2022 Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

2022 Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Eight UCLA Anderson MBA students turn creative concepts into viable businesses

UCLA Anderson’s Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award was established in memory of the Class of 1993’s Larry Wolfen, someone who was intensely curious, had a strong desire to learn and possessed a genuine love of both life and people. When he died in 1994 of lung cancer, Larry’s family and friends believed that the best way to continue his entrepreneurial spirit was to provide financial support to UCLA Anderson students who demonstrate an innate curiosity for exploring entrepreneurial concepts, combined with the potential to transform these concepts into viable business opportunities.

“We were incredibly impressed by the entrepreneurial ideas coming from the students who applied for this year’s Wolfen Fellowship program, even amid so much unpredictability,” says Angela Klein, the program manager who administers the Wolfen Award at Anderson’s Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We look forward to seeing their businesses come to life.”

“It’s always incredible to see the progress that the Wolfen Fellows make over the course of the summer,” says Trish Halamandaris (’92), director of the Venture Accelerator at Anderson, where all the Wolfen fellows will participate in the summer incubator known as Activate. “The intensive two-month program really gives them the chance to explore their product-market fit.”

Recipients of the Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award form teams through Anderson’s Business Creation Option capstone program to develop their business ideas. The award provides the founders financial means to pursue their entrepreneurial project during the summer between the first and second years at UCLA Anderson. Meet — and congratulate — the 2022 Price Center Wolfen Fellows!

Lauren Browning (’23)

Joachim Cassel (’23)

Stephanie Chui (’23)

Nataliia Dranchuk (’23)

Brian Dubow (’23)

Brooke Levin (’23)

Annie McNutt (’23)

Kevin White (’23)

Lauren Browning (’23)

Company: Ricki Rum

Ricki Rum is a sustainable swimwear and lifestyle brand. All Ricki Rum swimwear is made from recycled materials and ocean plastic, designed from a consumer perspective, reversible and size inclusive.

Team: Marissa Toselli (Co-Founder), Wyatt Bebout (Co-Founder), Lindsay Goeddel (’23), Meggie McDonnell (’23), Valerio Petri (’23), Skye Vander Woude (’23), Hailey Wahl (’23)

Q: What is your company’s “sustainability” component?

All Ricki Rum swimwear is made from recycled materials and ocean plastic waste, like fishing nets, bottles and scrap fabric. Sustainability extends through every part of Ricki Rum, from fabric to dyes to packaging and manufacturing. The sustainability section of our website introduces our fabric supplier and explains our sustainable supply chain.

Q: How has incubation in the Anderson Venture Accelerator influenced or changed the direction of your business?

The Venture Accelerator has grown my network in invaluable ways. I work closely with mentors to make introductions to industry experts and I’m so excited for all that lies ahead for Ricki Rum.

Q: How has this fellowship affected your total career plan?

My career plan coming into UCLA Anderson was to pursue entrepreneurship and scale my business. The fellowship validated my plan and gave me the time, money and confidence to keep pushing forward.

Q: Do you see yourself as a serial entrepreneur or as someone who wants to settle in as a company head long term?

I hope to be a lifelong entrepreneur. I love building things from the ground up and plan on doing that for the rest of my career.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

Ricki Rum is a combination of my late father’s first name and the street he lived on for years. He died of pancreatic cancer when I was 20 years old. Our logo is in his handwriting, one of the many ways his inspiration is woven into our business. So I’m inspired by Sarah Grifferty (’22) because her company Loose Ends helps people manage logistics after someone dies. I connected with her about wanting to honor our loved ones’ legacies.

Joachim Cassel (’23)

Company: Trailløp

Trailløp is a mobile-based platform that allows trail enthusiasts to discover and explore trails safely, efficiently and effectively. The platform enables users to view complete trail networks with detailed, up-to-date trail characteristics overlaid directly on a map. Users can plan and save custom routes, as well as find suggested routes based on their preferences and history, in order to navigate with ease, even when offline.

