Entrepreneurial Program at UMSL: Preparing Students for Success

By: Isela Sanchez

UMSL Business’s podcasting series “In Your Business” always wants to expand knowledge to students by providing guest speakers with an amazing teaching capacity and insightful ideas. For the latest podcast we interviewed Dan Lauer, Chris Miller and Alex Zwibleman, who are all part of the UMSL Business Entrepreneurial program. They talked about the basics, history, future, and what the Entrepreneurial program can do for business students alike.
Dan Lauer is the Founding Executive Director of UMSL Accelerate and Founder of his company, Lauer Toys, Inc., which produces Waterbabies®. Chris Miller is the Founder and CEO of The Mission Center L3C, who serves as Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship at UMSL. Finally, the last guest speaker is a student from UMSL, Alex Zwibleman, who is majoring in Business Management and who is taking part in the UMSL Accelerate Entrepreneurial Program.
Dan Lauer began the interview by explaining what UMSL Accelerate is and what it does. First, he talked about the vision of the program, about its potential to be an entrepreneurial center that will become award-winning and nationally recognized, and in what way it will foster innovation. He also explained what UMSL Accelerate 3 pillars, namely, “Educate, Innovate, and Engage”, stand for. Business Entrepreneurial program at UMSL is part of the “Educate” pillar.
Chris Miller provided some insight on how the courses of the Business Entrepreneurial program are developed. He mentioned that the courses are developed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs: They are designed to teach things that he and other entrepreneurs wish had been taught earlier to save their time, money and energy. These courses are designed to help entrepreneurs make an impact a lot quicker in their businesses.
The last guest was one of the students from the program, Alex Zwibleman. Alex talked about why he was interested in taking part in the Business Entrepreneurial program at UMSL, and which valuable knowledge and skills he acquired by being part of it. Alex was excited about the opportunity he was given by the program, and he shared his plans about how he is going to use the skills he learned there in future.
Dan and Chris finished the interview by explaining what they think will happen to the future of UMSL Accelerate in general and the Business Entrepreneurial program in particular. Dan explained that he sees big things happening in the future, and hopes UMSL to be in the top 10 ranked universities of Entrepreneurship in the country. “With the leadership and support, we have a “white board” to explore and be successful, … it is a wonderful opportunity and a blue ocean to explore,” says Dan. Chris finished the interview by saying that it’s a program for everyone: nurses, musicians, anthropologist – for people of diverse backgrounds, who plan to start their own businesses and need the relevant skill set to be successful.
Go here to listen to the complete interview.

Service Automation and The Robot Age In Business

UMSL Business’s podcasting series “In Your Business” always features interesting people, who are experts in their fields, willing to share their expertise with broader audiences. For the latest podcast UMSL Business interviewed Dr. Mary Lacity to talk about the robot age, service automation, and how these systems impact business processes.
Dr. Mary Lacity is a Curator’s distinguished professor at UMSL, and a Visiting Scholar at MIT CISR. She has held visiting positions at the London School of Economics, Washington University and Oxford University. She is also a Senior Editor on editorial boards of multiple high profile trade publications on information technology, and most recently she co-published “Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work” together with Leslie P. Wilcox from the London School of Economics.
Dr. Lacity touched upon an array of topics during the interview. First, she explained that the new types of service automation technologies appearing now are going to vastly impact the delivery of business services in future. Throughout her career, she has studied three different types of service automations, such as robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive automation, and blockchain technologies (e.g. bitcoin). Dr. Lacity gave an overview of each of them in the interview and explained how they interact with the existing systems.
Dr. Lacity also explained that instead of anticipated job losses which many people expect to happen as a consequence of automatization, such technologies deliver a triple win of value to business organizations and their multiple stakeholders, including customers and employees. What robotic automation really does is “taking the robot out of the human” and letting employees focus more on the added-value tasks instead. Dr. Lacity also spoke about thirty action principles that each organization needs to follow in order to get the triple win of value and what is necessary to be done to avoid erroneous applications, which can lead to negative results.
When talking about the importance of research and data analysis, Dr. Lacity talked about quantitative and qualitative research methods, how she applies them in her work and how she collects data. In the interview, she mentioned that she doesn’t believe in the technological determinism. Instead, she believes in a strong human agency, and the human ability to choose how to use all these contemporary tools to better customer service and to better mankind.
The interview was overall very informative with many great key topics when it comes to the business aspect of how certain things operate.  Go here to listen to the complete interview.

