Category Archives: Undergraduate

Leadership Team: aiding students advance their professional careers

Guest post by Charissa Chin, Vice President of the Leadership Team

Each quarter, the Leadership Team (a student organization that partners with the Consulting & Business Development Center) offers a Flagship Consulting Program, where students provide consulting services to local businesses. During these seven-week projects, students work in teams and receive guidance from professional advisors from Ernst & Young.  This spring, our students gathered research and developed recommendations for The Seafair Foundation, Sealaska Corporation, and The Skin Firm.

The Seafair Foundation, which is part of the organization that hosts Seattle’s Seafair Festival, focuses on charitable services through its scholarship programs and community outreach. The student team’s goal was to expand brand recognition for the Foundation and other programs in their portfolio. Besides providing recommendations on how to increase membership for Seafair’s Ambassador Program, the student team also created an event, Inspire Seattle, which projects to attract more than 500 participating high-school students.

Sealaska Corporation, a $275 million dollar Alaska Native Corporation, with subsidiary operations in various industries, tasked their student team with researching potential markets where Sealaska could gain market share and increase profits, while still maintaining their company’s core organizational values. The team identified various industries such as athletic apparel, green retrofitting, deconstruction, and niche recycling as attractive markets where the company could potentially flourish.

The Skin Firm is a Seattle-based company that offers high-quality skin care products and services. The primary objective for their student team was to develop a marketing strategy to grow their customer base by 4% monthly. In order to reach this goal and increase overall revenue, the team recommended strategies to strengthen the firm’s local advertising, social media campaign, and service packaging.

Our consulting students came away feeling extremely accomplished as they learned how to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world business situations and helped small business owners become more successful.  Students gained insight into what consulting is and had the opportunity to expand their network with Ernst & Young professionals. Through the Flagship Consulting Program, students improved their analyzing, problem-solving, time-management, and teamwork skills.

Personally, I was most excited to see how this experience has helped our students grow and ultimately advance their professional careers.  In fact, this experience has already helped several Flagship members acquire various internships and job offers.  As Vice President of the Leadership Team, I’ve had the pleasure of managing these projects for three consecutive quarters.  It was not only rewarding, but allowed me to grow personally.  Learning how to manage 17 students this quarter has helped me develop my organizational, decision-making, and leadership skills.  It’s a wonderful program and I encourage every student at the UW Foster School of Business to join!

Neal Dempsey’s advice for the class of 2013

The Foster School of Business was honored to have Neal Dempsey (BA 1964) speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremony this year. Dempsey is managing general partner at Bay Partners, focusing on enterprise software applications. Over the past 19 years he has guided more than two dozen start-ups to obtain highly successful outcomes—either through an IPO or by acquisition. He recently made Forbes’ 2013 Midas List of top tech investors. In 2012 he had three companies go public and three others get acquired.

Dempsey gave an animated and insightful send off to the class of 2013. His three secrets for success in the real world: accept failure, embrace change and give back. Below is an excerpt from his blog and video of his speech. Congratulations to the class of 2013!

Re-posted from Dempsey’s blog:

I had the honor of being asked to give the commencement address for the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business undergraduate class this month. As many of you know, the University of Washington is my alma mater and near and dear to my heart. It was a real treat. To prepare for the speech, I spent some time with about 25 of this year’s graduating class. I wanted to know their hopes, dreams, and worries for what’s ahead. After all, these are some difficult times for new college graduates. I must say I was surprised and impressed with the caliber of these students. Most have jobs and all are prepared and ambitious. I expect to see great things from this group of students in the future.

This is not your ordinary commencement speech, so get ready for more than a few surprises. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed giving it. Congratulations to the class of 2013!

See more from the Foster School’s graduation ceremonies.

CISB students intern with Pacific NW Advisors

Pacific NW AdvisorsCameron Geisler, Carl Mars and Matt Sink, Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) students, recently completed internships with the Latin American Division of Pacific Northwest Advisors, an international network of global business advisors. Stephen Murphy, senior advisor for Latin America, said it was “a pleasure working with these talented students.”

As an intern, Geisler created a slide presentation concerning Mexico, NAFTA and CAFTA. He conducted extensive research, including research to ascertain who the business “movers and shakers” are in Mexico. He also investigated which international firms and Washington state organizations have invested in Mexico. He presented his findings to the Board of Directors of the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce (Seattle) where he received much critical acclaim as well as feedback. He also presented to a group from Seattle University that were going to visit Mexico on a service trip.

