James Beshara, Co-Founder of TILT, wins Entrepreneurship Award

20150416_cice_awards_035In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Program for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, James Beshara (’08), Co-Founder and CEO of Tilt as well as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 for 2015, was the keynote speaker at the annual Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Excellence Celebration on Thursday, April 16th. President Hatch presented Beshara with the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for his entrepreneurial achievements, which serve as an inspiration to students, faculty and staff at Wake Forest University.

“James’ story exemplifies what the Program for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest is all about. With his resourcefulness and ingenuity, he saw and seized an opportunity to do something Pro Humanitate that would forever change the way we resource human endeavor,” stated President Hatch as he introduced Beshara to an audience full of budding entrepreneurs, seed grant recipients, faculty and staff. Beshara engaged in a lively conversation with the Vice President for Personal and Career Development, Andy Chan.

As a fourth generation entrepreneur, Beshara says that growing up, he was always starting things. “My Wake Forest education taught me it is not just about making money, but creating something that lasts so I tinkered with a bunch of ideas,” explains Beshara about creating Tilt.

By recognizing that crowdfunding is very important to this generation, he decided to take the concept to a bigger scale, and Tilt was born. Beshara admits that version one of the site was very different from version seven. “You need to follow your users and see where they take your product . . . because what you launch is rarely what people actually want,” he advises. By following and responding to the preferences of its users, Tilt quickly grew virally.

Beshara leaves his audience with the best piece of advice he has ever received: Networking and trust are the two most important things for an entrepreneur. You cannot have one without the other.

Students and Faculty Honored at Annual ICE Awards Celebration

By Kim McGrath Office of Communications and External Relations

20150416_cice_awards_061On April 16, Wake Forest’s Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship honored the University’s outstanding entrepreneurs.

President Nathan Hatch presented 2008 graduate James Beshara, CEO and co-founder of Tilt, with the 2015 Excellence in Entrepreneurship award. The social fundraising platform launches more campaigns each day than any other crowdfunding platform.

“Through his undergraduate research and work experience, James developed a strong belief in the potential for financial collaboration within communities, and the power of collective action and shared resources,” said Hatch. “James’ story exemplifies what the Program for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest is all about. With his resourcefulness and ingenuity he saw – and seized – an opportunity to do something Pro Humanitate that would forever change the way we resource human endeavor.”

One Wake Forest faculty member and six students were also recognized at the event.  Read about all of the awardees here.

How to Launch an App 101

By Allison Durham

Are you looking to launch your very own mobile application? On Wednesday, March 25th Entrepreneur in Residence Troy Knauss, along with successful entrepreneur Greg Pool, hosted App Lifecycle: From Idea Through Funding and Creation to Exit. During the fast-paced and engaging session, Pool, who sold a game development company to Playdom which is now part of Disney, led the seminar as he talked to students about building applications in today’s market. Pool shared his expert advice on taking an idea and the subsequent steps needed to build, launch, market and generate revenue.

“The workshop was geared for students that have an interest in technology to better understand what is involved in launching an application,” explains Knauss. The program specialized in teaching students with ideas for applications how to transition them into building a team that can successfully put the technology and marketing efforts, as well as the legal environment, into place. As part of the talk, Pool discussed how to get quotes from application developers and how to create a plan that can generate revenue. “It is all about generating a revenue model,” states Knauss regarding how to launch a successful application. So how do you generate revenue by giving away a free application? There are many ways other than just advertisements. “Even eyeballs create value to an acquiring company,” says Knauss. “You do not need to generate revenue to generate value.”

Pool, who has built application development studios in the past, places a lot of value in team development. “Knowing how to bring additional co-founders into a company is critical for sustainability and building a company in this particular space,” explains Knauss. He says that over the past year, there was a 20% decrease in the number of deals being funded into this space due to lack of trust by investors. Knauss advises, “Learning how to bootstrap your company is the best way to launch a deal.” Pool and Knauss focus on the personal aspect of building applications rather than the technical. They emphasize learning how to launch applications with the help of others as opposed to simply  learning how to build your own applications in ‘code school.’ “If you can create an idea in the application spaace, you can have a company launched in this space,” encourages Knauss. “We teach learning how to execute an idea so that we can see more companies launch.”