From UMSL Alum to the Donut Master

By: Jordan DeMars and Dan Klevorn
For the podcasting series “In Your Business”, UMSL Business interviewed Jason Bockman – one of the founders, and now the owner of Strange Donuts, who graduated from UMSL. During the interview, Jason talked about his entrepreneur career and how it has led to the creation of his current business.
Jason Bockman began his career by owning a hot dog cart downtown and then switched to a furniture business. When asked about his greatest challenge when starting Strange Donuts, he replied: “I didn’t know how to make donuts”. Now he can describe himself as being able to make the best donuts in the world because he gained the skills he needed by working hard. “I don’t like to lose, I just want to win”, says Jason.
Like any entrepreneur, Jason has always had a fear inside of him that he will not be able to succeed. This fear has forced him to plan ahead so he is never behind. He explains that if you are planning well, there will be fewer unexpected situations.
To make it more understandable what it means to be a business owner, Jason compares owning a business to having a baby. He talks about how you can put a baby on a schedule of when it needs to eat and sleep, but when it cries you have to respond to it. Just like a baby, a business requires all your attention: even if you could have all the proper precautions in place, you cannot prepare for every single situation that comes your way, and you have to deal with it.
In the interview, Jason also speaks about how he and his team come up with new donut flavors, what they do to stay creative, and why business partnerships are important. There is so much more to hear from the podcast itself.

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.
Although St. Louis has a variety of ice cream shops such as FroYo and Ted Drew’s, there was nothing in comparison to the flavors and style of rolled Thai ice cream. Snow Factory offers flavors that most St. Louis natives have never heard of, like, for instance, Avocado Rhapsody. Each flavor is different in its own way, but it wasn’t easy for Van Liu to find and create these recipes. As a matter of fact, after searching and asking similar shops around the United States and Thailand, Van Liu came up with a recipe that would work, and it came from one of his close friends in Atlanta. The result was a healthy ice cream, made with fresh milk, organic fresh fruit and starting at 230 calories.
Bringing a new concept to untested markets is not an easy matter. There are many things that have to be learned and tried and Van knows this. As a sole owner, Liu holds all responsibility and liability for the business. Starting it off by himself while being a full-time student at UMSL is a hard job, but he did the research, crunched the numbers, did his homework and finally got a loan to get the business started. After spending some time looking for the perfect location for over a year, he finally found it and closed the deal within a week. The smooth start hit some roadblocks after Van had to learn how to file documents, deal with landlords and solve day-to-day operating issues, such as, for example, broken ice cream machines. Solving all the problems by himself has been a learning experience which helped him gain confidence, and he credits receiving help from family who carried him through hardships and supported him emotionally and spiritually.
Business has been booming ever since. The cultural atmosphere in the loop has allowed Snow Factory to establish itself as one of the best culturally diverse treats among hipsters, college students, and the general Loop crowd that likes to try new things. Van says the best part of all of this is watching his business grow, and the moments shared with customers and employees. The growth has been pretty good and he is planning on expanding to over 10 locations nationwide before 2018. He has three under construction at the moment, two of them in the works and he is sure the rest will happen. He has even thought about expanding to Madrid, Spain.
It has not been an easy ride for Van, but it has been worth it. Being a full-time student and a business owner is a feat few achieve, but he is one of them.  Now after graduation, he is planning on focusing on his business more. Hopefully, we will be seeing more Snow Factories around, and a trend starting in the US.
Listen to the interview with Van Liu here

Be Ready For a Digital Disruption

By: TJ Sheffer
20841820_1790501230961763_6950650802937056501_nIn 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.

5 Reasons Why You Should Get an Internship

By: Pablo Romero

Choose the first podcast listed to listen to this episode.

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?
In Your Business”, the official podcast of UMSLBusiness, had a chat with a few people that have had different experiences with internships. Lisa Fikki, UMSL Internship Director with over 20 years of experience in the industry, talks about the help you can get at UMSL. Spencer Schmitt, a recent graduate who did not pursue an internship as an undergrad, talks about how that affected him. Finally, Taylor Ernst, a current student who has had multiple internships and is currently an HR intern with the St. Louis Blues, shares the experience he has had.
Even though they all have different views, all three agree that internships are really helpful and here are five reasons why internships matter.

