Category: SMG Hot Topics
Eyes on the Prize
Story via BU Today:
Like any entrepreneur with an idea for a start-up, Daniel Gnecco dreams of scoring a 15-minute meeting with a venture capitalist. Tonight, his dream becomes reality.
Gnecco (SMG’12) is one of four finalists in BU’s annual $50K New Venture Competition. Beginning at 6 p.m., each will have 20 minutes to pitch his company to a panel of Boston venture capitalists. But win or lose, Gnecco says, the real prize is getting facetime with prominent members of the Boston business community.
“To have some of Boston’s most well-known people in industry validate your ideas will raise everybody’s eyebrows and generate interest,” says Gnecco. “That interest can turn into investments.”
The contest, now in its 12th year, is sponsored by BU’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC). Created to encourage students to write business plans for their start-up companies, it is open to current full- and part-time graduate and undergraduate BU students, as well as all alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.
“The beauty of having teams write a business plan for the contest is that they learn how to write one; they go through all the thinking that goes into it,” says Beth Goldstein, ITEC senior associate for distance learning, who is in charge of the competition. “Winner or not, they can take the lessons learned from writing a business plan and go and run another company.”
This year’s finalists, selected from 34 entrants, have started companies in life sciences, clean energy, mobile applications, and medical devices, “all cutting-edge industries,” says Goldstein.
Registration is required to attend tonight’s final round of the $50K New Venture Competition, which will be held at 6 p.m. in SMG’s fourth floor dining room, 595 Commonwealth Ave. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m. Read the full story.
Bridging Management and Global Health & Development
Students from the Health Sector Management Program at Boston University have founded the Global Health and Development Association (GHD). This new organization seeks to bridge the divide between management and global health and development, while directly connecting and involving BU MBA students with issues that affect the developing world.
“We seek to better understand these complex issues of health and development so that we can learn to address them through innovation and effective management,” GHD members explain, through events such as speakers and panels with industry leaders, international collaborative consulting opportunities, alliances with other schools and departments across the University, and social and networking events. “The GHD Association is also a great addition to two clubs already operating within the Health Sector Management Program—the Bio Business Organization and the Health Services Management Association because we present the perspective of providing care in developing countries, emerging economies, and low resource settings,” adds student Meg Meyer (MBA’12).
Participants include primarily first- and second-year MBA students across many concentrations, including the Health Sector Management Program as well as students from the Professional Evening MBA Program, the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, and the School of Medicine at Boston University.
Recent and upcoming events sponsored by GHD include:
- Friends of Ngong Road: Using Business Principals to Launch and Grow an International NGO: On Friday, October 14th, 2011, Amy Johnson, Board Member/CFO, and Peter Ndungu, Executive Director, both from Friends of Ngong Road, a Nairobi, Kenya-based NGO, discussed starting and growing an international non-profit using business principles. They covered topics such as creating strong financial controls and metrics; overcoming growing pains and pitfalls; using technology to your advantage; and working with different currencies.
- Global Health and Diagnostics: Featuring Dr. Una Ryan, President and CEO, Diagnostics for All, discussing her organization’s dedication to creating low-cost, easy-to-use, point-of-care diagnostics specifically designed for the 60% of the developing world that lives beyond the reach of medical access. More
- Spring 2012 semester back-to schools networking event, co-sponsored by the Bio Business Organization and the Health Services Management Association
- Fundraiser auction supporting a rural clinic in Palwal, India—one of the destinations of the School’s India Field Seminar
- Upcoming Speaker Series event in collaboration with Boston University School of Biomedical Engineering, planned for March 29, 2012, and featuring three speakers discussion their experiences in the fields of business, engineering, and public health.
- Discussion and collaborative learning experience between School of Management and School Engineering students, focused on exploring innovative business models for products that have been developed at BU School of Engineering, including a counterfeit drug detector and a device to diagnose pneumonia.
- Participation in the Emory for a Global Health Case Competition (March 30th-April 1st)
Explains Meyer, “This club is important to MBAs because many students are interested in or have experience with international health but aren’t quite sure how to integrate it into their career or are interested in learning more about it. The GHD club gives them an opportunity to hear speakers and meet people with expertise in this area. It’s also a great opportunity for collaboration across different schools within Boston University. In the future,” Meyer adds, “we hope to continue connecting with other schools throughout BU and establish yearly signature events.”
