Snow Factory: How To Be A Student Entrepreneur

By: Gabby Sealy and Pablo Romero

The idea of owning your own business and being a full-time student at the same time may seem like an impossible feat. While most people do not think this is doable, UMSL Alum Van Liu can prove otherwise. For the podcasting series “In your Business”, UMSL Business interviewed the owner of the Thai-styled ice cream shop known as Snow Factory, to talk about what started it all, and how it got to the place where it is now.

In case you are not familiar with Snow Factory, it is a Thai-style ice cream shop located on the Delmar Loop that specializes in rolled ice cream. This technique is basically that ice cream is made fresh right in front of you on an ice cold surface that freezes the ingredients until it’s ready to be rolled into a cup. Van Liu first came up with the idea while visiting Thailand, where he stopped at an ice cream shop that was notably different from the rest. A huge line attracted his attention and after waiting for roughly an hour in line, an idea sparked in his entrepreneurial mind. What if this concept was brought to the U.S.? Well, to his benefit, he saw a second rolled ice cream shop in New York, which indicated a new trend in the U.S. and an opening in the market. That is when he decided to bring it to St. Louis. This blog originally appeared on UMSL Digital, click here to read the full blog.

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Be Ready For a Digital Disruption

By: TJ Sheffer

In a recent podcast “In Your Business”, UMSL Business talked with Rick Speakerman from Purina, Steve Bauer from FleishmanHillard, and our very own Professor Perry Drake about the disruption caused by modern technologies, how it is affecting, specifically, the field of marketing and communications and why it is imperative that colleges are properly preparing students for the new business world that is emerging ever so quickly.

Digital disruption is defined as the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services. As Dr. Drake mentions in the podcast, many people think of it as something negative because of the word “disruption”, which is in reality not a bad thing at all. To be more precise, it is even beneficial for both, consumers and companies.

The contemporary disruption is good because it keeps the company sharp by developing a new set of competencies and skills to keep up with the changing digital world. The landscape of business has shifted from the way companies communicate with consumers to where the product is sold, such as, for instance, e-commerce. Even if the product or service stays the same, the technology used in its production, promotion and selling may change dramatically.

Rick Speakerman, who has been the Lead of Digital Strategy at Purina for 27 years, states that the largest disruption in his industry is caused by the access to information which consumers have, which in its turn influences purchasing decisions. Steve Bauer, who has 18 years of experience in Social Media Strategy, believes that the digital disruption has made life easier for the consumer’s stand point. He also believes that the biggest disruption comes from the company’s perspective. For companies, the way they market, produce, sell, and interact with customers has fundamentally changed over the last ten years. Therefore, it is vital for these companies to stay ahead of the curve and rebuild from the ground up to keep up with the disruption we are facing.

For those who may be interested in taking courses that can enhance the knowledge of digital disruption and many other topics in digital marketing, UMSL is a great option to consider. Professor Drake is responsible for crafting and teaching courses, such as Digital and Social Media Marketing Strategy and many others.

Click here to listen to the whole interview.


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5 Reasons Why You Should Get an Internship

By: Pablo Romero

If you’re a junior or senior, you have probably been asked if you have had an internship yet. Every year as summer approaches, many students get ready to start their journey into the corporate world and gain experiences and connections that will help them get ahead. However, sometimes students are unsure about internships, the hiring process, benefits and tradeoffs. Do internships really give you an edge? Are they worth it even if you are not paid? This blog originally appeared on UMSL Digital Mindshare, click here to read the original blog.

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UMSL Business Presents: Cyber Security Concerns Facing Businesses

By: Jordan DeMars

In today’s world, everything is going digital and with that comes some security problems. With so much business done over the internet, on top of all the personal information people store online, it is important to have excellent cyber security. UMSL Business students had the honor of interviewing Dr. Dinesh Mirchandani, Chair of UMSL IS Department, and cyber security faculty members Dr. Maurice Dawson and Dr. Shaji Kahn for the podcasting series “In Your Business with UMSL Business”. They talked about the importance of cyber security and how cyber security aficionados work to protect your identity online. The podcast team did a great job in structuring their questions in a way that the answers would be beneficial to all listeners who are looking to strengthen their cyber security. This blog originally appeared on UMSL Digital Mindshare, click here to read the full blog.

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What to do with your Health Savings Account funds?

Consider investing your Health savings account (HSA) instead of having it sit in cash! Well less than 20% of the funds sitting in HSAs are invested in mutual funds now. If your investment horizon for taking money out of your HSA is not until many years from now, consider investing it in quality mutual funds.

