Category: Graduate Students

BU Team Soars at MIT Clean Energy Competition

May 10th, 2013 in Case Competition, Energy & Environment Sector, Entrepreneurship, Graduate Students, News, School, Students

Team Wins First Prize in Energy Efficiency Category

By Mark Dwortzan via BU College of Engineering

A College of Engineering and School of Management team took first prize in the energy efficiency category of the annual MIT Clean Energy Prize on May 6, one of six premiere regional clean energy student business plan competitions in the U.S.

A collaboration between students and faculty from ENG and SMG, the team, Aeolus Building Efficiency, won $20,000 for its business plan and presentation for a full-service company that utilizes software to optimize airflow and reduce energy consumption in large office heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems. The technology could be a game-changer for today’s commercial buildings, which account for 18 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions and 36 percent of national electric utility demand.

Consisting of ENG’s senior Ryan Cruz, Associate Professor Michael Gevelber, and former Professor Donald Wroblewski from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and MBA candidates David Cushman, Jonathan Ellermann, and Benjamin Smith from SMG, Aeolus outperformed 15 other teams from nine states, including three semifinalists representing Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Chicago.

Aeolus drew on ENG members’ expertise in building energy efficiency and HVAC systems optimization, and SMG members’ business development, operations, project management and sustainability experience. The team’s presentation impressed a panel of six judges from academia, government and industry who based their assessments on environmental benefit, creativity, execution and financial strategy, market and customer knowledge, and team strength.

Benjamin Smith (MBA’13) relished the opportunity to compete against outstanding teams and technologies from some of the nation’s top academic institutions. “Not only were we able to develop a comprehensive and compelling business plan, but the competition gave us an opportunity to substantiate that plan with cleantech industry leaders,” he observed. “It was an amazing experience.”

Taking part in the competition reinforced Ryan Cruz’s (ME’13) aspiration to pursue a career in the energy efficiency field. “I was able to learn more about the business side of engineering and aspects of building energy efficiency that I would not have normally been exposed to in the classroom,” he said.

“It was a great learning experience for all the team members, and we’re proud to get BU’s name recognized at such a highly competitive event,” said Gevelber (ME, MSE, SE).  ”We also had great mentoring from other BU faculty in both schools, and received support from BU’s Office of Technology Development, Institute for Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) and Sustainable Neighborhood Lab.”

HVAC systems account for a large portion of energy use in mid- to large-sized buildings, and energy use and cost scales strongly with airflow. This is particularly true in older buildings designed when energy was much cheaper and HVAC systems were designed with high air flow rates. Based on concepts developed by Paul Gallagher (ME, MS’13) in his master’s thesis, Aeolus aims to commercialize its software-based service that enables room-by-room measurement and optimization of airflow rates, thereby reducing energy consumption while maintaining thermal comfort and meeting ventilation requirements.

Invented by Gevelber, Wroblewski, and Gallagher and now being patented by BU, the breakthrough technology uses existing, computer-based building automation systems to reduce large building HVAC energy consumption by up to 20 percent without equipment installation, intensive manual labor or long payback periods.

“What’s amazing about our approach is that the system would take the same time to work on a building the size of Sargent College as it would for the Prudential Center,” Gevelber explained.

Formed in 2007 to help develop a new generation of energy entrepreneurs and companies and sponsored by NSTAR and the U.S. Department of Energy, the MIT Clean Energy Prize offers awards in three categories—renewable energy, infrastructure and resources, and energy efficiency.  The competition’s $20,000 Energy Efficiency Track Prize is sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which seeks to accelerate the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts.

Pictured above is Team Aeolus Building Efficiency: Professor Michael Gevelber (ME, MSE, SE), David Cushman (MBA’14), Jonathan Ellermann (MBA’13), Ryan Cruz (ME’13), and Benjamin Smith (MBA’13) with $20,000 Energy Efficiency Track Prize. (A sixth Aeolus team member, former Professor Donald Wroblewski (ME) was unavailable for the photo.)

