Tag: startup

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

Adam Stumpf, PMBA ’14, has defined a unique niche within the small-batch spirits category of the distilling industry. The ingredients for his brand, Stumpy’s Spirits, are sourced from the Illinois farm surrounding his craft distillery. And the farm has been in his family for eight generations.

Stumpy’s just celebrated its second anniversary in July and has released six products to date, including a single barrel bourbon, vodka, and four flavors of whiskey. And like so many great startups, Stumpy’s began to take shape while Adam Stumpf was a student at Olin.

Stumpy’s distillery and farm in Columbia, Illinois

Thanks to Adam, Stumpy’s self-described “Chief Everything-else Officer,” for taking time from his busy schedule to tell us about his company and entrepreneurial experience:

What were you doing when you were earning your PMBA degree?

I was working at AB-InBev while I was earning my PMBA. It was also while earning
my PMBA that we conceptualized and took the first steps to starting the distillery.
In fact, while I was in the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class with David
Poldoian, we secured funding and purchased our original distillation system.

How did your Olin experience affect your career?

The Olin experience was honestly the extra push we needed to get the distillery going. Olin changed my way of thinking, changed the way I approach problems, and it changed the way I view business and the industry in general.

Did Olin courses help to build and run your business?

Absolutely. Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Supply Chain Management,
Negotiation, Economics, and Power and Politics are the classes I find myself
referring to the most often! So many incredible nuggets of information buried in
those lectures. I also competed in and was a finalist in the Olin Cup (now the Skandalaris Cup). I remember it fondly. It was our first business case competition and it helped us really refine the business plan and our pitching skills!

Were you ahead of the small batch spirits trend?

I wouldn’t say we were on the cutting edge, but we were fairly early in the
movement. Looking at industry and category trends certainly helped make the case
for launching a distillery, but definitely wasn’t the deciding factor.

This was a project where we knew we could combine our skills, our passion, and our family history to create an incredibly unique and one-of-a-kind brand.

In terms of being ahead of a trend, we are definitely on the leading edge of farm distilleries. We are one of only a handful of distilleries in the country that grows EVERY kernel of grain that we put into our bottles.

What are the biggest challenges to starting a distillery from scratch?

Oh goodness…where to start? For us, I would say that there have been a few
challenges that really stick out; some which are certainly not exclusive to distilleries:

1. Funding

My wife and I 100% boot-strapped this thing ourselves and have not sold any
equity. That has obviously made access to capital a bit challenging.

Convincing a bank to believe in your dream when all you have is a homemade mason jar of moonshine can be a bit tricky! Luckily, we have a great partner in a local bank who is willing and able to keep up with our capital requirements as we build our barreled whiskey inventory.

A whiskey distillery is certainly a cash flow problem. Spend all of your money on day 1 to make the whiskey, roll it on the shelf, and hopefully you’ll be able to pull out an incredible product in a few years, or, what is left after evaporation! Our approach has always been quality in = quality out, and we’ve had tremendous success with our whiskey thus far.

2. The unknown

We walk into work in the morning with a blank slate. There is no one to give us
direction, tell us what needs to be done, etc. It’s definitely a blessing and a curse.
We set the production schedule, the marketing budget, do the accounting, sweep
the floors, and try to make a little booze along the way. Our approach has always
been and will continue to remain to be that we aim to do what is best for our
business, our family, and our community.

Laura and Adam Stumpf

3. The not-so-glamorous side of entrepreneurship

Laura and I are incredibly involved in our business every day. Sometimes that means
18-hour days (with the occasional all-nighter). The business is almost always on your
mind so it makes work/life separation challenging sometimes. Unfortunately, we
don’t get to spend as much time with friends and family or take as many trips as we
would like, but we love what we are doing and are incredibly passionate about it.
Sometimes that makes work feel like a vacation.

There is just a certain feeling that you get when you see that first drip of alcohol come off the still in the morning or pop the cork on a barrel that has been resting on a shelf for a couple of years, turning your hard work into some incredible whiskey.

How many employees work at Stumpy’s?

Right now, there are only four of us, with a TON of help from our incredible family and
friends. My wife Laura runs the front-of-house operations and sales at the distillery;
my brother Andrew helps a ton with production in the distillery; our awesome
Brand Ambassador Rachel visits the market and introduces our brand and story to
consumers; and I’m the Chief Everything-else Officer, but spend most of my time
distilling and running the day-to-day.

How many markets are you in?

