Albright Instructor Bonnie Rohde and Students Win Grant to Help Launch Local Entrepreneur

Albright College business instructor Bonnie Rohde and four students have received an $8,000 grant to help a local business develop an innovative consumer text messaging system.

Funding is part of $50,000 awarded to the Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone (GRKIZ) by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development to accelerate technology transfer efforts by connecting business and academia. The funds are to help start-up companies succeed and equip Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities with the resources to commercialize new technologies.

The group will spend their summer working with CeeLink Media, LLC, to develop an innovative consumer text messaging system.  The project would enable promotions and coupons to be sent to subscribers via text messages.  Subscribers would show their cell phone message instead of a paper coupon to receive discounts and special deals.

Rohde was approached by Jose Cortorreal, president of Ceelink Media, for help in developing the business plan, database and software. The students collectively have a wide array of experience with social media campaigns, website design, business systems and planning, programming and project management. Rohde, who will be project manager, has more than 20 years experience in business planning, information systems and telecommunications prior to joining Albright in 2006.

Rohde and her students will research the market to verify feasibility of this type of business; develop a website, mobile website and mobile applications; conduct a text messaging feasibility study and product design; and create a database over the course of 10 weeks.

Rohde says “the project will provide the students with real-world experience in developing a business plan, managing a project, and designing a prototype of a mobile application, database, and website solution for an entrepreneurial venture.” 

The students are Mandy Wagner ’11, Adriana Ocasio ’11, Caitlyn Garrett ’11 and Paul Connelly ’11.

Mandy Wagner, of Reading, Pa.,  is an international business major and Dearden Honor Society scholar with experience in social media from an internship with Joffrey’s Coffee and prior experience at another institution.  Adriana Ocasio, of Reading, Pa., is a computer science and digital media major and will be working on the project website, mobile web and logo design.

Caitlyn Garrett, of Reading, Pa., is a business management major and Dearden Honor Society scholar with experience in social media from her internship with Brentwood Industries. Paul Connelly, of East Greenville, Pa., is a senior computer science major who has experience developing mobile applications and database design and will be instrumental in the programming and software design needs of this project.

The GRKIZ partnered with Innovation Transfer Network (ITN) to identify faculty expertise, promote collaboration and connect with the Reading business community.  The project team met with the five local colleges and universities in Berks County, as well as local companies to serve as matchmakers in identifying potential projects and providing guidance through the proposal process.

Mandy Wagner

"In December 2011, I will graduate from Albright College with a bachelor's degree in business administration, international business track and asian studies. I was born and raised in Germany. Currently, I  work for the Academic Learning Center as a tutor for German and business.  I also work for The Fund for Albright as a phonathon caller. Additionally, I am a member of the Dearden Honors Society (business & economics) and was the recipient of the 2011 Scholar in International Management. I enjoy traveling, photography and languages. I am looking forward to working on this exciting project and hope to widen my experience with social media. I believe social media is a crucial part of today's business world and will benefit the project in many ways."

Caitlyn Garrett
"As a 2011 Albright graduate, I understand the value of giving back to my community.  As a life-long Reading resident, I feel a gratitude and connection to our community.  Since the age of 14 I have participated in the labor force, working at various businesses in the Reading area, while succeeding in my academic studies and achieving a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

I have always held respect for all small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Reading area.  By participating in the CeeLink research project, I feel that I will be making an impact not only for this local entrepreneur, but for the entire Greater Reading area.  I endeavor to apply my skills to this project in the hopes of helping this local entrepreneur establish a successful business venture."

Adriana Ocasio
"I believe that CeeLink has the potential to become a strong and profitable company in the future; the opportunity to be involved in its creation is a privilege. One of the key aspects of developing new companies is establishing its image. This generally begins with the creation of a suitable logo, as well as a professional, attractive and user-friendly website. I am very enthusiastic about what our team will achieve over the next several weeks, and I look forward to learning and contributing to the best of my ability."

Paul Connelly
"I've been programming since the age of 11. During my time at Albright I've focused on videogame programming. I look forward to contributing to the technical side of the CeeLink project while exploring the web-based technologies behind today's killer apps." 

Amber Foster
As a graduating senior, Amber Foster is earning a degree in business and  communications.  She was actively engaged in the Albright College Activities Council (AC2).  She currently resides in Mont Clare, Pa.  Amber's plans for the future consist of becoming an event planner or public relations specialist.  She is interested in the CeeLink project mostly because she gets to help create every aspect of it.  Using what she has learned, she hopes to share her creativity/knowledge and gain valuable experience along the way.