Category Archives: MBA

TMMBA Top 10 Questions

The following is the transcript from an interview with Tracy Gojdics, Director of the Technology Management MBA Program and Dan Turner, Associate Dean and Faculty Director discussing the merits of the TMMBA program. Follow along to learn more about the program and it’s career unlocking potential.

1. What is the Technology Management MBA Program, and will the technology aspect of the program limit my growth potential?

Tracy: This is an MBA program in every regard. When you graduate, you get a Foster MBA from the TMMBA Program. What makes this program different is that it’s designed for people who are passionate about technology and entrepreneurship; the program offers a comprehensive business management curriculum which an emphasis on innovation and leadership. For instance, the topics, cases and class discussions focus on technology companies, services and products. But you need not be fluent in the language of technology—we have many alumni and students who are outside of the tech-sector. Bottom line: you will gain the business skills and frameworks, the business language and the strategic insights and perspectives to create value for any organization.

Dan: Tracy pretty much summed it up. Fundamentally, this is an MBA program and you do get exposure to all those topic domains that you would expect in any MBA program. But the example used when we talk about strategy, marketing or accounting is often an application in a technology environment.

2. How is it possible to get an MBA in 18 months?

Dan: Consecutive quarters of 10 credit hours per quarter make it possible to deliver a robust MBA curriculum in 18 months. We cover all the core topics you’ll find in most MBA programs—financial accounting, managerial accounting, corporate finance, marketing, economics, operations management and organizational management. We’ve also selected courses on topics we think students in this program really need, including leadership, negotiations, strategy, entrepreneurship and global management.

Tracy: Traditional full-time MBA programs and some evening MBA programs are longer because they are designed with required core classes plus electives. The TMMBA Program is lock-step; we don’t offer electives. And, our program staff provide support and services that make a student’s life a little easier. We handle registration and meals and provide books and materials—all which save time and reduce stress for our students.

3. What is the difference between the Technology Management MBA and a “traditional” full-time program?

Tracy: They offer different experiences. A full-time program allows for greater immersion in elective areas of study. But there’s an opportunity cost for quitting your job and going back to school, and everyone weighs that cost differently. Stepping out of the work force for two years may make sense if you’re relatively new to your career or uncertain of your end goal. But if you have a good job, you’re well-positioned for advancement, or you have other obligations, then pursuing your degree while you continue working may be a better fit.

Dan: In terms of the learning experience, the content of the two programs is similar, but there are a variety of topics that are addressed in the Technology Management course that are particularly relevant for technology professionals. You get much more exposure to these topics, in greater depth, in this program than you would in a traditional MBA program—things like how to market innovation, for example. Not all technology projects are innovations, but just about all innovations are technology products, and we spend more time discussing that in the TMMBA Program than we would in a traditional marketing class.

Tracy: There are also advantages to being in the classroom with people who are down in the trenches every day. Students in this program have from 3 to 25-plus years of work experience when they come in the front door. We want people who are working full time so they can speak to what’s happening at their companies and, more importantly, apply what they’re learning in the classroom back on the job the next day.

4. Who is a good fit for this program?

Dan: I would say we’re looking for three things: 1) people who have the raw horsepower, who can compete successfully in any kind of organization; 2) people who have leadership potential; and, 3) people who have a passion for technology, for whom this is more than a job.

Tracy: Someone who is an ideal fit for this program is somebody who has at least 3 years of work experience—the average is 11 years— and who wants more than the “M-B-A” credentials after their name. We are looking for students who seek a challenge and who want to be in an active learning environment. Additionally, we want strong contributors to the conversations in class and willingness to share experiences as they apply to the course work.

5. Can this program give me what I need to move out of my tech-centric position into a strategic business position?

Dan: Yes, in fact, eighty percent of recent graduates surveyed reported they had taken on a more strategic role since graduation. The program builds knowledge and skills that help students deconstruct functional barriers and view organizations as the integrative enterprises that they truly are. You’ll get exposure to fundamental solution concepts, theories, frameworks, and skills in strategy, accounting, marketing, finance and quantitative methods.