Do you have an idea for a cool app but need advice? Contact Troy Knauss at troy@troyknauss.com.

Food, Faith and Empowerment

By Allison Durham

“The soil is the root of the soul,” declares Pashon Murray, co-founder of Detroit Dirt. Murray was the first speaker in the Ecotones of the Spirit series on Thursday, March 19th held by the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in partnership with the Program for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship E-Lab Series. Through this unique series, Fred Bahnson, the Director of the Food, Faith and Religious Leadership Initiative, states, “We are trying to teach divinity students and religious leaders about what we call ‘redemptive food systems.'” Detroit Dirt is a local composting and biomass collection company that specializes in providing compost and biomass solutions for the Detroit area.

Through Detroit Dirt, Murray works at creating redemptive food systems which means she is a leader in the field of sustainable food systems while maintaining her faith commitment, thereby providing her work with an innovative edge. “My Christian educational background instilled a strong sense of appreciation for the environment and community,” explains Murray. Under the mission “To become an engine for the urban waste recovery movement by regenerating job opportunities,” Detroit Dirt was co-founded by Murray in 2010.

Detroit Dirt provides Murray with the platform she needs to help change the carbon foodprint of the greater community through revitalizing neighborhoods, finding solutions for everyday waste, and eliminating trips to the landfill. “By advocating the community garden concept, we see that we can lower transportation costs, reduce the environmental footprint, create business, develop neighborhoods, instill a long-post pride, and most importantly, help all of Detroit learn a little more about self-sustainment,” states Murray. To learn more about Detroit Dirt, click here.

Swizzler Returns to Where the Adventure Began

by Allison Durham

On Friday, March 20th, the Swizzler team made its long-awaited return to its alma mater to serve innovative, gourmet hot dogs to eager students. Recent entrepreneurship graduates, Ben Johnson, Jesse Konig and Jack Zimmerman (’14) concoted the idea behind their delicious food truck business during their junior year at Wake Forest University. The trio brought their creative venture idea to life and are now serving their mouth-watering ‘dawgs’ all over the nation’s capitol out of their brand new Swizz-mobile.

Sponsored by the WFU 1834 Student Giving Campaign, the Swizz Team showed off its sleek new truck on the Magnolia Quad during lunchtime. The longer-than-anticipated line stretched across the quad as students showed their overwhelming support for the boys. Fellow graduate, Nikki Azzara (’14), joined the team and debuted her guilt-free Slender Seven cookie dough to students as well. Slender Seven provides healthy recipes that use seven ingredients or less.

Swizzler and Slender Seven funded their trek from Washington D.C. back to campus through a Tilt campaign. Did you miss the opportunity to try a gourmet spiral-cut dawg? Great news: The Swizz Team says that they are looking forward to bringing the Swizz-mobile back this fall!

Want to roll around D.C. with the Swizz Team and see what running a start-up after graduating is all about? Make your summer a Swizzventure and apply for the opportunity to intern with Swizzler on DeaconSource

Celebrating 10 Years Through a Maker Festival

The 10th year celebrations for the Program for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship continued March 24-27 through IF (Inventing Futures) LABs. IF LABs was a 3-day maker festival held at Wake Forest University full of designing and building, improvising and performing, and making plans for the future. Lynn Book, the mastermind behind the festival, says, “We are making means this week from many different perspectives.” Organized by Book’s entrepreneurship students, artists and entrepreneurs gathered from all over the world to spread ideas and invent futures.

