Fall 2015 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 seven proposals to receive funding to assist in marketing, and/or product development.  Congratulations to these seed grant recipients!


Mike Thomas ’16 (Business Enterprise Management)

CRUX is an alternative rock climbing hold that will repeatedly attach and detach from walls without damaging or marking.  CRUX aims to make rock climbing more accessible for athletes, recreationists, and children.

EncepHeal Therapeutics

Omeed Rahimi (PhD, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Bradley Keegan (PhD, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Ayana Martin (PhD, Molecular Medicine)

EncepHeal Therapeutics brings together renowned experts to accelerate the research and development of medicines and therapies designed to treat drug addiction.  EncepHeal’s innovative research model seeks to bridge the development gap for these treatments in order to deliver new, safe, and effective medicines to drug addiction patients.


Josh Litchman ’18

Cam Migdol ’18 

JustGO is a social app that allows users to connect with their friends and find places to meet on a night out.  The JustGo app marks user location, so you can easily find your friends at any time of day or night.

Killam Camouflage

Joe DiLeo ’16 (Psychology)

Killam Camouflage will provide innovative camouflage garments of the highest quality available to both hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.  The flagship product will be a black, polyester-blend t-shirt that reveals a camouflage pattern in sunlight using UV-reactive photochromatic fabric.

Loopey Laces

Tom Worcester ’17 (Finance)

Tim Collis ’17 (Finance and Political Science)

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


Toye Falaiye (MA, Management)

ShowerShoes are designed to be a convenient and eco-friendly way to protect your feet from commonly contacted skin diseases, while also sanitizing the bottoms of feet with hydrogen peroxide coating.

The Social Petwork

Adrienne Henderson ’16 (Communications and Entrepreneurship)

Molly Zaverucha ’16 (Finance and Entrepreneurship)

The Social Petwork is a non-profit website designed to decrease the rates of animal euthanasia and increase the number of donations to and adoptions from animal shelters in the U.S.

Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Program Celebrates WFU Homecoming

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


The Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship was proud to welcome home ESE alumni and friends during Wake Forest’s Homecoming on September 23-25. On Friday, September 23, the Center kicked off Homecoming Weekend with a “Spin the Wheel” activity in Reynolda Hall. Wake Forest alumni and students were able to spin the wheel for a chance to win a prize, such as a snack pack of Wake Forest alum Nikki Azzara’s (’14) Slender Seven cookie dough. Thanks to all the alums and current students who stopped by to learn more about the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship program and help us celebrate our 11th anniversary!

Among the mUnion Kitchenany entrepreneurial alums back for Homecoming were Swizzler founders Jesse Konig ('14), Jack Zimmermann ('14), and Ben Johnson ('14) and Slender Seven founder Nikki Azzara. Swizzler and Slender Seven, food start-ups based in Washington, DC, returned to campus for 10 days of food events beginning with Homecoming Weekend. Thanks to these alums and the many others who returned for this year’s celebrations.

receptionThe Homecoming festivities continued with a reception in the Innovation Station in Reynolda Hall. Previous student entrepreneurial leaders as well as ESE minors stopped by to visit with faculty, staff, and current students.  The reception culminated with a viewing of an ICE video that included quotes from many previous alumni. The video was created with the help of the StoryLine Bus during Homecoming 2014. To learn more about last year’s 10th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration, click here. To watch the StoryLine Bus video, click here.

Start-Up Boot Camp Blast Teaches Students How to Jumpstart their own Ventures

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

boot camp

One of the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Innovation’s main goals is to be a resource for students who have a great idea for a new venture or small business, but don’t know how to get started. On September 9, 2015, CICE Director Polly Black hosted a Start-Up Boot Camp Blast for students interested in starting their own businesses. Over twenty students attended this semester’s session and gained invaluable insight into how to develop a business model and a financial plan for their emerging idea.

Prpollyofessor Black’s Start-Up Boot Camp Blast emphasized the importance of finding the niche in which your business will be successful, and determining how to market what you’re selling to those individuals. Caitlin Smith (’17), who attended the Boot Camp Blast, explained that Black’s advice was particularly beneficial for new ESE minors who were just learning about the program: “The Start-Up Boot Camp Blast helped me understand the basics of how to develop a business idea,” explained Smith. “It was interesting to learn about the details that go into creating a business model, and I am excited to use the skills that I gained in my ESE classes.”

The Boot Camp was also beneficial for students who are currently developing business models for their own ventures. If you have an idea for a start-up and need help getting started, visit our website for tips and resources. Students may also make an appointment with our Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Greg Pool. The Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship will host another Start-Up Boot Camp Blast in January 2016.

To learn about other upcoming events hosted by the Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, check out our Events Calendar here.

