Tag: startup



Olin students traveled to Madrid and Sarajevo to study entrepreneurship and serve as startup consultants in a new undergraduate summer program.

ACCENT’s July Newsletter features the 16 Olin students who studied the impact of startup businesses in cities undergoing economic transition.

While in Madrid, students examined the role of start-ups in the economy after Europe’s “Great Recession.” In Sarajevo, students analyzed the opportunities found in an emerging economy after war.

The students in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the day of their presentations

The program culminated in a group consulting project where student consultants shared opportunities for growth on a particular aspect of the startup company.

During the program, classwork was combined with rich opportunities to understand the historical, cultural, and economic environment of the European cities. Students visited museums and local companies, toured the cities, and participated in workshops from international lawyers and activists. 

Madrid and Sarajevo are considered ideal cities for start-ups with unique historical and economic environments, dedicated investors, and skilled young professionals.




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




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.




Forbes features a new venture from Lori Coulter, MBA99, called Summersalt. The veteran swimwear designer and recent fashion design lecturer at WashU’s Sam Fox School has partnered with seasoned brand strategist Reshma Chamberlin to launch a new direct-to-consumer shopping experience.

Lori Coulter (R) and Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin (L)

Summersalt targets millennial women and delivers luxury swimwear in classic one and two-piece designs to your door that are eco-friendly and priced at $95 or below.

Coulter launched one of the first made-to-measure retail apparel concepts to successfully integrate 3D body scanning, mass customization, and computer aided design to create a fully digital and automated supply chain in 2005 in St. Louis. In 2012, she launched exclusive ready-to-wear collections with brands like Soft Surroundings, Cintas and Bra Smyth. Related Blog post.

Link to Forbes article.

Photos courtesy of Summersalt. Above: Lee Litumbe in the Sidestroke in White Sand, Photographed by Nasrin Suleiman, on location in Zanzibar. Below: Jess Kirby in the Sidestroke in White Sand, Mango & Deep Sea, Shot by Craig Mackay.




David Dresner, BSBA’10, is getting closer to making his dumpling dreams come true. The founder of Sleeve a Message – a company he dreamed up while a student at Olin – is reported to be launching his next venture called Crispy Edge, a gourmet potsticker company by the end of the year.

In a profile published by the St. Louis Business Journal, Dresner explains why he wants to be in the fried dumpling business:

“I love dumplings; I dream dumplings. I used to make them with my grandfather. These potstickers are artisanal, creative, wholesome and crispy, not soggy. Our output will be similar to Sleeve a Message. We’ll do small runs and ship eventually big orders everywhere.”

Dresner is in the process of converting a former community center in the Tower Grove neighborhood into his potsticker factory. The building will also house a restaurant, apartments, and office spaces.

The concept for Dresner’s first venture, Sleeve a Message, was developed during the Managing Your Business Career Strategy course at Olin. Sleeve a Message produces custom coffee sleeves and coasters. The company offers four color variable printing that allows for a “no minimum” order and quick turnaround times.

Dresner is also committed to sustainability and told the Business Journal, “It takes many trees to make sleeves so I decided that for every 7,000 sleeves sold, I’d plant a tree. Working with Forest Releaf of Missouri, we’ve planted more than 20,000 to date.”

Photos courtesy of David Dresner and Crispy Edge