  1. Gain formal experience

According to Lisa Fikki, internships provide students with the actual experience in their field. Most students only have the knowledge they have received at school, but they have never had experience in the office setting. Internships help students with this, and the more experience you have, the more confident you become, which helps you in the long run. The soft skills learned in the workplace can really give you an edge.

  1. Employers look for students

Internships are an opportunity for employers as well. Students tend to be open-minded and eager to get new experiences. This is why employers look for students for intern positions. They like to develop future employees while they’re “fresh”. Even though employers prefer students while they are still at school, it is fine if you get an internship post grad: It’s all about the experience that you are adding to your academic knowledge.

  1. Learn the little things

Spencer Schmitt talks about how he decided to skip an internship to make some money instead. He waited to just get a job after graduation, which worked out well for him, but he said he still feels that an internship would have added an edge to his experience. Internships help you get an insider look at the office life. There are many little things you learn as an intern, such as email and phone etiquette, formality, office life and even delegating and managing.

  1. Resume Builder

Students are always looking for ways to make their resume stand out. Having an internship on your resume does exactly that, as it shows you have had some experience under your belt, and you know how to act in the workplace.

  1. Confidence Booster

Not only do internships look good and give you great workplace experience, but they also build your confidence as a result. This confidence comes in handy during interviews, networking events, career fairs, etc. Taylor Ernst knows this first hand. He recalls how during his first phone interview with MasterCard he was nervous and couldn’t express himself the way he wanted. After some coaching from UMSL Career Services and going through a few interviews, he became more confident and was able to land a position with the St. Louis Blues.

  1. UMSL tools

Getting an internship while you are at UMSL is pretty easy if you really want to. Lisa Fikki highlights that the Office of Career Services offers everything from mock interviews and resume workshops, to etiquette banquets, which can help you get ready. They are a great asset if you are looking to land a summer internship.
Go here to listen to the full podcast.

UMSL Business Presents: Cyber Security Concerns Facing Businesses

By: Jordan DeMars

Please select the podcast “Cybersecurity Concerns Facing Facing Businesses”

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.
During the interview, Dr. Mirchandani, Dr. Dawson and Dr. Kahn discussed the importance of cyber security in the digital age. We consider our personal information to be the most valuable asset, so it is essential that people want to protect the confidentiality and integrity of that information. When it comes to the cyber security of companies, the difference is that individuals only really have to worry about themselves, but companies have to worry about everyone. They have to worry about every employee, and every device that enters their building, because every one of them could potentially lead to a breach in security.
Dr. Mirchandani talked about the cyber security certificate program that UMSL offers, which is accredited by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a center of academic excellence in cyber defense education. He went on saying that UMSL is the only school in St. Louis that has that form of recognition which is very impressive.
One of the most popular questions nowadays is if there is a need to use an antivirus on a smartphone or would that be a need in the future. Dr. Maurice Dawson highlighted that everyone needs an antivirus on a smartphone now. He went on explaining that since the size of a mobile device screen is much smaller than a computer’s screen, it is more difficult to investigate links in emails. Without the ability to investigate the links, you might click on something that might contaminate your phone.
These were only a few of the questions asked during this interview. Go here to listen to the complete podcast.