The Executive MBA 24 cohort is currently traveling through India with the 2012 EMBA International Field Seminar
BU’s Executive MBA Program’s International Trip
Strategy & Innovation Professor and faculty director of EMBA Pete Russo discusses the global focus and international components of the program.
About the EMBA International Field Seminar
EMBA students get the opportunity to put the curriculum into action in a global context during the international seminar in Residence Week 3. The seminar provides hands-on experience making business contacts abroad, conducting research on countries and industries overseas, and pulling together — quickly and efficiently — a high-performing team. During the seminar, students have the opportunity to attend presentations and discussions, conduct site visits, and engage with local organizations in team assignments. More Information
Boston University’s Executive MBA program (EMBA) is designed for mid-to-senior level managers with 10+ years of professional experience. The program focuses on a cross-functional understanding of the interdependencies among organizations’ components. It also offers a strong global component through a concentrated international module and trip designed to provide an understanding of the many factors that frame the business context in a range of developed and developing economies. More Information
New Bus Service Caters to College Club-Goers
Excerpts from BU Today:
With the thermostat hovering in the 20s last Friday night, BU alums Ryan Kaplan, Eric Pasinski, and Jonathan Castillo gingerly applied a sticky sign the size of a giant toboggan to the side of a charter bus. They were shooting for zero bubbling and a level presentation, and they nailed it. Castillo squeezed out extra air with a yardstick.
“This is the most stressful part of our night,” Kaplan (SMG ’11) said with a laugh.
That’s quite a statement, considering that their new business, Boston Nightlife Express (BNE), involves shuttling buses of college students to and from Boston nightclubs and adhering to tight schedules despite unpredictable traffic—all while wearing the hats of promoter, market researcher, bouncer, and businessman.
BNE launched Veterans Day weekend, initially serving only Boston University students. Having turned a profit by its fourth run, the alumni now provide rides to Emerson College students going to parties in Allston. And this night they have begun service for Endicott College students, busing them from Beverly, Mass., and back, with plans to expand to more universities, like Boston College in late February and Tufts and Brandeis shortly afterwards.
Kaplan and a team of School of Management students hatched the idea for the shuttle service in an entrepreneurship class senior year. Each of the students had horror stories about taxi rides home after a night of clubbing. They were tired of paying exorbitant fares and waiting in the cold for long periods (Kaplan’s record is an hour and a half). Their idea was voted best in the class, but only Kaplan wanted to pursue it after graduation. He recruited Pasinski and Castillo (both entrepreneurs and college friends), and the trio began work on BNE last summer.
Read the full article here.
From the Article “Philanthropy Gains Eager Followers in B-Schools”
In a recent article, Business Week online spotlights Boston University’s Public and & Nonprofit Management Program (PNP) and the in-depth exposure to philanthropy that it provides MBA students.
Noting that “MBA and undergraduate courses on philanthropy are proliferating as interest grows among a generation of B-school idealists,” journalist Alison Damast reports,
Today, dozens of MBA and undergraduate programs teach philanthropy as an academic subject, exposing students to both the art and science of giving. Some schools—including Stanford, Columbia Business School, and the Boston University School of Management—teach entire courses focused solely on the topic, while others weave philanthropy into the curriculum of social-enterprise courses….
“This is a generation used to being hands-on,” McCormack says. “They want to have a direct impact.”
MBA students are…eager to become better-educated, savvier philanthropists, says Kristen McCormack, faculty director of the Public & Non-Profit Management program at the Boston University School of Management, where she has been teaching a course on the topic for the last decade. During the last four years, a group of students in the course have been charged with the task of giving away $10,000 to a local charity….This year’s class decided to give all its money to a group called Medicine Wheel Productions in South Boston, a nonprofit that works with troubled youth via public art projects.
“They need to figure out ‘how much good can I do with this money,’” McCormack says. “It is a very strategic kind of question that involves their business skills.”
In the last few years, interest in philanthropy and fundraising classes has grown as more business schools emphasize ethics and corporate responsibility in the curriculum, McCormack notes. As a result, more students are interested in serving on the boards of directors of nonprofit groups and in giving away a portion of income to charitable organizations. At the same time, the number of new family foundations is on the rise, she said, as more students want to learn how to make an impact with their money. “This is a generation used to being hands-on,” McCormack says. “They want to have a direct impact.”
Read full article at Business Week online.