MBA Team Wins First Place in P&G Sustainability Challenge

April 30th, 2013 in Case Competition, Energy & Environment Sector, Graduate Students, News, School

BU competition featured eight multidisciplinary teams of undergraduates and graduates; first place team will go on to present ideas to Gillette’s top managers

By Gilberto Millares (IMBA’13) from the BU MBA Student Life blog

Some of Procter & Gamble’s sustainability goals for the future include completely eliminating the waste they currently generate, using only renewable energy in all their facilities, and having environmentally-friendly products and packages. As you might guess, such endeavors present an extremely difficult challenge for a global company, so they are constantly looking for ways to make marginal or disruptive changes in their operations that allow them to be closer to achieving these goals. One of the ways they’re doing this is by sponsoring the P&G Gillette Sustainability Challenge, which brings together multidisciplinary teams from different Boston University schools and colleges and challenges them to come up with ideas that might be applied in P&G operations.

On April 12, eight teams consisting of undergraduate and graduate students from programs including engineering, public policy, biomedical engineering, and management had the opportunity to showcase their findings to a group of managers from P&G Gillette, Veolia, and NSTAR. We presented different ideas that would allow P&G to increase their renewable energy consumption at the South Boston Gillette site by making a business case for each proposed project.

While the format differed a bit from the standard case competition, the results were just as meaningful. Rather than diving into the project for 48 hours, we were given two weeks to find different approaches to help them achieve their goals. And even though it might sound like more than sufficient lead time, we had to fit several seminars into our busy schedules to learn about energy projects throughout the country and the world, research technologies that are being implemented in the industry, and find ways to link business and engineering aspects for each submitted idea—no easy task!

Finally, after all the teams had presented their ideas, we had a small reception as the judges made the final decision. First place was awarded to a team consisting of MBA and IMBA students (pictured above), as well as LEAP, mechanical engineering, and public policy students, who will now have the opportunity to present their pitch to a group of Gillette’s top managers. However, I think the most rewarding aspect of the competition was working with a truly diverse group of people that mimics the diversity and complexities of the business world.

Pictured: The winning team of MBA and IMBA students with the panel of judges from P&G Gillette, Veolia, and NSTAR. Group photo courtesy of the BU MBA Student Life blog.

Homepage image via flickr user Pylon757.

Winners of the 2013 Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health Announced

April 5th, 2013 in Case Competition, Graduate Students, Health Sector, News, School

Fifteen teams competed in first-of-its-kind event hosted by SMG

A team of MBA students from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University won first place in the Grand Business Challenge in Digital Health, sponsored by Merck and hosted by Boston University School of Management on March 21-23, 2013. The event was also sponsored by Microsoft and the MS·MBA Association.

All 15 teams came together for a dinner reception and networking at Microsoft in Cambridge, Mass.

All 15 teams came together for a dinner reception and networking at Microsoft in Cambridge, Mass.

Formerly the International Technology Strategy Case Competition, the two-day event challenged teams of MBA students from the world’s leading business schools to offer their ideas on how Merck could leverage information technology to transform global healthcare and create value for the world. Unlike a traditional case competition, the Grand Business Challenge allowed for networking and cross-team collaboration, utilized a live case, and allowed each team to focus on one of four tracks of digital health: individual, interconnected, information, and international.

On the first day of the event, each team presented their ideas on challenges in one of the four tracks of digital health. A panel of industry judges selected a winning team from each track to compete in the final round of the Grand Business Challenge the following day.

The Fuqua School of Business (pictured above) was awarded first place for their MercKIT solution, a mobile, cloud-based health clinic kit equipped for front line diagnosis and the treatment of infectious diseases. The team also won the Audience Choice Prize.

The second place team from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, developed a patient-centered mobile phone platform, customizable by country and culture, to engage patients in their health and bolster growth in emerging economies.

