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

IF Labs Comes to Wake Forest

IF LABs is a week long festival (March 24 - 27, 2015) designed to shine a light on acts of making – and even what making itself means – here, now and into the next.  True to form, this boundary expanding event reflects the rigor and inventive energy that ICE and Wake Forest has become known for, and invites the campus and community to experience a fresh palette of creativity and innovation towards inventing futures shaped with imagination and purpose.

Any and all creative explorers can sign up for micro labs and hands-on workshops, to see performances, and to join stimulating discussions about 21st creativity with a diverse mix of students, faculty, community members, staff and featured national and international guest ‘provocateurs’.  In one, two and three hour time slots, participants will have the opportunity to design and build, improvise and perform, make a scene and make a plan.  Local leaders and global visionaries will engage methods and techniques from ancient to contemporary, digital to experiential, improbable to entrepreneurial.  You will also encounter performances, artist talks and demonstrations that are sure to inspire.

Be a part of CONVERSATERIA, a public symposium which launches the first of several provocations, “What kind of creativities are needed to make an inventive, just and sustainable future?”  Cultural, historical, artistic, social and scientific contexts will inform the creative exchanges and stimulate discussion about the impacts of teaching, learning and making in today’s complex environments. By the end of the afternoon, we’ll forge many more questions and responses leading to visionary proposals for how we will be inventing futures today.

For More Info: https://www.facebook.com/iflabsWFU

Lynn Book, Associate Director, Program of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship:bookl@wfu.edu


By Allison Durham

What if you had the responsibility of putting on a multi-day event that would draw people from your entire community and beyond? How about a music festival? Sounds incredible, right? Well, a group of Wake Forest students is prepared to tackle the unimaginable. Len Neighbors’ year-long ESE 301: Arts Entrepreneurship trial course has one goal: Put on a music festival that honors and represents the history of Winston-Salem.

DashPop, a weekend-long music festival which will be held March 27th-29th, will do just that. “We want to include the whole community. We want students to branch out from the Wake Forest bubble and all come together for one cause: music and the arts downtown,” says the head of the sponsorship team, Olivia Acuna, ’15.

The class is taking a huge risk as they dive into the challenge head first. I mean, how many students can graduate college saying that they put on a music festival? There is no textbook and most of the work is completed outside the classroom. “This is real world application,” explains Acuna, “We are responsible for the whole thing and this is the first time having something of this magnitude in our hands. There is no better way to apply what we have learned in class to real life.”

Just as any entrepreneur, the entire group has encountered failure through the collaborative effort. “If you are an entrepreneur you cannot guarantee anything. It is hard to go to companies saying that this is the first time we are holding the event and it is being run by college students. We believe in our product but you have to be able to pass that on to other people.” However, as the result of a lot of hard work and dedication, the class has high hopes for the festival.

Big news: They are co-hosting with 9th Wonder, a Winston-Salem native who has produced for countless hip hop legends including Jay-Z, Drake and Mary J. Blige. He will be bringing acclaimed artists from Jamla Records to perform. The class is hopeful that this will assist them in scoring more sponsors and drawing a large crowd.

Every entrepreneur measures success differently. “For me it is going to be how much money I can secure for us,” says Acuna. “But for all of us it will be about saying 'it happened'! Success is knowing we gave it our all and this seemingly impossible task came together.” Neighbors, who has previously put on music festivals in Athens, GA, is so passionate about the challenge and bringing together the community: “We want to create a sustainable event that can be enjoyed by the whole Winston-Salem population every year.”

DashPop is March 27-29 in downtown Winston-Salem. All access wristbands are available for $30here. For more information about venues, artists and to purchase wristbands click here.

We need YOU to help spread the word: #WhatIsDashPop

Design Thinking: The Future of Academia

By Allison Durham 

Groundbreaking sculpture professor, David Finn, is building new ways to tie together entrepreneurship and the arts here at Wake Forest. “We do design work that involves design thinking and iterations of plans, prototypes, drawings and schemes,” Finn explains. He is currently in the development process of two brand new design courses being offered in spring 2016. These innovative art courses, which will be cross-listed with the Entrepreneurship Minor, are Art 232 Design Studio: Visualization of Ideas and Art 296 Design Studio: Products and Environments.