Tracy: Our program is known for taking subject matter experts, whether they are developers, architects, entrepreneurs or even functional specialists on the business side, and enabling them to understand the language of business in a completely different way. Because they can do that, they’re able to contribute to different kinds of conversations than they have in the past, and step up— or over—a level or two.

6. I want to start my own business. How will this program help me?

Tracy: One of the top three reasons people decide to enroll in TMMBA is because they are looking to start their own business—to be their own boss. As a result, we have a strong entrepreneurial network. Basically, if you want to start your own business, you need to understand innovation, entrepreneurship and management, as well as have a strong grasp of the competitive landscape, customer profiles, and supply chains that can make or break your success.

Dan: Great ideas can take organizations only so far. Many businesses don’t do well even if they have great ideas because the execution of the business plan is missing. Of course we have an entrepreneurship class, of course we have strategy classes, but many people will say that the reason they come to our program is that they need to understand the full range of business issues and be able to deal with them, in addition to having the great business idea or great technology.

7. How has the Technology Management MBA helped advance the careers of students and alumni?

Tracy: Our students typically have one of three goals: move up in what they are doing, move out of what they are doing—change functions—or start their own business. I tell them that the critical things they learn in the TMMBA Program are only one part of the equation in advancing their careers. The other part is being able to put the things they learn into practice and be deliberate about contributing at a higher level, communicating more effectively and enduring set-backs.

How many of our students and alumni have advanced their careers? We’ve done surveys to help us determine this, but I find my LinkedIn network offers a nice illustration. Approximately 75% have changed positions and 65% have changed companies. I’m finding many are in senior-level and even C-level roles and that those who had been in more specialized technical positions have moved to general management, marketing or product management roles. It is also great to see the number of entrepreneurs we have in the alumni network.

Dan: As an instructor and faculty director I stay in touch with quite a few of our students and am constantly impressed with how they have advanced in their careers. I firmly believe that the TMMBA Program is something that opens doors rather than something that gets your ticket punched. In and of itself, no degree is going to be sufficient for a promotion, but a great MBA program will expose you to a range of perspectives on fundamental management lessons that you wouldn’t otherwise see on the job.

8. How do students typically finance the TMMBA Program?

Tracy: Students finance the program in a variety of ways, including company tuition subsidies or reimbursement programs, securing loans and paying out-of-pocket. Although many companies have cut or significantly reduced their tuition benefits, we still have a fair amount of students who are able to secure funding via company benefits. Students have also been successful in creating proposals for their upper management that outline the benefits of subsidizing their education and what it will mean for the company. Many students apply for financial aid and receive assistance via the Stafford Loan Program.

9. What can I expect in terms of Return on Investment?

Tracy: It depends. Students and alumni look at ROI from many angles. Of course, most people want to make more money, and according to alumni surveys they do—with an average compensation increase of 30% after two years. However, I find that people are really starting to evaluate ROI from a job/life satisfaction perspective. Students come into the program wanting to make a career change, to have more options and to make a larger impact at their organizations. I’ve already talked about how folks are changing their careers, but what we haven’t discussed is that students, as they go through the program, begin to see that they have lots of options. It may sound lofty, but being equipped with options brings a satisfaction and kind of happiness that they didn’t have before, and that return is something that cannot be measured.

Dan: I agree with Tracy that students are looking at things other than more money; although, usually that comes in time. As I mentioned earlier, I stay in touch with several former students and it seems that the ROI with regard to compensation and job advancement has been significant. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that students in the Technology Management MBA Program are working while earning their MBA and are applying, in real-time, what they are learning.

10. How can I find out if the Technology Management MBA Program is right for me?

Tracy: My top answer, without a doubt, is to visit a class. When someone visits a class they get a sense of what is expected of them and what the commitment will really be. They get to be part of the classroom, to talk to students, to talk to study groups, to see if this is the kind of environment they want to be a part of for 18 months. Of course, we can also get you in touch with alumni, because they can talk about the experience and how it has changed their lives, but I would absolutely encourage people to experience what goes on in the classroom.

