CICE Recognizes Outstanding Entrepreneurs

Award WinnersOn April 21, Wake Forest’s Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship honored the University’s outstanding entrepreneurs at the Annual ICE Excellence Celebration. Ricky Van Veen (’03), the co-founder of CollegeHumor, Vimeo, and BustedTees, was presented with the 2016 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. You can read more about Van Veen’s keynote address and his award here.

In addition to Van Veen’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award, one faculty member and six students were also recognized at the event.

The Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Faculty Award for Exceptional Support of Entrepreneurship

Dr. Bill Conner

Bill and MicheleConner was recognized for his advocacy of and support for CICE. Under his guidance, faculty passed the entrepreneurship and social enterprise minor in 2005. Since then, 64 courses with entrepreneurship as a central theme have been added to the curriculum. “The success of this program is in large part because of his tireless efforts,” said Michele Gillespie, dean of Wake Forest College.

 

The Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Student Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement (Commercial Venture)

Junior economics major Lauren Miller and senior health and exercise science major Olivia Wolff for UpDog Kombucha

Updog UpdatedUpDog Kombucha brews delicious, handcrafted kombucha, a specialty tea with naturally occurring probiotics, enzymes and acids that support digestive and immune health. Since January, Miller and Wolff have produced up to 150 bottles of kombucha weekly and sell to Wake Forest students and a local food truck, La Vie en Rose.

 

Chambers Family Fund Student Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement

Sophomore business and enterprise management major William Wang for The Media

Wang updated

During the fall of 2015, Wang launched The Media, a Provost-Office based, on-line student-run organization that provides credible digital content to enhance cohesiveness within the Wake Forest community. He also established the iTunes U platform for Wake Forest University, introduced a University Photography Contest, and launched an entirely new category of service, “University News.”

 

ICE Student Award for Excellence in Innovation

Freshman Arthur Willson for EZ Cork

ArthurEZ Cork is an easy-open wine solution that uses an integrated loop to remove the cork from a wine bottle. Though he is just a freshman, Willson, along with Hannah Shows, represented Wake Forst at this year’s inaugural ACC InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech, impressing administrators and entrepreneurs from throughout our conference.

 

Lelia and David Farr Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship

WalkerSenior computer science major Kurt Walker for Spool

Spool, which launched on the Apple App Store in early September 2015, allows users to create a Spool, a short video or phrase, then submit a short, looping video around the theme of that Spool, which shows up on the feeds of the creator’s followers. Because of this student’s efforts, Spool acquired approximately 15% of the undergraduate student body at Wake Forest.

 

VentureWell University Innovation Fellow

Junior finance major Keshav Daga

DagaDaga distinguished himself as an entrepreneurial leader in his freshman year, when he joined the E-Society and became involved in various CICE events and programs. This year, as a junior, Daga served as the University Innovation Scholar. In this role, he explored ways to inspire more innovation and entrepreneurship activities on campus. He was also awarded the Orton Scholarship for his entrepreneurial leadership.

 

Congratulations to this year’s award winners!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission: Educate Bahamas – ESE Graduate Makes a Difference

AlexisAlexis Tsavoussis (’15), an English major with Economics and ESE minors, grew up in the Bahamas until the age of six, but continued to travel to the Bahamas often to spend school breaks and summers with her family. Five years ago as a senior in high school, Tsavoussis, along with her siblings, founded a non-profit entitled Mission: Educate Bahamas to improve reading within the country. In the years since then, Mission: Educate Bahamas has continued to grow and in August 2016, the organization will be in every single primary school in Nassau. Today, Tsavoussis, a recent Wake gradudate, works full time as the founder and co-director of the organization.

Five years ago, Tsavoussis and her family found that most primary students in the Bahamas were reading at a level that was often two grade levels lower than where they should be. Tsavoussis, who attended high school in Tampa, Florida, was introduced to a program called TuneIn to Reading during her senior year. Tsavoussis and her brothers decided to bring TuneIn to Reading to Nassau in order to improve literacy in the primary school system. As a result of their hard work, today, Mission: Educate Bahamas is a formally registered non-profit organization in Nassau, Bahamas that is committed to significantly impacting the lives of the country’s children through education.

