Skandalaris Center

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IN-RESIDENCE Program

The Skandalaris Center In-Residence program serves the Washington University in St. Louis community of students, faculty, staff and alumni by providing industry experience and insights to encourage development of new ventures. The goal of the IR program is to help teams learn from professionals with extensive industry experience and motivate the teams to take action on their ideas. The In-Residence program will feature a diverse collection of experts, including artists, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and executives that will share their experience and networks to exponentially expand opportunities for success. 

Daphne Benzaquen (MBA '17)

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales 

Daphne is the Creative Designer and CEO of daph. a handmade leather goods company that gives back. During her MBA studies, Daphne was in search of a functional, fashionable backpack that not only carried her essentials but also looked sleek and polished. In 2016, she embarked on an adventure that led to a self-taught crash course in designing leather goods, meeting with leather makers across Peru, and a website designed from scratch. She wanted to create a brand that bonded her unique style with her Peruvian roots. A brand that showcased the high quality and durability of Peru's leather craftmanship and resources through everyday bags and accessories made to last through life's different experiences; and most importantly a brand that gave back to local and global organizations. An avid believer in paying it forward, she uses her branding and strategy experience to work with entrepreneurs in brand creation and website design through Daphne Benzaquen Consulting focusing on the fashion, lifestyle, food, and coworking industries. In her free time, you can find Daphne cooking different recipes or visiting local eats in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Food plays such a big part in her life that she co-founded The Chomp food blog. 

Scott Bernstein

Areas of Expertise: Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Information Technology, Innovation Commercialization, Marketing 

Scott is currently Chief Financial Officer of Freely Pet, LLC. Prior to joining Freely, Scott was Principal at Lewis & Clark Ventures, a $130m Series A stage venture capital firm focused on investments and active board participation in high growth technology startups. During his time at Lewis & Clark Ventures, Scott held board positions with Adarza Biosystems, BigSquid, OneSpace, and Kaizen Health. Scott's background also includes investment and technology roles with Chicago-based financial corporations such as BMO Harris Bank, Nothern Trust Omnium, an affiliate of Citadel Investment Group. Scott holds an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Economics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Colorado Boulder. Scott is a Kauffman Fellow and was named to the St. Louis Business Journal's "40 Under 40" in 2015. Scott serves on 2 non-profit boards, Crown Center for Senior Living, and Trailnet. 

Mike Bynum Jr. (MBA '19)

Areas of Expertise: Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Operations/Supply Chain 

Mike hails from Bettendorf, IA, and is a recent MBA Graduate from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  Mike has a military background having served as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in US Army Intelligence and a Commissioned Officer in the US Army Infantry Branch.  Mike's expertise is in Cross-Functional Team Leadership, Organizational Process Improvement, and Business Development.  Mike also serves as the Chair of St. Louis based non-profit, The BALSA Foundation, which focuses on funding first-time entrepreneurs from underserved communities in St. Louis.

Abby Cohen (BS '13)

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Biomedicine, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization, Marketing, Sales 

Abby Cohen is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sparo, an award-winning, digital health company dedicated to helping people breathe better. Abby was named to the Forbes 2017 30 Under 30, Healthcare List. In 2015, Abby and her co-founder Andrew Brimer, were selected to represent Sparo as 1 of 30 companies from across the U.S. to exhibit at the first-ever White House Demo Day. Abby and Andrew won 10 of 12 technology, public health, and business competitions they entered as students, which ranged from the regional to the international stage, resulting in $275,000 in grant competition winnings. Abby was a Pipeline Fellow in 2013, an exclusive community of entrepreneurial leaders building high-growth companies in the midwest region. Abby serves as President of the Board for the St. Louis Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. She previously co-chaired the $10 million Evolve Capital Campaign with George Paz, President of the Board of Express Scripts, to further develop T-Rex, downtown St. Louis's innovation center. Abby graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. 

Elise Miller Hoffman (LA '11, MBA '16)

Areas of Expertise: Biomedicine, Communications Strategy, Finance, Fundraising, Healthcare, Innovation Commercialization

Elise Miller Hoffman is a venture capital investor and startup executive with expertise leading digital health companies as an operator, board member, and investor. Elise has advised dozens of healthcare companies at all stages of the startup life cycle including idea generation, scale up, and exit. As a General Partner at Cultivation Capital, she invests in Seed - Series A stage healthcare IT startups. After investing in ImageMover on behalf of Cultivation Capital in 2018, she joined the company as COO in 2022. Elise is active in the St. Louis and Midwestern entrepreneurial ecosystems, and serves as a Board Member of the Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network, Co-Chair of the Board of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective, and an Advisory Member at Arch Grants. She can often be found on the campus of her alma mater, Washington University, where she serves as an Investor in Residence at the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a Director of the Holekamp Seed Fund, and a member of the Olin Alumni Board. In the St. Louis community, Elise serves as a Board Member at Forward Through Ferguson, an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Civic Research and Innovation, and a member of St. Louis Forum.

