Big dreams from the latest cohort of the Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator Pitch Competition
What’s for dinner?
In shock, speechless and pinching herself.
That’s how Emily Haas describes her reaction to taking the top spot at March’s virtual UMSL Accelerate’s Entrepreneur Quest Student competition.
The idea for Plan-to-Plate, her meal-planning app that matches recipes with grocery store sales, was born from Haas and her husband’s perpetual indecision about what to make for dinner and her feeling there should be a better way. An undergraduate entrepreneurship class led the now-MBA student to the eight-week program, where Haas brought the app to fruition.
“Fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve, not the solution you think it requires,” she says. “Interview potential customers, dig into the stories behind their pain points, digest their feedback and pivot until the solution is clear.”
At first only friends bought Emily Delgado’s curated finds on Thin Thrift, her Instagram business. Next, friends of friends. Then, everyone else got on board.
The online thrift store grew from there, and two years later, the English major hopes to make it into a full- time job after graduation. So far, she’s sold more than 800 pieces totaling more than $10,000, a figure she’s finally tallied thanks to UMSL Accelerate. That’s just one thing she’s learned from the program.
“To be successful, connect with people instead of just selling them an item,” Delgado says. “You want to create lasting relationships.”
A brand built around a brand
Around Christmas, Brian Trull made $10,000 from PokeNerds, his e-commerce and media startup.
That was a significant moment for the College of Business Administration student and his wife, who had been running the business for less than a year; it’d started as a hobby but was turning out to be a scalable business. Trull’s goal with PokeNerds is to give fans of the card game an online community with cheaper products than available in stores while building a brand name.
“Pokémon is the largest media franchise ever created,” Trull says. “You can Google that. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry. It’s bigger than Star Wars. It’s bigger than Marvel. It’s bigger than anything.”
This story was originally published in the spring 2020 issue of UMSL Magazine. If you have a story idea for UMSL Magazine, email email@example.com.
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