Class Acts: The innovators and entrepreneurs

Class ActsMeet a few of the entrepreneurs and innovators who also happen to be graduating this spring from Washington University in St. Louis. All of these students have launched businesses and developed innovative technologies that are improving human health, addressing global issues and helping investors achieve their goals.

Brown (second from left) opened the Bear-y Sweet Shoppe in 2014 with co-founders (from left) Landzberg, Dreyfus and Gouldd.

Mary-Brent Brown

B.S. Healthcare management, Olin Business School

Co-founder, Bear-y Sweet Shoppe and Kids Wanna Help

Responding to pent-up student demand for gummy worms, Brown co-founded the South 40 candy store  Bear-y Sweet Shoppe with fellow Olin seniors Jessica Landzberg and Shea Gouldd, and Kailey Dreyfus, who graduated in 2016. Brown also is still active in Kids Wanna Help, the nonprofit she started at age 12 to promote fundraising among young people.

Elizabeth Bowman

Bowman is working to fight one of the most common infections in the world.

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering & Applied Science

COO: Project Starfish

Bowman and her team at Project Starfish are developing a biomedical device to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the most frequent healthcare infection today.

The startup recently attended the RBPC (Rice Business Plan Competition), the largest and richest graduate-level business plan competition in the world. 

Markey Culver

MBA, Olin Business School

Founder: The Women’s Bakery

Through her social enterprise, The Women’s Bakery, Culver has created economic opportunities for women in Rwanda and Tanzania by training them to build, operate, manage and sustain their own bakeries.


Felman (right) founded Bear Studies with partner Peter Delaney, a junior in Arts & Sciences.

Avi Felman

B.S., Chemical Engineering and Computer Science, School of Engineering & Applied Science

Co-founder of Bear Studios, Founder of VentureFocus

Felman helped launch Bear Studios, Washington University’s first student-run accelerator.

A second enterprise, VentureFocus, helps start-ups find venture capital, private equity investors.

Goa connects St. Louis’ homeless to healthcare.

Ari Gao

B.A. Biology, Arts & Sciences

Founder: Heart for the Homeless

Gao founded the nonprofit Heart for the Homeless to improve the health of homeless individuals in St. Louis. Heart for the Homeless organizes health fairs at major homeless shelters across St. Louis and trains undergraduate volunteers to provide basic screening, serve as medical literacy educators and connect homeless individuals to primary care.


Glantz has expanded GiftAMeal to three markets.

Andrew Glantz

B.A., Leadership and Strategic Management, Olin Business School

Founder & CEO: GiftAMeal

Glantz founded mobile app GiftAMeal in 2014 as a way to fight hunger and promote St. Louis restaurants. GiftAMeal has since expanded to Chicago and Detroit and has provided 50,000 meals to those in need. Users simply snap and post of photo of their meal, and GiftAMeal funds a meal through a partner food bank.

Read more Class Acts of 2017 here.

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