Dan: I’d echo that. Fundamentally, we’re in the business of providing transformational educational experiences. While I’d encourage any prospective student to do his or her due diligence, to look at the descriptive statistics of the program and success rates, Graduate Management Admission Test scores and the diversity of the student body, this is at its core a service-based, experiential business and you have to experience it to truly appreciate it. It’s a significant investment to dedicate three hours to come to a classroom and experience what the students go through, at least in some small fashion, but it’s an investment that I think generates a return that is more than worth it in terms of helping you assess whether or not the program is right for you.

Bonus Question:  How can I find out if the Technology Management MBA Program is right for me?

Two programs with similar names can be confusing. Both offer a business management curriculum and both hold classes on the Eastside, but differ in many respects including schedule, duration, faculty, cost, courses, and alumni networks.

One key distinction is that TMMBA is part of the UW Foster School of Business and the UW Bothell TMBA program is not. Additionally, the faculty are different. TMMBA faculty come from the Foster school, which consistently ranks among the top business schools in the nation and faculty are world-renowned and recognized for their prominent research and excellence in their respective fields.

Another TMMBA difference is student support and services provided, including registration, meals, books and course materials, and free parking. These services offer convenience for busy working professionals. Additionally, TMMBA career services include unlimited one-on one coaching, numerous workshops, webinars, and networking events. Plus, TMMBA has a network of over 800 technology professionals!

Although the names may be similar, TMMBA and TMBA each offer different experiences and educational opportunities. Consider what is important to you in terms of faculty, network, student services, and program reputation. Visit a class in both to know which is right for you.

EMBA summer workshops

The UW Foster Executive MBA student experience actually begins with 36 hours of “summer workshops” held mid-July through mid-August. Designed to prepare incoming students for the many quantitative classes of their first year, the 3 hour workshop sessions cover basic math through calculus, excel and accounting. Students attend the workshops in-person on the Seattle campus, participate virtually or subsequently view recordings of the sessions.

Following the Summer Workshops, students are welcomed “back-to-school” at the end of August for an all day program orientation. At the back-to-school day, students meet their study team and larger cohort, receive fall quarter materials and hear from program alumni. Spouses and significant others are welcomed too. Below are a few photos from the 2014 workshops.

Prof Matsumoto meeting students

EMBA students raising hands

EMBA students networking

EMBA students presenting

EMBA students networking

Classes for first year students begin in late September at the fall Residential.

Learn more about Executive MBA.

Foster students manage the business end of the UW’s EcoCAR Challenge

UW's eco carA team of UW students recently took second place in the EcoCAR 2 Challenge. Its modified Chevy Malibu traveled 48 miles on an electric charge before switching to its biodiesel engine—making it the most energy-efficient car in the 15-school international competition. A brilliant feat of engineering.

Behind that engineering was some savvy business support from Foster School students. Nicholas Wilson (MBA 2012), Tyler Rose (MBA 2013) and Taj Matthews (MBA 2013) served as business managers for the first stages of the three-year project. Alex Ong, a senior studying finance, took the engineering and design team through to the finals earlier this year at General Motor’s Milford Proving Ground.

The son of engineers, Ong has no formal technical training of his own. “But I’m interested in cars and I knew a few things,” he says. “Enough to get the conversation going.”

His role was to manage the project’s six-figure budget, cultivate and communicate with sponsors, and provide financial reporting to funders and competition organizers—GM, the US Department of Energy, and a wide range of transportation and renewable energy firms and organizations.

In Detroit, the team finished first in eight categories, including quickest acceleration, lowest energy consumption and least greenhouse gas emissions. While his colleagues put the car through its paces, Ong presented the team’s financials to a panel of judges representing the sponsor organizations.

It was a unique experience, this working collaboration of engineering, business, communications and visual arts.

“There’s nothing like it at the UW,” Ong says. “It was an incredible interdisciplinary learning experience where you had to work together with people who have no knowledge of your expertise and vice-versa. Otherwise, the whole project falls flat.

“That’s about as real world as it gets.”

The UW has been selected to compete in EcoCAR 3 beginning this fall. Ong plans to recruit fellow Foster students to better distribute the workload and formalize procedures to ensure continuity over the project’s four-year run.

