Eighth Annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award Recipients

By Karli Thode, Communication Intern The Office of Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Each year in the spring, we hold an annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Banquet This is an invitation-only banquet co-hosted by the Entrepreneurship Society and the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and was created to celebrate the achievements of students, faculty, staff and an entrepreneurial member of the Wake Forest community.  This year the Annual Banquet was held on April 11, 2013 and our special award recipient and key-note speaker was Jean Case, CEO of The Case Foundation. Click here to read a summary of Ms. Case's inspiring key-note address.

The following awards were given at the Eighth Annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Banquet:

Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement

In 2007, Russ Hobbs, 1988 Wake Forest graduate and founder of Blue Ocean Software, announced a $1 million endowment gift to create the Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Fund for Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts, established in honor of his parents.  This was the first major endowment gift for the Wake Forest Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts. 

In addition to providing seed grants, internships, and other support for undergraduate students, the endowment funds a major prize, the Hobbs Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement for Student and Faculty Entrepreneurs. 

Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Student Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship

Studio Art Major, Bentrice Jusu (’13) 

Her venture, Both Hands The Artlet, has grown into a major summer program for teens and next year will be expanded into an afterschool program year round.  Through this program, the teens learn to have confidence in their abilities, for the first time – for many – they are affirmed and encouraged to reach for greater heights and begin the transformation to a productive life. 

Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Student Award for Entrepreneurial Achievement in Commercial Entrepreneurship

Business Major, Lee Lowden (’15)

This student’s business, BuyBackBoss, is an online business that buys back gently used cell phones and sells them to companies that repurpose them. He knows what drives sales, he knows the metrics of his site, he knows the rhythm of his industry, and he is always thinking ahead.   That has made the difference between being an entrepreneur and being a smart entrepreneur.

Russell D. and Elfriede Hobbs Faculty Award for Social Entrepreneurship

Professor of Anthropology, Jeanne Simonelli

Professor Jeanne Simonelli was one of the early supporters of our Program and as Chair of the Department of Anthropology taught one of the first cross campus entrepreneurship classes called Free Trade, Fair Trade: Independent Entrepreneurs in the Global Market. She was one of the founding members of CERE, the Center for Enterprise Research and Education at Wake Forest and along with Ajay Patel and Betsy Gatewood she took the entrepreneurial torch to Nicaragua and helped to teach the principles of entrepreneurship to small business owners in that country.


David and Leila FARR Award for Course Development and Research

In 2011, David and Leila Farr made a $2 million commitment to endow a professorship and fund programs in Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship. This is the first David and Leila Farr Award for Course Development and Research.

David and Lelia Farr Faculty Award for Course Development and Research

Professor of Communication, Ananda Mitra

Professor Ananda Mitra specializes in the growing field of digital technology and has published a series of 10 books on the effects of digital technology on the world.  He even coined a new techie term, the NARB, an item of personal information posted online. Professor Mitra and his new digital technologies are shaping everyday life practices from how we teach to the way in which the marginalized can gain a voice through the use of Internet.  


Faculty Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award 

Polly Black, Instructor WFU School of Business, Assistant Vice President and Center Director for the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.

Polly Black won the Faculty Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award from the students for the impact she is making on their lives through her teaching and mentoring.  Of her, one student who recommended her said, "She has given so many students the opportunity to pursue their dreams while developing a skill set no other department at Wake Forest can teach you. Through her I've learned to be a better leader, visionary, and creative thinker."

Student Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards were created to recognize students, faculty and staff who have exhibited extraordinary achievements in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship over the past year.  Nominated by their peers, these individuals embody the entrepreneurial spirit in thought and action and serve as an inspiration to all of us.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for an Artistic Venture
Graduate Student, Kimberly Dryden and Political Science Major, Austin Smith (’13) for their venture – Walls Talk
Kimberly and Austin have created a project that explores the social and political messages behind street art in the Philippines.  A documentary film and multimedia website will engage and connect artists and the public in the United States and the Philippines.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for Social Entrepreneurship
Communication Major, Jawad Wahabzada (’13) for working to change the destinies of the Children of Kabul
Jawad made a documentary that provides first-hand accounts of young Afghan children working tirelessly to earn money for their families. As a result of the film’s success, he has raised enough funds to help all the children in the film return to school and finish their education.

 The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for a Commercial Venture
Finance Major, Priscilla Garmendia (’13) for Power Pyramid Training
This organization works to improve the players’ individual skills in order to realize their ultimate dream of playing in the major leagues.  Students from this program have won athletic scholarships in college and some have already been drafted into the minor leagues. 

