College of Business > News & Events > How One Entrepreneurship Student is Building his Startup, One Class at a Time
By Nadia Alfadel Coloma /
May 31, 2022 /
Posted in: Students, Faculty /
“I dealt with a lot of mental health stuff growing up, from chronic stress and anxiety to depression,” says Billy Grady, an entrepreneurship student at the Driehaus College of Business. “It got to a point where I decided to start taking prescription medications, but for two years I dealt with more side effects than I did relief. That’s when I thought there had to be a more natural approach.”
After overcoming his struggles, Grady turned his personal experiences into a passion for finding clinically-proven natural remedies for mental health care. This eventually led him to launch
Blossom—a mental wellness company—in 2020, during the height of the pandemic when mental health issues were at an all-time high.
During that time, Grady was on a hiatus from his studies at DePaul. It was when he started to reposition his business’s product offering that he came back to DePaul in 2021; he needed help pivoting and growing the second iteration of Blossom, and knew DePaul could provide the resources he needed to succeed.
Grady returned to DePaul’s business college more focused on how to leverage his education to accomplish his goals. He began connecting with faculty members for their expert advice and guidance, like senior instructor Jacqueline Kuehl, who is also the executive director of the digital marketing program at the college.
Kuehl helped Grady analyze market reports, collect data and determine the customer persona for Blossom. “She’s brilliant. I knew her digital marketing course would provide me immense value,” he says.
Grady was able to use Blossom as a real-life project in Kuehl’s class, in fall 2021. It involved everyone in the class coming up with a digital marketing strategy for Blossom’s customer personas. The experience inspired Grady to hire an intern for Blossom to implement some of the ideas his classmates had come up with. He posted an internship position on DePaul’s job board, Handshake, and one of his peers in that same digital marketing class ended up taking on the 12-week internship.
“By this time, I had a partner at Blossom who had been working in digital marketing for 10 years, so it worked out that my classmate was able to learn a lot from him during the internship,” Grady says.
Management & Entrepreneurship Professor Marty Martin is another faculty member Grady has benefited from getting to know at the college. Currently, Grady is taking Martin’s life sciences entrepreneurship class, where he has once again been given the opportunity to use Blossom as a live case study for a group project. This time the project involves building out a business plan that the class will then present to real venture capitalists and angel investors at the end of the quarter.
“Thanks to this class, I’ve incorporated technology into Blossom’s business plan that allows us to offer a more personalized approach to mental health care,” Grady says. “The vision is to curate the brightest minds in holistic psychiatry and psychology to develop an assessment that would give our customers personalized lifestyle and natural medicine recommendations based on their responses.”
DePaul’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center has been another valuable resource to Grady since he’s been back. In particular, the center’s executive director, Bruce Leech, has been a mentor to Grady throughout his journey.
“I have so much respect and admiration for Bruce, so having Blossom validated by someone with his experience in business was incredibly rewarding and reassuring,” he says. “It was also a great experience when I took Bruce’s entrepreneurship class and was able to present Blossom to my classmates. Their feedback validated the idea and provided me with a lot of valuable insights.”
Grady’s long-term vision for Blossom is to make natural approaches to mental health care plan A instead of plan B, and position Blossom as the liaison between consumers and clinical research in natural remedies. This spring, Blossom launched a line of barista-style oat milk lattes that are infused with natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
“So many people at DePaul, both students and faculty, have been a huge resource for me throughout this process of building my company,” Grady says. “I love that I’ve been able to create a customized experience for myself here so that I can use what I’m learning and implement it in Blossom. I’m doing everything I can to squeeze out every last drop of value that the university can provide and it seems to be never-ending.”