Food trucks are not a fad. There are over 80 operating in Seattle currently and the number continues to grow. If you want to know what it’s like to start and operate a food truck, this is your chance. SmallFoodBiz.com blogger and author of Food On Wheels, Jennifer Lewis, will lead a panel discussion with food truck entrepreneurs Molly Neitzel, Molly Moon’s; Josh Henderson, Skillet; and Marshall Jett, Veraci Pizza. Jennifer, along with the panel, will cover everything from permitting and budgeting to executing on your idea to becoming profitable.
The challenges of owning a food truck are real. Food truck restaurateurs have to worry about competition, not only from restaurants but also from other food trucks. There are also other considerations: cost, location, rules and regulations, and marketing a business that moves. We’ll also talk about the amazing food truck craze. The initial impression was that it’s low rent food, but it’s actually delicious, high quality cuisine sought by foodies all over the Northwest. Join us for this insightful panel discussion about the business of operating a food truck.
Food on Wheels Panel Discussion
Wednesday, October 17 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Anthony’s Forum, 320 Business Hall
Food trucks will also be open for business! Molly Moon’s, Veraci Pizza, and Monte Cristo will be serving food from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. on October 17 on the Business Hall Promenade.
Chris Fryday is a second year MBA candidate at the Foster School of Business. He is focusing on entrepreneurship and general management within the MBA program, as well as pursuing an Environmental Management Certificate in the UW Program on the Environment. He completed his internship providing financial modeling and budget forecasting for the NPS in Yellowstone National Park. Chris’s prior leadership experience included working as a Branch Manager for a major bank in San Francisco and later as a co-founder of a small business. He is honored for the opportunity to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow to further develop his leadership skills and to mentor first year teams as they navigate their first year at Foster.
Yuki chose to become a Leadership Fellow to further develop her leadership skills specifically in the business environment. Her previous formal leadership experience includes captaining her NCAA division I gymnastics team and performing in a leadership position on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee during her undergraduate athletic career. She is continuing to develop her leadership skills in the athletic arena in her second season as the volunteer assistant coach for the University of Washington women’s gymnastics team. Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Yuki attended Oregon State University for her undergraduate studies, where she majored in business administration. Prior to starting the MBA program at Foster, she worked in Seattle as a management consultant for a mid-sized consulting firm. This summer, Yuki completed her internship at Starbucks Coffee Company, where she supported the Americas Retail Single Serve team in a product management role, assessing international expansion opportunities for the VIA product line.
Vinay Sayala has a Master’s degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering. He worked mostly as a consultant for seventeen years in various industries that include telecommunication, energy and insurance. He worked as a software development/analyst for eight years and then moved to project management roles leading several teams. Before joining Foster, he worked for a small reinsurance company in New York. His main role there was to improve their operational efficiency by strategically redesigning and rebuilding their critical applications. His main focus at Foster is to improve his overall leadership skills and explore corporate finance. Vinay lives with his wife and two kids in Kenmore, WA.As a Leadership Fellow, Vinay would like to be a resource for first year Foster MBA students and to develop and encourage their leadership skills. He would also like to take this opportunity to enhance his leadership skills particularly in the areas of coaching skills and conflict resolution.
Ed Chinevere worked for a Detroit-area credit union prior to coming to Foster, where he applied his background in accounting and economics to identify and advocate for opportunities for service improvement. At Foster, he focuses on marketing and strategy and has had the opportunity to apply himself to that end via an internship working on a business plan, product design, and go-to-market strategy for a start-up in the field of evidence-based medicine. In the roller coaster of the first year of the program, he experienced for the first time the full extent to which a team of diverse individuals can pull together to generate innovative, creative, and high-quality work the likes of which none could do alone. His teams were greatly aided in this by their two Leadership Fellows, leading Ed to pay it forward by applying himself as a Fritzky Leadership Fellow for his second year in the program. Fun fact: he hopes to find time to work on his web comic where he draws pictures of birds suffering from unfortunate economic circumstances called “Birds in Hard Times.”
Genevieve Cohen is a former teacher who is focusing on marketing and strategy at Foster. She studied psychology and early childhood education at Duke University, and was awarded a fellowship to teach for a year in Brussels, Belgium after college. After returning to her home town of Boston, Genevieve spent some time working at a public relations firm before returning to the world of education at Tufts University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching. This degree led to teaching stints in public and private schools in Boston and San Diego.Genevieve’s favorite memory is of her solo cross-country trip which led her to the West Coast. She fell in love with the beach lifestyle and stayed in San Diego for six years before moving to Seattle. It was the constant urge to change schools for the better that finally pushed her to apply to business school. Genevieve realized her propensity for leadership and wanted to equip herself with the tools to be a successful agent of change. She hopes to be in a management position one day, where she can help her employees feel fulfilled and valued as members of a team. Genevieve sees the Leadership Fellows program as the perfect opportunity to test her wings and grow as a leader. When she is not hanging out in Paccar Hall, Genevieve enjoys running, exploring the city, hiking, and just generally being outdoors.