Boston University School of Management placed third for their concept, the Adhero platform. Using existing digestible sensor technology embedded on pills, the platform would collect data on medication adherence, provide rewards or reminders to patients, and send data back to providers. Fourth place team University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business proposed an online portal that would facilitate information and a sense of community between customers, payers, producers, and providers.

Teams also had the opportunity to win grants from Microsoft BizSpark to further develop their ideas on digital health. The Microsoft BizSpark Challenge winners were teams from IPADE Business School – Mexico, Neeley School of Business, Anderson School of Management, Tepper School of Business, and a team with members from Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and Kenan-Flagler Business School.

The fifteen participating teams were:

  • Boston University School of Management
  • Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business
  • Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business
  • El Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa (IPADE Business School – Mexico)
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School
  • Indian School of Business
  • Seoul National University Business School
  • Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business
  • University of Arizona Eller College of Management
  • University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management
  • University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
  • University of Southern California Marshall School of Business

Read a blog post from the Grand Business Challenge’s Volunteer Coordinator Laura Wasowski (MS·MBA’13) about the event.

    Brazil Field Seminar 2013

    January 11th, 2013 in Brazil Field Seminar, Global Work, Graduate Students, News, PNP

    Group of MBA students traveling to Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Rio De Janeiro

    As part of the annual Brazil Field Seminar trip, a group of MBA students, led by Kristen McCormack, executive-in-residence, senior lecturer, and director of the Public & Nonprofit Management Program, is traveling around the country for two weeks this January to learn firsthand about issues of sustainability, social impact, and entrepreneurship. The group is also blogging daily from Brazil about their experience.

    Thus far, the 2013 trip has included several unique company visits, including Cargill’s Food Innovation Center in Sao Paulo (Cargill is the largest privately held company in Brazil) and Estre, the largest and fastest growing waste management company in Brazil. The group also had an inspiring meeting with three microcredit clients, and spoke with former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

    Of the meeting with the former President, student Ben writes:

    On Brazil’s current leadership, President Cardoso offered his opinion on current President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor President Lula De Silva, both of whom are members of the opposition party, the more liberal workers party. President Cardoso is a supporter of business and believes that the current leadership is intervening too much.   He described the popular Lula as a “pragmatic leader, who is flexible in his principles.”  When asked what makes a great leader, President Cardoso said that what the world needs for great change are giants, and what makes a giant is not someone who imposes his will on the people but rather someone who can persuade others to agree.

    We asked if he was pleased with his own accomplishments and with the future potential of Brazil.  He said “We are making progress…my son and daughter will live better than myself.” He explained that Brazil truly can be a super power, with relatively strong growth, high exports, and huge economic potential, but the focus now needs to change from that quantity to quality: “Look at Denmark, it has a low GDP but a high quality of life.”

    His final piece of advice, and my personal favorite quote of the meeting was: ”Be flexible in your behavior and be consistent in your principles.”

    Follow the Brazil Field Seminar team blog through January 18, or learn more about the Brazil Field Seminar.

    Pictured above is the 2013 Brazil Field Seminar group with Cargill staff at Cargill’s Food Innovation Center in Sao Paulo. Photo via the Brazil Field Seminar blog.

    MBAs Award $10K Foundation Grant to Shelter

    December 10th, 2012 in Graduate Students, News, PNP, Social Impact

    Management students learn and lead grant-making process

    A team of seven Boston University graduate students awarded a $10,000 grant from the Highland Street Foundation to Housing Families Inc. on December 6 to improve the shelter’s technology infrastructure. “As part of the Strategic Fundraising and Corporate Philanthropy class,” said David Stolow, Faculty Director of the Public and Nonprofit MBA program, “the student team operated as a small foundation. They set priorities, designed an application and review process, and conducted in-depth site visits.”