Team: Joe Benoit (’23), Abby Southam (’23), George Sandler (’23), Naomi Seto (’23), Nick Proto (’23)

Q: Your past endeavors include raising a substantive amount of money for charity. Do you envision a philanthropic component to Trailløp?

Absolutely. I have always had two motivations: to make a positive impact in this world and to build something I can be proud of. I am deeply inspired by the work of people involved in maintaining our National Parks and the nature therein. As our society evolves, it is becoming increasingly important to conserve these areas of natural beauty, and I see Trailløp involving itself here in a considerable way.

Q: Does Trailløp function as a wiki-style platform that anyone can contribute to?

Not entirely. Many current pain points in existing solutions come from this wiki-style approach. Discovering new trails is almost impossible without experience or expert local knowledge. Exploring trails is made difficult and sometimes dangerous with inaccurate information and imperfect navigation tools. And building a community is simply not possible with disaggregated and poorly maintained resources. We are aiming to resolve all these issues with our innovative approach to data collection.

So, while Trailløp will rely on Waze-style user refinements to improve the accuracy of the trail characteristics on the platform, one of its key differentiators is how it sources this information. This includes experts who curate vital information and AI that adds information from public data such as weather forecasts and historic seasonal conditions, as well as from user tracking and smart surveying — for example, noticing an interruption to a tracked activity and deciphering the cause of it.

Q: Do apps like AllTrails pose competition? What will ensure Trailløp continues to differentiate itself?

Trailløp reimagines the UX of discovering and exploring the trails, offering a simpler yet more complete product compared to what’s available now. It would incredibly be naïve of us to discount AllTrails as a prime competitor. They are by far the biggest incumbent in the market (with 25 million users), and navigating that competitive landscape is front of mind for us. While AllTrails and Trailløp provide a similar high-level service, Trailløp differentiates itself with the robustness, accuracy and timeliness of its characteristic data. We believe it will be a game changer!

Q: Did you choose Anderson specifically for the Business Creation Option capstone and/or the school’s other entrepreneur-focused programming?

I always wanted to approach business school in an entrepreneurial way, so having a program like BCO was very important for me in my school selection. I was especially impressed when talking to current students at UCLA and hearing their experiences through the BCO funnel and all the entrepreneurial opportunities available at UCLA. Combine those with Anderson’s excellent standing and its location in Los Angeles, and it’s hard to say no!

I owe a lot to the Entrepreneurship & Venture Initiation and Business Plan Development courses. Coming into school, I had a good idea of what Trailløp could be but working through these classes with the incredible team I was lucky enough to build and conducting primary research with students the Outdoor Adventure Club, have elevated the business concept no end.

Beyond classes, I’ve also been inspired by my colleagues in Anderson’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Development Program. To hear their stories and see their successes highlights how impressive this cohort is. I’m more excited than ever about where Trailløp is, and the momentum is building at just the right time for this Summer.

Q: How has the Wolfen fellowship changed your career plan?

Being able to get Trailløp from 0 to 1 in the coming months is incredibly exciting, and something I wouldn’t have been able to do were it not for this fellowship. It has absolutely lit a spark under my career plan and given me the chance to go full throttle at the perfect time.

Q: You’re already a serial entrepreneur. With Trailløp, are you going to settle in as a company head long term or do you have an exit strategy?

I’ve always been inspired by serial entrepreneurs and I would love to look back on my career and see a string of successful, impactful ventures. While I haven’t thought about an exit strategy yet, if Trailløp gets to a point where I believe it can continue to thrive without my leadership, I would certainly be open to moving on to the next opportunity. Trailløp is my biggest passion project to date, so I see myself here for a while. But the greatest joy would be seeing it become independent and continue to do great things.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

Of course! Jessica Cheng (’20). Jess was instrumental in my Anderson application process and helped me see just how valuable this course could be. She came to Anderson in a very similar position to me, with an idea in mind, but a lot of work to do. How her wellness app Rooo evolved because of the Anderson curriculum and incubation in the Accelerator was brilliant, and it gave me so much drive to build up Trailløp, too.

