By Taylor Borden, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship
This past summer, many Wake Forest students took the time to pursue hands-on experiences in a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors through different internship opportunities. With all undergraduates back on campus after a long and busy summer break, there is still constant buzzing about all of the internships and experiences students have been involved in over the past three months. The sixteen students that were a part of this year’s Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows program are no exception.
The Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows program, sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, offers students the opportunity to spend their summer developing their own entrepreneurial venture or gaining first hand experience with a startup organization. The sixteen selected students each had unique summer experiences, but across the board, they all agree: they had the summer of a lifetime and were able to truly exercise what they’ve been learning in the classroom, as evidenced by their final presentations given at Wake Forest on August 29th. Here is an inside look on all the Fellows’ summers:
Tim Han (‘19) spent his summer in Winston-Salem researching with and assisting Wake Forest professors with the Adapa Project. The Adapa Project is currently working on an online general chemistry textbook that aims to reinforce various difficult concepts from prerequisite science courses in a way that is beneficial to both the student and the professor. As the only student on the project, Han said he was frequently asked “what worked for the student versus the professor” and enjoyed having a “truly collaborative” intern experience.
Tommy Lisiak (‘17) also spent his summer in Winston-Salem. Lisiak worked at Fulton & Roark, an up-and-coming men’s grooming company, which was founded by two Wake Forest MBA students, Allen Shafer (‘13) and Kevin Keller (‘13). While Fulton & Roark’s bestselling and most established product is “cologne wax,” Lisiak’s main summer project was to create and implement a new product, a scented candle, from start to finish. From research, to prototyping, testing, creating packaging, and working on the website, Lisiak had a hand in it all.
Katherine Thomas (‘17) took the time this summer to get just as involved in all aspects of a startup. Thomas enjoyed a hands-on internship experience with (A)ZIONE PR in New York City, which has garnered international publicity for its cutting edge media marketing and branding campaigns. She spent the summer cataloging media contacts, creating online content, and managing events. Thomas ultimately “learned how to pitch to clients, learned the importance of brand differentiation, as well as the importance of authenticity in campaign creation.”
Arthur Willson (‘19) and Hannah Shows (‘19) spent the summer learning about trademarks and incorporating their own entrepreneurial venture, EZ Cork, a wine opening solution that eliminates the need for a corkscrew. Willson and Shows have been busy researching and conducting an industry analysis, building a website, and working towards getting EZ Cork trademarked.
Julia Reed (‘19) spent her summer catching up with WFU alum Nikki Azzara (‘14) and her popular eggless, gluten-free cookie dough at Slender Seven. Reed mainly assisted with in-store demos, developing social media campaigns, as well as the venture’s upcoming rebrand. Her personal addition to the rebrand is the cookie dough’s new packaging.
Jenna Zimmerman (‘18) worked alongside Azzara and Reed at Slender Seven. She served initially as a marketing and sales intern but then transitioned into brand management as Slender Seven is currently undergoing a large rebrand. While she also assisted with in-store demos and general rebranding, Zimmerman’s brand management responsibilities included editing pitch decks for investors, creating financials for predicted revenue with the new branding, and contacting buyers/retailers for post-launch sales.
Jennifer Daye (‘18) spent the summer learning the ins and outs of a not-for-profit in Winston-Salem. Daye worked on conducting and compiling market research for Minds Renewed, a Christian venture seeking to provide a forum where people from a range of professional and theological perspectives can share their thoughts on the meaning of Christlike response to mental health. Daye spent her her summer focusing on crafting and disseminating surveys.
Assel Aljaied (‘18) is currently at the Wake Forest School of Law working towards his SJD. This summer, he spent his time at The Law Office of Adrianne D. Roberts, a startup law firm that focuses on family and criminal law. He worked at implementing a community relations program and helping the firm establish itself from the ground up. Aljaied plans to open his own international law firm and cites this experience as what gave him the confidence to pursue that ambition.
Cameron Steitz (‘18) combined his interest in community organizing along with his interest in food justice and spent the summer interning with No Bad Apple, a socially-minded for-profit that provides fresh, healthy, humane, safe, and sustainable food from responsible, local producers to the Wake Forest community. No Bad Apple was founded by another WFU student, Jake Teitelbaum (‘17). Steitz not only worked on planning and preparing meal kits but mainly conducted research, running a financial analysis as well as customer behavioral analysis.
Moriah Gendy (‘17) also interned full time this summer with No Bad Apple, where she frequently planned the menu, coordinated communication with local farms, prepared packages for customers, and also spearheaded customer relations. She and Steitz had completely different responsibilities and learned the value of teamwork especially in a small venture environment.
Nick Ladd (‘17) spent his summer interning in California with Purple Squirrel, an online network that aims to eliminate the need to network by connecting job seekers immediately with insiders at top companies. Ladd not only aided in moving the venture’s headquarters from San Francisco to Los Angeles, he coded migration scripts, developed new product features, and conducted product analysis on user behavior.
Quentin Brillantes (‘17) was in Boulder, Colorado this summer, working with TapInfluence, an influencer marketing venture that connects brands with influencers or promoters. He worked towards building campaign content, as well as analyzing the best practices for campaign optimization. He says he appreciated his experience because it was “a symbiotic relationship, my internship was a two way street, I had to contribute and not just learn.”
Kathryn Covino (‘18) wore many hats as an intern. Covino interned at Flywheel, a coworking space in the heart of the innovation quarter of downtown Winston-Salem that promotes the building of other startups. Covino spent her summer hard at work improving Flywheel’s social media presence, working on marketing tactics, planning and hosting events held at Flywheel, and even serving temporarily in a managerial position.
Recent graduate Olivia Wolff (‘16), along with senior Lauren Miller (‘17), spent the summer expanding their Winston-Salem based kombucha specialty teas, UpDog Kombucha. They conducted research and began producing kombucha in kegs in order to sell kombucha on tap to local Winston-Salem eateries. UpDog Kombucha is now officially being sold at Twin City Hive, Mission Pizza, and Local 27101 and will soon also be sold at Krankies, Hoots, Village Juice Company, and the Honey Pot. The girls are now looking to grow further and expand to other North Carolina college towns.
Lisa Shaffer (‘17) spent the summer as marketing and operations intern for Loopey Laces, a venture started by two Wake Forest seniors, Tommy Worcester (‘17) and Tim Collis (‘17). Loopey Laces is an e-commerce based company that sells sorority apparel, most notably, sorority shoelaces. One of Shaffer’s many tasks was to produce blog posts and other web content in order to drive traffic to the new website. Her greatest triumph was having her content reach over 45,000 viewers.
These students have been hard at work applying what they’ve been learning here in Wake Forest classrooms as well as gaining valuable experiences in a fun and engaging manner through the Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows program. All of the 2016 fellows’ personal experiences have been chronicled on their blog here. Entrepreneurial Summer Fellows are selected in the spring of each year, and if you are interested in applying for Summer 2017, learn more about the process here.