    The student team received initial applications from 21 shelter providers, and selected ten to submit full proposals, before choosing Health Families to receive the grant. The student team was composed of full-time and part-time MBA students, and a student from the BU School of Social Work. “The Public and Nonprofit MBA program emphasizes authentic projects. We challenge students to apply their rigorous management skills to address urgent and complex social issues,” said Stolow. “The philanthropy project exemplifies our approach and we’re grateful to the Highland Street Foundation and its Youth Philanthropy Initiative for its generous support of this project.”

    In photo: Boston University students and Highland Street Foundation members present a check to Housing Families Inc, a local shelter.

    First Eight Teams Advance in 2013 New Venture Competition

    November 8th, 2012 in Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Graduate Students, News, School, Students, Undergraduate Students

    Entrepreneurial Success Starts With a Strong Pitch

    Would you shop at a natural products convenience store? Can you think of a way to use a portable hologram projector? These were two of the 25 new business ideas proposed at the Pitch & Pizza event on October 26, the first stage in the three-part 2013 New Venture Competition. Open to the public, the New Venture Competition features BU students and alumni competing for the opportunity to win a spot in BU’s Startup Summer Camp and a package of startup legal consulting worth $10,000.

    From October’s Pitch & Pizza, eight teams or individuals advanced to the semifinals in March (listed below, and pictured in the video above).

    BU students and alumni with a business idea are invited to enter the next round of Pitch & Pizza on Friday, February 1, 2013. Applications will open in January.

    The first stage of the New Venture Competition, Pitch & Pizza, is simply a 60-second verbal pitch for a new business. The judges allow visual aids, but no PowerPoint. In the semifinals (Friday, March 1, 2013), the deliverable is an executive summary and presentation to a panel of experts. At the finals (Wednesday, April 3), teams will deliver a five-minute presentation and executive summary to angel investors.

    Executive-in-Residence, Lecturer, and event director Beth Goldstein said, “[The judges] were all impressed with the range of business concepts presented at Pitch & Pizza I, and we look forward to seeing more at Pitch & Pizza II in February and how all the winning entrepreneurs move forward with their projects. To support their efforts, we’ve developed a new program called our Terrier Track New Venture Workshops, which we’ll begin rolling out as soon as students return for their spring semester in January. These will be 90-minute intensive workshops every Friday afternoon, led by experts in launching businesses. Anybody can participate and we’re planning on offering this on the cloud so our alumni can also watch.”

    The New Venture Competition is sponsored by the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC), housed in Boston University School of Management, and first stage judges include SMG entrepreneurship faculty, invited alumni, and sponsors from the venture capital, legal, and entrepreneurship worlds.

    The eight October 26 Pitch & Pizza teams that will advance to the March semifinals are:

    • Consumer Website Help, Peter Smith (BSBA’13)
    • Customized Cupcake Bar, Jill Acquarulo, (BSBA’13), Soleil Schwabe (BSBA’13), and Emily Burdett (BSBA’13)
    • DiagnosQuick (People’s Choice Winner), Timothy Chanoux (BSBA’13)
    • euMetrica Project, Dmitri Boulanov (ENG’10)
    • I.Deal.Lokal, Sinisa Baranac (BSBA’13)
    • NineBrain, Inc., Arun Rai, (MED’14) and Ruby Kandah
    • Read Ahead, Matt Uvena (MS·MBA’14)
    • TownRally, Asad Butt (MBA/MS in Media Ventures ’12)

    To learn more details about the New Venture Competition, visit ITEC’s website.




    BU to Host 1st Annual Global Health Sector Interdisciplinary Case Competition

    October 26th, 2012 in Case Competition, Graduate Students, News, School, Students

    Twelve elite teams to compete in DePuy Synthes Spine-sponsored challenge

    The 1st Annual Global Health Sector Interdisciplinary Case Competition is an invitation-only 24-hour case competition that challenges top MBA students to solve a health sector market challenge related to medical devices in the global health sector.