Read more about Joachim Cassel in Poets & Quants

Stephanie Chui (’23)

Company: Gourmais

Gourmais is a better-for-you snack brand offering organic polenta crisps that are baked, never fried, into a range of globally inspired, amaising flavors.

Team: Moritz Mayer (’23), Tony Aniagba (’23), Paarth B. Shah (MBA/J.D. ’23), Daniela Mayock (’23)

Q: How did you land on the idea for this particular snack?

The idea was born in my kitchen while I was working as a manager at PwC and living in Switzerland. Like many of us during the height of the pandemic, I began experimenting with recipes. In my failed attempt to create a polenta pizza, I discovered the best part was actually the crispy, crusted-on edges — lightbulb moment! As millennials and foodies travel more, whether through actual experiences or vicariously through social media, we crave healthy yet delicious flavors beyond the boring and repetitive nacho cheese, ranch and barbeque found in the snack aisle. Gourmais aims to fulfill these cravings and curiosities with our globally inspired selection — and we also make healthy snacking a force for good by donating a portion of each bag sold to fighting food insecurity in the U.S.

Q: What have you learned at Anderson about CPG that you didn't know before you started developing Gourmais? Did your PwC career prepare you for anything unexpected?

The list is so long! The learning that is most top-of-mind is the importance of building a brand, not just a product. My PwC career has set me up well for pursuing entrepreneurship, which can be unstructured and, at times, chaotic. During my six-year career in management consulting, I often worked with major companies to organize an ambitious, complex goal into an actionable plan, and that has segued nicely into preparing to launch a business.

Q: How did you get connected with Anderson alumnus Gary Leibowitz (’96), your mentor at Unilever? How has he helped you so far?

I found Gary through the UCLA ONE Alumni Mentor Program, and his mentorship and input have been extremely valuable. Since I don’t come from the CPG space, his experience at Unilever has helped to validate hypotheses and inform our overall roadmap. I am extremely grateful to have Gary as a mentor.

Q: Are you and your teammates seeking advice from or collaboration with anyone else in the alumni network?

Food and beverage founders within the Anderson alumni network — Hannah Hong (’11) of Must Love, Theo Lee (’17) of KPOP Foods, Camille Lasker (’21) of Holi Scoops, Mikel Noriega (’19) of Elenita, to name a few — have also been generous with their time, sharing their experiences launching their successful businesses.

Q: How has this fellowship influenced your total career plan?

I always knew that I wanted to start my own business and came to Anderson with the singular focus of becoming an entrepreneur. Receiving the fellowship gave me further confidence in my business concept and in myself.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

Shout out to Joe Labes (’22), the co-founder and CEO of Sake High!, for showing me the art of the possible within two years at Anderson.

Nataliia Dranchuk (’23)

Company: Treatline

Treatline is a prior authorization platform that facilitates automated exchange of requests for medical treatment. It provides analytical tools to measure treatment, clinician, facility and organizational level performance, and comply with recent changes in legislation.

Team: John Anagnost (Co-Founder)

Q: You’re addressing a serious pain point with the Treatline platform. Did you encounter the preauthorization impasse yourself at some point?

I personally haven’t, but during the customer research process, we interviewed dozens of oncologists and other physicians who shared the situation their patients had to go through. Prior authorization is a serious barrier to care: While about 90% of requests are eventually approved, patients have to wait for weeks for a decision from insurance companies. We encountered another story of a man suing an insurance company for his wife’s death. The woman was denied coverage of proton beam therapy, and the couple mortgaged their house and set up a GoFundMe effort to pay for her medical care. But by that time, she had died. The man received $25.5 million from the insurer. He said, “I’d give it all back to spend just one more day with her.” Heartbreaking.

Q: That is tragic. Is the platform for use only by physicians or can it be used by regular consumers like the people you described?