Right now our products are distributed mostly in Southern Illinois and we just
started distribution in the St. Louis area. We try to keep the store locator on our website
updated as much as possible! We’ve recently increased our production capacity by 4 times in order to prepare for future distribution growth. Hopefully, in the not so distant future, our products will be widely available throughout all of Missouri and Illinois.

Do you give tours?

Absolutely. We love giving tours. We offer tours Thurs-Sun at 2, 3, and 4 p.m. We ask
that customers call in advance to make a reservation, because we want to make sure we are not over-booking. Tours are $10 per person and last about an hour, which includes a full tasting of our products, a cocktail, and a guided tour of our entire process from front to back, along with a complimentary tasting glass to take home. For more info, folks can visit our website.

What is your advice for current students dreaming of being entrepreneurs?

Industry and relevant experience are crucial to starting a business. If you don’t have
that experience, make sure to build a team with someone that does, because it
really is a situation where you don’t know what you don’t know on so many
different levels.

You don’t have to have a brand new idea or the next Google to start your own business. In the words of someone far more successful than me, “Ideas don’t make you rich. The correct execution of ideas does.” – Felix Dennis

Andrew Glantz, BSBA’17, at 22 years old, is one of the youngest people named to the Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity’s 40 Under 40 list. With 163,538 members around the world, Glantz reports he is, “the third youngest to be included on the list that includes individuals such as the Co-Founder of Reddit and VPs at Lyft and UBS, and another WashU student – Sara Miller!”

Glantz is co-founder and CEO of GiftAMeal, a for-profit social enterprise that invites customers at participating restaurants to use the GiftAMeal mobile app to share photos of their meal. For each meal shared, a donation is made to a local food bank.

Jacob Mohrman (left) and Andrew Glantz.

“I am honored to represent WashU on the Alpha Kappa Psi list. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with the Joseph W. Towle Prize for greatest potential in organizational leadership, I am excited to announce that I will be remaining in St. Louis to work full-time on GiftAMeal.” Olin faculty, mentors, and St. Louis investors can share in the excitement when a home-grown startup remains in the city’s burgeoning entrepreneurial community to evolve and and expand.

GiftAMeal won multiple awards while Glantz was an undergrad including being named a “Top 3 Student Startup” in the country at the South by Southwest Conference. The company received its first investment of $100,000 from the Capital Innovators accelerator in St. Louis, marking the first time that the group had invested in an undergraduate startup.

GiftAMeal helps restaurants acquire and retain customers, while also feeding the hungry in our communities. To date, the company has provided 68,499 meals to those in need.

Related Blog posts.

Alpha Kappa Psi is a Professional Co-ed Business Fraternity founded in 1904 with the purpose of developing its’ members into principled business leaders. Originally founded by 4 men at New York University, the professional organization now has over 240,000 initiated members at 265 universities in 3 countries. Alpha Kappa Psi has grown to be the oldest and largest business fraternity in the world.

We can’t believe the founders of the Bear-y Sweet Shoppe have all graduated and sold their startup to the next generation of entrepreneurs! We remember when they were launching their kickstarter campaign back in 2014. Time flies when you’re having fun, selling candy to sleep-deprived undergrads with a sweet tooth jones for peanut butter cups and gummy bears to fuel a long night of studying. The Sweet Shoppe was a brilliant startup idea and it has been a success…let’s hope it’s here to stay and will become a campus landmark and role-model for future student-run businesses at WashU.

Founders of the Bear-y Sweet Shoppe

Poets & Quants featured the Sweet Shoppe on its site following the selection of co-founder Jessica Landzberg as one of the Best & Brightest Class of 2017 Undergrads. Be sure to read the P&Q story here.

Landzberg told P&Q that the idea for the candy story was inspired by her visits to her older sisters when they were students at the University of Rochester where there was a campus candy store.

“The hardest part was making it legitimate,” she says. “We had to file as an LLC, and we had to get many, many licenses, because we’re selling food. We had to make sure we were doing everything by the book – getting our licenses and filing taxes as a business.”

Check out the Sweet Shoppe’s website for news about the second generation of owners and their plans for next year.

For more info on the Student Entrepreneurship Program (StEP), click here.