The festival kicked off on Tuesday, March 24th with a crash course in playwritting the ‘impossible’ by Sharon Andrews of the Theatre Department. David Finn of the Art Department encouraged participants to envision the future of Wake through Wake 2034, while Bill Conner of the Biology Deparment led a hands-on workshop on rapid 3-D prototyping.

Wednesday’s activities included an evening presentation by guest media and sound artist and brew entrepreneur, Shawn Decker of Chicago, and guest visual artist and curator, Paul Fabozzi of New York. Decker develops sound art instillations to create a sense of place, while Fabozzi uses cameras as nets to capture things interesting to him in the physical environment through data walks. “I am interested in engagement with the world around me,” explains Fabozzi.

The labs on Thursday, March 26th culminated with guest artists beatrix*JAR from Minneapolis who performed their music made with children’s toys that have been majory messed with. “We like to go into the world and capture sounds and collage them,” says Jacob Roske of him and his wife, Bianca Pettis.

ConversateriaThe week-long festival came to a close on Friday, March 27th through a conversateria. The conversateria was a collaborative culture experiment with good food, people and ideas which encouraged guests to create imaginative and realizable proposals for the future.

To learn more about IF LABs and all of the exciting events, click here.

Do YOU have an Idea for an App?

By Allison Durham 


1834 Software, Wake Forest University’s nonprofit student-run software development company, recently added an exciting new component to the team: mobile application development. The company formed two years ago when David Hughes, ’15, received a seed grant provided by the Chambers Family Fund for Entrepreneurship through the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Niclas Ladd, ’16, is next in line to lead the organization once Hughes graduates.

As a means to provide a low-cost solution for students and campus organizations to build mobile applications, Ladd took the company to the next level and the 1834 Software iOS team was born in January. “I came in with mobile experience and had the goal of bringing that to the team. I hired six new developers and have been training them in mobile applications,” says Ladd.
This spring, the team introduced its first application for Wake ‘N Shake. The application, which was created in a mere three weeks, includes a schedule with events and times, the Instagram feed, the champions and their bios, as well as a donation feature. Two new applications for students are currently in the works and will be released by the end of the semester. “We really want to create applications that solve problems at Wake,” states Ladd.

Ladd says that his team enjoys creating fun campaigns to try to figure out what people want. He even posted to Yik Yak, “If you could create an application for Wake Forest what would you do?” The post received a lot of useful input about problems that can be solved through applications.

Ladd advises students who want to create an application to bring their ideas straight to the 1834 Software iOS team. “We are a consulting function as well. If you have an application idea you can come to us to figure out if it is feasible.” The team provides advice and guidance for students looking to create applications. “My advice is to keep it simple,” encourages Ladd. “Keep it down to one viable problem. What problem are you solving with an application? Solve a gap that you see in your business or organization.”

Have an idea for a mobile application? Contact the 1834 Software iOS team here.

Spring 2015 Seed Grant Winners

The spring 2015 New Venture Seed Grants have been announced! All of the individuals were required to go through an application process in which they presented their plans and proposals to a grant committee consisting of faculty and administrators. Fourteen proposals were selected to receive funding to help students with marketing and prototype or product development. Congratulations to these recipients!

1834 Software

Nick Ladd ‘16 (Computer Science, BEM); David Hughes ‘15 (Computer Science)

A student-run software development company that specializes in providing website and mobile application solutions for Wake Forest clubs, organizations and student-led ventures.


Ted McGuiggan ’15 (Computer Science); Robert Maks ’15 (BEM); Kevin Young ’15 (BEM); Christian Gutowski ’15 (Mathematical Business)

An app that allows users to enter a tournament where they play short, well-known games with a 25-cent buy-in. Tournaments are single elimination, and the user who comes in first place receives the majority of winnings.


Mike Thomas ’16 (BEM)

CRUX will be the only rock climbing hold that uses an adhesive to secure itself to a wall instead of bolts or screws. 