Currently, patients have to call physicians’ offices to ask if there are any updates about authorization. So the first step is to ease the burden on physicians and medical staff, as they spend a lot of time (13 hours per week on average) dealing with prior authorization. Treatline users will initially include physicians, medical assistants, nurses and specialists from the payer side.

Q: What have you learned at Anderson so far to augment your knowledge of starting and running a business?

We’ve learned a lot from professors, classmates and advisors during the process of various business plan competitions we’ve participated in. We placed first in Anderson’s Product Innovation Challenge. In my Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation class with Professor Derek Alderton (one of my favorite professors so far!), we went through many concepts related to the challenges that new ventures usually face. For instance, we studied a couple of cases that discuss how critical IP protection is. If someone brainstorms ideas for you or offers to work on the project for free, it is in many cases illegal and is likely to lead to severe complications or even lawsuits if the company gets traction. That was one of the reasons we sorted out legal questions very early in the process and still keep close contact with our law partners.

Q: Ultimately, do you see yourself as someone who will build companies and move on or as someone who wants to settle in as a company head long term?

I lean toward serial entrepreneurship. I have tons of ideas and areas I’d like to work on, and just one life! I love everything about the process of creating something that does not exist yet. But I feel like when the company is mature enough, I’d prefer to be involved as an advisor and let a professional CEO grow the company while I focus on starting something new.

Q: The fellowship naturally shapes what you’re going to do in the short term, and possibly toward lifelong ambitions. Would you say this fellowship changed your total career plan?

My Wolfen interview was on February 25, 2022, the day after Russia invaded my home country of Ukraine. Given the situation, I am sure that if I had not received a fellowship, I would have to take a full-time job for the summer and try to work on Treatline nights and weekends — meaning, progress would slow down a lot. So, for me, this fellowship is not just colossal support that enables me not to stress out about recruitment and instead focus on the startup, it’s also very timely encouragement during this extremely challenging period. I can’t wait to have an opportunity to give back!

Q: That sounds like very meaningful support. Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

I was deeply impressed by the story of Sarah Grifferty (’22), one of the 2021 Wolfen fellows. She lost her parents in an accident back in college and did not know how to deal with all the legal and organizational processes people have to complete when they lose a close person while dealing with an enormous loss. She started a company called LooseEnds that helps to manage logistics after losing a loved one.

Brian Dubow (’23)

Company: Hit of Happiness

Hit of Happiness challenges people to adopt new perspectives through the science of happiness to consider the opportunity and meaning that every situation offers. To counteract the negativity today’s media and technology bombard us with, Hit of Happiness offers inspirational stories, corporate consulting workshops and in-person and virtual events with a Certified Happiness Trainer.

Team: Amanda Rabago (’23), Audrey DeVaughn (’23), Kathrin Seiler (’23), Dean Thoms (’23)

Q: In a nutshell, how do you define happiness? How might it be different for different people?

At a high level, happiness is related to how favorably someone views their overall quality of life. This can be broken down more granularly into the five dimensions of happiness: spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational and emotional. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and prioritizing our happiness is a constant balancing act based on both internal and external forces. Since different people have different expectations for their own lives, happiness is relative. Everyone’s happiness is associated with their different values, states of being and achievements.

Q: Are you inspired by recent research by Cassie Holmes, Anderson’s resident happiness expert?

I meet with Professor Holmes regularly and I’m inspired by her work on the intersection between happiness and time. I am very excited about her new book Happier Hour, coming out in September.

I spent a year studying the science of happiness to become a certified happiness trainer under Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, so I’m heavily influenced by his research. I also follow Laurie Santos (Yale) and Martin Seligman (Penn) closely.

Q: What made you realize your passion for happiness could become a business?

Before business school, I worked at PwC. While I was passionate that happiness belonged in the workplace, it was not until human capital lead Amy Scott and partner Paul Griggs gave me a shot to roll out my initiative “The Path to Happiness” for the New York Metro market that I truly had my proof of concept. Hit of Happiness might not exist if they hadn’t believed in me. I’m grateful for the mentorship of PwC Partner and TedX speaker Jurgen Mueller, who led happiness workshops at PwC with me and whom I still connect with weekly in support of Hit of Happiness. My PwC coach Jay Bomberger always pushed me to believe in myself and keep moving forward with Hit of Happiness, even in the early stages.

