Logo for Washington University Commencement feature, Class Acts against a graduation robe sleeve.

Class Acts: The Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Meet a few of the entrepreneurs and innovators graduating this spring from Washington University in St. Louis. These students have launched businesses and developed innovative technologies that are improving human health, addressing global issues and helping investors achieve their goals.

Mary-Brent Brown

Four young woman entrepreneurs, founders of the WashU student-run business Beary Sweet Shoppe, hold a plaque while standing in front of their store.
From left: Mary Zabriskie, Assistant Director of Campus Life, Jessica Landzberg , Mary-Brent Brown , Kailey Dreyfus, Shea Gould.

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.

Headshot of a young woman, WashU entrepreneur Elizabeth Bowman BowmanElizabeth Bowman

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


The Women's Bakery founder Markey Culver standing next to with an African woman in AfricaMarkey 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.

Avi Felman

Two young men pose on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis
Felman (right) founded Bear Studies with partner Peter Delaney, a junior in Arts & Sciences.

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.                                                                                                                                                                         

ArWashU-student Ari Gao, founder of nonprofit organization Heart for the Homelessi 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.


Andrew Glantz

Glantz has expanded GiftAMeal to three markets.

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.


Meet more Class Acts here.