Dash Pop Music Festival

Charles Rueger ’15 (Communication); Olivia Acuna ’15 (Communication); Tyler St. John ’15 (Communication); Patrick Molina ’15 (Communication)

A music festival that will integrate the Wake Forest and Winston—Salem communities by celebrating all that the city has to offer. It will cater to a variety of musical tastes by covering multiple genres while also promoting local businesses.


Diane Hodson (Documentary Filmmaking graduate student)

An online nexus for educators to access documentary films and related curriculum materials. It will offer prescreened and curated content for the secondary classroom.

Fresh Food Network

Jake Teitelbaum ‘16 (BEM, Spanish); Ann Nguyen ’17 (Sociology); Caleb Marley ’16 (BEM); Angela Gallagher ’16 (Finance)

An online platform making it easier for users to find, buy and learn about great food in their area. FFN hopes to revolutionize the traditional supermarket model by offering delivery to densely populated employment complexes and capitalizing on consumers’ growing interest in local and organic food.

Funnel Friends

John Passarelli ’16 (Computer Science); Katherine Kenyon ’16 (Accounting)

A website that filters photos and statuses from Facebook and Twitter’s newsfeeds so the user only sees the updates of selected friends.


Sam Larsen ’16 (Communication)

A travel app that creates convenient and efficient itineraries of your top sites, restaurants and museums in cities around the world.

The Moove

Jaclyn Davis ’16 (Economics and Communication); Olivia Acuna ’15 (Communication)

An app that provides a live-feed of community events to view anonymously or check into. The Moove allows you to make a real-time decision on what community events to attend based on who might be there.


Kurt Walker ’16 (Computer Science)

A theme-based group video sharing iOS application, enhanced with an advanced video-to-data aggregation engine for short, user uploaded videos.

TAQ Technologies

PK Pradhan (Biochemistry PhD candidate); Hannah Martin ’17 (Chemistry); Dan Sanchez (MBA student); Zhong Fang (Biochemistry PhD candidate); Dipen Vyas (PhD Candidate and MBA student)

TAQ Technologies is commercializing a diagnostic test that can detect and quantify the virulent form of the John Cunningham Virus (JCV), which causes a fatal neurological disorder known as Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML).

Toy Theatre Tour

Johanna Beach ’15 (Theatre)

The Toy Theatre is a theatrical performance on a miniature scale that will travel around the country, from living room to living room. The tour will engage small audiences in a magical and transformative experience alongside family and friends.

Turning Diazotrophs into Fertilizer Factories

Christian Spake ’17 (Chemistry)

Research on a cheaper, more sustainable and eco-friendly method of producing agriculturally useful nitrogen products.

Waiting to be Wanted

Shante Elliott (Law)

An online community that provides financial resources to low-income foster youth in middle and high school who are recommended by a teacher, mentor or social worker. Foster youth then use these funds to enrich themselves academically and personally, by participating in activities like the arts, STEM and sports.

YOU Have the Power to Change the World

By Allison Durham

“You have to humble yourself to know where the needs are and then you can start thinking about change.” – Colt Mienke ’16

Colt Mienke ’16 and Kelly Guin ’16 were shell-shocked when Nancy Lublin, keynote speaker for WFU’s Leadership Project, announced their names as the winners of the DoSomething Challenge on February 4.

Mienke, who’s idea is to help end food insecurity, won the first prize. Guin unexpectedly won as the runner-up for her plan to create an electronic platform to fight depression through promoting positivity.

Brought together by the project, the newfound friends enjoy discussing their ideas with each other and how fortunate they are to have the opportunity to make the world a better place.

Mienke, now a campus and community celebrity, was humbled to have strangers approach him recently at a local coffee shop. When asked what the DoSomething Challenge means to him, Mienke proudly replies, “It is a chance to create meaningful change. So many times people have great ideas but not the resources to pursue them.”

Campus Kitchen introduced Mienke to the issue of food insecurity. “People do not realize how big the issue is. One-sixth of the adults and one-fourth of the kids in Forsyth County struggle with food insecurity.”

