Paula Belatti: Entrepreneur with Impact
For Paula Belatti, Creighton’s Heider College of Business Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program was the perfect trifecta of scholastic pursuit, research and flexibility.
“I have always been interested in pursuing research and continuing my education but knew I wanted to keep working in industry,” says Belatti, who is completing her DBA degree this August. “The DBA program was the perfect mix of academic rigor, a focus on research and flexibility to not put my career on pause.”
Plus, she is a third-generation Bluejay and the ninth Creighton doctorate (and fourth “Dr. Belatti”) in her family.
Indeed, BIG EAST roots run deep for Belatti. She earned her undergraduate degree from Villanova University before working as an investment banker with JPMorgan Chase on Wall Street. She met Clove founder, Joe Ammon, while at Dreamit Ventures, where she was a health care investor. In 2019, she partnered with Ammon, becoming COO of Clove, a custom-designed shoe company for health care workers.
Belatti says her venture capital experience solidified her interest in startup investing, but she wanted to do more than allocate funds: “I wanted to build something from the ground up and use my talents to make a meaningful difference in the world.” Clove checks both boxes.
Belatti’s mother, father-in-law and brother-in-law are doctors, and Ammon’s wife is a nurse. So, they both understand the search for the perfect work shoe; Clove is the result. Its shoes are easy to clean, being both liquid-repellent and stain-resistant. They can be easily wiped down after a messy shift, plus, the insoles are odor-fighting. Since health care workers typically walk a half marathon weekly, support and comfort are musts. And their stylish look is definitely a step up from the white, orthopedic nursing shoes of old.
“I felt passionately about helping health care professionals, and I knew we could make a better product to service their needs and build a brand that celebrated their efforts every day,” Belatti says.
When the pandemic hit, the young company was flooded with calls from customers who shared difficult frontline stories, and Clove’s response was immediate. The company began donating shoes and socks where they were needed most, and, to date, has donated more than $150,000 of products to frontline workers, including Creighton alumni.
“Having a social mission is hugely important to me,” says Belatti. “I have seen the toll this type of work can have. Every day I wake up and ask myself how I can improve the lives of health care professionals. My work is incredibly rewarding.”
Belatti will continue this work after she earns her DBA, though she plans to trade her time in the corporate environment for the academic classroom one day. She is grateful for her Creighton experience, especially the DBA program’s Ignatian pedagogy, which she calls a “differentiator.”
“The focus on cura personalis made it so that faculty got to know us, understand where we were coming from, and how they could help us on our journey to where we wanted to be,” says Belatti. “A Creighton education creates men and women for and with others. My time at Creighton has trained me to be a woman for others in both my personal and professional life.”
As a seasoned professional in the startup space, Belatti says building something new, especially establishing a business that gives back, such as Clove, is exciting. She has this advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid to leave the corporate world to start your own business.”