TuneIn to ReadingTuneIn to Reading, the program that Mission: Educate Bahamas uses to raise reading levels, uses melodic learning to teach students how to read. “Imagine karaoke as a method of teaching students how to read,” explained Tsavoussis. “Essentially, each student uses the program to click on a song where they can gain points to continue to advance to the next level. They have the song sung to them three times where the words light up and they click on challenge words to learn them. After that, they sing the song five times and the words light up and track their voice, like karaoke. At the end, there is a quiz to test comprehension.”

Mission: Educate Bahamas’ value proposition explains: “Our number one goal is to improve literacy in our primary school system by delivering the key tools, critical resources, and ongoing teacher training needed to engage and educate today’s student body. By way of the melodic learning program TuneIn To Reading (TIR) we have spent the past five years working to make our mission a reality.” Mission: Educate Bahamas donates new laptops, headsets, computer carts, routers, dedicated modems, and security systems, in addition to training teachers and resource coordinators.

Mission Educate BahamasThe results of TuneIn to Reading are astounding. “If a student uses the program for ninety minutes a week over the course of nine weeks, their reading level will improve by at least 1.4 grade levels,” Tsavoussis explained. Today, with the support of the Bahamian Ministry of Education, Mission: Educate Bahamas has gone from a handful of primary schools to 32 in Nassau and the Family (Outer) islands. “We were able to start this program originally with the support of just a few corporate sponsors,” Tsavoussis said. “But the sponsorship base has expanded greatly over the past 5 years and now includes the public sector of the Ministry of Education. I think I am most proud of how well a Public Private Partnership can work to actively affect change.”

To learn more about Mission: Educate Bahamas, visit their website here.

 

 

 

Ricky Van Veen Honored at the 2016 ICE Excellence Awards Celebration

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

“If everything you do is a success, I’m willing to bet you haven’t risked much.” – Ricky Van Veen

On Thursday, April 21, Ricky Van Veen (’03), a Wake Forest graduate and the co-founder of CollegeHumor, BustedTees, and Vimeo, joined Provost Rogan Kersh for a fireside chat in Broyhill Auditorium as part of the ICE Excellence Awards Celebration. After the informal conversation, Van Veen was presented with the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, achievement, and social responsibility. Van Veen’s success as an entrepreneur and innovator is an inspiration to students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest University.

Van Veen shared his own entrepreneurial story with the students, faculty, and others in attendance. While working on his Information Systems degree as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, he co-founded CollegeHumor in the Johnson basement in 1999.  Since then, CollegeHumor has exploded into the largest comedy property on the internet and the most viewed comedy channel on YouTube.  Van Veen also co-founded the hit video-sharing site, Vimeo, as well as BustedTees, one of the leading Internet based t-shirt brands.  He is a pioneer in digital content development, production, and marketing, as well as brand management.

20160421entrepreneurship2536When asked what advice he would give to students, Van Veen explained the importance of taking risks. “If everything you do is a success, I’m willing to bet you haven’t risked much,” he said. Though Van Veen’s story is definitely one of entrepreneurial success, he explained that he has had his fair share of projects that did not work out. He encouraged students to consider the scalability and defensibility of their idea, but in the end, be willing to take the risk that is needed to become a success. Van Veen also encouraged students to take advantage of the resources they have available to them today as college students in order to start their own businesses: “It’s easier than ever to start a business in college. I started CollegeHumor in 1999, then the Dotcom Crash hit in 2001, but I had a safety net: my meal card,” he explained amidst laughs from the audience.

Group shotVan Veen reminded students to take advantage of their college careers to build the entrepreneurial skills that employers are looking for, whether they want to eventually start their own business or not. “Technology is obliterating a lot of jobs today, but it cannot obliterate the people who come up with ideas,” he said. “To come up with good ideas, you need a little knowledge from a lot of areas. That’s the benefit of a liberal arts education, so absorb as much as you can and take it all in.”

To learn more about the ICE Awards Celebration or other award winners, you can read WFU News’ coverage here.

 

The ACC’s Entrepreneurs Battle it Out in the First Inaugural ACC InVenture Prize

The ACC’s Entrepreneurs Battle it Out in First Inaugural ACC InVenture Prize

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

InventureOn April 5th and 6th, 2016, Georgia Tech University hosted the inaugural ACC InVenture Prize, an innovation competition featuring the best student teams of the ACC. Each ACC university was invited to send one team to the competition, where they pitched their inventions to a panel of expert judges in a “Shark Tank” style competition. The fifteen teams competed for $30,000 in prizes and a chance to be the first ACCIC winner. The final competition was held in front of a live audience and broadcast live on television on April 6.

