Jenna Rodier: Interdisciplinary Innovation

Stories

Jenna Rodier: Interdisciplinary Innovation

March 27, 2019

A photo of Jenna Rodier in Tel Aviv, Israel with a view of the sea in the background

Major: Hebrew
Minors: Entreprenurship & Innovation, Theatre
Class of 2020

By Ana Mitchell

Most teenagers are just getting their license at age 16, but for junior Jenna Rodier, this was when she started her studies at Ohio State. Originally starting with a major in psychology with aspirations to become a child psychologist, Rodier found after a semester of courses she would rather pursue Hebrew, as she loved the courses and professors. She also saw a strong value majoring in a language, “I felt that Hebrew would give me a good background for a lot of different areas...it is really helpful because it gives you that perspective that does not only make you distinctive, but also gives you really great skills that you can use out in the real world.”

Ever since Rodier was a child, she recalled having a notebook of things she wanted to create, such as making her own bracelets and selling them. She would watch Shark Tank with her family, and much of the discussions at dinner would be about business, as her father owns his own law firm. These experiences influenced Rodier to pursue an entrepreneurship and innovation minor, as well as join the Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship Scholars. She finds her major in Hebrew with her minor in entrepreneurship as complementary— entrepreneurship has taught her strategies and knowledge of startups, while Hebrew has lended her a perspective of understanding and connecting with people.

At Ohio State, Rodier continues to see where there are issues and tries to find ways to innovate ideas to solve them. She recently participated in the LaunchPad OSU, a three-day startup competition started by the entrepreneurship scholars program, of which she was the previous co-director. This event allowed students from any and all disciplines to come together to pitch ideas they want to see come to life. About 30 ideas were pitched and voted on, and from there, students were formed into nine teams.

Rodier’s team developed an app and website, Zoni, which aimed to resolve difficulties of online shopping, “Even though people feel that online shopping is more convenient for them, it ends up being more of a hassle.” It is difficult to know if an item will fit based on online photos and measurements, and often items go unreturned, losing money. Another major issue the team aimed to solve was the inconstancy of sizing among brands. The Zoni app would allow you to take a 3D body scan with a mobile phone, enter basic information, and take a style quiz that would show the fit and type of clothes you’re looking for. From there, Zoni provides the user with a list of all the clothes and sizes across different brands that will fit you to filters for your preferences. The app would also allow users to share their profile with friends and family who want to purchase clothing for them.

Rodier was assigned the role of customer validation for the project. Over a hundred participants took online surveys, but Rodier also talked to people on the street and took into account suggestions and things they would like to see as potential users. She found that her studies in Hebrew helped her go out and connect with people and understand the perspective they were coming from.

In addition to applying skill sets she has learned through her Hebrew major, Rodier had the opportunity to apply her Hebrew this past summer in Tel Aviv, Israel. She interned with Upstart 42, a company that helps emerging startups. Rodier bridged her personal knowledge of American culture to help an in-house startup in the U.S, while also using her Hebrew and cultural knowledge to understand the Israeli workplace where she was situated. During her 2.5 months spent in Israel she noticed various cultural differences, particularly the forwardness of the people. It isn’t taboo to ask people about their religion or politics, compared to the reservedness in the U.S. “It can be a culture shock,” described Rodier, “even though an area may seem similar, there are still those cultural differences.”

After graduation, Rodier is looking to complete a law degree, as well as an MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Although she will not be continuing Hebrew in her higher education, she still sees herself tying in the language with entrepreneurship and believes it will be a strong asset for her future. Eventually, she hopes to create her own startup, something she has never stopped pursuing!