Prior to the Foster MBA Program, Galen spent 5 years in the lumber industry. His role for the first 2 years was Production Supervisor, fulfilling duties such as personnel management, policy enforcement, and process improvement. He then transferred to a new start-up mill to become the Quality Control Supervisor. There he implemented a new QC system, created and maintained spreadsheet databases, tracked key performance indicators, and trained and held employees to high quality standards. At Foster Galen is focusing on Finance and Operations to improve his capability in future production management opportunities.He chose to become a Fritzky Leadership Fellow to give back to Foster by providing incoming students the same support that he received as a first-year. He looks forward to using this opportunity to practice and develop his own abilities as a leader of people and organizations.
Before Foster, Matt spent seven years living and working in China. Most recently he worked in the Beijing office of the US-China Business Council, a non-profit industry association, where he advised US companies on China business and regulatory matters including industrial policy, intellectual property rights, and government relations.As a second year student in the MBA program, Matt is focusing on marketing. He chose to participate in the Fritzky Leadership Fellows program in order to give back to the Foster School by helping first-year students navigate what he found to be an important, challenging, and formative period of time in the program. He is particularly interested in furthering his own leadership development as well as identifying and encouraging leadership qualities in others.Matt currently lives in Seattle with his wife Wang Ting. After graduation he will join PwC’s Consulting practice in Seattle.
Sarah Jeglum is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. Prior to joining Foster, Sarah finished her seventh season as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, where she was part of the management team on a Type II fire crew. Sarah graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is pursuing her MBA with the hopes of either returning to the journalism industry or entering the field of sustainability. As a Leadership Fellow, Sarah hopes to provide support to other MBA students as they navigate their first year at Foster, as well as to learn, grow and be challenged in her personal leadership.
Ryan comes to us having worked in Tokyo, Japan for seven years at Citibank Japan and the law offices of Allen & Overy LLP. Here at Foster he has several leadership roles including the President of the Global Business Association and is actively involved with the International Affairs Committee, in charge of career development.He is excited to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow and hopes that this program will allow yet another opportunity to make an impact on others’ lives within the class of 2014. Ryan is looking to apply what he learns in a setting that is conducive for trial-and-error, feedback, and to continue to adjust his leadership style that is most effective for him and the teams in which he has been chosen to lead.
Before enrolling in the Foster MBA program, J. Sloan DuRoss spent three years as an economic consultant for SH Brooks Co. helping private educational institutions with their enrollment and revenue prediction needs through econometric modeling and financial forecasting. Prior to that, Sloan spent eight years competing for the United States Olympic Rowing team including representing his country at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He also served as an athlete representative and worked with winter sports athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He is looking to combine the quantitative and problem solving skills learned in his ScB. in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University and the knowledge gained at Foster to pursue a career in Operations, Logistics, and Management.During his first year in the Foster MBA program Sloan was a leader of the Operations Club, made the national finals of the NetImpact Case Competition, won 2nd place and made the final in the Environmental Innovation Challenge and the Washington Business Plan Competition, respectively, and made the Dean’s list. He spent his summer as a Business Manager Intern at Amazon.com. During his second year of the program he is a member of the Honor Council, MBAA VP of Academic Affairs, Student Ambassador, Coordinator of the Foster Cup, and a Fritzky Leadership Fellow.He’s looking forward to making the most of this year, imparting the first years with his knowledge, and traveling in Europe before starting his new career.
Ryan Scott earned a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, and a Masters of Science in Acoustics from the Pennsylvania State University. Ryan worked as a design engineer in the hearing-aid and headphone industry, bringing products from the concept phase to full-scale production. Ryan is also the co-founder and Director of Operations of Barrels of Hope, a non-profit that has developed a safe, affordable, and sustainable home for deployment in post-disaster zones and developing countries. After graduating from the Foster School of Business, he plans to work in product development and marketing as a bridge between customers and engineers.
Kris Weum is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. Prior to joining Foster, Kris spent several years in the non-profit industry and a few more years in the financial industry. Kris earned a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from Gettysburg College and currently pursuing an MBA with a focus on marketing and operations. Kris is very honored to be a Leadership Fellow. He is excited to be a resource to other first year MBA students and looking forward to learning from them as well as helping them develop their own leadership skills.