The team just learned that they get to play with a Camaro this time around.

Senioritis? Bah. Count Ong in.

Desire to lead and passion for sport drive future MBA

Meet Kevan Brown, MBA 2016

Earning an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering was an important achievement for Kevan Brown, but he never planned to stop there. He sees pursuing an MBA at the Foster School as a way to develop business knowledge and skills and tap into Foster’s extensive alumni network, but also as a way to realize his potential as a leader. Outside the office and the classroom, Kevan has a passion for basketball. He’s using what he’s learning in the Evening MBA Program to pursue that passion through creating a recreational basketball league for working professionals. He’s building a business around something he loves while creating community and encouraging others to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Watch other Evening MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Arts advocate uses MBA to think outside the box

Meet Graham Mills, MBA 2015

How does an undergraduate drama major end up in an MBA program? An internship with a theatre company introduced Graham Mills to the business side of the nonprofit sector, and piqued his interest in applying ideas and techniques from the private sector to develop more sustainable models for arts organizations. When he considered earning a graduate degree, an MBA was an obvious choice. Since enrolling in Foster’s Evening MBA Program, he has applied “thinking outside the box” not only to his work, but also to planning his future career. The knowledge, skills and network Foster offers has provided him with wide range of opportunities and the confidence to pursue them.

Watch other Evening MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Real Estate Pro Gains Competence, Confidence and Connections

Meet Chinu Randhawa, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Chinu Randhawa, employed in real estate, had reached a plateau and decided to pursue further education as a way to explore options in her current field or other fields. When she enrolled in the Foster Evening MBA Program, she found an instant network among her classmates – active professionals with diverse career backgrounds. She also benefited from participation in Foster’s MBA Mentor Program. In her second year, she connected with a mentor who had changed careers several times and had applied her talents successfully in several industries. Entering the second half of her program, Chinu says the program delivered on its promise to supply her with “the three C’s”: competence, confidence and connections – a great foundation for the next stage of her career.

Watch other Evening MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Marketer with a Passion for People Values Classmates

Meet Allison Waddell, Evening MBA Class of 2015

An undergraduate degree in marketing helped Allison Waddell launch her career, but she wanted to expand her knowledge base and gain the strategic perspective on business offered by a Foster MBA. Sharing experiences with, and learning alongside, a talented group of classmates at the Foster School keeps her motivated. The Evening MBA Program offers her opportunities to apply what she’s learning in her day job and in field study projects with other companies. Along the way, she has mentored fellow students, served in a leadership role with Foster’s MBA Association and bonded with classmates on a study trip to Brazil. For someone with a passion for people and a drive to lead, the Evening MBA Program offers plenty of room to grow.

Watch other Evening MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Meet the 2014-2015 class of Fritzky Leadership Fellows

Each year, second-year MBA students are paired with first-year MBAs to provide peer coaching, leadership advice, and more. Get to know this year’s class of Fellows by reading their bios below. Learn more about the Leadership Fellows Program here.

