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

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.