Group offers consulting, web development
Peter Delaney and Avi Felman
Do you have a great idea for a business but don't know where to start? Bear Studios, a group run completely by undergraduate students, is available to help other students and others in the Washington University community get their business off the ground.
And now that the group has grown, it is looking for more students to join its team so that it can work with more businesses.
The year-old Bear Studios is a central resource for students, faculty and staff to get help with their startup businesses, says Avi Felman, director of strategy and one of the group's founders along with Peter Delaney, director of operations and a junior majoring in anthropology-global health and environment with a minor in health-care management. A third founder, Will Papper, transferred from WashU.
"We are student entrepreneurs, we know how businesses run, we know how to start them and we know what the steps are," says Felman, who two years ago started Venture Focus, a database of venture capital and private equity firms that he sells to startup companies. "Entrepreneurship is something you can teach, and you can show people the path to be on. Obviously the hardest part is actually doing it, but a lot of people don't know what the path is, and we can show them.
"We've harnessed the great talent pool at WashU and put together a great, cross-disciplinary team that can provide huge benefit to other students at WashU," he says.
Bear Studios began a year ago, in close collaboration with the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurship and the Olin Business School, to assist students who had an idea for a business but needed guidance about how to begin. Over time, the concept has grown to include a fee-for-service consulting firm to meet the needs of those outside of the WashU community or for those in the WashU community with established businesses.
The team has 14 students from across the university, including students studying computer science, marketing, economics and graphic design, but needs more students who want to help startup businesses.
"We're growing really rapidly right now, and we have more contracts that we can handle," says Felman, a senior majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in computer science. "We are making a big push to get more Engineering talent as well as graphic design talent."
Among the services Bear Studios provides are consulting on strategy, marketing plans and step-by-step recommendations for how to get started. In addition, it provides web design and development free for students and for a fee to non-students. Last year, Bear Studios worked with several participants in the university's Bear Cub competition, which awards small grants to help university researchers make the leap from bench scientists to budding entrepreneurs.
"We have the same goals as anyone advancing entrepreneurship on this campus because we want WashU to be seen as on par with other top entrepreneurship universities," Felman says. "We want to be that driver."
Felman says the group's all-student staff has advantages.
"We found ourselves in the sweet spot in between where we have the resources in experienced members who can help guide students through the difficult process of getting an idea off the ground and being a part of the student population, which helps us tremendously with helping students because they feel comfortable coming to us," Felman says. "It's been an incredible experience to have people come to use with an idea and work with them, then see them pursue it."
To learn more about Bear Studios, visit BearStudios.org or email Felman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.