TMMBA Study Groups: Team Confluence

Team Confluence
(L-R) Mary Minoo, Program Manager, Microsoft; Frank Sellinger, Deployment Network Engineer, AOL; Phillip Allison, Regional Account Manager, Datalight Inc; Erin Aselas, Web Team Leader, Bastyr University; Hani Rachidi, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft.

Meet Team Confluence

Team Confluence has discovered the key to success – equipped with a unique blend of business skills and expertise, these five teammates have launched their innovative business venture (TrueLight FLIIP) and secured a position in the Sweet Sixteen Round of the UW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

Phillip Allison: I’m currently working as an Account Manager responsible for software licensing and business development. For the past six years my work has focused on global business development in the technology industry; prior to that period, I spent ten years working in several fields as an engineer. I chose the TMMBA Program because of the excellent faculty and the central theme of technology within the business education, which aligned well with my experience and aspirations.

Erin Aselas: I am not your standard-issue TMMBA student. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Classics. My 12 year career has primarily been in the non-profit industry with very little to do with technology. However, through the years, I have been repeatedly asked to serve in the role of layman-IT liaison (if you will). I was always the one assigned to work with IT to figure out solutions for the rest of the non-IT groups (primarily operational and marketing-related solutions). It hasn’t been until the last four years of my career that this has actually been my full-time position. Now I serve as the team leader for the web team at Bastyr University. The odd thing is I am a member of the marketing team and not the IT team. I consider myself a full-time marketer, but some days will find me wearing my ‘code and spec’ hat. While it can be a challenge to balance these two things, we have found it is the most effective way for our two teams to meet common goals, and I enjoy the variety it offers.

I think it is this background that led me to choose the UW TMMBA Program. I knew I wanted to pursue a Foster MBA, but I specifically chose the TMMBA Program because I enjoy interacting with technology professionals. I find they are often pensive, humble and curious. These are qualities I value, and I felt like I could get more out of the experience by joining a group that carefully and analytically considers new ideas and concepts.

Mary Minoo: I’m currently working as Program Manager at Microsoft in the online advertising space. I previously worked for a wireless start up that provided location based services to major carriers (6 years project management).

Hani Rachidi: I am at the intersection of business and technology and have a passion for creating solutions in the enterprise computing space. I have over a decade of experience leading and contributing to high impact application development and business process transformation in the world’s leading firms. Currently, I’m a Senior Program Manager leader at Microsoft Corporation in their Enterprise Experience division working on billing and pricing scenarios for cloud services. The Technology Management MBA was the best option for me to broaden my perspective and skills while accelerating my career.

Frank Sellinger: Currently I’m working as a Technical Project Manager and Senior Deployment Engineer for AOL Mobile. In the past, I have held many technology related positions from systems administration to data center management. I chose TMMBA because I felt it was a good match for my work background and would enable me to pursue my business goals while still focusing on technology. Another important factor was that it fit my schedule and time goals.

How do you benefit from the different perspectives that your colleagues bring to the study group?

Mary: My teammates’ diverse backgrounds lead to richer conversations around the course work. The continuous exposure to a broader set of ideas, opinions, and problem solving approaches has expanded how I think about business and how I tackle problems in my current job.

Frank: In many ways, I believe that the team experience is the most important aspect of this program.  It forces you to work with other people that may not always have the same goals and ideals as you.  By doing this, you learn how to compromise, resolve conflict, negotiate, and cooperate. All of these skills are a value-add for any organization that you may end up working with.

What has been your favorite class and why?

Erin: I really enjoyed Financial Reporting and Analysis (aka Accounting) first quarter.  I am sure for many this is an odd choice, but I have always enjoyed the financial roles I have had in my various career positions, and I was pleased to discover that my interests and abilities are well aligned. This course has helped me shape my post-TMMBA career plan, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been taught by Frank Hodge who is an excellent practitioner and very effective instructor.

Mary: My favorite class has been Marketing High-Technology Products and Services. Coming from an operations background, I’ve had little exposure to marketing, let alone marketing philosophies. This class changed the way I think about the marketing function and provided me with a framework to make informed marketing decisions and develop smart marketing plans.

How have the TMMBA and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) networks been beneficial to you?

Phillip: I’ve met many people through the program, not only in my class, but also at networking events with the UW, the CIE, and the UW Center for Commercialization (UWC4C). At the UWC4C monthly social events, I’ve made network connections with entrepreneurs, investors, and university researchers; they’ve introduced me to many intriguing technologies and individuals. I’m confident that this network will continue to expand and provide me with opportunities that would otherwise not be presented to me.

Erin: I believe that it is highly likely that our next career opportunity will come from the TMMBA network.  We have bonded over the last 18 months; we understand each other’s world view, know each other’s unique talents, and respect each other’s intellect and integrity. I know if an opportunity comes around that I think is a good fit for a classmate, I will definitely present that opportunity to him/her and I believe the same courtesy would be extended to me.