EZ CorkArthur Willson (’19) and Hannah Shows (’19), the creators of EZ Cork, an easy open wine solution, were Wake Forest’s representatives at the event. EZ Cork uses an integrated loop to allow you to remove a cork from a wine bottle without the need for a corkscrew. The cork is also completely reusable, eliminating the need for expensive and ineffective aftermarket wine stoppers. “The idea came to me when I witnessed a young lady unable to open a bottle of wine and saw firsthand the frustration that resulted,” explained Willson, one of the creators. “Since I’m an entrepreneur, I naturally thought there must be an easier way, so that’s when I created EZ Cork.”

Arthur-Hannah-Brainstorm-for-website-1024x678Through participating in this year’s inaugural ACC InVenture Prize, Willson and Shows gained valuable insight that will help them continue to improve their product. Willson explained, “We plan on continuing to develop our product through consumer discovery, product testing, and branding beginning this summer. We hope to be able to begin meeting with wine makers and cork makers to start building business relationships.”

Shows added that her experience as Wake Forest’s representative in the ACC InVenture Prize has made her excited for what is to come for EZ Cork: “I realized that great ideas will naturally generate a contagious enthusiasm for your product, which helps me stay motivated for the long road ahead,” she said.

Congratulations to Arthur and Hannah for representing Wake Forest at the inaugural competition!

The ACC InVenture Prize is a collaborative effort by institutional leadership from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). It represents an opportunity to stimulate undergraduate entrepreneurial activity and increase student-faculty engagement, to celebrate and highlight the exceptional creativity and ingenuity of our students, and to inspire a greater sense of camaraderie across the conference. For more information about the ACC InVenture Prize, and this year’s winners, click here.

Fulton & Roark: MBA Grads Offer High Quality Men’s Grooming Products Born out of Winston-Salem

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Fulton and RoarkIn early 2013, Allen Shafer and Kevin Keller, friends and colleagues in Wake Forest’s MBA program, became fascinated by the fast-growing world of men’s grooming. Shafer, who graduated from Sewanee in 2008 with a degree in Psychology and Keller, who graduated in 2006 from Georgia State College and University with degrees in Journalism and Religious Studies, were able to combine their undergraduate backgrounds to look at the market from both business and creative perspectives. In February of 2013, after finding some white space around a company that created products using a human-centered design, Fulton & Roark, an upscale men’s grooming brand, was born right here in Winston-Salem.

With the help of Wake Forest’s Demon Deacon Incubator as well as the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship’s new venture seed grant funding, Shafer and Keller were able to launch their company with less than $20,000 cash. “Wake was tremendously helpful in getting us started,” explained Keller. “Allen and I were both on the Marketing Summit Case Competition team, and we used our personal winnings from the team's second-place finish in 2013 along with money we got from the Seed Grant program. We each put in a little of our own savings, and that was enough to get us started!”

cologneAfter graduating from Wake Forest’s MBA program in May of 2013, Keller and Shafer both decided to get traditional marketing experience through full time positions while operating Fulton & Roark during their nights and weekends. Their company was so successful, however, that it grew much faster than they were expecting, in large part due to coverage in publications like GQ, Details and Fast Company. “While we were pursuing that sort of press coverage, we just had a lot more luck getting it than we expected. That growth has meant lots more weekends spent hard at work and lots more late nights than Allen and I expected, but that effort has definitely been worth it,” explained Keller.

“The demand also meant that we had to be really careful about keeping new inventory available, while also running as lean as possible in order to use all of our cash to keep developing new products,” he added.

Shave creamFulton & Roark has continued to grow in recent years. In June of 2014, Alan Spencer (’15), a former Fulton & Roark intern and Wake Forest graduate, became the first full-time employee. The Fulton & Roark product offering has also grown, as shave cream, bar soap, and face wash have all been introduced just within the last year. In March, Allen Shafer came on as another full-time employee and later this month, aftershave cloths will hit the market. Fulton & Roark is currently sold in 200+ stores throughout the US and plans to continue expanding into other locations, both in the US and abroad. “Exactly how we’ll do that is up for discussion,” explained Keller. “But so long as we’re delivering on our promise of creating products ‘built for the way men operate,’ we’ll be excited about it.”

Fulton & Roark offers high quality and high performance grooming products that fit into men’s lifestyles – not the other way around. To learn more about Fulton & Roark and where you can find their products, click here.