Elise holds a BA in Spanish Literature and Latin American Studies, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She was recognized as a St. Louis Business Journal “30 under 30” awardee in 2018 and an Olin Business School Emerging Leader Award recipient in 2020.

Tamara Keefe

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media

Proud to serve as a board member of the St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation. An active member of EO Entrepreneurs Organization, currently serving as MyEO Chair 2019/2020/2021, James Beard 2020 WEL recipient, 2019 Tory Burch Fellow, and Goldman Sachs entrepreneur alumna. Over 20 years of experience working across global brands (DuPont, Ensure, Coke, Nestle, Kraft, ConAgra, Mead Johnson, Heritage Foods, Campbells, Mars, etc.) in the FMCG - Consumer Package Goods industry in the international and domestic areas in multiple functions with main focus in Strategy, Brand Management, Consumer Insights & Innovation responsibilities. Ranked in the top 1% of the MES global marketing competency test by 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Marketing Leadership Council – Corporate Executive Board. Expertise encompasses an extensive marketing background (Corporate & product marketing management, value proposition creation, brand strategy, global commercialization, new technology/product launches, strategic planning, channel sales & marketing, and EIQ - Emotional Intelligence. Six Sigma Green Belt Certified.

Jennifer Labit

Areas of Expertise: Consumer Goods, Intellectual Property, Marketing, Operations/Supply Chain, Public Relations/Social Media

Jenn is the owner of Cotton Babies and creator of bumGenius, Flip, and Elemental Joy, leading cloth diaper brands in North America. She holds an MBA from Washington University and enjoys teaching business leaders how to use their business to bring about sustainable social and economic change in their local communities. She has spent many years on various boards of directors and, today, chairs the Women’s Business Network in YPO. Jenn teaches academically about various topics including entrepreneurship, platform economics, corporate social responsibility, big data analytics, and strategy at notable universities including Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia University, and Virginia Tech. Jenn has kept her company focused on the circular economy since its inception. Cotton Babies recently released a brand-neutral cloth diaper recycling project that works alongside cloth diaper banks and recycling partners to ensure that every diaper is used as much as possible and then gets responsibly directed when it has reached its end of life.

Matt Plummer (MBA '18)

Areas of Expertise: Accounting, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Legal/Contracts, Marketing, Sales

Matt is an Associate with Lewis and Clark AgriFood, an investment firm in St. Louis specializing in innovative agriculture and food products. Matt is a WashU alum who graduated with an MBA in 2018.

 

 

 

Jerry Rosen (BFA '81)

Areas of Expertise: App Development, Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Consumer Goods, Customer Acquisition, Finance, Innovation Commercialization, Intellectual Property, Marketing, Public Relations/Social Media, and Sales.

Jerry Rosen is a WashU alumnus with a career spanning over 30 years, having morphed from advertising art director to serial entrepreneur. He has launched multiple marketing and technology focused businesses serving roles as BOD Chair, CEO, CMO, CRO, and multiple director seats. Rosen’s experience includes media, content creative, eCommerce and SaaS software. His client list includes Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s, MetLife, Roche/Genentech, Lufthansa, American Express, The Kennedy Space Center, Chicago White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Fire and Frank Thomas’s Big Hurt Enterprises to name a few.

Katie Silversmith (AB, MSW '12)

Areas of Expertise: Branding/Design, Communications Strategy, Customer Acquisition, Marketing, Operations/Supply Chain, Public Relations/Social Media, Sales 

Katie Silversmith received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. After practicing clinical social work in nonprofit and private practice settings for 10 years, she and her husband founded a personalized coworking space, ThriveCo, where Katie serves as CEO. ThriveCo’s mission is to provide small businesses with access to the office space, customized furnishings, services, funding, support, and community needed to have a thriving business. Since opening their doors in January 2019, ThriveCo has completed two expansions to meet the demand. In addition to her work at ThriveCo, Katie owns an operations consulting business, and serves in an advisory role with start-ups for House of Genius and as a judge for Arch Grants. She has been volunteering with Healing Hearts Bank, a microlending bank for women in the St. Louis area, since 2013.

Brian Wolfe (JD '09)

Areas of Expertise: Customer Acquisition, eCommerce, Public Relations, Sales, Legal/Contracts, Commercialization, Fundraising (startups, venture capital firms)

Brian is a corporate partner at Kirkland & Ellis, where his practice focuses on private equity and venture capital transactions.  Brian previously co-founded SearchWorks, a technology investment platform formed in 2017 to “buy and build” SAAS-related assets in the martech software space, which was acquired by Alpine Investors in 2018.  Prior to law school, Brian was a member of the finance team at Amazon, and has also served as Deputy Superintendent and COO of the St. Louis Public Schools.  Brian also currently serves as an adjunct professor at Washington University School of Law and has extensive investment experience across the capital structure.

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