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!

Transforming Lives through HerSpace, Inc.

By Allison Durham

Brittani Chavious, a third-year Divinity School student and social entrepreneur, came to Wake Forest with a non-profit she founded back home in Cincinnati, Ohio. While at Wake, she’s worked with the ICE program to expand HerSpace, Inc., an organization devoted to inspiring confidence and purpose in teen girls. Through the ICE program Chavious has been able to run a seven-day overnight camp for two summers in a row. She’s ready to expand HerSpace Inc. and its affiliate programs after graduation in spring 2015.

Chavious foundeded HerSpace, Inc. in 2011 as a way to address the growing emotional, social, academic, and health issues facing young girls today.  Her organization facilitates preventative and counteractive programs that are specifically tailored to transform the lives of young girls and women through building self-esteem, self-awareness and leadership skills.

“I had no idea stepping onto this campus that I would have the vast number of opportunities I’ve been given – not just to learn what it will take to run my nonprofit, but I was also given the opportunity to get into the field and practice what I’ve always dreamed of doing. Through the ICE Program and it's support, I was able to run my camp for two summers and I was able to impact the lives of about 40 young women.” -- Brittani Chavious, MDiv ‘15

Project Haiti Tackles Trash Contamination

By Allison Durham

What if you created a venture that could solve a national problem? Wake Forest law student Lhens Vilson’s venture is dedicated to increasing the quality of living for an entire country! Check out his project here:

As a Haitian native, Vilson has always had the desire to see the country prosper. After the devastating 2010 earthquake, he grew increasingly motivated to help out the struggling nation in any way that he could, so Project Haiti was born.

Project Haiti strives to reduce the piles of garbage on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, which contribute to water contamination and disease. “Households in Haiti put their trash in buckets that are subsequently dumped on the streets,” explains Vilson. This garbage is not contained in bags or dumpsters, so it spreads and results in clogging the sewer system and contaminating the area.

Project Haiti’s goals are:

1. To provide the Haitian people access to garbage bags at an affordable price and educational marketing motivate citizens to use them.

2. Build efficient dumpsters and place them on different streets.

3. Work with the government to handle this problem.

4. Create a youth volunteering league that will be responsible for picking up trash and contributing to keeping the streets clean.

Sounds like a lot to tackle, but Vilson is ready to finally expose the beauty of the country hidden underneath the garbage!

Student Creates Visual Collaboration Space and Market for Artists

By Allison Durham

If you could start your very own business, what would it be? Senior Bella Belanich proves that a single idea can evolve into a venture. See how selling her service and targeting the right audience helped her chase her dream!

Belanich ,’14, is the co-founder and CEO of CinemaRama, an online collaborative environment that allows artists to communicate with each other and even license another artist’s work for their own future use. The site is also a digital retail store that boasts high payouts to artists.

“The idea behind the venture is the belief that the entertainment and media industries have gone so long in depriving the content creators of getting a substantial amount of pay for their works,” Belanich explains.

The greatest thing she’s learned? “Building a business, just like growing up, is an evolution. The older your business becomes the more feedback you get and the more your idea changes to better fit the goal. In order to truly start competing you have to find your niche to enter the market and then expand from there.”

Belanich advises prospective entrepreneurs to be flexible with their ideas and willing to alter them depending on the needs of the market. “CinemaRama started as a site for musicians only, and has evolved into incorporating all of the arts,” Belanich says.

This App Will Let You Know When the Miller Center’s Full

By Allison Durham

If you could change one thing on this campus, what would it be? Sophomore Tommy Vater identified a pain point on the Wake Forest campus and created an app to fix it!

Have you ever wanted to know how busy the Miller Center is before making the walk over? Tommy Vater, ’17, is developing a solution to alleviate overcrowding at the on-campus gym, allowing more satisfying and efficient workouts.

“Gym Peak is a mobile app, data analysis and consulting company that seeks to track and manage the occupancy levels of recreational fitness centers on college campuses,” Vater says. “We collect and analyze data in real time to calculate the number of people currently in the gym.”

Gym Peak seeks to improve the customer experience at fitness centers by helping gym owners optimize their facilities. The goal of the app is to help gyms reach their “peak” while making use of live customer data in order to lead management decisions.

Vater advises his fellow students to take advantage Wake Forest’s supportive environment and experiment with new startup ideas.