Learn more about the Leadership Fellows program here.
Foster Alumna Courtney Thompson brings home silver from the 2012 Summer Olympic Games
“I have a chance, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
So said Courtney Thompson (BA 2008) back in 2007, when she was first training with USA Volleyball in hopes of making the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Many assessed that chance as slim.
Despite a stellar career at the University of Washington, Thompson was considered too short to compete at the international level. Not fast enough. Technique needed work.
She’d heard it all before. And, as before, such sober appraisals became fuel for the fire. “My entire career I’ve felt like the underdog,” she says today, donning her silver medal from the London Olympics. “I’ve always had to prove myself—but that’s a comfortable position for me.”
Thompson wasn’t always a longshot. As a kid she played—and excelled at—every sport that would have her. Baseball. Softball. Hockey. Soccer. Basketball. In middle school, she took up volleyball.
Topping out at 5-foot-7 in a sport of giants, Thompson was never going to dominate the game’s martial lexicon of attacks, spikes, cuts and kills. So she became the catalyst, the quarterback, the setter. She graduated from Kentlake High School student body president, valedictorian, and captain of three state championship volleyball teams.
The collegiate powers, however, were not interested.
Their loss was the UW’s gain. Jim McLaughlin, first-year coach of the perennial also-ran in the mighty Pac-10 Conference, saw in Thompson precisely the kind of overlooked gem that would deliver Husky volleyball to the nation’s elite.
“I just got a vibe (the first time I saw her play),” McLaughlin told the Seattle Times in July. “I watched her energy. I watched her drive. I watched her compete… Those things outweighed her height and her blocking ability.”
Sure did. After four years of voracious learning, inspiring leadership and infectious intensity, Thompson became the most-decorated student-athlete in school history. She rewrote national and conference assist records, was a three-time All-American and Academic All-American (carrying a 3.55 GPA at the UW Foster School of Business), and received the 2005 Honda Award, honoring the best player in college volleyball. More importantly to Thompson, her teams reached three NCAA semifinals and won the 2005 national championship.
The Olympic dream
The international game was different. Difficult. After failing to make the team for Beijing, getting to London was going to take superhuman dedication. “I decided that either I walk away and say this wasn’t meant to be,” Thompson recalls, “or I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to make it.”
As usual, she opted for absolutely everything.
From fall to spring she played professionally—relentlessly—in Switzerland and Puerto Rico, delivering league championships in both (she’s off to Poland this fall).
Summers were all about making the world’s number one volleyball team. Competition was fierce. But Thompson clawed up the depth chart. She finally cracked the first team at last spring’s FIVB World Grand Prix, sparking a US comeback victory in the gold medal match.
A month later, she was named to the 12-woman roster headed to London, a moment that rendered the usually effusive Thompson “speechless… I wanted to shout, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t do either or anything in between.”
That USA team marched undefeated to the gold-medal match, with Thompson stepping up from a reserve role to lead a three-set sweep of the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinal. The Americans’ magical run ended in the final, though, by a galvanized Brazilian squad.
The long road back
Thompson was disappointed, but hardly devastated. “You wake up the next morning and think, did that just happen?” she says. “But then there is a huge satisfaction in knowing that we’d done everything possible to prepare. And when you go play, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s what makes sports so fun.”
Thompson has off-court aspirations. Coaching or athletics administration, most likely. But first she has some unfinished business. Another four years and countless odds to overcome lie between her and Olympic gold in Rio. As ever, she’s looking forward. For Thompson, the journey has always been as sweet as the destination.
“Some people train for the big moments. But I love playing this game and being with this group of girls every day,” she says. “The past four years were an incredible experience. I’ve grown a lot as an athlete and as a person. But what really motivates me is how much more I have to learn. I just want to do it even better next time—and enjoy every second of it.”
Evening MBA student Melanie Sharpe came to a career turning point midway through her program. With a prior background in education, she planned to use her MBA to further her career in the finance business, where she was then working. But she suddenly came to the realization that finance wasn’t a good fit for her. She had always enjoyed working with people, so with the help of the staff in MBA Career Services, she reworked her resume to bring out her existing strengths in that field and began to make contact with Foster’s extensive network of HR executives. Along the way, she also added a certificate from Foster’s Global Business Center to her resume. The result was a global HR internship at Microsoft, which quickly led to other assignments with a global reach. As of August 2012, when she gave this interview, she was leaving for a challenging new assignment in China.