Finn and his colleagues push the limits of design by encouraging students to view design thinking as a sort of practical connective tissue across the various fields of academia. “We have an interest in talking, thinking and connecting design with art and entrepreneurship, [as well as] with bio-mimicry, computer science and communication, and connecting these disciplines together through design,” says Finn.

An exciting way in which Finn is furthering this initiative is through Wake 2034. Organized by the IF (Inventing Future) Labs led by Professor Lynn Book, this back-casting project will inspire students to look 19 years into the future at Wake Forest’s 200th anniversary. Finn elaborates, “Back-casting is process in which one looks forward into a state that can probably be realized and works backward to determine the benchmarks that need to be reached to get to that goal.” Under a specific topic, which will be announced on Feb. 24, the student-led team will develop a series of proposals that are based on a gap in their own experiences, whether that be the need for a product or service.

On March 24, an open forum for Wake 2034 will be held. Students from all majors are encouraged to attend and help plan in the group effort as a part of the focus group in the creative studio environment. “The design studio idea is that students collaborate and work together in teams on problems that in some way have a visual or physical component,” states Finn. Other design thinking events organized by the Art Department to watch out for include a presentation by the Director of Design Studies at Carnegie Mellon School of Design, Cameron Tonkinwise, and a design thinking workshop held on March 25 led by Finn and fellow art professor Jennifer Gentry. “Design is the organizing principle for everything: the new courses, Wake 2034, Tonkinwise’s visit and the design thinking workshop,” Finn emphasizes. Finn and his colleagues in business, entrepreneurship, and the sciences and humanities are well on their way to establishing design thinking as the link between the Wake Forest academic departments.

Be on the lookout for upcoming sign up and participation information from IF Labs for all of these exciting events.

What You Didn’t Know about Becoming an Entrepreneur

By Allison Durham

Nancy Lublin, the founder of Dress for Success  andDoSomething.org, brought her wit and humor to an audience of aspiring entrepreneurs on Feb. 3. Lublin created Dress for Success in her New York City apartment as a means to help people get started in this country and reclaim their destinies. She encourages everyone to take risks when young, such as seeking out Donald Trump for advice and marching up to his apartment with a box of Milk Duds (which she shamelessly did).

After leaving Dress for Success, Lublin formed the social justice organization, DoSomething.org. Now a $10 million organization, DoSomething.org is a nonprofit tech company that features a confidential crisis text line as a means to provide effective counseling efforts. It is the largest organization for young people in the U.S. with 3.4 million members.

As a fearless and successful entrepreneur herself, Lublin says that the best startups come out of what you love and comically shares the 11 things she has learned along the way:

1. I was born this way. Entrepreneurs are born, not made.

2. Every startup has only one founder. There is no such thing as cofounders. One person has the idea and will make it happen.

3. Make mistakes. You need to be comfortable with mistakes.

4. The best ideas are rarely in the room. You have to believe there are better ideas outside of any room you are in.

5. Being a founder is overrated and underappreciated. It's hard work.

6. It is possible to choke on money and have too much. The best innovation comes under pressure.

7. A business plan is not the first step. It will constantly shift.

8. Love your target market.

9. Have children. It will make you a sharper leader.

10. Play poker.

11.  Leave. Keep moving.

Now that everything you thought you knew about becoming an entrepreneur has been dismantled, Lublin declares, “Go make it happen!”

Click here for a recap of the Feb. 4 DoSomething Challenge at Wake Forest University.

DoSomething to Change the World

By Allison Durham

Nancy Lublin, founder of Dress for Success and CEO of DoSomething.org, spoke to a large audience on Wednesday, February 4 round the topic of leadership. Inspired by Nancy's entrepreneurial spirit and the founding of a global entity with a $5,000 inheritance, the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and the Office of Personal and Career Development hosted a “DoSomething Challenge” that encouraged students to pitch their social entrepreneurship ideas regarding what they would do with $5,000.

