Adventures of a Skandalaris Intern: The Final 2 Weeks

The last 2 weeks have flown by and now the summer interns are in their last week of interning! We can’t believe how fast the summer went, but by all accounts, it’s been a great one. Students had the opportunity to visit a number of co-working spaces, incubators, and even a large corporation with a passion for innovation! Here are some of the highlights from the last 2 weeks:


Friday, July 24 – interns visited Create Space on the Loop to hear from Sam Fox Alum Julia Li and U City Mayor Shelley Welsch, and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gail Snider. An added bonus – Create Space Intern Neena Wang had her own photo exhibit showing at the artisan market and incubator!

After the panel and tour around the space, students also heard from Anthony Bartlett of St. Louis Transplants. Anthony talked about why St. Louis is a great city for startups and why students should consider staying.

Following that, students learned how to craft a concise pitch that encompassed their whole story from Dan Reus, of Openly Disruptive.

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Friday, July 31 – interns trekked to Wells Fargo to check out their new Innovation Lab and hear from former Skandalaris Intern Joely Grieff! Students learned about the importance of innovating in a large corporation such as Wells Fargo and how Wells Fargo is serving the community, including supporting Washington University students!


Then the Wells Fargo folks had some fun with the interns. If you haven’t ever tackled the Marshmallow Challenge – I highly recommend you try it – it’s not for the faint of heart!


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Then, the interns had even more fun with Wash U Alums Nick Apperson and Ben Noble (also a former Skandalaris Summer Intern). Nick and Ben are improvisers and kindly donated their time to teach students how improv skills apply to their professional life, and working in a startup. After that session, students applied their new skills in “Yes, and . . .” to the final project presentations. The judges were impressed with what students accomplished in 10 short weeks.

We at the Skandalaris Center had a great summer and are proud of the great work the interns did with their venture hosts and how dedicated they were to their venture concepts for the summer. This Friday concludes the program with a celebration. But the lessons don’t stop there – students are continuing with project ideas, considering working in a startup, dreaming up their own big ideas, and thinking about the possibility of a life in St. Louis after graduation. All in all – a very successful summer!

Adventures of a Skandalaris Intern: Catching up

The past few weeks have been so busy for the interns (and for those of us coordinating and planning all the activities) that we haven’t had time to report on all the exciting opportunities the interns have had! After a rainy bus tour with Bob Hansman and a creative visit to Nebula and Cherokee Street, the interns took to the streets of downtown St. Louis to check out two co-working spaces: T-Rex and Industrious. At T-Rex, the students practiced their pitches to a panel of experienced venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The questions and feedback were so numerous and good, I had to cut everyone off after the 5+ minute mark EVERY. TIME!

Intern Pitches

All the intern teams pitching their concepts.

After the pitches, interns went down to Industrious, a new co-working space on Washington Avenue for lunch and networking with the resident entrepreneurs.

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Left: the inside of the building where Industrious is located. Right: Interns enjoying lunch in the cool space.

The following week, the interns explored Grand Center and attended a special session hosted by Nine Network and modeled after a 1 Million Cups gathering. Interns heard pitches from Skejul, XLR8, and FoodShare, all of which have interns this summer! After the video-recorded session, students heard from the Executive Director of Grand Center, Inc, Michelle Stevens. Students learned about the intersection of art and business and how Grand Center is beginning to revive around that intersection.

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There are still 3 weeks left in the program and there certainly hasn’t been a dull moment yet! More adventures await the 2015 Skandalaris Summer Interns!

Intern Perspective: Erin Kim at DataDog Health

Intern Erin Kim, a rising sophomore in Business Administration, is interning with DataDog Health this summer. DataDog, created by 2 Wash U alum, Elizabeth Russel & Ravi Chacko, utilizes mobile technology to help users identify, track, mitigate and reduce anxiety. Erin had the opportunity to attend StartUp VooDoo in June and shared her thoughts on the event and its impact on her as an intern.

Startup Voodoo


Thursday, June 18th, hundreds of young-minded entrepreneurs gathered at Hotel Lumiere in downtown St. Louis. I, thanks to Elizabeth, had the wonderful opportunity to attend and become part of multiple interesting conversations that took place on this day. Just one of the many perks of interning for DataDog.

Creating a “Frictionless” World

“We are on our way to creating a frictionless world,” said Robert Scoble, the author of a business best-seller Age of Context. The first question that popped into my mind: what does that even mean? Only after he brought up Uber and Spotify as examples of this frictionless movement did things begin to make sense.

1) Uber – Coachella attracted nearly 100,000 attendees per day this year. Huge crowds of people, limited parking space, an amazing business opportunity for Uber. Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, quickly picked up on this potential opportunity and made sure to get the place covered. Being at the right place and the right time led to less “friction” in consumer lives and more money for the company.

