Tag: startups

Brian Lunt, (PMBA 2011),  wants to focus on the positive, entrepreneurial spirit that is flourishing in St. Louis.

He left banking to launch a business incubator in north St. Louis County called Medici MediaSpace. He also has a website called Top50STL that highlights positive stories about the region. A column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Lunt sees entrepreneurs as the saviors of St. Louis.

“I think the entrepreneurial undercurrent we have going on right now is the most exciting thing to happen in St. Louis in decades,” Lunt says. “We need to throw some fire on it.”

Link to Tony Messnger’s column

SafeTrek is an app that helps you feel comfortable in scary or unsafe situations. When you feel unsafe, you hold down a button on your smartphone. If you release the button and do not input your password within 10 seconds, SafeTrek automatically sends police to your exact location. As a student, Zack, SafeTrek CEO, noticed that a lot of women on campus felt unsafe, but did not always want to run to the blue buttons that call security. So Zack and three friends built the smartphone app that has since attracted over 250,000 users across the United States.

safetrek2What makes SafeTrek unique is the built-in GPS function that sends your exact location to police—most police operators do not have the capacity to pinpoint callers. Furthermore, everyone always has their phones with them, which eliminates the need to look for a college blue-light system if you are on campus. Another benefit the app provides is useful data to security authorities indicating areas where people feel most unsafe and where increased security may be needed.

Our team has been able to meet with the SafeTrek executive team, learn more about what it takes to run a startup, and more importantly, the significance of maintaining a cutting-edge company that continues to beat market expectations. Safetrek has assigned us a project to create a marketing plan from strategy-to-implementation, and has been extremely hands-on with their approach. We met yesterday to collaborate and narrow our scope for implementation. Our team had a chance to brainstorm with SafeTrek’s team responsible for its success and we added value by offering a new perspective on creating that one channel that will make them continue to succeed with millennials.

Our goal working as a team, and with SafeTrek, is to go beyond a written report. More importantly, they are expecting a tangible implementation of our idea. We look forward to our upcoming meetings and brainstorming on more ways to increase downloads, usage, and build new platforms for the company.

CELect SafeTrek Team: Michelle Palka, Law; Daniel Tamasi, MBA; Daniel Vilardo, BSBA; Nathan Vogt, BS Engineering

At age 3, Shea Gouldd knew who Emeril Lagasse was. “When I was a toddler, I used to watch cooking shows instead of cartoons,” says the class of 2017 entrepreneurship major. By the time she was in seventh grade, Gouldd was an avid baker.

“Everyday, I would come home from school and I’d start baking,” she says. “I’d bring [what I had baked] to school and just give it away to everyone.” Soon her mother asked her to either stop baking or start making some money from it, so Gouldd could pay for ingredients. Gouldd sold a cheesecake to a family friend in October 2008. By that Thanksgiving, she had 30 orders. Gouldd realized she might have a business on her hands, so she incorporated as an LLC and applied for permits. At 14, she became the owner of Shea’s Bakery.

shea'sbakeryThe bakery would stand out on its own (Urbanspoon and The Knot both recommended it), but Gouldd’s youth also attracted attention.

She won the 2010 Young Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the National Association of Women Business Owners, was named the 2013 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Foundation for Independent Businesses, and was a national finalist in the Guardian Life Insurance Company Girls Going Places Scholarship Program.


Custom-made cookies from Shea’s Bakery made for an Olin event.

Gouldd took a step back from the bakery after high school to come to WashU, where she could learn to improve on her entrepreneurship skills in a supportive environment. A team runs Shea’s Bakery back in her native Florida, leaving Gouldd free to found an entrepreneurship club and, with the help of three other girls in the club, start a second business on campus, Bear-Y Sweet Shoppe.

Here she talks about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and lessons she’s learned along the way.

What advice do you give other young people who want to start a business?
I always think to myself, I’m not a crazy circumstance. The only thing that’s unique is that I just went for it. I think being a younger person is honestly the best time to try out a business because you don’t have to pay rent, you don’t have a mortgage, all that stuff. So there’s less to lose, and [I think] you’re more creative when you’re less inhibited. So just to go for it is the first step.

Bear-y Sweet Shoppe Opening

Bear-y Sweet Shoppe Opening. Instead of a ribbon-cutting, the owners cut a candy necklace.

How was it starting your candy store, Bear-Y Sweet Shoppe, on campus?
It was really tough. No food business has ever been started by students before. And at first, whenever we brought the idea up to advisers, they were like, “No, there’s no way. You’re not going to be able to pull that off.” And we were like, “Mm-hmm.” It pushed us harder and harder I think. And it was an adventure, and we definitely had to build a lot of groundwork that hadn’t been done before. But maybe the best part was that we really got to pave our own way, and now there are other businesses coming in, student run, that are going to be selling different food products. So it’s really awesome to have started that movement.

