Technology Management MBA Entrepreneurship Expo Night

In the Technology Management MBA Program, students are paired with a study group to hone their teamwork and leadership skills. We asked one study group to recap their experience of Entrepreneurship Expo Night, the final project of their Entrepreneurial Influence and the Pitch course. Frank Huynh (Smart Card Component Manager at The Boeing Company) describes his team’s process and how they became this year’s Expo Night winners!

Entrepreneurship Expo Night

Going into this quarter, I was extremely skeptical by the value proposition. I saw entrepreneurships as high risk ventures, definitely not something that a risk adverse Boeing cyber security professional would be terribly interested in. However, my team was there to challenge my assumptions and help me grow.

Yaeka and Dalton shifted how I perceived the potential and customer market by forcing our team to actually do market surveys (Director of Customer Success at Wellpepper and Supervisor at Darigold, respectively). PK was an excellent devil’s advocate as we bounced ideas around (Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft). Arun and Vijay were the voice of reason in our struggles. They kept us focused on the big picture and witnessed our idea evolve in snapshots as they juggled between their careers, the demands of our team, and raising a family (Senior Technical Program Manager at Liberty Mutual and Amazon, respectively).

Leading up to Expo Night, where our team pitched our idea to 20+ judges who were C-level executives, founders, or venture capitalists, we rushed to finalize our pitch. However, that didn’t stop Arun from doing a selfie at a very inopportune time in the middle of preparation – apparently I was the only one that didn’t get the picture memo…

ExpoNightBlog1

For over an hour, we pitched our ideas to the judges.

ExpoNightBlog2To be honest, it was impossible to predict the kinds of questions that our judges would ask. However, the TMMBA entrepreneurial curriculum did a fantastic job arming us with core knowledge to really break down the judge’s questions and answer them.

The “Entrepreneurial Influence and The Pitch” course taught by Julie Sandler, partner at Madrona Venture Group, gave us countless examples of good and bad pitches and anecdotal evidence of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Lance Young’s Entrepreneurial Finance course taught us the language of finance and how to apply it to early stage fundraising. In contrast, Sasha Frljanic’s Customer Experience course shifted our perspective towards the end user and how to quantifiably measure your product’s success. Finally, Ben Hallen’s Entrepreneurship course provided a thorough, quantitative approach on how to evaluate ideas and the journey to becoming a successful startup.

And the winning team is…

By combining everything we learned this quarter, we are excited to announce that we’re this year’s Expo Night winner and raised the most “money” (TMMBA dollars awarded, not actual US dollars) of $3.6M out of $21M!

Vijay, Yaeka, Dalton, PK, Frank, Professor Sandler, and Arun after being awarded the grand prize ($3.2M) of the 2017 TMMBA Entrepreneurship Expo Night

Vijay, Yaeka, Dalton, PK, Frank, Professor Sandler, and Arun after being awarded the grand prize ($3.6M) of the 2017 TMMBA Entrepreneurship Expo Night

Tips for future students:

  • Generating Ideas
    • Good ideas are hard to come by
    • Generate ideas by yourself first, but set aside a lot of time to really talk each idea through to help others follow your train of thought – it usually sparks other ideas
    • We went back and forth between 3 competitive ideas for about a month before we settled on our final idea
  • Preparing the Pitch
    • For each slide/idea, make sure you don’t lose focus – work backwards (main idea, then scrutinize what you’re saying)
    • Less is more
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • It’s easy to get tunnel vision within your team, so pitch it a few times to other groups
  • Preparing for Expo Night
    • Make sure everyone has the details down
    • Common dress code
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • Make a wireframe/prototype of your product if possible
  • Post Expo Night
    • Common questions:
      • How will you acquire paying customers?
      • How will you spend the money?
      • What differentiates you from everyone else?
    • Don’t forget your props – we felt like every team brought their A game in terms of visual presentation and our station was a bit underwhelming in comparison
    • Feel free to invite judges to your stand
    • Know your assumptions and the rationale behind them so you can explain it to the judges if they question you