Since Jack Ma first launched the business in his apartment in 1999, Alibaba has transformed into one of China’s largest internet companies and Ma has become known as China’s Steve Jobs. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is excited to be hosting the Seattle premiere of Crocodile in the Yangtze a film about his life and start-up adventures, as part of the annual UW EntreWeek. The film presents a strikingly candid portrait of Ma and his company, told from the point of view of Porter Erisman, an “American fly on a Chinese wall” who witnessed Alibaba’s successes and mistakes along the way. This insider story captures the emotional ups and downs of life in an online start-up, including Ma’s battle with eBay, when the Internet was bringing China face-to-face with the West.
Don’t miss this film, which recently sold out its San Francisco Premiere and was awarded “Best Documentary” by the United Film Festival jury. With Erisman in attendance as CIE’s special guest, this Seattle premiere will include a lively Q&A session, so attendees can learn even more about his eight fascinating years working with Ma.
With a degree in industrial engineering from Lebanese American University, Joelle Bassily (MBA 2012) had forged a successful career in the Middle East. But she realized that lack of business knowledge and experience would limit her career options, so she enrolled in Foster’s Full-time MBA Program. Like most international students seeking a job in the U.S. after graduation, she faced the challenges of a smaller pool of openings and the need to obtain sponsorship from her employer. With grit, determination and help from the MBA Career Services and MBA Mentor Program, she overcame these challenges and had three offers in hand before she graduated. Along the way, she unexpectedly realized a dream of working in the health care field through an internship at Philips Healthcare and a research assistantship at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And she found a new route to her long-term dream by landing a consulting job at ARRYVE.
Kien Ha describes himself as a risk-averse entrepreneur. And given that restaurants are notoriously risky start-ups, Ha went with a concept he knows well – shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu, or Japanese hot pot dining, is a trendsetting phenomenon that has long driven technology transplants from California to expect its healthy, simple, and affordable food on almost every street corner. Ha’s discovery that Washington is the fourth fastest growing state for Japanese-style restaurants convinced him to launch Shabu Chic at the UW’s 2008 Business Plan Competition.
Open Friday through Sunday in Seattle’s International District, Shabu Chic boasts fans who are true devotees talking and sharing photos of the restaurant and the unique food presentation. Yelp gives Shabu Chic a 4.5, and the restaurant got 200+ Facebook “likes” when it posted the possibility of adding a Kimchi sauce in the fall. “Word of mouth has been great,” Ha says. But once a customer is in the door, he relies on wait staff training and social media to share little morsels of Japanese food history along the way.
Still working part-time as an advisory manager for a Seattle accounting firm, Ha is content taking things a bit more slowly than his tech entrepreneur peers. “Most restaurants fail in the first year because they’re under-capitalized. Having no outside funding from the outset has kept us on task and deliberate in all that we do,” he said. His hope is to break even in year two, make a profit in year three, and go full-time with a second location.
Ha sees tech start-ups and restaurant start-ups in the same light. “Whether it’s a tech or food,” he says, “you have to own everything from end to end.” By serving Seattle’s unmet shabu-shabu need, Ha is developing a market for something people in Seattle never knew they’d love. An entrepreneur’s dream.
Erik Viafore, the CEO of Mountains Plus Outdoor Gear is Mr. Focus. His small Seattle-based start-up has seen 237 percent three-year sales growth by focusing on core competencies: delivering excellent gear, emphasizing customer service, and tending to vendor/supplier relationships. Since founding the company in 2003, Viafore has clearly kept his eye on the mountaintop. So much so that the 2012 INC Magazine 500/5000 rankings listed Mountains Plus at #64 in retail, #24 in Seattle, and #1,301 overall.
Though there have been temptations along the way to “pivot so much we’d end up going in a circle,” as Viafore puts it, he chose to step back from an extremely successful product line in the economic downturn of 2008 to stay true to the “outdoor gear” of Mountains Plus’s core mission. Car rooftop rack boxes had been selling like crazy, but Viafore recognized that shipping them all over the country was not a smart business decision.
Viafore’s experience in the 1998 Business Plan Competition with “Personal Jukebox” won his team second place. The process, he said, did two things: it “helped round out the rougher edges that younger entrepreneurs have,” and it drilled into his brain that an entrepreneur should “never undercapitalize his business.” What Viafore has loved about the growth of Mountains Plus, which has doubled its number of employees this past year, is the experience of “growing up” alongside a few now-great outdoor gear brands that were also very small and just starting out. “It’s fun to look back and see how much we’ve all contributed to one another’s success along the way,” he says.
Being named to the INC Magazine list (for the second year) certainly is a marketing boon, making Mountains Plus Outdoor Gear more credible in the eyes of its customers, vendors, and competitors. But, as Viafore wryly notes, “It also means my phone rings more often, with very cold calls.” Good thing he has his choice of gear and so many happy customers to keep him warm.
– Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.