What if you don’t have or don’t like the mutual fund options available through your current HSA? Consider rolling over part or all of your current Health Savings Account balance to an HSA provider highly rated for investing. Which HSA provider should you choose? See the Morningstar report at

and click on “Download Paper”. It ranks the 10 largest HSA Plan Providers. See the summary in Exhibit 1 on page 3 of the paper. It summarizes the rankings by whether you use your HSA for qualified medical expense spending currently or for investing and future reimbursement of such expenses. In this paper, Morningstar rated the following Investment Plans in the Top 3: HSAs provided by HealthEquity, Optum Bank, and The HSA Authority.

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#MDMC17 Live: Getting to Know the Speakers. Part 2

By: Dan Klevorn

We continue to introduce the speakers of the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference(MDMC17), who UMSL Business students were able to interview for the podcast series “In Your Business With UMSL Business”. This blog originally appeared on UMSL Digital Mindshare, click here to read the full blog and listen to the interviews.

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3 Things You Must Do To Be Successful On Instagram

By: TJ Sheffer

Califia Farms is a business that offers consumers “the most delicious, good-for-the-world foods” by applying creativity and innovation. They believe in beverage products that can be healthy and delicious at the same time. This company is known for its iconic bottles and superior taste. In addition to being tasty in terms of products they produce and cool in terms of their brand positioning, Califia Farms has recently been ranked one of the best brands on Instagram by HubSpot. This blog originally appeared on UMSL Digital Mindshare. Read the full blog here.

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#MDMC17 Live: Getting to Know the Speakers

By: Brittney Hager

This year’s Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC) was a great opportunity to gain some new knowledge in the digital marketing world. With so many unique and insightful speakers, many people were sitting there like sponges trying to soak up all the tips, opinions, and insights that many of these speakers offered during their sessions. Fortunately, a few of these speakers stopped by for a live interview with “In Your Business with UMSL Business” podcast, conducted by UMSL Business students. Three speakers, in particular, shared some of their thoughts on their future industries and some advice to those interested in their fields. This blog originally appeared in UMSL Digital Mindshare, click here to read the full blog.


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Could your Health Savings Account (HSA) make you wealthier than the match your employer puts into your 401(k)? Yes!

How to determine which one will make you wealthier? Use the graph in Figure 1 on page 44 in the article you can download at to compare two percentages.

The first percentage is your employer’s matching contribution to your 401(k) (e.g., 25%, 50%, 100%). The second percentage is your combined tax rate (i.e., federal income tax rate, state income tax rate, Medicare tax rate on your salary, and Social Security tax rate on your salary) you are subject to on the last part of your salary (that will be directed into your HSA). The federal income tax rate schedule is available at When using the federal income tax rate schedule, remember to subtract your exemption deduction(s) of $4,050 per exemption and the greater of your standard deduction ($12,700 if married filing jointly and $6,350 if single) or itemized deductions to estimate your taxable income for 2017.

Click on “State Individual Income Tax Rates” at to find state tax rate information.

The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% (or 2.35% if your total salary exceeds $200,000 if single or $250,000 if married filing jointly).

The Social security tax rate is 6.2% but becomes 0% to the extent one’s salary exceeds $127,200 in 2017.

Now that you have the two percentages, go to the graph in Figure 1 on page 44. For points northwest of the curved HSA line in Figure 1, an employee will be wealthier if contributing to his or her employer-matched 401(k) first. For points southeast of the curved line, employees will be wealthier if contributing to their HSA first. (Note that you can only contribute to an HSA if you have qualified high deductible health insurance.) For instance, if an employee’s combined tax rate is greater than 20 percent, and his or her employer’s 401(k) match is 25 percent or less, contribute to the HSA first. Another example is that if an employee’s combined tax rate is greater than 33⅓ percent, and his or her employer’s 401(k) match is 50 percent or less, contribute to the HSA before contributing anything to your 401(k). Remember that the tax-favored treatment for HSAs only occurs if the distributions are to pay for or reimburse yourself for qualified medical expenses.

Even if the comparison of the two percentages on the graph shows you’ll be wealthier if contributing to the HSA first, for your financial well-being also try your best to get the maximum employer 401(k) match you are entitled to.

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Prof. Geisler wins financial planning article award

The Montgomery-Warschauer Award honors the paper published in the Journal of Financial Planning that provided the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of the profession in the preceding year. The article provides the tax-efficient rank ordering for contributing to Health Savings Accounts (HSA), retirement accounts, and 529 higher education accounts, and for paying debts. Geisler shows that the tax savings on many employees’ contributions to an HSA increases wealth by more than an employer match on the same employees’ 401(k) contributions.

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