RAISED BY A PROFESSOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Abby Speicher, who won the graduate challenge and is slated to graduate with an MBA this spring also comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her father, Chris Speicher, is an entrepreneurship professor at Marywood University, located in Speicher’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She also started a business in high school called Daakye that sold purses manufactured by women in Ghana and the profits were used to fund the education for children in Ghana.
“My dad is great at finding opportunities,” Speicher says. “He was teaching accounting and finance in Africa and I would go with him. The first time I was there, I volunteered at orphanages while he was working and it was a lot of time of me by myself at the orphanage so I started developing relationships with the children and moms.”
She ran the company for five years while majoring in international business at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. When she graduated, she felt like she needed to further her learning of “hands-on business skills.” So she took the unique jump of going straight from undergrad to an MBA program. She applied to only Babson and was accepted.
“I’ve known since 10 I wanted to be an entrepreneur and had no interest in the corporate world,” Speicher explains.
While at Babson, her father was teaching in the Marywood online MBA program mainly with military personnel overseas and came up with the idea of a drone training venture. Her father approached her and one of his students, Chris Costello about the idea. The result was DARTDrone—a drone training school for drone pilots that focuses in police and fire departments and lifeguards.
TWO NEW HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Since launching in December, the company has raised about $65,000 in revenue. Speicher says her time at Babson has helped her look at entrepreneurship from a different angle. Specifically, her marketing for entrepreneurship courses have caused her to talk to customers and get thorough feedback on an idea or product before moving forward. “There has been a lot less time on my computer and a lot more time talking to people and thinking about them,” Speicher says.
Speicher also says her time in the Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab has been helpful. The WIN Lab houses a yearlong residency program for women entrepreneurs and provides mentoring and coaching for their ventures. Interestingly, all three finalist teams at the graduate level were woman-led.
“That was the first time ever that happened,” Strimitais says.
The day culminated with an awards ceremony and hall of fame induction. The winner of the alumni challenge, WrightGrid, founded by 2013 MBA alum, Ryan Wright was also announced at the awards ceremony. WrightGrid provides outdoor, solar powered cell phone charging stations that companies, schools or brands can purchase and use for advertising.
This year, Michael Bastion and Ruthie Davis were inducted into the Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
“Being able to recognize them was the perfect culmination to a great day at Babson,” Strimitais says.
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