Posted April 22, 2020

Temple celebrates annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl in virtual competition

This year, the popular competition is still happening on April 23—but with a slight twist.

previous Be Your Own Boss Bowl winners
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Previous Be Your Own Boss Bowl winners, who won first place for the Undergraduate Track, with their prize.

This year Temple’s annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) competition will be streamed live online on Thursday, April 23. The BYOBB is one of the nation’s most lucrative pitch competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs and is open to all Temple students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Some participants choose to be paired with a mentor, with whom they work over the course of several months in developing their own product, while others opt to work individually. The competition offers three tracks and received 73 submissions this year. 

“Moving online has been both exciting and challenging and we are thrilled to be able to reach a much larger audience,” shared Greg Fegley, who organized the mentor-mentee pairings of 2020’s BYOBB efforts and has overseen the mentoring program for the past seven years.

The winners of 2020’s BYOBB will be announced during the event, with cash and in-kind prize packages valued at more than $200,000. 

The journey

Temple Now closely followed three groups throughout the spring semester. 

Mentee: Cailynn Chase, Class of 2020
Mentor: Matt Devine, LAW ’16

Cailynn Chase transferred to Temple and entered this year’s BYOBB after coming up with the concept of Jars du Jour, a package-free grocery store that operates to reduce waste and food insecurity.

Inspiration struck when she was studying abroad and observed people bringing their own containers to buy basic goods. She wanted to bring this idea home and into the Temple community. 

“All foods will be local and high quality, focusing on shelf stability such as grains, pasta, cereal, coffee and more,” Chase said. “Customers can buy exactly the amount they need.”

Chase’s mentor Matt Devine, LAW ’16, has been a BYOBB reviewer for four years and mentor the past two years. He currently serves as a corporate attorney at Lex Nova Law LLC. 

“To be an entrepreneur, a person has to be willing to live and breathe what they do,” Devine said. “The passion is not something that can be learned, but the skills can be.”

Mentee: Joey Nguyen, Class of 2020
Mentor: Stephen Spivak, CLA '91

International business major Joey Nguyen helped to create the concept of Bandito Joe’s, a CBD-infused cold brew company. Nguyen has been working in a group with two other Temple students, Vincent DiPentino and Hunter MacKenzie. He believes that CBD-infused coffee has many health benefits.

“We’re hoping to be in Whole Foods, as well as farmer’s markets and big wholesalers like Wegmans,” Nguyen said. 

Nguyen was paired with Stephen Spivak, CLA ’91, an advisor to the Ben Franklin Technology Group, who is serving as a BYOBB mentor for the first time. 

“I have taken many companies under my wing and love mentoring and connecting them to my network,” Spivak said. “I jumped at this opportunity and wanted to help this group see their project to fruition.”

Mentee: Ethan Berg, Class of 2020
Mentor: Steve Buerkle, CLA ’74, FOX ’80

Entrepreneurship major Ethan Berg is hoping to launch his virtual reality commerce platform called Agora. He has been working on this application in order to forge a closer connection between consumers and retailers.

His mentor, Steve Buerkle, CLA ’74, FOX ’80, has more than 30 years of experience founding, managing and growing multiple technology companies. 

“Stephen (Buerkle) has helped me better understand what the true goal is of what we want to sell and create rather than all of the background noise,” Berg explained. “He’s brought it back to reality.”

Berg is giving retailers a platform to display their identity and products, hands-on and face-to-face, with a focus on privacy by collecting minimal personal information from the consumer.

“I’ve gone through many of the challenges Ethan (Berg) has had, so I’m able to talk about things from experience,” Buerkle shared. “That’s what it being a mentor comes down to: a little bit of experience and being a sounding board.”

A real look into what Agora's virtual reality commerce platform looks like while in-use.


COVID-19’S impact

All three groups have had to be nimble and update their product plans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“We’ve had to adjust our production schedule and financial projections to account for the lack of sales,” Nguyen explained.

Chase shared that while her work has mostly been remote up until this point, her goals in the fall will fundamentally have to change. She is continuing to work on advertising, outreach and market testing, and will determine how to move forward based on how things pan out.

There have been some positive shifts for participants as a result of COVID-19. 

Berg said, “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve accelerated our process by almost a year in an effort to get into the market to help struggling retailers recover.”

If there’s something all of the groups can agree upon, it’s that this additional planning has been invaluable in helping maintain the entrepreneurial spirit.

“Inevitably, plans have to change and people have to pivot,” Devine stated. “While this is a difficult situation to navigate, it’s given people the opportunity to experience some disruptions in real time and think on their feet.”

12 finalists remain
Currently, 12 teams remain in the 2020 BYOBB competition. 
Check out the full list of participants.

RSVP now
Learn more and RSVP.

Watch the event
Watch the Zoom stream on Thursday, April 23 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Watch the event here.