In his quest to fight food insecurity, Mienke plans to partner with local restaurants. A mere one dollar donation makes seven meals at Second Harvest Food Bank. Over the summer, participating restaurants will collect the dollar donations from willing-to-help diners and then provide a tax-deductible donation to the food bank.

Restaurants will place triangle displays on tables with the advertisement as well as an insert in menus. “It will be visually compelling. You will have a plate of food in front of you and see this visual and want to give an extra dollar,” he explains. Mienke, who is passionate about fundraising and nonprofit work, will then gage the success of his extended fundraiser on a local scale in hopes of replicating the idea on a national scale.

Guin, who says that her project idea originated in Professor John Ceneviva’s entrepreneurship class, is still in shock that Lublin backed her idea as well. “Having someone who has made such a huge impact on social change like my idea is a great feeling. This is an opportunity to make an inspirational idea come to life with financial and social support,” she says.

Guin was inspired to create the project through consoling friends who have struggled with long-term depression. “It affects everyone and people in college are still struggling with it. The main issue in high school is that kids don’t have anyone to turn to. Mental illness is so taboo,” she explains. Guin hopes to help those struggling with mental illness through the development of a positive mindset.

Her electronic platform, called “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” will provide bursts of hope and positive influence through encouraging messages, such as “It’s a great day to be alive because someone paid for my Starbucks order.” The site will also feature an anonymous mentoring system which will provide the support of having someone there to remind you how much you matter.

Guin describes it as a “place of straight positive love.” She hopes the site, which will be targeted to high school and college students, will have an immense positive impact and facilitate a discussion to change the looming negative mindset and go get help.

Mienke offers advice to students who dream of changing the world but do not know where to begin: “You have to humble yourself to know where the needs are and then you can start thinking about change.”

He quotes Lublin, “Good leaders are humble and humility is controlled . . . To me, this means anyone can do it. If you can control your humility, you are on the way to leadership.”

Guin advises, “Do not be afraid to start from nowhere. Your ideas matter and take advantage of the resources in college. One of my strengths is networking. I was confident enough to bring up my idea to Professor Polly Black, Director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Professor Ceneviva helped me perfect my pitch.  Do not be scared if you only have an idea. I had no research just passion. Utilize your resources and talk to people because the possibilities are endless. A combination of confidence and humbleness is so important.”

Inspiring the Hearts & Minds: TEDx 2015

By Allison Durham

The “hearts and minds” of Wake Forest University and surrounding community came together to celebrate the power of ideas at the fourth annual TEDxWakeForestU conference held in Wait Chapel on February 21, 2015. This successful conference, completely organized by students, was attended by over 1,500 people.  Highlights from the eight inspirational talks are below.


The Good and Growth in Quitting: Larry Merlo, the President and CEO of CVS Health, took the stage first. His purpose-driven company walked away from $2 + billion in sales last year by eliminating the sale of cigarettes from all CVS retail stores nationwide. CVS, under the mission “Helping people on their path to better health,” is driving change. Merlo asks the audience, “What’s your story going to be?” As he encourages his listeners to make decisions from the inside out and be proactive not reactive, he challenges, “Get ready to make a difference in the world around you.” Merlo ends with a final burst of confidence: “Don’t be shy about telling your story. Be bold. Be aggressive.”

Adventure is Waiting: Jennifer Pharr Davis, the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, turned down her first job out of college to take a risk and hike the Appalachian Trail. She says, “Our society has forgotten the value of a journey.” Through the trek, Davis hoped to gain direction on and off the trail. “I learned how to be utterly lost and confused . . . [and] how to implement short and long term goals in life,” she explains. Her five month journey taught her to value simplicity, the quality of relationships and provided her with a new sense of beauty as she now bases her self-worth on what she can do rather than how she looks. Davis, who says that adventure allows the young to feel competent, inspires listeners to get out there and get going as she states, “Adventure is healthy for our hearts and minds.”

