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Up Close and Personal: ELLC Co-President Allison Murphy

From princess to maturing impresario, Allison Murphy has worn many hats. She recently added entrepreneur to her wardrobe. It fits her well.

Allison Murphy

April 17, 2014

by Joseph Master

Allison Murphy has a contagious smile and she’s not afraid to use it. She has flashed it in auditoriums while delivering speeches and while sitting on panels. She wears it well at networking events, too. She’s even used it to make some serious C-suite connections.

Just last month, Murphy was smiling wide in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Valencia in San Jose, California, talking shop with Apple VP of Retail Jim Bean ’91 and Palo Alto Software VP of Business Development Caroline Cummings ‘01 at a Drexel alumni networking event. They didn’t seek her out. She approached them. And she came home with the contacts to prove it.

Murphy takes risks. She talks fast. She walks even faster. Her posture is flawless. When she is excited, you’ll know before she even says a word. It’s that smile. It’s got a language all its own.

Currently, Murphy is the co-president of the Close School’s very first Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community. She heads the Drexel Entrepreneurship Association Think Tank — a role that allows her to devise new events that benefit Drexel’s growing entrepreneurship ecosystem. Murphy also conducts market research for Biome, a company run by Entrepreneurship Co-op student Collin Cavote, that is prototyping carbon-scrubbing biowalls for consumer use.

Murphy is 18 years old.

We had the chance to sit down with Allison to talk entrepreneurship. And yes, she flashed that signature smile. Look out for it.

What’s your story?

I'm the type of person to create something out of nothing, or make something that is already awesome even better. I'm a leader. I like to take opportunities. In high school I focused on theater. It is still a passion of mine. I love acting and singing. But when I entered a DECA business competition during my senior year of high school and won first place, I realized that I'm a businesswoman.   

Have you had an “aha” moment that made you think, “I am definitely an entrepreneur?”

That competition led me to reflect on all of my experiences relating to business.  I made jewelry and donated profits to CHOP. I had a gift-wrapping business around the holidays. When I was ten we had a yard sale. I was so upset my parents were selling all of my old toys (none of which I'd played with for years) and I decided to find a way to buy them back. I created a lemonade stand. Pretty standard thing kids do. Except I created a greater market opportunity by inviting neighbors to have yard sales. I advertised my product by posting signs about the yard sale. I chose a day that was supposed to be really hot. And not only did I buy all my toys back, I made a larger profit then my parents did. I felt awesome. 

You’re a co-president of the Close School’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community (ELLC). Here’s your chance to make a pitch. Why should incoming freshmen consider joining the ELLC?

Opportunities.  You'll hear the word one million times during tours, accepted student days, orientation, and beyond.  If you're going to take those opportunities, you belong in the ELLC. If you are creative, enthusiastic, positive, and unique, you belong in the ELLC.  It gives you direct attention and energy. Not just for the group as a whole, but also with individual members who have access to a great number resources that you just have to reach out and take. 

What does the ELLC mean to you? Why is it special? 

It means a community of similarly minded, yet extremely different people. Drexel is filled with all types of people, but the ELLC members share a common goal and similar traits. We're from all over the world both physically and symbolically. Our personalities are all over the place, but together we're even more powerful in our abilities. We connect to create a community to allow each of us as individuals to grow exponentially.

What is your personal definition of entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is tricky, because I think the definition is based on the entrepreneur.  The entrepreneur is innovative, unique, business-savvy, creative, and a leader. Entrepreneurship is what that person does with their abilities.  Entrepreneurs start something new or improve an existing idea. 

Who is your personal hero? Why?

My hero is anyone who does more than required.  Each member of my family, from my 70-something grandfather to my 8 year-old sister, inspires me daily. They all have individual traits that I try to learn from and display in myself.

Why is entrepreneurship education so important to learn in a college setting?

Entrepreneurs create jobs, not only for themselves, but for many others. Whether they grow within a company or create their own, entrepreneurs make things better. In any profession, or major, there is always an entrepreneurial factor.  You can't teach creativity and innovation, but if someone has it, they should have the opportunity to learn how to use those traits. And they'll be successful. That's why entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged and taught in school. 

Tell us something about you that most people would never know …

Here’s a fun fact: I used to work as an entertainer at kids' birthday parties. I dressed up as princesses, Elmo, Dora, and other characters. And I did some face painting.