The winning team, named Project Starfish, is creating a device that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UVC), which kills bacteria, molds, viruses and other pathogens, to continuously and effectively kill bacteria in urinary catheters. About 75 percent of urinary tract infections acquired in the hospital are associated with the use of a catheter, and up to 25 percent of hospitalized patients in the hospital receive a urinary catheter, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Elizabeth Bowman

Project Starfish has received a provisional patent for its device and has confirmed with FDA consultants that the device will follow a relatively inexpensive regulatory pathway, said Elizabeth Bowman. Bowman received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in commercial entrepreneurship May 19.

“We’re really glad that we won this competition because we needed to the money to move us forward to the next step,” said Bowman, who plans to continue working on the project in addition to working as a health-care consultant in Silicon Valley.

The team’s initial funding to build a 3-D prototype and a small circuit board came from  Sling Health (formerly IDEA Labs).

Other team members are:

  • John Bisognono, sophomore, majoring in computer science with a minor in bioinformatics
  • Elliot Jaffe, BS/MS student in electrical engineering with a second major in physics
  • Caleb Ji, first-year student majoring in math
  • Daniel Lane, doctoral student in biomedical engineering
  • Jessica Miller, founder and an MD/PhD student at the School of Medicine and in biomedical engineering
  • Vineet Chauhan and John Henschen, MBA students in the Olin Business School
  • Jay Vasileva, a graduating biomedical engineering student from Saint Louis University

Project Starfish plans to incorporate this summer.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science’s Discovery Competition promotes innovative discoveries that solve a particular challenge or need.  The competition provides undergrad engineering students a forum to explore their entrepreneurial interests with support from mentors, to use their creativity to develop solutions for real-world problems, and to compete for financial resources that could help turn their ideas into businesses. The annual competition is funded by Engineering alumni.

Link to more about the 2017 Discovery Competition.

By: Beth Miller, School of Engineering & Applied Science

Daniel Webster-Clark, BSBA’11 & MSF’11, is currently getting his MBA at Kellogg. He and three classmates got to talking about men’s fashion one night and the conversation turned to rompers for guys. Yes, ROMPERS.

Daniel and his friends (soon-to-be-co-founders) got serious and passionate about their romper idea. They saw a void in the fashion universe and believed it could be filled with a romper for men that would allow “guys to be more stylish and fun without also sacrificing comfort, fit, and versatility.” GQ, Vogue, and Buzzfeed have already hailed the RompHim as a welcome innovation. The Chicago Times calls RompHim the Kickstarter campaign that “broke the Internet.”

Daniel took time out of his busy schedule to tell us more about his journey from finance to fashion and the birth of the RompHim.

What did you do between Olin and going back to school for your MBA?

After spending the summer between junior and senior year interning with Bain & Co., I began working there full time in fall 2011. While at Bain, I continued my role as an enlisted member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. I also took six months away from Bain & Co. to work with the San Francisco 49ers in their Business Operations group as they prepared to open their new stadium.

From finance to fashion is quite a pivot. How did that happen?

My time at Bain & Co. has been instrumental in helping prepare me to tackle a wide range of problems; while I never worked in fashion specifically, I had experience in projects covering everything from supply chain to marketing. In addition, Kellogg’s general entrepreneurial support system encouraged me to explore passion projects. ACED Design and creating the Original RompHim™ began as one of those passion projects.

How long from idea to actual consumer product (RompHim™)?

We launched ACED Design in earnest right as 2017 kicked off, and our Kickstarter went live in mid-May. [Kickstarter campaign was completed in one week. Aced Design expects to start shipping RompHim in August.]

What is your role at RompHim™?

As a small team of 4 co-founders, our roles have evolved quite a bit and are always changing. I dipped my toes into everything from managing a design partner to building our business plan; more recently I’ve taken on the role of running our marketing efforts.

Is being an entrepreneur what you thought it would be?

In some ways yes, in some ways no – certainly a lot of sleepless nights since we kicked off in earnest and a lot of personal investment in how our brand and products are received.

Do you plan to continue with RompHim™ post-MBA?

Absolutely – we’re excited that we had so much initial interest, and believe we have a long way to go as we grow the business. Our first priority is ensuring our Kickstarter backers get a very high quality product in their hands as quickly as possible, followed by delivering on pre-orders we’re collecting through our website, www.romphim.com.

Predictions for next big fashion trend?

Beats me, but it’ll be fun to find out! We get excited about finding ways for people to help express themselves, so hopefully as more and more direct to consumer brands emerge and share their new fun ideas.

Any career advice for the Class of 2017?

Find something you enjoy doing that challenges you. Life’s too short to “put in time” somewhere while hoping things turn around and improve.