Haven: Fearlessness Reimagined – TEDxWakeForestU 2016

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship 

On February 20, 2016, Wake Forest University hosted its fifth annual TEDxWakeForestU event. The theme of this year’s conference, Haven: Fearlessness Reimagined, captured speakers’ unique perspectives on what it means to find security and solace. Over 1,300 students, faculty, and community members gathered in Wait Chapel to hear eight inspirational speakers talk about security as it related to each of their fields of expertise. Highlights from the eight inspirational talks are below:

The Ubiquity of Knowledge and Data – Who’s Securing It? 

HurdMark Hurd, the chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, took the stage first to share his thoughts on what is going on in the IT world and what each person can individually do to protect their data. Hurd estimated that one half of all data in the world was created in the last 44 months, adding that by 2020, the amount of digital information stored online could double. These statistics, he explained, beg the question: Are we secure? While large corporations do work hard to protect your data, Hurd explained that the most important advice he could give to the audience was to think before you post. “You need to decide what you want to put out there in the public domain,” he explained. “There’s no technological trick we have to protect you like personal decision making.”

State of Emergency: Moving Up Maslow

Perou 2Katrena Perou, the second speaker of the afternoon, is the chief program officer at Urban Arts Partnership, a nonprofit that works to advance the intellectual, social, and artistic development of underprivileged public school students. Perou, who started the partnership at Samuel Gompers High School in South Bronx, New York, compared the students’ feelings that they were not being heard and would just end up dead or in prison to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need: “With everything these students were facing, going to the program didn’t matter. They were just trying to make it through the day,” she explained. Perou added that by listening to a CD of songs that students at the high school had created, particularly a song called “State of Emergency,” she learned to gain their respect by trusting them and making sure their voices were heard.

Real Progress in the Fight to End Modern Slavery

MylesBradley Myles, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Polaris Project, spoke next about his organization’s fight to eradicate modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The Polaris Project, which has responded to over 22,000 human trafficking cases since its establishment in 2008, seeks to disrupt trafficking networks, restore freedom to current victims, and prevent future victims. Myles explained that human trafficking is so prevalent today because traffickers can make a large profit with a very low risk of being caught. As a result, many victims feel abandoned. Myles quoted trafficking survivors who regularly tell Polaris volunteers that they “had given up on their lives” and “didn’t know anyone cared.” By implementing a national hotline for trafficking victims, Myles and his team hope to leverage information technology to create a modern-day Underground Railroad.

Local Economic Security: Think Childhood Hunger

BernerMaureen Berner, a professor of Public Administration and Government at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, spoke to the audience about why hunger is an economic development issue. Berner, whose research focuses on finding long-term solutions to food scarcity, explained that over 851,000 children in the North Carolina public school system qualify for free or reduced lunch. When you look at the statistics, they show that there is a $2.7 million per day missed economic opportunity in providing meals for these children. By creating a public-private partnership through local partner businesses and the government, Berner explained that feeding hungry children could create more local jobs, better markets, and a stronger workforce. Berner ended her talk on a powerful note by explaining: “I want to feed 850,000 more kids and you all need to help me!”

Confronting Loss: Reverence and Resilience at the 9/11 Memorial Museum

KrebsCarl Krebs, the fifth speaker of the afternoon, is a partner at Davis Brody Bond, the associate architectural firm responsible for designing the memorial and museum to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Krebs, who was one of the chief architects on this project, spoke to the audience about the design team’s decision to include pieces of the original materials from leftover rubble as part of their design. Krebs explained that the memorial and museum do not include much reading or information; instead, there are photos and objects that preserve the raw authentic reaction that the entire country felt after 9/11. “There is a way to connect to artifacts without over-intellectualizing them,” Krebs explained. The museum also includes a space for visitors to stop and remember where they were on 9/11. Krebs explained that although the memorial does represent a site of remembrance, the architects’ hope is that it is also one of resilience, rebuilding, and faith.