About the Brazil Field Seminar
The Brazilian Field Seminar program is designed for MBA students who seek to understand the changing role of business in society, specifically as it pertains to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. We will explore the potential for business to address sustainability challenges through technical innovations, business practices, entrepreneurial initiatives and new business models designed to alleviate social or environmental conditions, make more efficient use of energy and natural resources, provide adequate health and education services, lower risk, create value and cause less harm to society in both urban and rural settings.
Time spent in Brazil allows students to witness the development and application of sustainable business models and practices first- hand, through the eyes of managers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and consumers. More Information
About the International Field Seminars
International Field Seminars are offered to those graduate students who seek to learn outside the classroom and beyond the book. Students begin their studies in a Boston classroom with preliminary research and complete the program abroad, speaking with the CEOs and managers of the most relevant companies and organizations in the area. More Information
Next session begins Feb. 15 - Apply now
“People want to break into the green sector, but they don’t know how,” says Paul McManus, managing director of the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC) at Boston University.
“We’re in touch with all kinds of entrepreneurs and people with great business skills who want to dive in and be part of the alternative energy, environmental, and sustainable business areas,” Mcmanus continues, “but they’re all looking for ways to get up to speed before getting involved.”
It’s one of the specialties of Boston University faculty and the School of Management has a program that fits the need perfectly.
Last year, The Executive Leadership Center at Boston University School of Management partnered with the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) to form the Leading Clean Energy Ventures Certificate Program. Now accepting applications for its second year, the program’s goal is to encourage and prepare experienced entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to enter the clean technology sector, leading to new venture formation, job creation, and growth of the clean energy industry.
According to McManus, “The program addresses a simple but acute problem: a lack of experienced entrepreneurs and seasoned executives in the clean energy sector. Our goal for this program is to help individuals accelerate their transition into the clean energy sector.”
Participants examine the finite details of clean energy with industry experts and develop practical capstone projects that result in a new business concept, market strategy, business plan, or financing model.
First Year Testimonials.
Veda Ferlazzo Clark was CEO of a commercial lighting manufacturer before deciding to enroll in the 2011 Leading Clean Energy Ventures Certificate program. In her role as CEO, Veda had driven the company’s mission to become a sustainable manufacturer of energy efficient products.
“In lighting, we were ‘beside’ clean tech, but not in clean tech,” said Veda. “I wanted to learn more about the structure of and influences on the many industries that compose clean tech.”
“The program touched on, and in some cases took a pretty deep dive into, all of the key pieces—technologies, financing, regulatory issues. It helped to bring into focus many relevant topics and an understanding of how the pieces of the puzzle sometimes fit together – and sometimes don’t.”
Since completing the program, Veda has been assisting several start-ups she met while in the program. She is also helping Mass Manufacturing Extension Partnership develop an energy and sustainability roadmap for small to mid-sized manufacturers.
Her ultimate goal? “Help a clean-tech company grow in the role of CEO.”
Ramesh Kumar, head of corporate development at Mavizen, attended the program in 2011 and focused on developing an electric powertrain technology for an electric bike. The serial entrepreneur had recently sold his mobile couponing and ticketing firm, Activemedia Technologies, to a British company. “Over the course of the program,” Kumar says, “the project evolved; it expanded into applying the powertrain technology for cars, bikes, or even jet skis. I was able to use the capstone project of LCEV program to refine our pitch to OEMs. In fact, I left the BU lecture theater after our final capstone presentation to pitch to one of the largest motorbike manufacturers in the world at our facility in the UK.
“After the program, our company has further evolved it into a battery management system that we sell to auto OEMs and battery manufacturers and our value-add to them is the software that manages the energy efficiently, monitors the cells, and extends the life of a battery pack for different applications.”
Kumar came to the program to help refine an idea. He not only did that, but added, “This group really helped accelerate the iterations in the business, gave me access to new relationships, finding resources, being exposed to funding sources and ideas. I made some new contacts that will be valuable through the entrepreneurial journey. We have recently developed some new IP that has allowed us to pitch on a proposal for grid storage at the residential level for 30,000 homes. We are talking to city governments and utilities to help them manage the day and night load through innovative storage solutions at residential level. That’s a whole other direction for us as we continue to find the right niche.”
Applications Due January 16.
To insure a good mix of participants, all applicants will be interviewed. The module-based classes begin February 15 and end May 16.
