Graduate students provide a helping hand for new business owners
By Patrick Verel
Coss Marte does not need help starting a business.
In fact, Marte is by any measure a success story. After serving time in prison for drug dealing, he returned to his native Lower East Side and opened ConBody, a boutique gym where New Yorkers learn a workout regime that he taught himself in prison—one that enabled him to lose 70 pounds in six months. He is now making plans to open another location and increase the number of staff members.
Fordham Law School’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, run by professor Bernice Grant, recently brought together students from the Law School and the Gabelli School of Business to work on behalf of ConBody and three other businesses that are just getting started or looking to expand.
The clinic serves two types of clients: social ventures that seek to create positive change in society, such as ConBody, and companies founded by low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs who otherwise would be unable to afford an attorney.
Marte has a business background of his own: He received business training at Defy Ventures, a non-profit that helps formerly incarcerated individuals start businesses. But the Fordham law students advised him on various legal matters, and the Gabelli business students helped him finesse his fundraising pitch.
“They’re absolutely geniuses. They shot me questions that I never really thought about, and I was like, ‘Oh, I should do that.’ They were really on top of their stuff, and really hungry in helping me,” he said.