Evolving Computer Defenses

FulpErinn Fulp, Wake Forest’s very own professor of Computer Science, researches network security system solutions that are inspired by nature. His research suggests that in instances where traditional approaches to security do not suffice, nature may offer a new solution. Fireflies, for example, can illuminate together in unison; this model is attractive to power grid managers who want to learn from their efficiency. Similarly, biology-inspired approaches also mimic the designs of ant colonies and the human genome to build security solutions that reduce the level of human involvement in problem detection and resolution. Nature, according to Fulp, teaches us that evolution can be a solution to creating secure systems: “Mistakes are cool,” he explained, and they help us build scalable solutions with optimal results and better protected data. “You’ve been hacked. I’ve been hacked. If you haven’t been hacked, I’ll hack you later,” Fulp joked during his talk, but with a biology-inspired approach, we can leverage the inspiration found in the natural world to deliver more efficient methods of cyber security.

Migration in Europe and Human Security: A Challenge to Solidarity

PackerIgnacio Packer, the Secretary General of the Terres Des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF), a network that works to promote the rights of children and their equitable development, spoke next about patterns of migration across Europe and how they relate to human security, especially children. “Which of you is not a migrant?” asked Packer, explaining that migrant rights is a human rights issue. Globally, 60 million people were displaced in 2015, and 1 in 2 was a child. Migration is not a security problem, explained Packer. Instead, the problem is the exclusion of people from accessible migration. TDHIF works to renew public understanding about migration and advocate for a safe and dignified international migration system. “We have choices to make as a society,” explained Packer. “We are at a tipping point. We can build bridges, or we can build fences, prisons and walls.”

All Gun Violence is Preventable If You Know the Signs

HockleyNicole Hockley, the founder and managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit working to end gun-related deaths, began her talk by breaking down what “gun violence prevention” really means. In Hockley’s opinion, it doesn’t mean looking at only one aspect, but instead looking at the entire problem: guns and mental health and gun safety. Approximately 7 children die each day due to gun-related violence. In 2012, Hockley experienced this statistic herself as her six year old son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. Yet even in the midst of her grief, Hockley chose to be hopeful, not helpless. Through their nonprofit, Sandy Hook Promise, Hockley and her colleagues hope to teach others how to recognize at-risk people in order to avert other gun violence tragedies. “The list of tragedies that could be avoided is endless,” Hockley explained. “We just need to know the signs, act on them, and prevent the next domino from falling.”

TeamThis year’s successful TEDxWakeForestU conference was organized by the following students:

Austin Evers (’16), Executive Director

Daniel Guerrero (’16), Assistant Director

Julia Gaburo (’16), Engagement Director

Carl Turner (’17), Talent Director

Katherine Albanese (’16), Hospitality Director

Anne Biermann (’16), Event Support Director

Philipp Wendler (’18), Operations and Logistics Director

Daniel Sechtin (’16), Emcee

Caroline Burden (’16), Stage Manager

For more information about TEDxWakeForestU, visit their website here.

All photos are credited to Adrian Martino (’16).

Discovering the World of Apps

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

EiR-Greg-PoolOn Wednesday, February 24, Entrepreneur-in-Residence Greg Pool shared his experiences in the “world of apps” with students interested in building their own mobile application or curious about the life cycle of an app. Pool, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” has been involved with many technological start-ups, including mobile and online applications, throughout his career. In fact, he explains that he created his first app when he was only in Middle School. Students in attendance ranged from those who had already built a functioning app to those hoping to get started or even just in the brainstorming phase.

App 101 BIt is important to understand the life cycle of an app from beginning to end, including development of the idea, funding, creation, execution, protection, and exit. Though these steps are generally vital for all apps, Pool emphasized that there is no “one size fits all” option. “What is right for you and your app will vary greatly depending on who your target market is, what platforms you want to develop, and how you plan on making money,” he explained.

Pool covered not only the steps necessary to develop an idea and carry it through to completion, but also gave advice on four questions that entrepreneurs should ask themselves when building a new app. First, he explained that entrepreneurs should consider whether the app is feasible and solves a need. “Apps can be a ‘pull,’ meaning that there is already a need in the market, or a disruptive ‘push,’ meaning that the app is a solution without a concrete problem,” he explained.

App 101 ANext, entrepreneurs should consider how they will find users the first time, then how they will entice them to return. Entrepreneurs should also consider how they’ll make money with the app, whether through sponsorships, subscriptions, or advertising, for example. Finally, they should consider whether their app has a defensible position in the marketplace. In order to answer this question, explained Pool, entrepreneurs should ask themselves whether their app is difficult to replicate and could be protected by an intellectual property agreement, or if it is so simple that Google could create it in a weekend.

There are many steps in designing and building an app. Pool helped students better understand how they could turn their own idea into a successful venture.