Akiva Sutta-GomezAkiva Sutta-Gomez
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Originally from Israel, Akiva earned his BSBA from Hawaii Pacific University after completing his military service. Following graduation, he spent over four years in India where he created a joint venture with Bapu Nature Cure, with an emphasis on two healthcare facilities in New Delhi. In addition, he was the co-founder of The Avatar Group Consultants, a Delhi/Tel-Aviv based practice focusing on real estate in India. Prior to joining the Foster MBA Program, Akiva worked as The Texas General Manager for GP21, the second largest private sustainability company in North America. He focused on founding and operating the Austin and Dallas plants.While at Foster, Akiva is focused on building his skill set in the areas of finance and consulting. He completed his summer internship with the Strategy & Operations team at Deloitte Consulting where he worked on a strategy project at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Away from business school, Akiva enjoys travel, exercise, and family.
Don Tulanon Don Tulanon
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Prior to Foster, Don Tulanon worked as a risk management consultant specializing in financial and professional liability insurance coverage. He has a BA in Economics from Brown University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law. This summer, he was a Platform Marketing & Strategy Intern at Concur Technologies. His project focused on competitive analysis and new product development.Don is excited to support first-year students as they navigate entry into the MBA program, as well as refining his own leadership skills through the Fellowship experience.Away from Foster, Don is working hard at the art of fatherhood. His two young daughters keep his negotiation and crisis management skills sharp. When time permits, Don treats himself to a Slurpee©.
Erin PoulterErin Poulter
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Erin Poulter is a second year Foster MBA student originally from New Jersey. Prior to her enrollment in the Foster MBA program, Erin graduated from Colgate University with her BA in psychology. She then became a member of the New Orleans 2009 Teach For America corps, where she taught special education in a K-8 charter school for two years and then spent two more years as the operations manager at the same school. This summer, Erin completed her internship at Starbucks, where she worked as a brand manager on the food team. Erin plans to continue to pursue a career in marketing after she graduates.Erin is excited and honored to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow this year. She looks forward to giving back to the Foster community, being a positive resource for the incoming class as well as growing her own leadership skills.
Jared WilkinsJared Wilkins
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A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Jared worked as a logistics analyst for a commodity manufacturer in Dallas, Texas before beginning his MBA journey in Seattle. At Foster, he has been involved with a number of clubs and activities including Strategy Club, Sports Business Club, and the Net Impact Case Competition. His summer internship led him to Starbucks where he worked on the CPG Pricing and Promotion team.As a Fritzky Leadership Fellow, Jared is excited to challenge himself and grow his leadership skills while giving back to the Class of 2016 and the Foster program as a whole.
Jessi GreenJessi Green
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Originally from Japan and the UK, Jessi has lived and worked in Tokyo for the last 6 years as an equity trader at a financial institution, and as an account manager for an online travel company. At Foster, Jessi hopes to acquire a broader skill set and transition her career into marketing roles in the tech industry. This past summer, Jessi worked at Amazon developing and testing’s emerging online traffic channels. Outside of school, she spends much of her free time staying active and exploring new parts of the city.Jessi is looking forward to participating in the Fritzky Leadership Fellow program to help refine her leadership skills, as well as to give back to the Foster community. She has benefited from the mentorship of the Leadership Fellows program her first year and now wants to contribute by being a mentor to the incoming class.
John CzerniakJohn Czerniak
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Originally from Minnesota, John went to undergrad at USC in Los Angeles. Before coming to Foster, he was a consultant for an economic consulting firm that focused in litigation. He was responsible for leading projects, building financial and econometric models, and communicating complex quantitative analyses to clients. In the summer after his first year at Foster, John was a Summer Associate with McKinsey & Company in Seattle.In his first year at Foster, John was an MBAA 1st-year representative, a Net Impact board member, and active member of several other clubs. In his second year, John is the President of the Foster Consulting Society along with a Leadership Fellow. As a Fritzky Fellow, he will offer advice to incoming students, help ease their transition, and ensure they get everything they want out of their MBA experience on academic, professional, and personal levels. He hopes to grow as a leader and pass on to the next class the inspiration that his Fellow gave to him.
Kate ThorsonKate Thorson
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Born and raised in Minnesota, then Belgium, Kate earned an undergraduate degree with honors from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her professional experience includes over nine years in the nonprofit and global health sectors, most recently spending four years traveling to rural Rwanda as the Program Manager for a global health organization. At Foster, Kate is the President of the Healthcare & Biotech Association, a Global Innovation Fellow with the START Program, and an active member of Net Impact. She is a Board Fellow, a mentor for Women in Business, and an MBA Ambassador. This past summer she interned at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she worked on strategy for one of the global health programs.Kate is honored to serve as a Leadership Fellow and a resource for the incoming class, and looks forward to further developing her own leadership toolkit. Away from school, Kate enjoys traveling to different cultures, running in Seattle with her sister, and cooking inventive pizzas.