Q: What have been the most effective classes, faculty, mentors, initiatives or interactions to help you develop your business since your 2020 launch?

Anderson’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Development Program has given me a community of entrepreneurs who I can be vulnerable with. This has been invaluable at the moments when I have doubts about the unchartered and risky journey, we call entrepreneurship. My Entrepreneurship & Venture Initiation class with Professor Olav Sorenson and Business Plan Development class with Professor Jon Funk have been instrumental in helping me hash out my business plan. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the unbelievable support of my BCO team. Hit of Happiness is definitely a team effort!

Q: What measurements or milestones will define “success” as you develop your business?

Hit of Happiness is built on three pillars:

1. Reframe your reality
2. Spread positivity
3. Transcend your perceived limits

Success to me is helping as many people as possible wake up to the reality that happiness is a choice and equipping them with the tools to live life to the fullest. Success means happy clients, happy employees, happy planet and happy self. This is the formula for sustainable business of the future.

My favorite definition of entrepreneurship is “acting my way into meaning,” and I trust that by showing up for this cause day after day and putting in the work, my life and that of those involved with Hit of Happiness become more and more meaningful.

Q: How has this fellowship influenced your total career plan?

I came to business school with the intention to build Hit of Happiness into a sustainable business. Being selected as a Wolfen fellow allowed me to throw away my backup plan and focus all my energy on Hit of Happiness, while also giving me valuable validation and confidence in myself and the concept.

Q: Do you see yourself as a serial entrepreneur or as someone who wants to settle in as a company head long term?

I see myself as having found my calling with Hit of Happiness. This is a mission-driven company, and as long as I never lose sight of the mission — making the world a happier place — I see this as a long-term career solution.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

Yes: Sarah Grifferty (’22), who founded LooseEnds, a platform to help you manage logistics following the loss of a loved one; Bo Abrams (’22), whose Kommu home swapping platform placed first in UCLA Law’s Lowell Milken Institute-Sandler Prize for New Entrepreneurs; and Joe Labes (’22), co-founder and CEO of Sake High! They all pushed me to embrace the entrepreneurial journey and apply for the Wolfen Award. I am so grateful for their help along the way, and I look forward to paying it forward to the next round of Wolfen candidates.

Brooke Levin (’23)

Company: (ate)ifi

(ate)ifi is an automated, touchless vending machine that houses bulk canisters of dry products like nuts, seeds, grains, cereals, granola and salty snacks. Quantities are precisely dispensed for recipes or personalized mixes curated on the spot by the customer. (ate)ifi is also the foundation for an entire CPG startup studio that includes a new product development platform and a proprietary channel for quick testing and learning.

Q: What is “next-generation” about (ate)ifi that makes it so different from other vending machines?

It brings personalization to the point of sale. Our fully integrated hardware and software platform reimagines the way brands retail food products and consumers access products. Nutrition label and pricing are updated in real time. Traditional physical retail channels lack the marketing and personalization potential of digital channels, while digital channels can’t match the immediate gratification or convenient product access of physical channels. (ate)ifi brings the best of digital and physical together.

Q: At Anderson, what have been the most effective classes, faculty, mentors, initiatives or interactions to help you develop your business?

Professor Renee LaBran has been a fantastic mentor for me. She is my faculty advisor for an independent study I am doing this quarter, and her insight, perspective and thought-partnership have been invaluable to me. I am also fortunate enough to work in the Venture Accelerator at Anderson as an MBA Associate. Meeting with other founders, and with senior program manager Beatina Theopold and Accelerator director Trish Halamandaris (’92), I am constantly inspired and pushed to think outside the box, which definitely challenges me to think differently about my own business.

Q: Do you see yourself as a serial entrepreneur or as someone who wants to settle in as a company head long term?

