turnkey automated solution provides clients with actionable intelligence in minutes, reducing costs & optimizing efficiency while performing safer industrial operations.

WashU team members:

  • Ravi Sahu, MBA ’14
  • Ali Ahmadi, MBA ’15

B-Agro Solutions

B-Agre Solutions is focused on becoming the leading provider of mechanized agricultural solutions in Ghana and across Africa. We partner with subsistence farmers in a collective group, train them, and use modern farm techniques and equipment to produce grains for sale.

WashU team members:

  • Anthony Ackah-Nyanzu, MS ’17, Finance
  • Dennis Awuku, BS ’12, Accounting
  • Donny Yoder
  • Adelaide Aboagye, MSW ’15, Social & Economic Development


Geneoscopy is developing a screening methodology to noninvasively diagnose CRC using biomarkers in stool samples. CRC is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., primarily due to flawed screening methodologies, which results in late-stage detection of the disease. Geneoscopy’s technology solves the problems associated with existing screening methodologies, allowing for reduced mortality rates and better health outcomes.

WashU team members:

  • Erica Barnell, MD/PhD ’21, Molecular Genetics and Genomics
  • Andrew Barnell, MBA ’17
  • Yiming Kang, PhD ’22, Computer Science


GiftAMeal is a socially conscious marketing platform for restaurants that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo at a participating location. Restaurants pay a monthly subscription to be involved and provide customers with another incentive to patron their location.

WashU team members:

  • Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17, Leadership & Strategic Management
  • Aidan Folbe, BSBA ’19
  • Jacob Mohrmann, BSBA ’16, Marketing

Link here to see all seven finalists.