Arthur Willson ’19, who attended Pool’s workshop, explained: "Greg Pool takes the intimidating life cycle of a mobile application and breaks it down in such a way that any student can leave his workshop feeling empowered to be able to go out and take their stake of the multi-billion dollar app world.”

To learn more about Entrepreneur-in-Residence Greg Pool, click here. Student entrepreneurs who have an idea for their own app may make an appointment to meet with Greg Pool here.

Spring 2016 New Venture Seed Grant Winners Announced!

All individuals were required to go through an application process, as well as present their plans and proposals to a grant committee of faculty and administrators.  The committee selected eight proposals to receive funding to assist in marketing, and/or product development.  Congratulations to these seed grant recipients!


UpDog Kombucha

Lauren Miller ’17 (Economics)

Olivia Wolff ’16 (Health and Exercise Science)

UpDog Kombucha is a local, small batch Kombucha microbrewery located in Winston-Salem.

Kombucha is a fermented tea with naturally occurring probiotics, enzymes and acids. It is naturally carbonated and served cold.


Shift Creative Agency

Sarah Lupton (MBA)

Shift Creative Agency is a strategic storytelling agency. From around the world to around the corner, they partner with organizations with heart to develop and produce video content that makes a difference.


Clutch

Kevin Farley ’16 (Finance)

Through a fantasy sports mobile app, Clutch aims to revolutionize the experience of attending a live sporting event by creating a unique platform where spectators can interact with the game, the community of fellow sports enthusiasts, and host vendors.


Resilience

Jake Teitelbaum ’16 (Business & Enterprise Management and Spanish)

Sophia Faltin ’16 (Studio Art)

Resilience is a lifestyle brand that designs & sells cozy yet trendy socks using the “buy one, give one” model. With every purchase, customers have the option to send a pair of socks and personalized note to a family member, friend, or other patient suffering from a chronic illness.


Loopey Laces

Tom Worcester ’17 (Finance)

Tim Collis ’17 (Finance)

Loopey Laces allows consumers to recreate the look of their shoes and express themselves with uniquely colored, patterned, and lettered shoelaces. Their custom printed shoelaces, including the original sorority letter shoelaces, allow individuals to add personality to their footwear at a low cost.


Spool

Kurt Walker ‘16 (Computer Science)

Spool is a theme-based group video sharing iOS app that allows users to spark creative videos with the use of a single word or phrase and capture them with short looping videos, then watch the videos their friends create on the same topic.


EZ Open

Arthur Willson ‘19

EZ Open is an innovative easy open wine solution.


Wo Men Online Mentorship

Crystal Wang ‘19

Wenjin Wu ‘19

Meaning “us” in Chinese, Wo Men is an online study abroad mentorship platform that provides quality information on American colleges to Chinese student applicants. Wo Men seeks to ameliorate the information inconsistency issues students face during the application process as well as in college life.

Students Helping Students Expands Reach in 2016

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

“Our vision for SHS is to have a presence in all areas where there is an economic disparity. We will expand our efforts to identify sources of gently-used materials that are being discarded simply because there is not an efficient way to find a suitable home for the unwanted materials in an efficient and effective manner.” –Bill Zandi, Founder, Students Helping Students

Bill ZandiBill Zandi (’14) developed the idea for Students Helping Students in the winter of 2005, not long after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast area of the country. “During this time, my parents wanted my younger sisters and me to see the disparity in the quality of life that exists throughout our country. They explained that not only were we lucky to be in the position that we were in, but that because of this, it was our moral obligation to help those in need when we are able to do so,” Zandi explained. “When I learned that more than 150,000 school children were left without the most basic supplies, from papers to desks, I wanted to help.”

When his high school decided to renovate and began to discard a significant amount of usable school supplies and furnishings, Zandi approached his principal and asked if they could donate the supplies to schools in need in Louisiana. “It was at this moment that the idea of Students Helping Students was born,” explained Zandi. By 2009, with the support of businesses, individual donors, and even a partnership with Barnes and Noble, Students Helping Students was able to send thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies to a dozen more schools in Louisiana.

Students Helping StudentsAfter entering Wake Forest University in the fall of 2010, Zandi was able to continue building upon his idea and with the help of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Students Helping Students officially became a 501(c)3 organization, expanding its reach into the Winston-Salem area. To date, Students Helping Students has redistributed roughly $300,000 worth of gently-used materials to seventy schools in four states.