2) Spotify – Spotify has stepped up its music streaming game by adding the accelerometer feature. It is now able to create customized workout playlists based on the rate that a person is moving. One less hurdle in everyone’s journey to becoming fit.

In short, companies are trying to create a more “frictionless” world by studying everything about human behavior: what we eat, where we shop, what we search. From this data, companies come up with new features or startups are created from ingenious ideas. In the end, they all have the same goal: to make our lives easier—and make money while doing so.

Three Most Promising Startups

One of the greatest things about this event was that it attracted entrepreneurs and investors all over the country to St. Louis to showcase their knowledge and talents. I had the chance to hear the pitches of the three “most promising” startups that have been chosen to present at this final round: Hip Pocket, Donald, and Ear Compass.

Each startup brought a unique discussion to the table, both among the audience and the judging panel. Beyond the initial “wow” factor of the pitch quality, the investors asked about the functionality behind the app/product, size of the user market, revenue sources, and most importantly, the prevalence of the problem they’re attempting to fix.


St. Louis-based startup Ear Compass presents their pitch to the audience. Ear Compass is creating technology to help the hearing impaired better navigate the world and won the “Most Promising StartUp” award at Startup VooDoo.

So now we ask ourselves: how else can we study our customers to make their lives simpler and to make our product better?

Interns Explore Nebula: A Study of Entrepreneurial Decor

We here at the Skandalaris Center hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Independence Day weekend!  The interns enjoyed a well deserved day off (along with the rest of us) but are back at it this Friday.  

On Friday, June 26 the interns traveled to Cherokee Street.  We kicked the day off at Nebula Coworking where the interns had the opportunity to explore and have their executive summaries reviewed by in house entrepreneurs.  

Rising junior, Paulina Gallagher, who is working with Clear to Launch this summer has noticed a trend amongst the coworking spaces in town so she decided to write a blog post about it.  And here it is!

As the Skandalaris Interns have toured various co-working spaces, we have noticed they all have something in common: their hip décor. Nebula, however, takes the cake for having the most interesting decorations in their space. During breaks in between tours and helpful brainstorming sessions, a few of us decided to document the beautiful space. Here are my favorite artifacts and art that I found in Nebula in the Cherokee Street District . . .

(Thank you to my fellow Skandalaris Interns for serving as excellent models.)

1. Vintage Pinball Machine

Nebula2. Hand-Painted Steve Jobs Mural


3.Vintage Optometry Chair from the 1920’s


4. Vintage Telephone Booth


5. Hand Painted Nebula Mural


6. Painted Hallway


7. Vintage Couch


8. Ornate Posters (from an in-house Graphic Designer of course!)


Community Building

Here is a guest post from on of our 2015 Summer Interns – Jacob Mohrmann. Jacob is a rising senior in the Olin Business School and the College of Arts & Sciences with majors in Marketing and Psychology. Last Friday, the interns spent the morning on a community building tour with Bob Hansman, a WUSTL professor and community activist.  Here are his reflections:

Community Building Tour

Photo courtesy of Paulina Gallagher

Our third week on the job was a rainy one, and it continued to pour down on Friday, but the show must go on!  Last Friday, we had a bus tour with Professor Bob Hansman.  The tour was passionate and eye-opening, and professor Hansman had endless stories to share about our beloved city.  On the tour, we visited parts of St. Louis that most WashU students go their entire 4 years without seeing or even hearing about.  We visited the site of the former Hadley township, as well as Kinloch, Ferguson, Martin Luther King Drive, and Ivory Perry Park.  He told us about beautiful and vibrant African American communities such as Hadley Township and Mill Creek Valley that had been displaced and destroyed, and how a pattern of disinvestment in communities all over St. Louis has harmed and continues to harm its neighborhoods and communities.  He expressed a deep love for the areas he showed us, and was sure to point out the best places to eat, places where his friends lived, and even his church, all within these so called “bad” neighborhoods.  I could not recommend his bus tour more to anyone who has the opportunity to take it!

Adventures of a Skandalaris Summer Intern – Week 2


Week two brought our students to TechArtista – a co-working space located in the Central West End and co-owned by two WUSTL alums, Eric Hamblett and Chris Holt.  The students arrived at 9:30 a.m. and took some time to check out the space on their own.

A few interns mingling before the panel begins.

A few interns mingling before the panel begins.

Next up was a panel discussion with Eric(Hamblett) of TechArtista and Bazaarboy & Zimin Hang of Chrona. They were then later joined by Aaron Greenwald of Bold Organics.

Tech Artista Panel 2

This team of successful entrepreneurs shared some valuable insights with our summer intern class and gained some valuable insights from our interns as well!