To learn more about program specifics or to apply, visit http://smg.bu.edu/exec/elc/LeadingCleanEnergyVentures/index.shtml
ArtCereal Credits School of Management Training for Competitive Success
The School of Management (SMG) undergraduates behind the new creative venture ArtCereal have taken top prize at the Boston Startup Weekend and in the Terrier Trap $1K Concept Competition both held recently at Boston University to support entrepreneurs in refining new business concepts.
ArtCereal offers a student art brokerage website, connecting student artwork with buyers. The team behind the idea includes Alessandro Cetera (Marketing and International Management, SMG ’12), John DeFelice (General Management, SMG ’12), Clara Luo (Finance & Marketing, SMG ’12), Dan Stalls (International Management, SMG ’13), Olivia Wilson (Marketing & Entrepreneurship, SMG ’14), and Max Veggeberg (Entrepreneurship, SMG ’12), as well as Nilesh Khaitan (CAS/ENG, ’15), and Arnaud Rouyer and Jenny Ha from beyond BU.
ArtCereal’s Mission: Bringing a Simple Solution to a Nationwide Problem
Says the ArtCereal team, “We wanted to build a business that could provide artists with a platform to showcase and sell their artwork to the community. Many of us have friends who are art majors and often had to throw out or give away paintings because they could no longer store them. Our goal was to take a nationwide problem and develop a simple solution that could become a viable business. Our mission is to make art accessible to everyone and create a marketplace for beautiful, original, and affordable art.”
“After going through SMG’s CORE, we knew what tasks had to be prioritized and how to properly delegate work among team members in order to be efficient.”
About the Competitions: Supporting Entrepreneurs in Refining New Product Concepts
The Boston Startup Weekend was held October 14-16. Participants were given 54 hours to develop a commercial case around a new product in the creative industries. Each team was challenged to construct the framework of their proposed new business, build a web or application presence for it, and present their initiative to a panel of judges drawn from the local startup community. Pitches were judged on three criteria: viability of the business model, execution of presentation, and strategic targeting of customers. In addition to noting ArtCeral’s excellence in each of these areas, the judges also praised ArtCereal for its innovation in filling an untapped market niche.
The Terrier Trap $1K Business Concept Competition, also held on October 14, is another Boston University initiative designed to help students learn about the process of formulating and refining an entrepreneurial idea. Teams presented their business plans to a group of resource experts from the university and local business community, who judged for the commercial potential for the concept, evidence of sound strategic thinking, and quality of written and oral presentation.
Tapping Lessons Learned in the SMG Classroom and Beyond
“Also from our SMG experience, we had a good general sense of how different aspects of a business need to function and work together.”
“Because we only had 54 hours to develop a brief business plan” for the Boston Startup Weekend, says the ArtCereal team, “it was extremely important to have good time management, project organization, and team communication. After going through [the SMG required curriculum] CORE, we knew what tasks had to be prioritized and how to properly delegate work among team members in order to be efficient. We were able to quickly divide into subgroups and had an organized process of what fundamentals needed to be done first, such as market research, defining our target markets, surveys, etc. Also from our SMG experience, we had a good general sense of how different aspects of a business need to function and work together.”
As for what they learned from competing in both events, the team reports, “We saw the importance of having a strong vision and story, and being able to communicate these effectively. Since we had such little time, we had to make sure we stayed focused and kept our vision simple but intriguing, while keeping the communication and team workflow going.”
“We also found it very important to just have fun,” team members add, “especially if what you are doing is going to take up your whole weekend!”
Learn more about ArtCereal.
When a spontaneous acceleration problem led Toyota to recall eight million cars globally and suspend sales of several models in November 2009 and January 2010, the blue-chip corporation faced a momentous challenge. To make matters worse, in February 2010, Toyota suffered another blow when reports surfaced of faulty brakes on the Prius hybrid. The defects have since battered the company’s reputation, resulting in huge losses and sinking consumer confidence.
There are two schools of conventional marketing wisdom on what companies should do in the event of such crises:
- Some experts argue that companies should spend more money and build brand loyalty before any crisis occurs, providing a buffer to declining profits following a crisis.
- Others argue that a portion of advertising budgets should be set aside in case a crisis does occur.