Mars worked on a presentation about “Doing Business in 21st Century South America,” in which he emphasized the nuances of business in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Argentina. He presented to the international team of the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Marine Resource Group of Saltchuk, Seattle’s largest private equity firm.

Sinks’ work focused on Brazil, including a presentation about the future of Brazil which highlighted infrastructure, business and investment opportunities for Washington state firms. He presented at Skagit Valley College’s “Global Fest 2013.”

Learn more about the Foster School’s Certificate of International Studies in Business Program.

Students present to Allrecipes

Guest post by Lisa Anton and Travin Keith, Foster School and CISB Custom Track students

AllrecipesAfter winning the grand prize in the 2013 CISB Foreign Market Strategy Project, the Foster School’s Certificate of International Studies in Business Custom Track students presented their case at the office of Allrecipes on April 11. The students presented in front of a large number of Allrecipes employees and successfully defended their presentation for about an hour, earning compliments from the audience. Their performance was even compared to that of consultants who have presented in the past.

The prize for best teamwork went to the Japanese Track and prize for best presentation to the U.S. Track/Australia team.

Their proposal was to form a strategic alliance with Homeplus, the second largest retailer in South Korea, to provide their content as an additional service to their already-existing E-commerce. Users would be able to look up recipes online provided by Allrecipes and be able to purchase the ingredients on the same page from Homeplus with Allrecipes getting a percentage of the revenue. They also suggested that Allrecipes perform joint marketing projects with Homeplus in order to promote the service.

In addition to presenting to Allrecipes, the Custom Track also received an office tour from VP Patricia Smith and Senior Product Manager Vasantha Kostojohn. This experience was really enjoyable, as the office seemed more like an open community center than the headquarters of a major international recipe site. The décor was open and colorful, adorned with national flags, sticky notes from different team projects, and fun posters with cute animals and motivational quotes. The atmosphere was personal, warm, and mirrored the positive attitude that radiated off all of the staff members present. The track was also able to get a sneak peek of a mobile app that Allrecipes is gearing to launch next year and learned from the lead project manager about its development.

Overall, the Allrecipes office was as colorful and creative as its website, and it was a truly great experience to be able to go behind the scenes of such an innovative company.

Learn more about the Foster School’s Certificate of International Studies in Business Program.

Authentic ramen receives rave reviews

Guest post by Christopher Comley, CISB French Track student

Kukai Owners, Brandon Ting and Nuri Aydinel The first time Foster School alumni Brandon Ting (BA 2009) and Nuri Aydinel (BA 2009) met in class, they didn’t even talk. However, both joined the U.S. track of the Certificate of International Studies in Business program (CISB), and from there began the conversations that would lead to close friendship and a thriving business.

Along with Jessmin Lau, (UW BA 2010), the two are owners of Kukai Ramen and Izakaya, a Japanese noodle restaurant that opened in Bellevue in December and has already garnered widespread praise.  Seattle Magazine recently featured the restaurant in its “Best Restaurants” issue.

“We enjoy when our customers tell us dining in Kukai is the best ramen experience they have had,” Ting said.

It is the first U.S. location of the Kukai Ramen franchise, which has several other locations in Japan.

The restaurant is on a mission to provide “really good ramen to Americans,” Ting said.

The owners first became interested in ramen when they saw how popular it was becoming around the world.

“People are getting to know ramen and are becoming huge fans of it. We saw that the ramen fans in Seattle (and most of the U.S.) don’t get to enjoy a bowl of authentic ramen,” Ting said.

Facing such a culinary deficiency, the owners began preparations to satisfy the ramen needs of the Seattle area. They traveled to Japan several times, searching for the perfect ramen to bring back, and eventually came across Kukai. Media publications claimed customers who didn’t normally like ramen liked the ramen from Kukai.

“That got us curious so we went to try it,” Ting said.

The owners discovered Kukai had a special cooking method for the ramen, which made it more palatable to the Japanese market and potentially the American one as well. After deciding which ramen to use, the owners began preparations to open a franchise in the U.S., a process which took two years. In reaching its goal to provide authentic ramen to the American market, the owners needed authentic ingredients, but they encountered several FDA obstacles. Under FDA regulations, all ingredients have to be from a certified manufacturer. Originally, Kukai’s ingredients were not FDA approved, but the owners decided the authenticity was worth the price.

“We actually got the manufacturer certified under U.S. standards in order to import the ingredients,” Ting said.

Ting attributes the success of the restaurant to the lengthy planning process.

