August 22-24, 2019, The Skandalaris Center welcomed nearly 350 students as part of the Bear Beginnings Innovation & Entrepreneurship immersive experience orientation program. Over the three days students participated in hands-on activities that introduced students to creative problem solving, learned from innovators, met successful entrepreneurs, pitched ideas, and explored St. Louis’ entrepreneurial community. Below are some highlights from the program.
Day 1 – Thursday, August 22
The day began with an introduction of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship immersive experience theme and an overview of the Skandalaris Center. The students were welcomed to campus by Skandalaris Center founding donor and namesake Bob Skandalaris. Mr. Skandalaris shared his entrepreneurial journey, WashU’s entrepreneurship environment and landscape, and his best advice for young entrepreneurs. His final takeaway was “critical thinking will be critical to your success”.
The students were introduced to the Idea Project for the next three days, which tasked each team with developing a 45-60 second video to pitch a business idea.
After some time connecting with their teammates, the students moved into their afternoon rotations which included a listening to a panel of entrepreneurs share their journey at T-Rex, a coding workshop with Computer Science and Engineering Professor Bill Siever, and time with their teams to work brainstorm video ideas.
Day 2 – Friday, August 23
Following a team breakfast, Friday began with a panel of StEP (Student Entrepreneurial Program) business owners. Bear leaders Logan Krohn and Katie Hasley moderated the panel which included Luke , owner of WashUWash, Katie Kim, owner of Weekend Wear, and Taylor and Elizabeth, the owners of U-Shuttle. These students shared the benefits of being the student owner of an on-campus business and the journey to finding and developing a StEP business.
The panel was followed by an innovation challenge, where teams were tasked with helping a mock StEP business solve a business challenge.
After lunch the teams participated a rotation of three activities. The first was a tour of the Cortex Innovation Community, and a creative challenge activity. The second activity was a design sprint with WashU’s Design for America team. The third activity was time for the teams to work on their ideas and create their idea project videos.
Day 3 – Saturday, August 24
After breakfast, the final day of the immersive experience program began with a pitch workshop with 10×3 founder Theresa Carrington. She shared strategies and tips for developing and delivering a successful pitch and making yourself stand out.
The pitch workshop was followed by some time to finalize the video projects. The morning ended with closing speaker and founder of Build A Bear Workshop Maxine Clark, who shared her story and advice for students entering WashU and the St. Louis community.
Following lunch students participated in final reflection and team time which was followed by an IdeaBounce event. This IdeaBounce was an opportunity for students to share a 2-minute or less pitch for any idea they might have. Fifteen students shared various ideas which ranged from an online art marketplace to an airpod leash.
After the IdeaBounce it was finally time for the main event. The students gathered to watch the videos from each team. Below is a brief description of all the ideas sorted by team.
- Blue 1: a WashU student orientation physical replacement team; 1904 – a student run cultural marketplace
- Blue 2: WUPS – student door delivery; Cub Cart – student rideshare
- Blue 3: Earlarm – an in-ear alarm; WashUnite – an app for learning about events on campus
- Blue 4: Bear Care – personalized health service delivery; Bear Pods – on-campus napping pods
- Blue 5: a scooter co-ride system; Wait Watchers – a line tracking system in the WUSTL app
- Blue 6: Paws for a Cause – a puppy rental company; DeliveBEAR – delivers anything from anywhere on campus
- Green 1: Bite – an app that helps you find the perfect date; Green Print – a personal recycling project
- Green 2: BEARly on Time – a live on-campus foot traffic app; Tap – a wristband to share contact information
- Green 3: Hot Girl Summer Box; Park Previews – an app that helps find nearby parks
- Green 4: Hi-Bear-Nate – a portable pillow; Bear Blends – steroids and proteins
- Green 5: WeTurn – an app that returns products for you; My Chef – an app that gives recipes based on what you have in your fridge
- Green 6: Bear Box – a power nap station; WashQueue – an app that tracks dining hall line lengths
- Purple 1: MatchU – an app for dating and finding friends; WULP – a campus review app
- Purple 2: Cellmates – an app that helps the formerly incarcerated find jobs and relationships; Tap – a social wristband to share contact information.
- Purple 3: Campus Connect – a portable charger rental station; Stall Strap – a stall gap blocker; Groomba – a robotic lawnmower
- Purple 4: Big Box Boys – a package delivery system; Campus Hustle – helps students find short-term jobs; ScooBear – a bear buck scooter system
- Purple 5: Bearrands – an errand running app; WUber – convenient transportation for students
- Purple 6: Life Library – equipment rental; Skrrt Skrrt – a motorized shoe rental
The day ended with a celebratory closing dinner and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. It was a busy and unforgettable 3-days that introduced the class of 2023 to innovation and entrepreneurship at WashU.