After a lunch of Pi Pizza the students returned to campus for their afternoon session with managing director, Emre Toker and formed teams to begin work on ideas of their own but not before little impromptu game of indoor frisbee was had.

An impromptu game of indoor frisbee.

Don’t you just love all of the energy and fun? Be sure to check back next week for details on Week 3. In the meantime try to stay dry everyone!

Adventures of a Skandalaris Summer Intern – 1st Friday

Our 2015 Summer Intern class enjoyed their first summer Friday outing just a few short days ago.  For those of you who don’t know, our summer interns work for their ventures Monday – Thursday.  On Friday mornings we take them out into the St. Louis community to explore, get them ingrained in the St. Louis entrepreneurial community, and hopefully encourage them to look at staying in St. Louis after they graduate.

Friday #1 took them to the Cortex District where they heard all about Venture Cafe and serendipitous collisions from Travis Sheridan.

Travis Sheridan

Next up our students heard from the founder of Synek Draft System, Steve Young. What better way to get a college student’s attention than talking about a “Keurig for draft beer”!


Phyllis Ellison was up next and spoke with the students about Cortex – its history and its future.

Phyllis Ellison

And finally, their morning was capped off with a tour of the Cortex District with a stop at the new CIC@CET space.


Live vicariously and be sure to follow along on the blog to discover just what our interns are up to each week. And if you happen to be out and about on a Friday and see our interns – please say hi!

Welcoming our 2015 Summer Intern Class

Apotheosis-of-saint-louis-side-view On Monday, June 1, 32 WUSTL undergraduate students will begin an exciting summer of discovery in St. Louis.  Our students will support 22   commercial and 5 social venture startups throughout the region, including LaunchCode, Artifox, Tallyfy, Mayflower Bioscience, and Better Weekdays.  Plus, they’ll get to know St. Louis in a unique way through our Summer Friday activities.  On Friday mornings they will visit neighborhoods including Cherokee Street, Downtown, the Central West End, and the Cortex Innovation District.  On Friday afternoons they’ll come back to campus to hear from a local entrepreneur and work on their own new venture ideas or to put their heads together to solve a challenge from one of our startup hosts.  We’ll post updates from our students throughout the summer and can’t wait to share their stories.  In the meantime, if you see them out and about this summer, in our communities or at Venture Cafe, please welcome them to what-may-be-their-first-but-we-hope-won’t-be-their-last St. Louis summer!

Celebrating outstanding entrepreneurial grads

allFourWe in the Skandalaris Center were pleased and proud to host four graduating seniors at a luncheon today to celebrate their time at Washington University and to award certificates acknowledging their accomplishments in entrepreneurship.  Getting to know these students and supporting their efforts are the most rewarding aspects of our work.  Our thanks and congratulations go out to Jolijt Tamanaha (Arts & Sciences), Joe McDonald (School of Engineering and Olin Business School), Matt Burkhardt (School of Engineering) and John Krupela (School of Engineering).  These students have participated in Skandalaris internships, been finalists in the Olin Cup, started and sold businesses while at Wash U, and been ambassadors for the Skandalaris Center.  We’re proud to have known them, sad to see them leave, and excited to see what comes next (and three of them are staying in St. Louis!) Read more about our amazing Class of 2015 here.  Go WUSTL15#!

Make YOUR Global Impact

THIS JUST IN!  – on Tuesday June 2, 8:30 – 10AM, Skandalaris Center Managing Director Emre Toker will lead a workshop on the Global Impact Award with specific training on the 2-page submission due June 15. To attend, please post your idea (a brief description is all that’s required) at Come prepared to talk about your idea, get feedback, and learn more about the award process and other Skandalaris resources.

The Skandalaris Center is now accepting applications for the 2015 Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award. This competition is open to all WUSTL students, postdoctoral researchers, and young alumni (graduated in the last 5 years). The award was established in 2013 with a $1,025,000 gift from Dutia and Grewal, husband and wife entrepreneurs and investors who believe that the power of technology can solve real world problems by giving highly motivated entrepreneurs the tools to foster innovation.  More information and application instructions here:

The first 10 to post to their idea to will be invited to breakfast with Skandalaris Managing Director Emre Toker on Wednesday, May 13 to get feedback and more information. Don’t delay – post your idea now!

In 2014 Nanopore was the winner of a $40,000 prize. Tom Cohen, CEO, is developing a rapid and portable bacterial diagnostic test to take the guesswork out of prescribing antibiotics. ViFlex ( , which took home a $10,000 prize, is developing a pair of low-cost, adjustable eyeglasses as part of a sustainable and scalable solution to reduce the burden of poor vision for the 700 million in the developing world who have untreated refractive error.