#MDMC17 Live: Getting to Know the Speakers

By: Brittney Hager
Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 10.17.35 AMThis 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.
Jered Schneider
UMSL Business student Hal Deane had the pleasure of speaking with Jered Schneider who is the General Manager at SnapShot Interactive, an award winning video production and web firm. Jered shared his thoughts on how many consumers favor buying products that include a video from e-commerce sites and how companies are utilizing these videos to connect deeper with their customers. He also shared his feeling on virtual and augmented reality and where he sees this industry heading in the future.
Ben Williams
Ben Williams, Director of Communications and Operations at the Cologne based Eyeo, was interviewed by an UMSL Business student Jerry Strutynski. Eyeo is known widely for their AdBlock Plus browser add-on. Jerry talked with Ben about the controversy and negative thoughts attached to the AdBlock Plus add-on and how he and his company handle those thoughts in their industry. In the interview, Ben described the two directions that he sees ad blocking going toward in the future. He also spoke about how the procedure of “white listing” ads will be changing very soon, and the importance of allowing quality ads to be seen by viewers if they want to allow them.
Dre Baldwin
The third speaker that UMSL Business had the opportunity to speak with was Dre Baldwin, the world’s only “Work On Your Game” expert. Baldwin is also an expert on mental toughness, confidence, and discipline. He teaches traits that someone would need to be successful as an athlete and how to apply those traits in the business world. In this interview, UMSL Business student Curtis Hoffman spoke to Baldwin about his journey from playing professional basketball and how it transformed into the career he is currently doing today. He discussed what exactly “Work On Your Game” means and why it is important to him. He also mentions the impact that Youtube had on creating his own personal brand and how Youtube has changed over the past few years. Curtis also asked about the national campaigns that Dre has worked with and Dre provided insight into how it is to be an influencer for big companies. He also shared a few tips for potential entrepreneurs in this interview as well.
To listen to full interviews, click here.
MDMC is an amazing opportunity to hear from speakers such as these three, and so much more, about their journeys through their careers and where they also see their careers heading in the future. New podcasts are coming soon, so stay tuned in!

#MDMC17: The Opening Night Party Recap

By: Gabrielle Sealey
Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 9.58.22 AM
After a long day of activities, guests of the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC17) were invited to continue the fun at Momentum Worldwide for the opening night party. Not only was it a celebration of the conference, but it was also the opening of Momentum’s new office space, located downtown St. Louis.  In one of the rooms attendees could virtually play tennis with Maria Sharapova, in other rooms there were video game controllers set up for guests to play against one another and try various VR widgets. During this event, UMSL Business sat down with Momentum’s leadership represented by Elena Klau, Mike Clark, Melissa Hamilton, Donnalyn Smith, and Chris Weil to discuss the world of gaming and their newly released paper “We Know Gamers”, as well as their general insights about business, leadership, and technology. The interviews were later released as part of the podcasting series “In Your Business With UMSL Business”.
UMSL Business first had the chance to talk to Chris Weil, Momentum WW’s Chairman and CEO. As an optimistic leader of the company, Chris Weil explained to UMSL Business how important the role of a leader is and what the three key areas of a company’s leader are. The first area of importance, as Chris Weil highlighted, is strategic vision and leadership on the strategy side. The second key area is the company’s clients, new and old: it is crucial for any business to maintain mutually beneficial relations with its clients and keep them happy to ensure successful partnerships. The third area of importance according to the CEO is HR, i.e. making sure the right people are on the right places throughout the company.
The second person interviewed by UMSL Business was Donnalyn Smith, President of North America at Momentum WW. Donnalyn’s interview shifted gears in regards of questions, which revolved around her role as a leader, and what she looks for in potential team members. According to Donnalyn, when you have great ideas you have happy clients. With that being said, she values smart strategic thinkers, because when you start with a super solid strategy it is almost impossible not to land with an idea that is appealing to a client.
Mike Clark, the current VP/Director of Creative Technology, and Melissa Hamilton, VP/Director of Integrated Productions, were interviewed in a tandem. Having worked for Momentum WW for a number of years, they both have been involved in the release of the company’s recent paper “We Know Gamers”. During the interview, Mike explained what type of technology Momentum WW uses to enhance its brand to clients and partners. Melissa, in her turn, highlighted the relevance of their recent study to the industry and spoke about her personal take-away from the series.
Elena Klau, Senior VP and Director of Strategies and Insights, NA at Momentum WW, was the last person interviewed by UMSL Business. Elena is known for her many accomplishments. She is a strategy lead in the company responsible for working with high profile clients. Elena’s main reason for attending the MDMC17 was to speak about the recent paper “We Know Gamers”. During the interview, she gave a brief summary of the paper, and explained what the goal of the research was. Elena highlighted that the company believed that there was more to the gamers’ universe than what meets the eye, and that was what drove them to research more on this topic.
Those who attended the opening night party can agree that not only does Momentum WW have an amazing new office space, but that this is a company that is very intuitive about the future of technology and marketing. Listen here to the whole interviews with the company’s leaders https://tinyurl.com/umslbusinesspodcast