    Eleven student teams from the world’s leading MBA programs will join host BU to compete before industry judges, including senior leadership from event sponsor DePuy Synthes. The competition is unique due to its interdisciplinary nature; in addition to MBA students, every team must also include a public health, medicine, engineering, or law student.

    The competition recognizes the best up-and-coming MBA strategists who understand real-world business issues within the health sector and can create valuable recommendations for DePuy Synthes Spine. Additionally, student teams are able to showcase their talents to top executives in the health sector field.

    “Case competitions are great practice for working in a high functioning team to deliver a quality solution under a very tight timetable,” said Sam Schweizer, MBA’13 in Health Sector Management, who is helping to project manage the case competition and related events. “This competition is also a fantastic opportunity to network with students from other graduate schools and judges from the business world.”

    Participating schools include:

    • Boston University School of Management
    • CEIBS (China Europe International Business School)
    • Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
    • Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
    • Harvard Business School, Harvard University
    • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
    • IPADE Business School, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico
    • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
    • Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
    • Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College and The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science

    The top three teams will receive cash prizes of $20,000, $7,500, and $5,000, respectively.

    Boston University School of Management hosted an internal competition October 6-7, 2012 to select BU’s case competition team. “The field was very strong,” said Mark Allan, faculty director of the School’s Health Sector Management Program.

    The winning team chosen to represent Boston University consisted of three MBA students, Anshu Mironi, Matt Scott, and David Spotts, and one dual MD/MBA student, Sunil Nair. “The internal selection round gave the winning team a chance to work together in the competitive setting,” said Schweizer.

    The 1st Annual Global Health Sector Interdisciplinary Case Competition is scheduled for November 1-3, 2012, with final presentations, an award ceremony, and a reception scheduled for Saturday, November 3. For more information and to RSVP for final presentations, please visit the case competition website. Events are open to the entire BU community.

    To read more about MBA student Sam Schweizer’s experience planning the event, visit the MBA Student Blog.

    School Systems Need Management Systems Too

    October 26th, 2012 in Graduate Students, News, Students

    Education Pioneers: Career Options Beyond the Classroom

    Sometimes internships can reveal unforeseen opportunities.

    With summer 2012 internships as Education Pioneer fellows, six Boston University full-time MBAs, all class of 2013 students with a concentration in the Public & Nonprofit Program, worked on diverse projects, and all for the cause of better public school management. Each came away with a new understanding of how education works—and how management principles can make things work better.

    Education Pioneers (EP) is a national program that focuses on attracting leadership and management talent for positions in school systems outside the classroom. The program exposes business students to the research, management, and organizational challenges that are similar to those in many businesses and nonprofits.

    Dana Connolly worked in San Francisco with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), a network of 125 charter schools serving more than 39,000 students across the country. “My specific role,” says Connolly, “was to support the Talent Team, which is responsible for the acquisition, development, and retention of ‘superstars’ who will maintain the extraordinary momentum of The KIPP Foundation, which supports the KIPP network.” She created the group’s first ever “State of the Talent” report to analyze trends in turnover rates, professional development opportunities, alignment with core values, and other aspects that define the nature of the talent at the Foundation.

    Pammi Bhullar chose to become an EP fellow “to gain a deeper understanding of the education sector, and to learn how knowledge of organizational development can help to improve student achievement.” She worked at Boston Public Schools (BPS) in the Finance and Budget Office, where she collaborated with central office and school leaders to build a culture of documenting and effectively communicating policies and procedures.

    “By the end of the internship,” Bhullar says, “I documented fifteen processes,
    created a standard template for future documentation, and created a centralized location in the form of a wiki for school leaders and department heads, among other tasks. Hopefully our work will enable BPS to decrease the time spent on transactional issues and more time on empowering school leaders to make financial decisions.”