The Culture of Comparison: Bea Arthur, the owner and creator of two wellness-based businesses and a counseling practice, begins with a struggle everyone can relate to: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). “Your happiness becomes a moving target,” Arthur explains. The culture of comparison forces you to base your own choices on others. She shines light on the power of emotions in the quest for happiness. “Where you direct your energy is where your life will go,” states Arthur. She stresses the importance of adopting a goal of alignment in overcoming the odds of a society that is full of avoidance. Alignment allows you to look ahead and see the positives while ignoring the “naysayers.” As Arthur encourages the audience to align with their purposes, she finishes on a final optimistic note: “You can have exactly the kind of life you want.”

Our Forgotten Superpower: Jennifer McCormick, a medical illustrator, challenges listeners to view life through a creative lens. McCormick uses her creativity as a kind of art therapy to bring comfort to people suffering from different ailments by turning their e-rays into beautiful works of art. She reminds the audience that they create the world around them and that they do not have to be artists to harness the benefits of creativity. McCormick credits her work for providing her with a sense of purpose by helping people.  “You may be able to see yourself and others as the spiritual beings that we are,” explains McCormick regarding the best benefit of being a mindful creator. As she inspires her viewers about their power in the world, she reminds them, “You have a choice in what you make, think about and do.”

Adapting Technology for Your Health: Andy Bowline, the CEO of N2 Medical Solutions, built his company under the mission of increasing public adherence to prescribed medications. “30% of prescriptions are never filled,” says Bowline. Moreover, as technology adapts to us and fades into the background, his goal is to adapt technology to your health. He ends his presentation with a shout out to the Wake Forest MBA program, the entrepreneurship program, and the faculty and staff for giving him the support he needed to get to where he is today.

Inside the Heart of an Olympian: Hunter Kemper, the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history and 1998 Wake Forest graduate, humbly believes Wake is the finest institution in the U.S.  He challenges the audience to ponder: “Ultimately, what drives your heart?” Kemper upholds, “When you’re heart-driven, you can overcome obstacles you never thought possible.” It is all about passion. What is Kemper passionate about? He says that he is heart-driven in two ways: Through his love in getting youths active in the sport of triathlon and giving back to those in need. He is passionate about the Pinky Swear Foundation in which kids race for kids and asks, “What are we living for? What are our gifts and talents?” Kemper ends his heart-touching talk with some final inspiration: “Make a decision today to live life differently; live it heart-driven and with a purpose.”

Rethinking Sex: Al Vernacchio, a human sexuality educator and consultant, believes it is crucial that we learn how to deal with sexuality in a healthy way. By viewing sex as a social justice issue, Vernacchio says that sex needs to be redefined. He published the book For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens about Sexuality, Values, and Health and firmly states, “Our bodies and sexuality impact who we are in the world.”

100 Plus: The Coming Age of Longevity: Sonia Arrison, a best-selling author and analyst, wraps up the conference with an eye-opening lesson in human longevity. Arrison says that humans are based on a code and biology has become an engineering project. Scientists now have the ability to see which genes are connected to diseases and personalize medications. Arrison notes that innovation peaks at around 40 years old. So do not let your creativity go to waste! She stresses the importance of not being complacent: It is time to push the agenda of the health revolution to increase the average lifespan. Arrison reminds her audience, “Nothing ever happens on its own. You need to put effort into it.”

After eight motivational talks, onlookers left the conference with a newfound sense of purpose, as they were encouraged to challenge their hearts and minds and make a difference in the world.

The 2015 TEDxWakeForestU conference was organized by the following students:
John Marbach (’15), Executive Director
Alexis Tsavoussis (’15), Director of Programming
Katie Franklin (’15), Director of Publicity
Carl Turner (’17), Director of Logistics
Austin Evers (’16), Public Relations
Christina Baddar (’15), Marketing
Phillipp Wendler (’18), Volunteer Coordinator