Wake Forest Senior Uses Artistic Talent to Support Children’s Home in Kenya

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

KatitaKatita Miller (’16), a Studio Art and Spanish double major from Fort Worth, Texas, traveled to Amazing Grace Children’s Home in Awasi, Kenya in 2013 while on a mission with her church, All Saints’ Episcopal Church of Fort Worth. After visiting the Children’s Home, Miller knew that she wanted to use her artistic talents to raise money to support such a worthy organization.

The Amazing Grace Children’s Home opened in December 2005 and is currently home to 72 girls aged five through twelve. In January of 2013, the home additionally opened a Girls’ School for over 270 local girls. While visiting Amazing Grace during the Summer of 2013, Miller had the opportunity to meet Serphin, her pen pal of many years.

During this past summer, in addition to taking a design class at Parsons School of Design and visiting the Art Biennale exhibition in Venice, Miller painted13 pieces of boldly patterned work in acrylics and oils. She sold these works during an art Show entitled “Patchwork Places,” which took place August 14-15 in her hometown of Fort Worth. Within two hours of the opening, almost all of her pieces had already been sold. The final piece sold shortly after the show closed, and Miller also received a commission to paint an additional piece, bringing the total to 14 pieces. In total, Miller was able to donate over $6,500 to the Amazing Grace Children’s Home.

Congratulations to Katita Miller on her success! You can find photos of several paintings sold during her show below.

katita 4 Katita painting katita 3 katita jpg

Winston-Salem Discovery Forum Sparks Innovation in the Triad

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

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, Wake Forest University’s Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship and North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues co-hosted the Winston-Salem Discovery Forum, an event designed to allow young social entrepreneurs to pitch ideas or present existing ventures that support community or economic improvement in North Carolina. The Forum’s mission is to develop the leadership potential of young adults in North Carolina who share a strong interest in social entrepreneurship. Winston-Salem’s forum was one of six that are being held state-wide, all sponsored by BB&T.

Ten teams were given the opportunity to present a five minute pitch to the audience. Participants included Wake Forest undergraduates, Wake Forest graduate students, and other young entrepreneurs in the local community.

Presenters included:

Saving Lives with Community, Connection, and Silver Linings by Kelly Guin

Convenient Printing for a Cause by Mason Halpern & Hunter Artz

Blank Space Project by Jessica Wilson & Ucha David

Pie by Pierre Duncan

No Bad Apple by Jake Teitelbaum

GlobeTrotter by Samantha Larsen

Katch-Up! By Phillip Weinstein

Uniting as One for All by Rayce Lamb

Strike: Rekindling the Fire by Richard Caban-Cubero

Captivism by Matthew Williams & Julian Gilyard

After the presentations, audience members were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite three presenters. The overall top three presenters were invited to a Leadership Symposium in Raleigh in spring 2016 for leadership development training and the chance to compete for a $10,000 venture prize.

Blankblank space Space Project, one of the night’s three winners, is a small social organization that works to connect community partners to one another. Blank Space Project was founded by Jessica Wilson and Ucha David, young social entrepreneurs in the Winston-Salem community. Blank Space Project has taken on several projects in Winston-Salem’s Boston Thurmond neighborhood in the past, including “Kimberley’s Kids,” a park for local children, the development of several outdoor learning spaces, and the development of community seed libraries. Blank Space Project is currently working to create a safer bus stop in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood.


Strike: Rekindling the Fire, another of the night’s top three winners, is an emerging idea that allows Wake Forest students to “break the bubble” and become involved in the Winston-Salem community. Richard Caban-Cubero (’17), who pitched this idea, explained that he strongly believes in the importance of mobilizing students to take action in their local communities. Strike will provide training to help students learn about social problems and organize in response. Caban-Cubero went on to explain that Strike is for both Wake Forest students and Winston-Salem community members. He hopes to increase community involvement and build relationships with local Winston-Salem philanthropies through Strike.

Captivism, the thcaptivismird and final winner of the night, is a crowd funding site designed to help community organizers. The site, which was developed by Matthew Williams, a Wake Forest staff member in the Office of Personal and Career Development, and Julian Gilyard, is designed as a tool for the next generation of change-agents. While there are already many crowd-funding sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, Captivism is the only site designed solely for social justice organizations and projects.

For more information about the Discovery Forum 2015, click here.

Meet Greg Pool, 2015-2016 Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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

As any new entrepreneur will tell you, when you’re trying to turn an idea into a business model or working to develop a business plan for your start-up, it’s vital to learn from those who have been in your shoes. The Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship sponsors an Entrepreneur-in-Residence who is responsible for advising and coaching student entrepreneurs in their endeavors. We are proud to welcome this year’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Greg Pool, to the ICE Program!

EiR Greg Pool

Greg received a BA in Economics from University of South Carolina Honors College and a JD from the Wake Forest School of Law, as well as an MBA from the Wake Forest School of Business. Greg, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” has been involved with many start-ups and emerging organizations since he was a student.