I see each entrepreneurial endeavor I tackle as one that builds on the last. I hope to build multiple companies that are all interconnected and together solve the major pain points that exist for CPG founders — specifically those who traditionally lack access to extensive resources and support.

Q: How has this fellowship influenced your total career plan?

The Wolfen fellowship is an unbelievable opportunity to continue building my business. It will enable me to explore complementary businesses that allow me to work toward my future goal of building a CPG-focused startup studio for new brands. I feel very lucky to be the recipient of this fellowship.

I am inspired by the other fellows in my cohort because taking the entrepreneurial leap is not easy. Choosing to leave the “traditional” corporate path and start a business is a huge challenge, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by creative, inspiring entrepreneurs. I am so looking forward to learning from all of them this summer and getting to join this community of founders.

Annie McNutt (’23)

Company: Ascent

Ascent is an end-to-end solution to support women launching businesses. From founding logistics that include venture capital funding to social media and digital marketing, all the way through to in-person events, Ascent combines marketing and event planning expertise to enable cost-effective launch of a new business.

Team: Gaby Cornelio (’23), Allie Pearson (’23), Jose Samuel Clair (’23), Margot Johnson (’23)

Q: Your startup is a startup to help other people launch startups. In other words, you’re not just facilitating the production of one event, you’re providing the tools for the entire process of launching an event business, right?

Correct, we plan to provide access to necessary resources — legal, web development, marketing — to help women founders launch their businesses.

Q: Why women?

Female-owned businesses account for 42% of all businesses in the United States and yet, very few of them ever surpass $1,000,000 in revenue. So I asked myself, “Why are female-owned businesses not growing? Why do female-owned businesses still not have the support they need to be successful?” The idea for Ascent is at the early stage. We’re researching the market to better understand customer needs and how we can best meet them.

Q: Can you cite some real examples of failed business attempts that could have been saved by Ascent?

My own personal journey is a great one. I recently began the process of founding a wedding and events company here in Los Angeles called Annie McNutt Event Consultants. I had a friend create my logo and I managed to build a website. But when it came to getting on solid legal footing, I had no idea where to start. I reached out to my undergraduate business law professor and she connected me with a business lawyer in Atlanta. He was helpful in identifying the initial steps I needed to take, but he was unable to assist me further because he was not licensed to practice in California. He referred me to a lawyer in Los Angeles, but she nickel-and-dimed me for every conversation, so I terminated that partnership. I then reached out to a friend who had founded a company in L.A. She connected me with her law firm, but they informed me that they no longer help small businesses. They referred me to another attorney in Los Angeles who does specialize in small business. So it was a long and arduous process to find the legal team with whom I ended up working. Had a company like Ascent existed, I could have paid a subscription for access to vetted resources, including legal resources, and chosen the most appropriate law firm immediately..

Q: What were some of the things you had to learn at Anderson in order to be able to feel equipped or qualified to advise other company founders?

Learning about the founding process in my Entrepreneurship & Venture Initiation and Business Plan Development courses has been incredibly helpful. Understanding how female founders, specifically, receive funding has also been very eye opening. I’ve learned that the founders who most need our help are not going to be found in an MBA program but are those people who lack access to a network and the vital resources needed to start a business. It’s a learning process, and it will take some time before I am fully equipped to assist other founders but sharing my journey and my network with those who are seeking to follow a similar founding path seems like a great place to start.

Q: The fellowship naturally shapes what you’re going to do in the short term, and possibly toward lifelong ambitions. Would you say this fellowship changed your total career plan?

Absolutely. Before coming to Anderson, I knew I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. I spoke with multiple alumni and many of them told me about the fellowship. The Wolfen Fellowship was one of the main reasons that I came to UCLA Anderson and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on my business idea full time over the summer.

Q: Ultimately, do you see yourself as someone who will build companies and move on or as someone who wants to settle in as a company head long term?

