Class of 2023: How a date that ended badly led Jack Oppenheim to a business venture and, ultimately, VCU’s da Vinci Center
By: Leila Ugincius
Call it a goodnight kiss-off. Jack Oppenheim’s car was towed during a date.
It’s fair to say he rebounded quickly. Then a junior at James Madison University, majoring in history, Oppenheim found inspiration in the moment and started Tow Ninja, a company that eases some strain of the experience by connecting vehicle owners with tow companies. The moment also set him on the road to Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center for Innovation.
“I thought that it was a really cool space to be in, making some of the world’s latest and greatest products and services,” the Master of Product Innovation student said of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. “There is no other program like the da Vinci Center.”
As an undergraduate, Oppenheim had won $5,000 for Tow Ninja in JMU’s Bluestone Seed Fund competition in 2021. At VCU and da Vinci, he has been able to nurture its growth.
“I have had tons of support from the faculty and staff here at VCU that has slingshot our trajectory as a business,” he said. “Before coming to VCU we were only in one market, while at VCU, we have expanded into three more. With my skills and knowledge from VCU, and now the time, I can take Tow Ninja across the country.”
Bolstering his optimism, Oppenheim won first place — and $10,000 — at this year’s Demo Day competition, hosted by the da Vinci Center and Shift Retail Lab and sponsored by Capital One.
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