What impact has being an entrepreneur had on you?
I think being an entrepreneur has made me feel limitless in a way. I think that being able to create something from nothing has made me feel that if you really focus, you really put your head into it, you can pull it off. So I think I’ve had an amazing past. I’m very fortunate to have the experiences that I’ve had, and I think that that pushes me to think there are no boundaries in the way — and to go about life in that way where I think if I really want something, I will fight tooth and nail to accomplish it.

This post was originally published on the WashU Fuse site.

Happy Global Entrepreneurship Week! Startup Connection is here, at Olin, Wednesday, Nov. 16 (4:40-9 p.m.) on all three levels of the Knight Hall Atrium. This is the biggest annual celebration of the St. Louis startup community and you don’t want to miss it.

Startup Connection gives St. Louis’ top startups the opportunity to present their companies to a packed house of entrepreneurs, investors, and other members of the innovation community. The event combines a startup showcase, resource fair, and is topped off with fast-paced pitch session.

New this year: Student pitch session at 5 p.m.

Venture Showcase: Meet and greet with over 70 life science, consumer products, tech, and manufacturing startup companies.

Resource Fair: Meet and mingle with dozens companies (legal firms, marketers, accountants, venture capital firms) and entrepreneurial support organizations who can help your startup grow.

global entrepreneurship weekIn the meantime, enjoy this fun video about GEW: Global Entrepreneurship Week from the Kauffman Foundation’s Jonathan Ortmans, Global Entrepreneurship Week President and Kauffman Senior Fellow. Click above to watch.

Created in 2008, Global Entrepreneurship Week has expanded to more than 160 countries. Each year it empowers roughly 25 million people through more than 25,000 activities, and is supported by dozens of world leaders and a network of 10,000 partner organizations.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is powered by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Learn more about the global movement on Facebook, Twitter and #GEW2016. In the U.S., visit GEWUSA on Facebook and Twitter.


Varsity Tutors CEO Chuck Cohn

Varsity Tutors, founded by Olin alumnus Chuck Cohn, BSBA’08, was recently recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360 List. The Entrepreneur 360 List is the most comprehensive analysis of private companies in America. Based on this study by Entrepreneur, Varsity Tutors, the live learning company providing access to more than 25,000 experts on its platform, was recognized as a company that has mastered a balance of impact, innovation, growth and leadership.

Since the founding of Varsity Tutors at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007, the business has rapidly grown into an industry leader under the direction of Founder and CEO Chuck Cohn. Headquartered in St. Louis, with additional offices in Seattle and Phoenix, the company helps connect students with in-person tutors in 84 U.S. cities and online tutors nationwide. Online tutoring is available via computer or mobile app, and instant online tutoring in more than 50 subjects enables individuals to access on-demand expertise whenever and wherever they need it.

“It’s an honor for Varsity Tutors to be recognized on this list,” said Cohn. “This recognition is a testament to the incredible team we’ve assembled and the caliber of products we’re building. I’m excited about the plans and initiatives we have in place to continue our rapid growth and positively impact millions of students.”

Honorees were identified based on the results from a comprehensive study of independently owned companies, using a proprietary algorithm and other advanced analytics. The algorithm was built on a balanced scorecard designed to measure four metrics reflecting major pillars of entrepreneurship: innovation, growth, leadership and impact.

Entrepreneur 360 logo“The Entrepreneur 360 List celebrates outstanding companies for the value they bring to the world, not just the worth of their company,” said Ryan Shea, president of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. “The companies on this list exemplify growth, not just in top and bottom line, but in their ability to create a superior value for their customers, build adaptive learning cultures, and drive innovation in their marketplace.”

For additional details on the Entrepreneur 360 List and the companies recognized, visit: http://features.entrepreneur.com/entrepreneur-360/

Source: PR Web news release

There’s a new venture-capital seed fund on campus. The Skandalaris Center is launching the fund aimed at helping to propel early-stage business ventures by students, faculty and recent alumni.

The new William Greenleaf Eliot Seed Fund, named for Washington University co-founder William Greenleaf Eliot, is managed by the university’s Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A group of approximately one dozen individual angel investors made a capital commitment to the fund and will serve on an advisory committee to review funding proposals. The investors also may get an opportunity to serve as strategic mentors to the startups chosen to receive support from the fund.

“We are thrilled to initiate this new partnership between private investors and Washington University,” said Emre Toker, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “This new venture-capital fund will help us further support the science, technology and medical work being done at the university in the innovation/entrepreneurship space, and help to launch and further elevate that great work.”

“The William Greenleaf Eliot Seed Fund is an extension of the many supports and resources the Skandalaris Center already provides to startups within the Washington University community,” said Provost Holden Thorp. “The university is proud to offer another option to nurture these early-stage businesses as they develop, evolve and thrive.”

Startups affiliated with Washington University may apply for the William Greenleaf Eliot Fund via the Skandalaris Center; there is a rolling review process for those applications.

By Erika Ebsworth-Goold, WashU Public Affairs