The Skandalaris Center continued its summer events series with games, special guests, and a reflection on entrepreneurship during the pandemic. On July 13, 2022, the Summer with Skandy: Eship in an Endemic event was created and hosted by the St. Louis Entrepreneurial Fellows Chloe Finn (LA ’24), Chris Lopez (LA ’25), and Fred Hua (EN, BU ’25).
Kicking off the event, audience members participated in a Kahoot! Game, led by Lopez, testing their knowledge of how entrepreneurship intersected with the pandemic. Audience members learned some interesting statistics, such as the first year of the pandemic saw the largest year-on-year increase in entrepreneurship since 2005, as well as general information regarding entrepreneurship assistance programs like the Paycheck Protection Program.
Following the trivia, Hua facilitated a panel with four St. Louis entrepreneurs discussing their experiences founding, managing and working at a startup during the pandemic. The panel consisted of the following guests:
Isaac Bock (BU ’22) is a software engineer at Invisibly, a St. Louis-based technology startup that enables users to control and leverage their digital data to unlock paywalls and access ad-free content. A recent graduate of WashU, Bock now works on developing customizable email and phone spam filters that allow users to monetize their time and attention
Michael Kiel is a serial entrepreneur working on growing his third startup, Boat Planet, which connects a nationwide community of boat owners to local marine professionals that provide exceptional service. He also heads up a 43,000+ member Facebook group for boat owners at the Lake of the Ozarks. He is an avid boater that loves being on the water, exploring new destinations, and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues.
Minju Lee is the founder of Mozi, an idea born amidst the pandemic. He wanted to get people back together in person as soon as possible after witnessing the universal struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts during the period of quarantine and isolation. Lee is an undergrad studying Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Aerospace Engineering. He has competed and won venture competitions at Chicago Booth during summer 2020, Hatchery in fall 2020, and received second place in Sling Health’s Final Demo day during spring 2022.
Sang-Mi Lee is a major in the Psychological & Brain Sciences department and receiving her minor in Asian American studies. She has been heading the marketing team at Mozi this summer in preparation for the launch of the first version of their web app. The summer kickoff event planned by her team had over 65 students in attendance. Working at Mozi has given her the chance to apply her studies in psychology to her passion for the power of business to connect us – whether that be a product, entertainment, or technology like Mozi.
Throughout the panel, Hua and audience members asked questions concerning the panelists’ experiences during the pandemic. Each guest provided a unique perspective on how their start-up was affected. Bock noted that at Invisibly they began relying more on social media to reach new users as people spent more time at home. For similar reasons, Kiel’s team focused heavily on improving their users’ mobile experience, but Boat Planet also faced a rather unique issue for small businesses during the pandemic: pent-up demand. As leisure time increased so did boat ownership, overwhelming his team’s services at the time. Lastly, Minju Lee explained how the pandemic exacerbated some of the problems Mozi seeks to address, such as loneliness and isolation. The Mozi team thus found their vision all the more relevant and necessary following the pandemic. Immediately following the panel, audience members had the chance to connect with the panelists and other community members at the networking reception.
The Skandalaris Center will continue its Summer with Skandy event series until August 3, with different themes and guest speakers each week. To stay up-to-date on all events, go to www.skandalaris.wustl.edu/events.