CIE has provided great exposure to the tech commercialization and entrepreneurial community in Seattle. We have met and been advised by investment bankers, lawyers, VCs, start-up entrepreneurs, industry experts, you name it. It has been an invaluable experience and a great complement to the classroom.

Why did you decide to participate in the CIE Business Plan Competition (BPC)?

Phillip: I decided to participate because of the excellent opportunity to develop a full business plan for commercializing this revolutionary technology and then having the forum to present it to the entrepreneurial and investment community.

Frank: I decided to participate in the BPC because it’s a place where the rubber meets the road. It also gives you invaluable insight on how classroom subject matters are applied in a business setting. Not all classroom theory is applicable in real-world scenarios.

How has the BPC added to your TMMBA experience?

Mary: Overall the experience has been challenging but very rewarding – challenging in that we’ve taken on work above and beyond our course commitments.  We all work full-time, so squeezing in an extra project requires some serious sacrifice and team dedication.  However, the process of integrating and applying our MBA skills has not only helped solidify certain skills and concepts, it has transformed theoretical class work into something very real and useful.  Additionally, the feedback we’ve received from the business community has been invaluable. I can honestly say all the extra effort is well worth it.

Hani: The business plan brought together my passion for entrepreneurship with strong business fundamentals. I am responsible for our marketing plan and strategy. I drew most heavily on my Entrepreneurship course and the two Marketing courses. The concepts in those courses, like the technology adoption lifecycle, 4Ps, and branding, translated very well into the BPC.

Frank: As a team, we were able to apply much of the classroom subject matter to our business plan. We touched on subjects from finance, accounting, entrepreneurship, marketing, management and organizational strategies, and public speaking. I would recommend that everyone try the BPC in order to gain invaluable experience applying newly learned topics and subjects to an actual business idea; it really puts the program into perspective and gives you a springboard to the business/startup world. Finally, it gives you the opportunity to think on your feet – nothing is static and numerous adjustments are needed when navigating the BPC.

Congratulations to the 2010 Business Plan Competition Winners!

We had a record 92 student teams from 15 universities apply to participate in the competition. Over 120 judges devoted a full week-end the beginning of April to screen that group down to 36 teams—and provide feedback. At the Investment Round in late April, those 36 teams pitched their hearts out to 205 judges in the HUB Ballroom—and 16 advanced to the next round. Yesterday the Sweet 16 teams made their full presentations to another set of judges.  Six highly credible teams made it to the Final Round, where they presented to seven entrepreneur judges.

The next generation of start-ups are focused on recycled glass for building materials, windows that turn sunlight into energy, helping Korean students learn English, mobile payments, camera systems at mountain resorts to capture and share the activities of enthusiasts, devices for rapid quantitative immunoassays, measuring fat loss, and enhancing the wheelchair-bound person’s ability to walk, and a revolutionary enzyme that can mix with clay to build roads.  We would like to thank the judges, sponsors, volunteers, faculty, and our colleagues at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Central Washington, Edmonds CC, Embry-Riddle, Gonzaga, North Seattle CC, Seattle Central CC, Seattle Pacific, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, Western Washington, and Washington State University.

$25,000 Herbert B. Jones Foundation Grand Prize
YongoPal, UW
A service for South Korean university students that allows them to practice conversational English with their American peers via webcam, and that also allows university students in America to profit from those interactions.
Kyung Hee Yun, BA in Political Science; Jon Hickey, Master of Communication in Digital Media; Darien Brown and Daron Hall

$10,000 Bristlecone-Selamat Challenge Second Prize
Empowering Engineering Technologies, UW
EETech is developing a medical device called ExoWalk that utilizes patented ExoTendon technology to dramatically reduce the muscular force required to walk, enabling people with wheelchairs to stand up and walk their way to better qualities of life.
Brian Glaister, PhD in Mechanical Engineering; Katie Mulholland, MS in Mechanical Engineering; Chie Kawahara; and Jason Schoen

$5,000 Fenwick & West Finalist Prize
Febris, WSU
Produces a point of care viral diagnostic, based on patented processes, that can detect a viral infection days before the subject manifests physical symptoms and becomes contagious.
Jason Burt, MBA; Alice Lombard, DVM-Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; Andrew Lombard, MBA; and Michael Whittaker, MBA

$5,000 WRF Capital Finalist Prize
Emergent Detection, UW and UWT
Working to solve the worldwide obesity epidemic with its handheld device that immediately and directly measures personal fat loss in the home user.
Eric Fogel, Eve MBA; Joel Gjuka, MBA -UWT; Keegan Hall, MBA -UWT; Amanda Mathes, Eve MBA

BEST IDEA PRIZES
The BEST IDEA prizes were created to reward teams in the Business Plan Competition for their exceptional work in several different categories. The teams receiving these prizes were selected by a special group of judges during the Investment Round. This year we gave away SIX $2,500 Best Idea Prizes.