Kelsey IngramKelsey Ingram
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Kelsey previously worked for Ernst & Young in San Francisco in the IT Advisory practice. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in IT Management and remains a loyal Irish fan through her involvement with the local alumni club. This summer, she interned with Point B at the Gates Foundation and looks forward to pursuing a post-MBA career in consulting. A Seattle native, she enjoys skiing, biking, and running and spending time with friends and family in the Pacific Northwest.Kelsey serves on the MBAA Executive Council and other club boards, and is excited and honored to be a Leadership Fellow. She looks forward to giving back to the Foster community and serving as a resource to incoming and current students through these roles.
Kira ThorienKira Thorien
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A native of Boise, Idaho, Kira moved to Seattle in 2013 for both work and school purposes. Now a second year full-time MBA candidate, she spent the summer of 2014 in Shepherdsville, Kentucky as an Amazon MBA operations intern. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, Kira worked in international development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, and Results for Development Institute in Washington, DC. Her areas of expertise include supply chain management in low income countries, and financial modeling for immunization and HIV/AIDS programs. Kira received her bachelor of arts from Oberlin College in 2008, where she studied economics and math, and played varsity lacrosse.
Rachel AzaroffRachel Azaroff
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Rachel Azaroff is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business, focusing on Marketing and Entrepreneurship. In addition to her role as a Leadership Fellow, she is a Foster Ambassador, sits on the Board of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club, and serves a Board Fellow for the Rainier Chamber of Commerce. She is also a Senior Associate for the Alliance of Angels. She has a BA from University of Maryland, College Park in Journalism. Prior to starting at Foster, she worked for seven years in strategic communications and outreach in Washington, D.C., most recently working at Deloitte for over four years.Rachel is excited to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow to contribute to the Foster community and to continue to develop her own leadership abilities.
Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthy
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Prior to joining Foster, Ryan served as an Army officer where he specialized in joint air missile defense operations, personnel strategy, and operations research analysis. After more than eight years in the military, Ryan decided to head back to his roots in the Pacific Northwest and start a new chapter in his professional career.Ryan is humbled by the opportunity to serve as a Leadership Fellow and hopes to both support the incoming MBA Class and further his leadership abilities. Foster has been a transformative experience for him and he looks to facilitate the same level of change for others in the incoming class. When he’s not at PACCAR, Ryan enjoys the outdoors, Crossfit, cooking, connecting with friends, and spending time with his family. He is also currently serving with the Oregon Army National Guard.
Sasha GourevitchSasha Gourevitch
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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sasha graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Political Science. She then worked for a Bay Area vocational training nonprofit, JobTrain, for 4 years and served as their Youth Coordinator. She plans to continue working in the nonprofit sector post MBA. She started her MBA internship in January and worked as an associate intern at Waldron in both their Executive Search and Organization Development teams. Sasha is also co-president of Challenge for Charity.Sasha is thrilled to be selected as a Fritzky Leadership Fellow and is excited to help the first year students throughout the year. She is looking forward to working on her own leadership skills and connecting with the other Fellows.
Scott KnackstedtScott Knackstedt
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Scott is a northwest native, growing up in Olympia, Washington, and attending the University of Portland as a scholar athlete in track and cross country. After graduating with a BS and a BA, he attended the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar where he received a graduate diploma in international relations. He later attained a masters degree from the University of Cambridge before returning to the US to work as a consultant in international governmental affairs. Scott arrived at Foster eager to develop not only his business acumen and skill set but also to meet and befriend the many interesting, fun, and kind classmates at the business school and to take advantage of the many incredible opportunities at the University of Washington.As a Fritzky Leadership Fellow, Scott is looking forward to helping and supporting first-year students as they forge their path through the full-time MBA program. He is also interested in furthering his own leadership development and working closely with this year’s cohort of Leadership Fellows. Outside of the classroom Scott continues to enjoy distance running, cycling, and playing musical instruments.
Tony LiuTony Liu
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Tony Liu is from Portland, Oregon but spent most of his life in Seattle, Washington where he attended the University of Washington majoring in Communication. Prior to starting the MBA program at Foster, he worked in software recruiting and managed his family’s Chinese restaurant for 5 ½ years. During the summer, Tony interned at at their headquarters in downtown Seattle where he helped the research team with usability testing and consumer research.Tony is honored and excited to be part of the Fritzky Leadership Fellows and wants to provide the same support that he received during his experience with his leadership fellow last year. He is also looking forward to developing his leadership skills and learning how to equip others to lead. Staying connected with his food industry roots he is excited to be a Foster Foodies board member and enjoys cycling, swimming, snowboarding, and cooking.