Ooh, this is a great question! I’m not sure yet. I think a mix of both. I tend to get very passionate about my ventures, so I’m not sure I could ever move on completely. But I love the idea of starting multiple companies. In the short term, I’ll probably focus on one or two main ventures and, in the future, possibly take a step back from some of the early ventures to pursue other ideas as they arise.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

Yes. I have spent a lot of time speaking with Sarah Grifferty (’22), a second-year MBA who is pursuing her company LooseEnds after graduation. The fellowship helped her to really work on and develop her idea, which is a platform to help people manage logistics following the loss of a loved one. It is so personally meaningful to her. She has been supportive of me throughout this process and I cannot thank her enough. From sharing her perspectives to interview prep to chats about business plans, she has been there every step of the way, offering her ear and helpful advice. I look forward to staying in touch with her and seeing where she takes LooseEnds after graduation and beyond.

Kevin White (’23)

Company: Chief Fitness Officer

Chief Fitness Officer was created to help trainers get back to doing what they love — helping people improve their health. CFO is evolving into a mobile application designed to be a turnkey solution for professional trainers to schedule, build workouts, collect payments and expand their personal training businesses.

Team: Emily Hoffman (’23), Aliyah Carlo (’23), Alex Wilson (’23), Ryan Barman (’23), Victoria Eberlein (’23), David Jackson

Q: Your goal in enrolling at Anderson was to scale your existing business. Did you choose Anderson specifically for the Business Creation Option capstone?

Anderson’s programming around the entrepreneurship curriculum was 80% of the reason I chose to come here. Leveraging the BCO program, Venture Accelerator, Entrepreneurship Association and Wolfen Fellowship were all pivotal in my decision process. On the cusp of finishing my first year, I could not be more pleased with my decision. Also, if you’re wondering, the other 20% of my decision is the people here. My classmates are phenomenal and they truly encapsulate Anderson’s pillars of shared success, thinking fearlessly and driving change.

Q: What have been the most effective classes, faculty, initiatives or interactions to help you develop your business?

I’ve really enjoyed Professor Alderton’s Entrepreneurship & Venture Initiation class. His practical “this-is-how-it’s-done-in-the-real-world” approach to starting a business venture is what I think every entrepreneur needs to hear. My family is from Monrovia, Liberia, and there is saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” The Price Center and Accelerator leadership team — including Trish Halamandaris (’92), Al Osborne, Elaine Hagan (’91), Beatina Theopold and Fallon Coleman — have been instrumental in helping CFO develop. Finally, there’s Professor Funk’s Business Plan Development class that has forced our team to think critically about our business and the assumptions surrounding it.

Q: When the Chief Fitness Officer app is up and running (so to speak), will you, like the fellow trainers it’s meant to support, go back to providing in-person training full time?

At CFO we believe in putting our customers first. I believe that in order to best serve our customers, my personal time would be best spent improving our application and listening attentively to the feedback we are getting from our trainer-customers, and how their clients are interacting with the application. Events we’re planning this summer will be aimed at building community, which is a core pillar of CFO.

Q: Would you say this fellowship changed your total career plan?

The Wolfen fellowship has helped catapult me toward my lifelong ambitions, aiding me financially so that I can fully explore this venture over the summer with laser focus. My mentor always tells me, “Life doesn’t get easier; you just get better. So if you’re going to start something you might as well start as early as possible.”

Q: Do you see yourself continuing to be a serial entrepreneur or will you settle in as a company head long term?

Absolutely. Before coming to Anderson, I knew I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. I spoke with multiple alumni and many of them told me about the fellowship. The Wolfen Fellowship was one of the main reasons that I came to UCLA Anderson and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on my business idea full time over the summer.

Q: Are you especially inspired by any past Wolfen fellows?

I’ve been especially inspired by Bo Abrams (’22), and his home-swapping platform Kommu’s ability to be scrappy in a very competitive marketplace. He and his cofounder Gus Woythaler (’22) continue to innovate and iterate to put out the best product possible. I truly believe they represent the spirit of entrepreneurship that the late Larry Wolfen embodied.