Skandalaris Center

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Skandalaris Panel Says, “Everyone Can Be An Entrepreneur!”

Shanna Akley
January 27, 2022

The Skandalaris Center hosted the ‘Can I Be An Entrepreneur?’ workshop on January 20, 2022, where three panelists from the entrepreneurial community in St. Louis inspired attendees on how to turn their passion into successful ideas and how to locate opportunities within the entrepreneurial atmosphere. Over 45 attended to listen and connect with the panelists, who are listed below:

Jerry Rosen is a WashU alumnus whose career spans over 30 years, having morphed from advertising art director to serial entrepreneur. He has launched multiple marketing and technology-focused businesses, and his experience includes media, content creation, eCommerce, and SaaS software.

Gabriela Ramírez-Arellano helps entrepreneurs and small businesses launch and gain access to capital and opportunities for growth. She is recognized as a thought-leader in social innovation and entrepreneurship, a diverse business leader, and is one of the Top 100 people to know in St. Louis to succeed in business.

Jo Otey is a client manager for Covenant Technology Partners, who specializes in solving problems in data transformation and AI within enterprises, startups, and nonprofits. Jo also offers to consult in regards to the benefits of data in the food and beverage industry, particularly in restaurants, while owning several of his own.

Throughout the workshop, the panelists discussed several topics, including how to recognize opportunities within a specific community and what are the most important factors when starting a business. “I’ve pivoted from different ideas, and as an entrepreneur, I love being able to innovate in my career path or ideas,” said Otey. “It’s more about being in that entrepreneurial mindset,” he continued. Ramírez-Arellano continued this thought by saying, “Many of us are already entrepreneurial; we are all entrepreneurial in our own way. Passion has to be a part of loving what you do because you will leave your 9-to-5 to go to your 12-to-12 startup,” she said. Panelist Rosen agreed with Otey and Ramírez-Arellano, and continued to say, “If you’re lost, ask yourself what do I love? What am I good at? And what does the market need?”

Attendees were also able to ask questions during this workshop, including asking questions about how to learn from prospects who say no. “I don’t hear ‘no’,” said Rosen, “no just means, not right now.” Other questions regarding struggles leading to success were also presented to the panelists. Jo Otey responded by saying “Being very young to the industry, and being naïve to what it took, are things I struggled with at first”, he said. “I needed to understand my market fit and understand the market. I had to learn the hard way by hearing a bunch of different people say no”, he continued.

The Skandalaris Center will continue its entrepreneurial-themed workshop series this semester with other St. Louis community guest speakers. To stay up-to-date on all Skandalaris Center events, go to