OVP Venture Partners Best Technology Idea
Empowering Engineering Technologies
, UW
EETech is developing a medical device called ExoWalk that utilizes patented ExoTendon technology to dramatically reduce the muscular force required to walk, enabling people with wheelchairs to stand up and walk their way to better qualities of life.
Brian Glaister, PhD in Mechanical Engineering; Katie Mulholland, MS in Mechanical Engineering; Chie Kawahara; and Jason Schoen

Synapse Product Development Best Consumer Product Idea
Native Roots
, WSU and U of Idaho
Positioned to become a major supplier of native plants, the breeding program currently has 40 native plant varieties in position to be patented with plant variety patents (PVPs).
Kathryn Leonard, MBA – WSU; Casey Neumeyer, BS Agribusiness – U of Idaho; and Mac Reynolds

Perkins Coie Best Innovation Idea
GreenStone International, Seattle U
Has developed a revolutionary enzyme that when mixed and compacted with clay creates a durable, low cost, waterproof and environmentally friendly road with a lifespan of more than 15 years.
James Spaulding, MBA; Heidi Han Yu, MBA; Emily Marshall, MBA; Ping Chee; John Craig; and Dick Polley 

DLA Piper Best Service/Retail Idea
Snovision, UW and Seattle Central Community College
Automated camera systems for mountain resorts that allow their terrain park participants to capture, share and further enjoy their mountain experience at home through our online community.
Rob Hammond, MBA; Jonas Harris, BA International Business; Josh Scotland, Undergrad CS and Business; Scott Stucker, Associate of Applied Sciences in Graphic Design; Sterling Swigart, Undergrad CS; Eli Rosenberg, MBA; and Robert Capogna

Sensors in Motion Best Sustainable Advantage Idea
WISErg, WSU
Will provide earth-friendly solutions to the growing problems of food waste disposal and energy consumption by offering a unique food-to-fuel solution to the nation’s largest consumers, starting with Fortune 500 corporate campuses.
Brandon Baker, Undergrad Business; Jaimee Jewell, Undergrad Business; Larry LeSueur; and Jose Lugo

Keeler Investments Best Clean-Tech Idea
EnVitrum, UW
Using the consumer glass waste stream to produce 100% recycled building materials and agricultural products.
Serena Batten, TMMBA; Scott Coil, Eve MBA; Grant Marchelli, MS Mechanical Engineering; and Renuka Prabhakar, BS Mechanical Engineering

Khoo TIME: Foster alumnus an influential entrepreneur

TIME magazine has named the founders of Seattle-based Internet comic strip Penny Arcade among its 2010 “TIME 100,” a roster of the world’s most influential people. While recognizing the artist/writer duo of Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins as the “tastemakers, and conscience,” of the massive computer gaming industry, the magazine also credits Foster School of Business grad Robert Khoo (BA 2000), Penny Arcade’s business director who turned an obscure comic into a mighty—and fiercely independent—media empire.

With Khoo at the helm of business affairs, Penny Arcade catalyzes a tight-knit Web community of 3.5 million hardcore gamers, throws an annual expo called PAX that draws 60,000 fans to Seattle each summer, and runs Child’s Play, a thriving charity that delivers video games to 60 children’s hospitals around the world.

State of the economy with faculty Hadjimichalakis and Rice

The 2010 MBA State of the Economy forum at the University of Washington Foster School of Business with finance and economics faculty members Karma Hadjimichalakis and Ed Rice covered issues related to our national economy, European trends, state and local economic issues as a result of the recent budget crisis, health care reform and more. This event is an annual series for Foster alumni.

RSS Missed the event? Listen to the 50-minute MBA State of the Economy podcast.

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The ABCs of LEED

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganIt is almost impossible these days for there to be a discussion about building or development that does not include discussion of LEED, an internationally-adopted third party certification of environmental excellence in metrics related to energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to impacts.

LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” was initiated by Robert Watson in 1993 to:

  • Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement
  • Promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • Stimulate green competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • Transform the building market

Although it is not the only certification system for sustainability, it is certainly the best known. With the broad-based efforts of the US Green Building Council, LEED has become the global sustainability certification standard for everything from building design to interiors to whole neighborhoods.  And, oh yes, for people, too! 

Increasingly, public agencies are requiring or incentivizing compliance with LEED standards in new construction. In addition, many believe that LEED accreditation of buildings and neighborhoods offer a real market advantage for people who want to live and work in healthy, environmentally-responsible settings.

Individuals can become accredited as either LEED Green Associates or LEED APs through a program administered by the Green Building Certification Institute. The Institute offers educations and seminars, and certifies environmental expertise through a testing program. 