Since Zandi’s graduation from Wake Forest in 2014, Students Helping Students has continued to grow, recently changing its focus to place a stronger emphasis on an online platform: “Until now, SHS has focused on the ‘user’ experience when redistributing gently-used and/or unwanted materials from one party to another,” Zandi explained. “We are now working on the development of an online platform to create a more efficient and user-friendly, ‘match.com,’ mechanism for materials distribution.” This development will enable Students Helping Students to redistribute greater quantities of unwanted/gently-used materials among a larger number of parties, at many locations simultaneously.

Tech SHSBy introducing a new online platform, Students Helping Students hopes to improve the ways that they exchange, analyze, and use information, enabling a significant improvement in their operational efficiency. “As we begin to construct and subsequently implement an online platform, we will be able to increase our scope significantly,” said Zandi. “Our hope is that this will propel SHS into a self-sustaining entity, thereby allowing us to distribute more supplies to more schools in need, with a much higher rate of success.”

Students Helping Students has grown exponentially over the last 10+ years, and Zandi is confident that 2016 will be no different. This year, Students Helping Students hopes to provide over $600,000 worth of school or classroom supplies and materials to low-income schools in the Philadelphia area. “Our vision for Students Helping Students is to have a presence in all areas where there is economic disparity,” said Zandi. “Through the development of proper distribution channels, partnerships, and the efficient dissemination of information, Students Helping Students can help reshape the way businesses and schools alike think about waste and educational needs.”

Ed McLaughlin, author of The Purpose is Profit, Answers Students’ Biggest Questions about Becoming an Entrepreneur

By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Becoming an Entrepreneur

On February 2, 2016, Ed McLaughlin, a successful entrepreneur, executive, author, and investor visited Wake Forest to host an E-Lab entitled “Becoming an Entrepreneur.” During his presentation, McLaughlin answered many questions that young entrepreneurs face, including: Why do people become entrepreneurs? When is the right time to start a new business? How will you measure success?

Ed McLaughlinMcLaughlin, who is the founder and CEO of Blue Sunsets LLC, a real estate and angel investment firm based in Darien, CT, has held many other entrepreneurial roles throughout his career. McLaughlin also founded and served as Chairman and CEO of United Systems Integrators (USI). USI was named to the Inc. 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies and McLaughlin was named an Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001 by Ernst & Young. McLaughlin is also the author of two books, The Startup Roadmap: 21 Steps to Profitability and The Purpose is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for The College of the Holy Cross and the Board of Governors for Tufts Medical Center.

In his presentation, McLaughlin encouraged students to consider the key ingredients that are necessary for new business success, including a working business model, a clear path to productivity, a significant market opportunity, and a superior value proposition. McLaughlin explained: “The best value proposition clearly defines and quantifies how your product will solve a problem or relieve a customer’s pain better than everything else.” He added that potential entrepreneurs should also consider the quantitative benefits of their product, such as profits, revenues, and expenses, as well as the qualitative benefits, such as convenience, safety, and self-esteem. Similarly, McLaughlin explained to students that one of the most important aspects of running a successful business is being ethical and honest with all customers and constituents. “Behave ethically and profits will follow,” he added, explaining that building employee trust, acknowledging mistakes and valuing honesty will benefit the business in the long run.

Ed McLaughlin Covenant

McLaughlin also introduced students to the idea of a personal covenant to beginning a startup. He encouraged students who are getting frustrated but really want to start a business to write a covenant with themselves and have someone else witness and sign it in order to hold themselves accountable. McLaughlin similarly encouraged students to understand the importance of a genuine commitment to sacrifice as one of the factors most important to deciding when is the right time to form a startup.

Profit bookFinally, McLaughlin concluded his presentation by offering advice on how students can work to scale their businesses in order to measure their success. One suggestion that McLaughlin presented is hiring people whom he calls “Lightening in a Bottle” – those who bring value and enthusiasm to your business. “Hire people who will challenge you to improve. These people will bring value and increase the size of your business,” he explained. McLaughlin encouraged students to keep an eye out for these people that are lightening in a bottle because they may be the support that is needed to jumpstart a business or ensure its growth and success.

For more information about Ed McLaughlin and his books, click here. To learn about other upcoming events and speakers hosted by the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, check out our Events Calendar here.

Photos credited to Ed McLaughlin