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Where Philly’s Most Innovative Entrepreneurs Get Their Start

Photo credit: iStock/AmmentorpDK

Photo credit: iStock/AmmentorpDK

When two budding entrepreneurs from Temple University clinched top honors at a citywide college business pitch competition last month, it said a lot about their impressive and practical ideas to improve everyday aspects of life – one solving a dining dilemma, the other enabling cosmetic creativity.

But the triumph also spoke volumes about something larger: The entrepreneurial spirit that has imbued Temple, its students and alumni. It’s also in line with the university’s other recent successes, including: Temple’s Fox School of Business entrepreneurship programs ranking in the Top 10 in the country, and President Neil D. Theobald’s initiative to prioritize entrepreneurship across all disciplines. 

At a time when millennials strive to make their mark on the world and many aspire to be their own boss, Temple has emerged as leading school for entrepreneurs – an identifier strongly supported by the university’s Fox Entrepreneurship Program, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) and the Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship master’s degree program. The results aren’t simply in degrees – but also in successful startups with real-world impact, award-winning business proposals and transformed industries.

Last year, for example, three alumni were selected to receive seed money from DreamIt Ventures, a Philadelphia-based startup accelerator. Recipients included Ofo Ezeugwu’s (’13) landlord-rating website, whoseyourlandlord.com; Yasmine Mustafa’s (‘07) self-defense wearable technology company, ROAR for Good; and Bethany Edwards’ (‘06) company LIA Diagnostics, which produces a flushable pregnancy test.

Temple, too, is working to ensure that tide-changing technologies created at the university can be brought to market. The university joined forces with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania to create Temple Ventures – Powered by Ben Franklin, a $1 million startup accelerator to assist startups advancing such work.

The entrepreneurial ethos at Temple is instilled early: Of the two students who won top prizes at that college business pitch competition last month, one was a sophomore and one had graduated weeks earlier. Andrew Nakkache (‘16), creator of a mobile app that allows students and faculty to order delivery or pick-up from food trucks and restaurants near campus, won College Pitch Philly’s first prize and $7,500. Sophomore Neha Raman, studying international business, won second prize and $5,000 for a customizable nail polish system.

And while students are encouraged to participate in citywide and national business competitions, Temple also offers its own. The Be Your Own Boss Bowl business plan competition attracts students, alumni, faculty and staff from Temple’s 17 schools and colleges to compete for prizes valued at $200,000 in cash, professional services and admission to the IEI accelerator. There, they can further develop their business plans, participate in networking events and execute their ventures.

The success stories of alumni can also be observed outside the business competition realm; just see alumnus Brian Linton’s (‘08) United by Blue.

But for many, before the seed funds, accolades and thriving businesses, there was relevant coursework – and a team of seasoned professionals to help show them the way. And there remains a network of opportunity for Temple graduates to come back and mentor students, as well as resources to help them achieve further success.

For more information about Temple University and its contributions worldwide, click here.