LEED certification can open doors to the green economy for minority entrepreneurs in architecture, construction, planning, engineering or design. It represents official recognition of expertise in sustainability from the industry, and it is a way for you to become current with state-of-the-art business practices in the new green economy.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She writes the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Foster MBA alumnus lands crossword puzzles in LA and NY Times

What does it take to create a crossword puzzle of sufficient challenge and cleverness to be published in the New York Times? A bona fide polymath, well-read and widely-experienced. A serious student of popular culture, equally versed in history, sport, art, science, architecture, medicine, warfare, European languages—a renaissance man.

Jeff ChenFoster MBA alumnus Jeff Chen fits the bill. An entrepreneur, personal wealth manager, writer, rock climber and world traveler, Chen is also an avid puzzle-solver. A friend turned him on to the venerable New York Times daily crossword a couple of years ago. “It was love at first sight,” he says.

Last year he began composing his own. He’s already had four published in the Los Angeles Times and his first puzzle was recently accepted for the New York Times, a gold standard in the crossworld.

Chen says constructing crosswords is as much a test of strategy as vocabulary. He begins with a theme that ties together four or five long answers, and then builds around them. Devising appropriate, accurate, pithy clues is an art in and of itself.

Crossword puzzles are not a lucrative hobby. Each one takes Chen 15 to 20 hours to complete—before revisions. He has created 30-something puzzles and sold only five, each fetching between $85 and $200.

Entrepreneur, wealth manager, globe trotter, writer
It doesn’t threaten to supplant Chen’s day job. After earning his MBA from the University of Washington Foster School in 2002, Chen helped launch Acucela, developer of a novel treatment for degenerative eye disease. Since leaving Acucela last year, he has done private wealth management and is working on a new venture (currently undisclosed) with some friends. He has been an active board member with local non-profits Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Passages Northwest and Treehouse and recently traveled to Bolivia to examine microfinance operations for Global Partnerships.

Chen is also 90,000 words into his first novel, a story set at school in the mountains of Peru where kids learn how to be secret defenders of justice. “My brother and I were talking about how sad it was that there would never be another Harry Potter book,” he says. “So about two years ago I decided to write something that could start a similar kind of series. I’m not a published author, but I thought I’d give it a try.”

Chen still challenges himself daily with the puzzles of both newspapers (each escalates in difficulty from Monday forward), and says he can complete a New York Times Friday puzzle 75 percent of the time.

Match wits with Jeff Chen’s recent 2010 Monday and Tuesday Los Angeles Times puzzles.

CISB alumni endowed fund for student travel video

Recently, some students got together and made a video to talk about their CISB experience. Check it out below!

Please support the CISB program by making a gift here. Your gift will go towards the CISB Alumni Endowed Fund for Student Travel. It will help insure that current and future CISB stuents will benefit from the rich experiences, diverse environments and practical experience that are gained when one studies or works abroad.

Care to make your gift in honor of a current CISB student? Make sure you put their name in the Comments field.

Thank you for your interest in supporting CISB students!

Nanocel takes a novel approach to cooling electronics

Dustin Miller and Daniel Rossi show off their productThere are big problems and then there are BIG problems. Cooling electronics, for example. How do you keep large server farms from overheating and how can you extend the battery life of laptops and other portable electronics? “We are currently using over three percent of the nation’s energy on cooling the Internet,” says Dustin Miller, PhD candidate in mechanical engineering and the co-founder, with UW MBA Daniel Rossi, of Nanocel.  The company, which won the $25,000 grand prize at the UW’s Business Plan Competition in May 2009, is introducing affordable fluid-based cooling systems for computer chips.  “Industry calculations say that fluid-based cooling could cut energy use in half,” explained Miller. “That’s a staggering amount.”

Nanocel’s technology uses a combination of microfluidics and novel, moldable plastic materials to cool devices more cheaply than other liquid-based systems and more efficiently than cooling fans. The products use thousands to millions of very thin (between one and 100 micrometers wide) vessels to circulate tiny amounts of liquid in close contact with the computer chips or other device components prone to overheating.  The original process was developed at the University of Washington for food packaging.  “So, for the cost of a coffee cup, you can have a heat sink that used to be made out of copper,” Rossi added.

Rossi’s market research demonstrated that Nanocel wouldn’t have to look far for potential customers and partners. Computer chip manufacturers and designers are obvious candidates, but Nanocel is also talking with companies that make gaming consoles, servers and hardware. “There are tons of shelf-ready products that can’t go to market because they’re too hot,” Rossi says. Fans aren’t powerful enough to cool them down, and liquid technologies are too pricey.

Since the competition, the Nanocel founders have incorporated the company and are gearing up for their first angel funding round in early 2010.

(We’d like to thank Rachel Tompa, Xconomy Seattle, who wrote a longer version of this article. The full story is here.)