    At Educate Texas, Matt Roper worked on the programmatic strategies tied to organizational goals: more effective teachers and more students with the access and skills required for postsecondary education. “My main role,” Roper explained, “involved identifying specific metrics to measure the performance of their strategies and the progress toward their organizational goals.”

    Sonal Dhingra spent her EP summer traveling across the US making movies. “My project was to create the digital and social media presence for Curriculum Associates’ relatively new education-technology product, i-Ready. This footage will be used to build up the organization’s YouTube channel and expand CA’s social media footprint.”

    With her noneducational background (State Street and then AmeriCorps), Dhingra says, “I basically thought you could only be a teacher or a principal in education. But after this summer, I’ve learned that there are so many more things going on in this sector, and I’m excited to see firsthand that digital and social media marketing are a part of it.”

    “Prior to the fellowship, I’ve worked as a management consultant focusing on process redesign among other roles,” says Renato Orozco. He became an EP Fellow to learn how to use data analysis, monitoring, and evaluation to drive impact in the social field. Orozco’s assignment was with Teach For America in New York City, and his work helped the organization to make changes in teachers’ preparation, support, and development.

    “Apart from the high level workshops that deepened my understanding of education, the relationship-building with other like-minded fellows was fantastic,” Orozco says. He paired up with other EP fellows who had innovative ideas for start-up social ventures.

    “In October, we’ll be launching a pilot project in two Brazilian towns. It’s a youth-led, community-executed approach to social and economic development in small towns. It uses common methods and tools that businesses employ to reduce cost or raise productivity, but we use them to reduce infant mortality or to raise school performance.”

    “While I was already certain that I would return to the field of education after business school,” says Rachel Alexander, “the fellowship helped me refine my understanding of the type of organization where I’d like to work: one that is nimble, collaborative, and moving the field forward in a significant way.” Alexander worked with Boston After School and Beyond, a public-private partnership dedicated to supporting, strengthening, and expanding Boston’s after-school sector.

    “I researched funding sources and best practices to build a comprehensive development strategy for 2013,” says Alexander. “The program catalyzes partnerships between school staff, community-based out-of-school-time providers, and other key stakeholders, allowing them to align their work and match more students with quality summer and after-school programs.”

    Public & Nonprofit Program Faculty Director David Stolow commented that the school’s partnership with Education Pioneers enables BU’s MBA students to apply management skills across multiple sectors. “Our Education Pioneers worked in diverse settings. The common bond in their experience was the opportunity to apply core ideas from their management education to create value for students, schools, and communities.”

    In photo: Six MBA’13 students completed internships with Education Pioneers. Front, from left, Renato Orozco and Matt Roper. Back, from left, Dana Connolly, Sonal Dhingra, Rachel Alexander, and Pammi Bhullar.

    Diego Torres-Palma (MBA’13) Leads the Bow Tie Revolution

    October 25th, 2012 in Entrepreneurship, Graduate Students, News, Student Activities, Students

    Torres-Palma is cofounder of OoOTie, Boston’s only online bow tie boutique

    Excerpts from BU Today:

    Dressed in a blue oxford shirt and neatly pressed khakis, Diego Torres-Palma looks like any other MBA student. But what sets the 26-year-old entrepreneurial engineer apart is his choice of neckwear. On this particular day, it happens to be a butterfly style, three-inch paisley silk bow tie.

    As cofounder of OoOTie, Boston’s only online bow tie boutique, Torres-Palma (GSM’13) is an ambassador for what has become one of the hippest accessories in men’s fashion. In 2010, he and friends Matthew Pearlson and Adrian Rodriguez (both MIT grads) set out to hatch a business. They noticed that bow ties were showing up more often in fashion magazines and on celebrities, and knew they had their product. The company launched that year with only an iPhone app and a smattering of followers on Facebook and Twitter.

    OoOTie sold some 600 bow ties last year, many of them custom orders for weddings and bow tie diehards. The three-year-old business is projected to sell 1,000 bow ties this year.