DoSomething Challenge winners Kelly Guin and Colt Mienke with Nancy LublinThe competition motivated students to create a positive social impact in the world. These student contributions must be enacted upon during the upcoming summer vacation, as students seek to advance their chosen social cause. Open to all Wake Forest students, the competition required participants to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges in just 2 minutes. Students addressed the overarching question: “What would you do it you had $5,000 to do something that could help change the world?”

At the end of the evening, the winner was announced: Colt Mienke, ‘16. Mienke was awarded $5,000 by Lublin and politics professor Melissa Harris-Perry generously matched the amount, providing him with a total of $10,000 to fight food insecurity. Kelly Guin,’16, received a surprise award of $5,000 by Lublin as runner-up as she strives to combat depression by promoting positivity.

Be sure to check out Colt and Kelly's winning pitches. Also stay tuned for an in-depth interview with the award-winners!

Let’s Turn Your Crazy Business Idea into Action!

By Allison Durham

The Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is here to help you kick start your wildest venture idea. On Jan. 20, the program launched its first “Start-Up Boot Camp Blast” presented by Professor Polly Black and Entrepreneur in Residence, Troy Knauss. As Black stressed the importance of creating a Business Model Canvas and Knauss covered all things financial, students were encouraged to consider their ideas from all angels and form the foundation necessary for their ventures to succeed.

Black emphasizes the significance of figuring out why your idea is better than anyone else’s before entering the market. What comes next? “Empowerment! Empower people with your idea,” advises Black. Other key components of the model that she highlighted include: spending time figuring out the alignment between your idea’s value proposition and consumer segments, the channel by which you are going to deliver the benefit to your customers, and how you are going to maintain a sustainable revenue stream. Don’t forget: “Complexity always adds cost so start simple and focus on the here and now.”

Knauss presents an alarming statistic: Did you know that 50-70% of all start-ups fail? Why? “Because they did not plan,” he says. Knauss encourages budding entrepreneurs to build their businesses from the bottom up and focus on financial management. “Your financial report is your scorecard.” However, he reminds students, “Success may be measured differently by entrepreneurs.”

What promising ventures are students creating? Andrew Saxton, ’18, seeks to build a start-up that will provide financial support to ill patients in order to alleviate the stress of their families by helping them raise funds. “I want to form a professional fundraising firm for people diagnosed with cancer or unexpected disabilities,” he explains. Hammad Ahmed, ’15, hopes to create an educational application that promotes students in a new way in order to receive mentoring efforts.

Do you want to start a business? Don’t miss out! The CICE offers grant funding to turn your idea into action!

Applications for a new venture seed grant are due by February 3, 2014. Click here for more information and to access the application.

Healthy, Local and Organic Food at your Doorstep

By Allison Durham

What’s your passion? Why not use it to add value to people’s lives? Jake Teitelbaum, ’14, encourages you to act on your passion and find the simplest and most cost effective way to test your idea!


Jake Teitelbaum, ’14, is committed to make buying high quality local and organic foods more convenient for YOU. Teitelbaum partnered up with a Wake Forest alum, Isaac Oliver of Harmony Ridge Farms, and founded Fresh Food Network under the motto: “Eat Local. Eat Better.”

By seeking to improve accessibility to healthy, local, and organic foods, Fresh Food Network delivers locally grown produce directly to your doorstep or workplace. Teitelbaum says, “The irony of our world is that in our globalized economy, it is easier to purchase food that was produced halfway around the globe than it is to buy better quality foods grown in our own backyards.” Through his venture, Teitelbaum strives to facilitate the process of locating, buying, and learning about responsibly produced foods.

In creating his startup, Teitelbaum learned that building a business is an ongoing process that takes plenty of time; taking baby steps is key. “I tried to do too much (add too many features, solve too many problems) too quickly and the result was that I did not adequately solve any of the problems.”

It is also crucial to find your differentiating factor in the marketplace and stick to it. He explains, “If you can do one thing very well as a business you will have success, and once you have that initial success, you can start playing with those features.”

Teitelbaum offers advice to prospective entrepreneurs: “First and foremost, find your passion. Throughout the entrepreneurial process, you will often find yourself doing things you dislike, but if you truly care about what you are doing, you will find the strength to persevere.”

Click here to place your local order today!