Tag: startup

Alumni in the news

Angela Zeng came to St. Louis from her native China in 1996 to earn her PhD in pathology from SLU before earning her MBA at Olin in 2005. She’s launched a natural beverage startup in St. Louis called Karuna and has been attracting the attention of local media with her bottled drinks that promote nutrition through plant-based beverages.

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that Zeng is investing $1.5 million to $2 million of her own money in the venture.

small-ingredient-mungbeansprouts-500“Two of nature’s hardest-working healers, Mung Bean Sprouts and Aronia Berries, come together in Karuna Heal to bring you pure revitalization,” according to the website.

“Karuna Heal: Bean Sprout & Aronia Berry juice is rich in vitamins, minerals and a wealth of antioxidant properties.

small-ingredient-aronia-500 fuel-divine-onberry-450x1300“The benefits of these natural ingredient powerhouses will illuminate the path to true nourishment and healing.”

Karuna comes in  four other flavors: Divine Chestnut. Fruity Longan, Divine Three, and Sunny Date.

Link to St. Louis Business Journal (paywall)

Link to Ladue News.


Daniel Shapiro

Daniel Shapiro

Did you see the article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Olin alum and entrepreneur Daniel Shapiro, BSBA’98, founder of Fourlaps? We profiled him last fall here on the blog, but Debra Bass gives us an update on Daniel’s athletic-wear startup, in her story, “Midwest-inspired menswear goes the extra mile.”

“He said that he knew his style struck the right Midwest-inspired chord when someone stopped him on Delmar Boulevard, during one of his trips back home, and asked him, ‘Where can I buy that shirt? It’s great, I love it. I want it.’ ”

Daniel shared this advice for entrepreneurs with the Olin Blog in December 2016:

“Being an entrepreneur is extremely rewarding and challenging.  There are no guarantees of success.  You need to love the everyday challenge, you need to love the unexpected and be able to embrace the unforeseen.  I spend so much of my day doing things that I have never done before.  It’s exciting and uncomfortable at the same time.  I wouldn’t trade the last two plus years for anything in the world.”

Student-founded startup GiftAMeal announced another major partner in their innovative approach to feeding the hungry and promoting restaurant patronage. The Missouri Restaurant Association is teaming up with GiftAMeal to fight hunger through an app that allows users to interact with friends and provide meals to the hungry, by simply taking a picture of their food. Participating restaurants donate the cost of meals posted through the app to local food banks.

giftameal logo 1Andrew Glantz, BSBA’17, CEO of GiftAMeal, was incredibly positive about the implications of the partnership, saying, “Our partnership with the Missouri Restaurant Association is indicative of the large impact we are having for our participating restaurants,”said Andrew Glantz, BSBA’17, CEO of GiftAMeal. “The Missouri Restaurant Association will fuel our growth to support more restaurants, increasing the amount of meals we can provide to those in need.”

Jacob Mohrmann, BSBA’16, Chief Marketing Officer of GiftAMeal, told the Olin Blog, “The Missouri Restaurant Association broke the news with an article in their quarterly magazine. It explains how the app provides meals to the needy, and explains that GiftAMeal generates positive publicity and greater customer engagement for the restaurants involved.” Mohrmann added that the Missouri Restaurant Association also named GiftAMeal as an Endorsed Partner on their website.

How do you know it’s time to make a change in your career? Chase Fancher, BSBA’04, shares his decision to leave the corporate world and launch a boutique watch brand called Oak & Oscar. He credits his Olin business foundation with helping him clock out of the corporate world to crafting distinguished works of horology with his own startup.

Q: When and why did you launch Oak & Oscar?
A: Oak & Oscar was first launched in May of 2015. Its not the same old story that “I couldn’t find a nice watch in my budget…so I decided to make my own.” No, frankly, there’s a watch out there for everyone at every price point. You just have to find it.

For me, the decision to start is two-fold:  1) I wanted to spend more time with family.  2) I wanted to love my job and be proud of what I was doing. Oak & Oscar is about doing what you love and taking the risk of going out on your own.  You have to make big plans.

I previously worked in a ridiculously corporate environment and it just wasn’t me; very little freedom and flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great company and I enjoyed my coworkers I just couldn’t handle the 9-5 style job. Think “The Office” and you’ve got a decent idea of what I was dealing with…

My father really pushed me over the edge though. I remember asking him at Thanksgiving a few years back for advice on what to do. I’d already developed some designs and 3D printed prototypes and was at a crossroads. Either I keep pushing, which required putting some significant skin in the game and committing to make the brand happen, or pull back and let the dream slide. His response to me was, “What would you tell your own kid?  Would you tell him to remain in a stable job that you aren’t passionate about or go out and chase you dreams?”  I mean…come on.  Some of the best advice you can possibly give, right?  I was pretty much set on Oak & Oscar after that.

I wanted to take control of both my own future and schedule. I love that I can go to my son’s music class or take him to the park whenever I want now.  It’s really amazing to be able to spend time with him and my wife (who also works full time running her own small business).