“College is a great time to try out crazy business ideas,” Vater says. “The risk associated with failure is quite low while you're in college . . . so who cares if your venture fails?”

According to Vater, campus entrepreneurship is all about the experience you gain and learning process. “On top of that, the faculty and staff at Wake Forest are incredibly willing to help you succeed—they want to see students with passion.”

Performance Tells the Story of Collaboration and Innovation

By Allison Durham

On Nov. 5,  The Interdisciplinary Performance and the Liberal Arts Center (IPLACe) and Professor Thomas E. Frank’s ESE 100 (Creativity and Innovation) class sponsored the performance, “Black Mountain Summer of 1948: A Collaboration in Arts and Imagination” which explored the practice of multiple art forms in a single space.

This event was one of six "scenes of creativity and innovation" that students in Professor Thomas Frank's ESE100 class explored throughout the fall semester.  In this particular "scene" the focus was on liberal arts education using the example of the experimental college of the 1930s-'50s, Black Mountain College in North Carolina.  Black Mountain College created a new kind of open curriculum driven by student interests in close collaboration with faculty, and the arts were at the center of education there.

November 5 2014

“The Black Mountain College summer art and music institutes of the 1940s and ‘50s produced unexpected and enduring collaborations between disciplines by assembling artists from many locales and contexts together in a liminal place” Frank said when he opened the show on Wednesday night. “The institutes were characterized by the spirit of academic freedom, the receptivity to new ideas, the informal setting, the intensity of life and the use of practicing artists.”

The interactive and lively event, held in the Hanes Gallery, pressed the boundaries of experimentation and imagination while honoring those who taught and performed at the college. Highlights included a contemporary Merce Cunningham dance performed by the Dance Composition students, poetry by M.C. Richards and Charles Olson, music and sounds by John Cage and art by Willem de Kooning, who focused on the processes of contingency, improvisation and fluidity in his collage paintings.

The highly engaging event captured the imagination and placed art at the center of education. Audience members were encouraged to visualize creativity and innovation as an ongoing life practice.

The collaboration was meant to spark questions from Professor Frank's class such as 'What happens when people of varied talents and disciplines are thrown together in  a space of creation and formation? What is to good about failure, and wild theories, and stuff that's never been done before? How do creative people think?  How are imagination and action linked?

Joe Callahan: Why Entrepreneurship is Vital to Our Country’s Economic Stability

By Allison Durham

On Oct. 23, Joe Callahan, founder of Ciright Digital Media, addressed an audience of aspiring Wake Forest entrepreneurs.

Callahan emphasized the need for business awareness, the importance of using your time efficiently, the business ecosystem, the human element of a startup and the technology roadmap.

“Being an entrepreneur is all about managing your ecosystem,” advised Callahan, a Philadelphia native who received a dual B.S. in engineering and information systems technology from Drexel University.

Callahan’s startup, Ciright Digital Media, focuses on serving the needs of global brands and local companies by providing innovative digital display solutions that improve localized marketing investments.

Part of business awareness is being able to "do the math," Callahan said. Simply add the number of people and businesses in an ecosystem and the size of the economy against the opportunity to drive some monumental change.

“It’s the people in the equation who are going to determine whether you are going to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Callahan, who manages 110 employees. “Hiring the wrong person is the biggest risk [because his or her] goals are not aligned with those of the enterprise.”

Entrepreneurs must also be aware of the basic business climate of the U.S. Callahan offered these facts: There are 17,796,181 companies in America with, on average, 8.5 employees. Companies have spent $800 billion on software licenses.

Callahan also estimated that each person has 3,246.5 available hours per year, after subtracting eight hours of sleep and a full-time job. With this substantial inventory of time, Callahan advised students to "seize the moment."

“You have more time now than you ever will again,” Callahan said. “Find the passion you want to follow and pull together the people you need to chase that dream.”

Callahan reassured his audience that anyone can become an entrepreneur in today’s economy—as long as they have passion and emotional intelligence. “Patience is the most important quality. And being able to read others…that cannot be outsourced.”

There were numerous take aways from the evening; however, one piece of advice from Mr. Callahan that can be useful in all situations is..."never look at something as a failure but think of it as a way to improve and refine.  Iterate yourself and push beyond your comfort level."