In fact, Greg embarked upon his first entrepreneurial venture when he was only eight years old. His parents promised to pay him a nickel for each discarded can or bottle he collected from the woods along his house. He explained that his parents expected him to collect a few dozen cans and bottles, but Greg, a true entrepreneur, subcontracted the work to his little brother and other neighborhood kids, paying them a portion of his earnings. His pint-sized operation lasted for several weeks, until his parents found out and put a stop to it.

Greg’s first real ventures began in college when he ran several online marketing sites during a time when online marketing was brand new and exciting. Since college, Greg has taken on many leadership roles in various other start-ups and emerging organizations. He served as EVP of Merscom, a social gaming company sold as part of a roll-up to Playdom/Disney. He also co-founded Elephant Structures, an online metal building sales platform that he also sold a year later.

get in get outWhen asked what one piece of advice he would give to student entrepreneurs, given his experience in the field, Greg explained: “The faster you can get to the inflection point where you can declare either failure or success, the better your chances of reinforcing that success or mitigating that failure. In other words, plan on succeeding, but be willing to fail quickly if needed.”

We are excited to welcome Greg to the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship program this year! To make an appointment to meet with Greg, click here. Greg will also be teaching a workshop entitled “How to Launch an App 101” on October 21. For more information about this workshop, click here.


Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows Put Classroom Skills into Action

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

What is the goal of a summer internship? For most students, gaining hands-on experience is at the top of the list. Summer internships provide students with opportunities to try out different careers and put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice in the real world. For twenty Wake Forest undergraduates, this year’s Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows program provided the internship experience of a lifetime! Selected students were given the opportunity to spend the summer developing their own venture or gaining entrepreneurial experience by working with an entrepreneur in a start-up or emerging organization. Though their experiences differed by company, sector, and location, all twenty fellows walked away from this summer with more hands-on entrepreneurial experience than they ever could have imagined.

Nick LaddNick Ladd (’16) spent his summer interning with Handshake, a tech start-up in Palo Alto, California that has recently exploded nationwide. Handshake, which was implemented over the summer at Wake Forest, is a web platform for university career offices that helps students connect with employers and alumni networks. Ladd, who worked as a software engineer intern, explained that the three months he spent living, working, and breathing the Handshake culture gave him the opportunity to learn more about start-ups than he ever could have imagined: “There is a lot that is special about the startup life. You learn much more in three months of being in a start-up than you do in three years in a corporate environment because you wear many different hats and constantly jump from project to project.”

megan archey

Though Megan Archey’s (’16) experience with Esperanza International, a not-for-profit organization in the Dominican Republic, differed greatly from Ladd’s experience in Silicon Valley, she agreed that her own three-month internship similarly provided her the chance to jump into the entrepreneurial culture. In her role as Communications Field Intern, Archey had the opportunity to travel to different Esperanza banks that provide small loans and business training and development to local Dominicans and Haitians who want to start their own microbusinesses. The real-life experience gave Archey insight into different careers she might want to pursue after graduation: “I was fascinated by the fusion between a financially-based company and the more creative and writing-intensive aspects of my job. It’s made me think a lot about my future and different career opportunities where I could put my accounting degree to good use.”

Kurt Walker

Other students spent their summers developing their own entrepreneurial ventures. Kurt Walker (’16) began developing Spool, a group video sharing application, in the fall of 2014. After putting Spool on hold during the Spring semester, he was excited to dive back into his venture for the entire summer. He explained: “I decided to spend my summer months working full time on perfecting the product, designing and implementing a marketing strategy, connecting with investors, and preparing for a launch at the end of the summer.” After meeting his goal of submitting Spool to the Apple app store by August 1, Walker was surprised and delighted to find that his app was accepted immediately. Walker plans to release Spool on the App Store on Saturday, September 12. Make sure to check it out!

Megan Miller

Megan Miller (’16) experienced the best of both worlds as an intern for Slender Seven, an entrepreneurial food start-up developed by Nikki Azzara, a Wake Forest alumna. The internship gave Miller the opportunity to take ownership of her own projects, such as expanding the company’s social media presence and spearheading a brand ambassador program, while also experiencing the daily responsibilities associated with managing a small business. She explained: “Building a successful start-up company requires creativity, innovation, and determination. The environment was extremely fast-paced and my responsibilities and tasks changed on a daily basis.”

For these four students, and many others like them, summer entrepreneurial experiences provide the perfect opportunity to jump into the field and learn what being an entrepreneur is all about. Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows are selected in the spring of each year. To learn more about the Summer Entrepreneurial Fellows program and how to apply for Summer 2016, click here. To learn more about the 2015 fellows and their experiences, check out their blog here.

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.