Boston University School of Management’s Shuba Srinivasan, Associate Professor and Dean’s Research Fellow, Marketing, (with co-authors Olivier Rubel and Prasad Naik), in the paper “Optimal Advertising When Envisioning a Product-Harm Crisis,” addresses how companies and their marketing managers can prepare for a potential product harm crisis. The paper, forthcoming in Marketing Science, demonstrates that there is an optimal course of action for incorporating risk into the allocation of marketing resources.
“Marketing managers are better served by spending less on brand loyalty up front and maintaining a reserve for a post-crisis period.”
Using empirical data from the automobile industry, the authors develop a dynamic model of sales growth that assumes a crisis will occur at random times in the future. Their findings complement theoretical models recommending the best advertising budget decisions that incorporate crisis planning. Using the 2000 Ford Explorer rollover problem as an example, they show that Ford’s baseline sales dropped 65 percent immediately following the crisis, which cost the company $3.5 billion. Advertising spend before the crisis was less effective in maintaining sales afterwards, when profits sank.
“Advertising spending after a crisis is more effective in building brand interest than before a crisis.”
The study’s implications suggest that marketing managers and their companies are better served by spending less on building brand loyalty up front and maintaining a reserve for advertising during a post-crisis period. Further, advertising spending after a crisis is more effective in building brand interest than before a crisis.
Overall, product crises are rare, but when they happen they can be devastating to a firm’s brand equity. Managers are well served by setting money aside from their marketing budgets to be available following a potential product crisis event as insurance against the possible damage to long-term brand equity.
More about the paper “Optimal Advertising When Envisioning a Product-Harm Crisis”
For their recent piece in Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Too Good to Fail,” James Post and Fiona Wilson write about the strange case of ShoreBank Corporation, which was shuttered in 2010 for essentially being, they argue, not enough of a big, bad bank to save.
Post is the John F. Smith, Jr. Professor in Management at Boston University School of Management, recent recipient of the Faculty Pioneer for Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aspen Institute, and a widely cited scholar on management and ethics. He and Wilson write,
“On Aug. 20, 2010, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation closed ShoreBank, the nation’s first and leading community bank, and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. The closure was not unexpected. Reports of the bank’s problems—and a potential rescue—had been circulating for months. But the closure brought to a bitter end an iconic example of progressive social enterprise.”
Post and Wilson note the leadership of ShoreBank Corporation throughout its 37 years of existence in the field of social enterprise, citing the following:
- ShoreBank’s for-profit bank subsidiary was the largest certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the nation.
- It made $4.1 billion in mission investments and financed more than 59,000 units of affordable housing.
- In 2008, ShoreBank had more than $2.4 billion in assets and earned more than $4.2 million in net income.
- The organization’s national and international influence ranged from inspiring a national movement of community development financial institutions, shaping federal community investment legislation, and serving as a role model for dozens of progressive banks in the US, as well as managing social and economic development projects in over 60 countries.
Doomed by Washington’s Toxicity?
So, the authors ask, “Why did ShoreBank fail? What lessons can the social enterprise community learn from its record of success? And what can be learned from its closure?”
They argue that, at base, ShoreBank was doomed, at least in part, because of the “toxic politics of Washington today.” For one, the organization suffered by the very fact that it, unlike many Wall Street giants, was not considered “too big to fail.” “Had it been much larger,” they write, “the federal government might have saved it from collapse. But the federal government was not concerned about smaller banks or banks that were socially beneficial, in other words, “too good to fail.”
Moreover, Republican lawmakers, Post and Wilson write, suspicious of their Democratic counterparts’ interest in saving ShoreBank, lead them to reject a bailout for the organization after the financial meltdown in Chicago and beyond threatened its existence.
Lessons from Beyond Politics
“Beyond this lesson in toxic politics, there are several big-picture lessons to be gleaned from the closing of ShoreBank,” the authors write. Some of these include:
- Balance Social Mission with Financial Realities: “An organization’s social mission must be balanced with financial realities. A social mission should serve as a powerful incentive to strengthen an organization’s operating systems from the harsh consequences of the economy, competition, or a hostile environment.”
- Ensure Resources Match Achievement Goals: “ShoreBank also provides a cautionary lesson about new organizational models and resource limitations. There was genius in the idea of using a bank holding company to own and operate for-profit and nonprofit entities focused on the same social mission….At the same time, legitimate questions remain about whether the resources of the holding company were sufficient for the breadth of its activities.”
Read the full article at Stanford Social Innovation Review.