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for a Scientific Venture
Chemistry Major, Ryan Daly (’13), Finance Major, Matt Crismond (’14), and Biology Major, Mike Tantum (’14) for Sun Tape and Carbo Catalyst
Both of these ventures work to close the consumer cycle and prevent waste in our modern society.  In an area in transition not only from coal power but also from an old industrial cigarette complex, these ventures speak to what the future of manufacturing and industry will look like for both Wake Forest University and North Carolina.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for a Retail Venture
MBA Students, Kevin Keller and Allen Shafer for Fulton and Roark Men’s Grooming.
These students have created a unique, solid cologne that creates value for consumers and retailers alike.  This form of cologne addresses many of the pain points specific to cologne usage—no spillage, travel friendly, longer lasting, and pocket able.    

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for a Technical Venture
Freshman Austin Evers for Appuous
This student’s venture is a unique software development studio specializing in software for the iPhone and Mac operating systems. One of the unique products in this software studio, called “keycard,” was launched in January 2013 and was featured by Apple on the Mac App Store.  Keycard eliminates the need for system passwords.  The other product in his studio is called “Shuzzle,” which is an engaging and simple puzzle game used with apple operating systems.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for an Online Venture
Politics & Int’l Affairs Major, Andrew Awad (’13), Economics Major, Kevin Moon (’13), Political Science Major, Tobi Durotoye (’13), and Communication Major, Joe Barber (’14) for Live HotSpot NYC
This venture is a website that provides users with live information about the current status in nightclubs, music venues and bars throughout New York City. Team members are stationed at multiple venues, providing live updates on crowd lines, table costs, and cover charges.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for an Eco-Green Venture
Political Science Major, Deven Griffin (’13) for Sink Positive
This product transforms your existing toilet lid into a sink! When you flush your toilet, the clean water that would normally go to refill the tank is instead rerouted through the SinkPositive faucet. You then use that water to wash your hands, and the soapy water drains into the bowl.

The Excellence in Entrepreneurial Research Award
Mathematics Major, Jonathan Williams (’13) for the Rural Entrepreneurship Lab
Jonathan researched how place, particularly the rural environment, impacts the creative process, a field of study he intends to pursue for his PhD. These interests led him to found The Rural Entrepreneurship Lab, which serves as an institute for the advancement of entrepreneurship in rural America, on which he gave a talk at the TEDx conference in Hickory last month.


Creativity and Innovation Awards

These awards were created to identify and acknowledge the process and practice of creativity and innovation in catalyzing student learning across the liberal arts, especially in the intersection between the disciplinary knowledge and entrepreneurship.

Freshman Impact on the Future Award
Freshman, Ja’Keena Dillard
Recognized for demonstrating a robust, no-holds approach to her style of entrepreneurial thinking, and imagining how things could be better, then doing everything in her power to manifest that in the world.

Creatively Entrepreneurial Award
Political Science Major, Deven Griffin (’13)
Recognized for integrating creative and innovative ideas and processes into her 21st century venture, Sink Positive.

Musical Entrepreneurial Award
Communication Major, Charles Ramsey (’13)
Recognized for his perseverance in building a body of music, informed and inspired by his life and studies at Wake Forest, and for his entrepreneurial push in taking it to the public. 


Entrepreneurial Leadership Awards

Excellence in Entrepreneurial Leadership for LEAD (Latinos Empowered by Academic Development)
Business Major, Jacob Martinez (’13), Psychology Major, Kevin Tarsa (’13), and General Management Major, Rob Kelly (’13)
These students have demonstrated great effort and perseverance as they successfully moved from the IDEA of mentoring to the implementation of the LEAD (Latinos Empowered by Academic Development) pilot program this year.

Service Leadership Award

E-Society President, Gabrielle Wilson (’15)
As Entrepreneurship society president, Gabrielle has increased the club’s membership, co-sponsored several events with other student groups, brought in guest speakers, and took the students on a service project to the Children’s Home.

TEDxWakeForestU Leadership Award

Business Major, Christina Oelsner (’15), Communication Major, Jake Graham (’13), Economics Major, Mari Ishibashi (’13), Biology Major, Amy Xie (’15), Business Major, Lauren Williams (’14), Businees Major, Sydney Alms (’14), Politics & Int’l Affairs Major, Laura Kennedy (’15), and Finance Major, Sameep Girglani (’14)

This year’s team of student leaders worked very hard to plan, organize, and execute the second TEDx Conference at Wake Forest.  This year’s theme was “Defining Your Future” and featured NINE speakers, including Wake Forest Alum and founder of CollegeHumor.com, Ricky Van Veen.