Meet the 8 student-led startups in the 2014 Jones + Foster Accelerator

There’s a popular quote from Alltop co-founder and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll agree. Producing prototypes, navigating legal issues, finding customers, raising money—getting a startup off the ground is a formidable task.

Luckily, startup founders don’t have to go it alone. That’s the idea behind the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones + Foster Accelerator, a program created to help student-led startups make the transition from concept to reality. Companies accepted into this six-month program receive mentoring from Seattle entrepreneurs and investors, a framework for defining measurable milestones, guidance in achieving those milestones, and the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in follow-on funding.

Twenty-two companies have completed the Jones + Foster Accelerator program since it began in 2010. Eighteen of them are still in business today, and many have seen some major successes. Cadence Biomedical, a medical device company whose Kickstart Walking System helps immobilized users regain walking ability, has raised over $1.5 million in funding. Strideline’s athletic socks are sold in over 20 states across the country and worn by the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg, Seahawk Marshawn Lynch, and comedian Joel McHale. PotaVida has received a $140,000 grant from World Vision U.S. to prepare its solar water disinfection system for mass production. And Experiment’s science crowdfunding platform has been profiled by the likes of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, and received $1.2 million in angel funding.

The 2014 Jones + Foster Accelerator cohort consists of eight companies, each ready and willing to do whatever it takes to power up their startups. Since July, these companies have been polishing their pitches, identifying fundraising strategies, developing their products—you name it. Over the next few months, these eight teams will continue to hit their milestones, each one taking them a step closer to making their startup dreams a reality. Stay tuned!

2014 Jones + Foster Accelerator Teams

CardSwapr (UW)

More than $40 billion in gift cards go unredeemed each year. Most of us have at least one gift card to a place we’d never shop sitting in a drawer at home. Wouldn’t you rather have the cash to spend the way you want? That’s the idea behind CardSwapr, a phone app that allows users to trade their unwanted gift cards for ones they’ll actually use.

FDCARES at the 2014 Business Plan Competition
FDCARES at the 2014 Business Plan Competition

Over the last 30 years, 911 calls for fire department emergency medical responses have increased by 400%. And as it turns out, only 60% of these calls are true emergencies. Sending firefighters and emergency vehicles to respond to non-emergency 911 calls is expensive for fire departments, and unnecessary emergency room visits are costly to insurers. FDCARES has developed an innovative response model that lowers costs by redirecting non-emergency calls to new tier of the fire department that has the capacity to stabilize patients in the home or transport them to a non-emergency care facility.

Korvata at the 2014 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge
Korvata at the 2014 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the fourth most common greenhouse gas, and has 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. This is a major problem for food and beverage retailers who use N2O cartridges to make whipped cream. Korvata has invented an alternative product that emits 50% less greenhouse gas without altering the deliciousness of the end product.

Lasting Smiles

Lasting Smiles is an incredibly smooth lip balm created with organic, fair trade ingredients sourced from small-scale farmers in India, Peru, and Burkina Faso. But Lasting Smiles isn’t just about saving consumers from chapped lips. The startup has formed a strategic partnership with Smile Train, the largest cleft lip and palate nonprofit in the world. Twenty-five cents of every lip balm this startup sells will go directly towards funding surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates.

From Lasting Smiles’ founder, Zoe Mesnik-Greene:I could not be more grateful to the Jones + Foster Accelerator Program for taking such a strong interest in me and Lasting Smiles. The mentors have provided invaluable resource direction in critical areas such as operations and legal, both of which have been essential as we prepare to launch this November 2014.”

LINC Foods

Only 3% of the food consumed in Spokane, WA is produced locally. Yet the demand for a robust local food system to supply restaurants and schools is high. LINC Foods, an employee-owned and operated enterprise based in Spokane, is changing this. The startup purchases fruits and vegetables from small- and medium-sized farms, aggregates and processes the products to customer specifications, and delivers it to local restaurants, schools, and other institutions.