Q: Have you wanted to be an entrepreneur since your business school days?
A: Definitely not. I first took the safe route of working for big firms – not because I thought it was the right path, but just because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. You’re supposed to graduate, go work a 9-5 job, (which doesn’t exist by the way…), get married, have kids and retire one day. As mentioned above, I couldn’t handle the 9-5er any longer and had to find a way out. Luckily I love watches and have made it work.

Q: Where are you based?
A: Chicago, IL

Q: How’s business?
A: Amazing. I’m honored and humbled by the acceptance of my watches by the market and the media. I’ve successfully quit the full time job and haven’t looked back. We sold out of our first model in less than a year and just launched a second model in late July. Of which, one style sold out in less than two weeks. It’s been an amazing run.

Q: Any lessons learned at Olin that have helped you along the way?
A: Olin has given me a solid business background and understanding that allows me to take ownership of every aspect of the company. While I employ professionals to handle stuff like accounting, I can at least have a conversation with them and understand what’s going on. But, truth be told, that’s another thing I learned in b-school: do what you’re good at and leave the rest to the experts. I remember reading business cases about companies who had founders that tried to do it all and failed. You just flat out can’t do it all. Don’t even try!

I’ve also taken lessons learned from Olin’s retail analytics classes (shout out to Prof. Sneider), and of course consumer behavior and marketing classes. And you can’t forget Prof. Nickerson’s MGT101 class – possibly one of the most influential b-school classes of them all!

Before it was a hipster destination and rents started rise faster than those in Manhattan, Brian Leventhal (BSBA’05) had a brilliant idea: to open a winery in Brooklyn. Urbanites could actually participate in the wine making experience from crushing grapes to making wine labels. Brooklyn Winery opened in the Williamsburg neighborhood in 2010 with a wine bar, private event spaces, and a DIY experience under the guidance of a master vintner. This fall, Leventhal and his partners expanded their operation with the opening of BKW restaurant in Crown Heights (see press release below). Plans for a second winery in 2017 in Washington D.C. are also in the works.

grouping_winter2016Brooklyn Winery does not grow grapes, but imports them from the wine regions of California, Long Islad and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  Their Winter Wine Pack  is currently discounted at 15% off. It includes: a 2013 Reserve Merlot; 2012 Cabernet Franc; and 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay.

When he was a WashU undergrad, Brian Levethal founded Wydown Water – a water cooler bottle delivery service on campus. He did a stint at McKinsey & Co. after graduation and then worked for a tech start-up. On the verge of going to Haas School of Business for his MBA, Leventhal and a friend decided to risk everything and start Brooklyn Winery.

New Restaurant Press Release:
BKW introduces a reimagined take on the Brooklyn Winery experience to Crown Heights, offering Brooklyn-made premium wines as well as a full menu of elegant New American dishes. Whether you’re sipping wine at the bar or enjoying dinner under the skylights in our Crown Heights restaurant, BKW provides a welcoming environment for guests to savor elevated cuisine alongside artisanal wine.

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

The menu, crafted by Executive Chef Michael Gordon, features a variety of approachable yet refined dishes designed to complement Brooklyn Winery’s portfolio of wines, which are available by the glass and via wine flights. A bottle list features vintages of Brooklyn Winery wines from the vault that date back to the winery’s first harvest and are available exclusively at BKW.

Brooklyn Winery continues its tradition of making wine in the borough by operating a micro-winery on-site at BKW, which will allow the winemaking team to trial experimental lots and techniques that will ultimately be served exclusively at this location.

We invite you to join us for dinner, weekend brunch, happy hour, and late night drinks. Visitors can also pick up a few bottles of our locally crafted wine to go and enjoy Brooklyn Winery wine at home.

Grant Weber, MBA’03, says his organic dog food company targets the intersection of two trends: organic, natural foods and the humanization of pets. Named after his longtime best friend and dog, Riley’s Organics, Weber’s company offers a wide range of treats with a unique tag line: We wouldn’t feed it to our Dogs, if we wouldn’t eat it Ourselves.®

ro_small_fullline16811To encourage the Olin community to try Riley’s Organics, Weber is offering a special 40% discount on orders at Rileysorganics.com with the code OLIN40. The code will be valid until Jan 3, 2017.

We caught up with CEO Weber at Startup Connection, held in November in Olin’s Knight Hall and Bauer Hall. Watch the video above to learn more about Weber’s second entrepreneurial venture and how he puts his MBA to work.

“I was born and raised in America’s heartland on a second-generation corn and soybean farm. We worked hard to produce healthy food for America’s table, and we always had a healthy respect for the land. We believed that sometimes the right route was not always the easiest route – growing healthy, good tasting, nutritious crops meant going the extra mile.

Grant Weber Riley'sLong days in the fields were made easier by spending time with my constant companion, Riley. We were inseparable. She taught me about the important friendship between a dog and their humans, about trusting, and being loved. I guess you could say, Riley was my inspiration. My commitment to the finest quality ingredients comes from my family, but my passion for producing the finest quality dog treats comes from the many wonderful years with Riley.”  – Grant Weber