    Read the full story and see more videos on BU Today.

    Students Devote Summer to Aid Small Businesses

    September 17th, 2012 in Graduate Students, News, School, Undergraduate Students

    BU Urban Business Accelerator Wins for Students and Businesses

    Lecturer Erik Molander (lower left) and the summer 2012 BUBA teams.

    Lecturer Erik Molander (lower left), Nathan Bernard (BSBA'12) ( third from left in back row), and the summer 2012 BUBA teams.

    Some business students just don’t relax. Even over the summer.

    As a junior, Nathan Bernard (BSBA’12) pitched an idea to Ken Freeman, the Allen Questrom Professor and Dean, about providing microfinancing to Boston-area small businesses. The dean was interested, but wanted more details.

    During his senior year, Bernard’s goal was to apply his skills in an arena that would help others, particularly in underserved areas of the city, and in the process hopefully create his own job. He worked with numerous members of the School’s Institute for Technology and Entrepreneurship Commercialization (ITEC) community, including Kristen McCormack, Peter Russo, Beth Goldstein, and Ian Mashiter, and was eventually steered to SMG Strategy & Innovation Lecturer Erik Molander, who became the program’s mentor.

    Part of Bernard’s preparation involved door-to-door research—he interviewed more than 180 small companies to ascertain their needs. Through his previous international experience he discussed the concept with the organization ACCION, a global nonprofit that has been microlending for years. People in the local office of ACCION told Bernard that businesses first need better organized financials and bookkeeping in order to apply for loans.

    “Then it all clicked,” Bernard says. “Microlending is probably covered. We shifted to thinking this would be a superb opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and for businesses to get much-needed help in an area where they probably lacked expertise. Plus it was a much better way for students to see small businesses up close, and help those entrepreneurs advance, financially and educationally.” He went back to the dean with his revised plan and the dean was impressed—so much so that he suggested the names of a few alumni who might be willing to help Bernard finance the project. Joel Carlton-Gysan (MBA’12) and Jeffery Khan, both of the development and alumni office, provided guidance in successfully working with the alumni.

    With the alumni funds secured, Bernard recruited students and businesses and launched the pilot of the BU Urban Business Accelerator this past summer with the help and daily guidance of Molander.

    The 2012 BUBA summer clients were D’Benny’s, a pizza shop and A. Dalliance, a fashion boutique, both in the Field’s Corner section of Dorchester. “In each case,” Bernard says, “students did research for industry norms, looked at the client’s specific business for gaps and similarities, and then used QuickBooks to help the business owners organize their financial records and comb the data for ways to cut costs. They then taught the owners how to do it themselves.”

    The two summer pilot teams totaled six undergrads and two MBAs, and were drawn from both the School of Management as well as economics and international relations majors from the College of Arts and Science.

    Bernard says, “Most of the students were surprised how much work goes into a small owner-operated business. It’s extremely hard to stay organized while running the day-to-day operations, maintain customer service, keep the inventory well-stocked, and so on.

    “Owning your own business, especially in a less affluent neighborhood, is not an easy way to make a living. There are few vacations and little help. It’s all on you and there’s real value for idealistic students to witness a small business owner’s life,” Bernard added.

    “The dean and ITEC have been extremely supportive,” says Bernard, “Dean Freeman has the School sponsoring us for this fall semester, along with financial support from the BU Center for Finance Law and Policy. From what we learned this summer, we set up six new BUBA client businesses and student teams for this fall.”

    The program is already a success by another measure as well. On September 20th, Nathan Bernard gave his entrepreneurial pitch on MSNBC’s Your Business.

    As one might imagine, Bernard’s confidence is boundless. “There are tons of businesses across the country that could benefit from help provided by university students. And I just happen to know a few…so my hope—my plan—is to make this a national program powered by BU.”

    See an article from The Huffington Post on BUBA.