Check out LINC Foods in the Spokesman-Review.

Mobile Foam

Over 1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing. While many organizations make it their mission to provide adequate housing, geographical and economic limitations often impede these efforts. Mobile Foam provides humanitarian organizations with a kit containing all the materials necessary to build homes in developing nations without the difficulty of procuring and transporting large, expensive building materials. The company’s insulated concrete forms can be used to build high quality, energy efficient, and cost effective homes.

Check out Mobile Foam in the Daily Evergreen.

OlyKraut 2014
OlyKraut at the 2014 Business Plan Competition

Olykraut combines local produce, original recipes, and “the magic of fermentation” to create delicious fermented vegetable products (think sauerkraut). The company has been producing and selling its products since 2008, and its popularity continues to grow. By producing this healthy food made with ingredients from farms in Western Washington, Olykraut is investing in the health of local people, local farms, and the local economy.

From Sash Sunday, owner of OlyKraut:Contacts [introduced to us] by one of our mentors have been both inspiring and encouraging. It is really nice to work with the mentors and their sincere desire to see us succeed is apparent.  One has even made it down to Olympia for a tour of the facility!

Uphill Designs
UpHill Designs 2014
UpHill Designs at the 2014 Business Plan Competition

Uphill Designs produces innovative and sustainable hiking equipment for outdoor enthusiasts. The startup’s trekking poles are made of bamboo—a renewable and low-cost material that is stronger and more flexible than aluminum—and the pole handles are made of post-consumer recycled cork. And in keeping with its commitment to sustainability, a percentage of Uphill Designs’ sales will go to the Pacific Crest Trail Associations and the communities where the company sources its materials.

From Uphill Designs’ co-founder David Bey:The expertise of our Jones + Foster Accelerator mentors has helped our team find order in the chaos of starting a business.  Their wisdom has allowed our team to focus on what’s really important while sidestepping flashy distractions and dangerous pitfalls.


2014 Jones + Foster Accelerator Mentors:
Marc Barros, founder and CEO, Moment*
Sean Bell, business director, 100K Project, Institute for Systems Biology
Sarah Boden, president, Transit Business Unit, DDS Wireless*
Bill Bromfield, partner, Fenwick & West*
Troy Cichos, administrative partner, Madrona Venture Group*
Jeff Dossett, CFO, Porch
Terry Drayton, founder and CEO, Storrage*
Geoff Entress, venture partner, Voyager Capital*
Mike Fridgen, internet entrepreneur, GM at eBay*
David Geller, CEO &founder, Spryly
Lisa Hjorten, serial entrepreneur*
John Hogan, director, EHS, SNC Lavalin
Tye Howell, manager, Accenture
Cat Kennedy, management consultant and investor
Andy Kleitsch, senior product manager, Amazon Global Payments
Randall Lucas, co-founder and CEO, SimpleVerity
Frank Paganelli, P&L leader and general counsel, Full Circle
Tom Poole, CEO, MarketSense
Jesse Proudman, founder and CTO, Blue Box|
Lee Schindler, partner, Perkins Coie
Adrian Smith, partner, Ignition*
David Smukowski, CEO, Sensors in Motion*
Ben Straughan, partner, Perkins Coie*
Patrick Turner, Accenture

* = Buerk Center Advisory Board member


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Veterans Center helps students access benefits and support services

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Veterans Center helps students access benefits and support services

Tina Tanaka, a VA Certifying Official at the University of Washington, provides a thorough overview of the benefits and support available to military veterans who plan to enroll at the Foster School of Business. The UW Veterans Center can help you determine your level of eligibility for benefits, answer any questions you may have, and refer you to additional campus and community resources.

Contact the Veterans Center for further information:

Location: Husky Union Building room 327 (map, directions and parking)
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Phone: 206-543-6122
Fax: 206-543-0892
Mailing Address: Veterans Center University of Washington
Box 355882
Seattle, WA 98195-5882