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Major Miami Tech Conference Features School of Business Student in Discussion on Entrepreneurship

April 21, 2016
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connor masterson at emerge

From left to right:Connor Masterson, Joe Gehr, Adam Roth, Stephanie
Castano and Lenny Chesal

Connor Masterson, a junior in the School of Business, has some hard-earned advice for student entrepreneurs. “You need to work hard, be persistent, and surround yourself with mentors from different walks of life,” he said. “One of the great things about being a business student at the University of Miami is all the support you get from the professors.”

Masterson was one of four South Florida college students who participated in an April 18 panel discussion on “University Entrepreneurship Programs: A Student Perspective” at the third annual eMerge Americas Conference in Miami Beach. The two-day conference drew 13,000 attendees from 60 countries.

Last year, School of Business Dean Gene Anderson participated in a similar panel discussion with three other deans about the role of South Florida universities in fostering entrepreneurship.

“This year, it’s the students’ turn,” said Lenny Chesal, chief evangelist of Host.net in Boca Raton, who moderated a panel discussion with Masterson, co-founder of Royal, a new consumer and brand loyalty reward program; Joe Gehr, founder of Sheepdog Network; Adam Roth, CEO, Honorlock and Stephanie Castano, CEO, Link to Fitness. 

A native of Philadelphia, Masterson said he wanted to get into business at an early age.  “My dad, Rich Masterson, was a technology entrepreneur, so it runs in the family,” he added. “I have already done a couple of business ventures already.” 

Asked why he chose to study business at the University of Miami, Masterson said, “UM is a global university with students from over 110 countries, and a nationally recognized Launch Pad program. I had applied to 27 schools in the U.S. and Europe, and as a young entrepreneur I knew the UM School of Business was right for me.”

Now a major in business law and finance with a minor in motion pictures, Masterson said, “Being a UM student has opened the door for some amazing opportunities, like speaking at eMerge Americas.  That wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the School of Business.”

After the panel discussion, Masterson explained how he and his business partner Herwig Konings, BA ‘15, are developing their plans for Royal.

“Our company eliminates the need for loyalty cards and paper receipts, improving the shopping experience for consumers,” Masterson said. “When you onboard your debit and credit card, you just pay for merchandise and receive a discount or reward if you qualify. You don’t even have to turn on the app in your phone.”

On the other side of the register, Royal lets retailers store purchase receipts electronically. “It costs 1 cent to print a receipt and the paper amounts to 1.5 billion pounds of waste in the U.S. each year,” Masterson said. “We can eliminate the cost and waste.” 

Rather than email a receipt to a shopper, Royal maintains the records on a database easily searchable by both consumers and stores. “We want to make it simple – just swipe your card and you’re good to go,” he said.

Masterson and Konings are now beta testing Royal, and plan a soft launch in the summer. “We are talking to hotels, airlines, pharmacies, media agencies and consumer packaged goods companies,” he said. “Take a look at AreYouRoyal.com to see what our company is bringing to market.”

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