Olivia Keneipp ’17 was recently recognized for entrepreneurial achievement by Chicago Inno, a tech company that supports startup organizations. She was featured in the company's list of "25 Under 25" entrepreneurs after being nominated by the CEO of The Minte, where Keneipp has worked for the last two years.
She credits Knox's StartUp Term with helping her develop the skills she needed to get her foot in the door at The Minte. “StartUp Term was a huge, huge part in getting me to work for the company,” she said.
StartUp Term is an experiential learning immersion program offered at Knox every two years in the spring term. The goal of the program is for students to gain the experience of starting a business from the ground up.
During StartUp Term 2017, Keneipp helped create Chart Air, a website that tracks the fees for landing private planes at individual airports. Bob Gillespie ’90 visited StartUp Term as a judge of students’ business ideas and invited Keneipp’s StartUp Term group to attend the 2017 session of Elmspring, a technology-focused business accelerator in Chicago. Keneipp said, “There were 10 companies that were in the accelerator. We were by far the youngest, hands down.”
At the accelerator, Keneipp was introduced to The Minte, a company that provides hotel-quality cleaning services to residential apartments, and she soon joined its team.
Keneipp said, “At The Minte, I started as a field manager and was working every day in all facets of the company. As we got bigger, I started working more with the products side and started working on designing the website, not necessarily designing visually, but functionally.”
Now Keneipp is the production manager of The Minte. “I’m a history and art student that somehow managed to be a tech employee,” she said.
“I think Knox was huge in teaching me different ways of thinking about things,” said Keneipp of her work. “I use a lot of the art principles when looking at logical ways to design things, like where people look, color, contrast, font, visual design, and all those kinds of things. And then in history, weirdly enough, it carried over in being skeptical of sources, which kind of seems like a stretch, but I often feel like I’m using things that I learned there. It’s really critically looking at things.”
Keneipp added, “I’m glad that I had professors to push me to join StartUp Term because I wouldn’t have otherwise done it.”
Keneipp visited StartUp Term in 2019, this time as a judge for the end-of-term evaluation of students’ business plans. Keneipp was one of eight alumni who were invited to be judges. She said, “It was really cool to come back and see all the progress that has been made in just the last two years since I was there. Every year it gets more organized and more and more developed.”
Keneipp added, “I’d love to be as involved as possible because I think it has been super-beneficial for me and it’s worthwhile overall. I really can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”