“We had several changes to our plan, which involved a lot of analyzing and calculating. The long and thorough planning and preparation process was the real key to our ‘rapid’ success,” Ting said.

With plans to open up 30 to 50 more Kukai restaurants across the country, Seattleites won’t be the only ones enjoying warm bowls of authentic ramen.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program.

BPC Bonanza

Guest post by Claire Koerner, co-founder of nomON and Foster School class of 2014
nomON is a randomized food delivery app. Claire and the rest of the nomON team competed in the 2013 UW Business Plan Competition and made it into the Sweet 16 round. In this guest post, Claire reflects on the BPC experience and lessons learned.

nomON for blog postnomON’s Business Plan Competition (BPC) journey drew to a close on May 23 at the Awards Dinner amid friends, mentors, and fans. After two months of hard work, we were all very eager to reach the culmination of the event, and be able to look back at all we have learned along the way. At the beginning of the BPC, we had a 7 page executive summary that was absolutely gorgeous (thanks to Tarryn!) but with some major holes. Our financials were complete estimates, we had yet to sort out credit card processing, and much of our plan was built upon assumptions. After advancing to the investment round, we had the chance to perfect our 2 minute pitches for judges, create nomON swag, and start raising hype about the brand. But it was when we advanced to the Sweet 16 (yay!!) that the learning really began: we met with multiple coaches and mentors – thank you Sanjay Kumar, Craig Sherman, Emer Dooley, Charles Seybold and several others along the way- who helped us find and fill the holes in our business. nomON went from being a quirky mobile app cobbled together at Startup Weekend to a real business with well thought out financial projections (you should see the spreadsheets), a solid partnership with ordr.in, and an entirely new user interface. What a roller coaster! Although we didn’t advance to the Final Four, nomON is now armed with a full 15 page business plan, an investor slide deck, and most of all, important insights and truths about our business. Thank you to the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and everyone who helped us during this process. We are excited to move forward with the business, continue learning and improving, and most of all…bring nomON to you soon!

Top 5 things we learned:

  1. Businesses are hard- the to do list keeps growing, no matter how many things you check off
  2. Pitch to everyone- you never know who is going to have a random genius insight
  3. All it takes to keep a designer happy is free-flowing white chocolate mochas with extra whip
  4. Practice makes perfect
  5. Businesses are fun- the deeper you go, the more you learn, and the more you love your team :)

The nomON team:
Claire Koerner – Business Administration (Marketing)
Stephanie Halamek – BA (Finance)
Tarryn Marcus – BA (Entrepreneurship)
Evan Cohen – Informatics
William Voit – Electrical Engineering

Global change marketplace: how the GSEC Trade Show brings the world to UW

trade showOver its nine year history, the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business has brought awareness of pressing global issues to thousands of people – student competitors; competition mentors, judges and coaches; university partners; student volunteers; friends, family and supporters. So far, the competition has engaged over 2000 students of diverse educational disciplines and levels from around the world in tackling complex global social problems with entrepreneurial spirit and innovative market-based solutions.

At the competition’s culmination, semi-finalist university student teams (30-60 students per year) from around the world travel to Seattle for a week to learn about social enterprise, receive professional guidance and connections, network with each other and compete for prizes.

GSEC’s cross-cultural exchange is highlighted at the Trade Show, where semi-finalist teams each give their “pitch” to sell their business ideas to Trade Show judges, who act as mock investors, as well as students and community members. They often have prototypes, photos, videos and stories to illustrate the challenges they are facing and the inspirational impacts of their solutions. As a result, these issues become real, even for those who have never experienced them firsthand. Judge Loretta Little explains: “I have always felt and try to teach my kids that we’re citizens of the world. You need to put yourself in other people’s shoes. What better way than to meet people from around the world who are willing to come forward and share problems with you and what they think might be solutions to those problems.”

Teams often use prize money and connections made during GSEC to help launch their business, which can create employment and have other positive social impacts back home. Archived and streaming video of competition events, media coverage locally and in the student competitors’ universities and communities, and even the competitors own blogs and social media extends the education still further – allowing even those who cannot take part in the competition to feel inspired by the innovations being proposed to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Trade Show judge David Parker summed up why he volunteers each year: “The new ideas that are emerging every year from young people – it’s just astounding – they’re already creating patents, engaging with partners for manufacturing new devices, they’ve been able to engage with experts in the geographies of high need that they hope to get their solutions to – I just love seeing that passion, energy and creativity and innovation emerge and I continue to be impressed year after year with the applicants, the competitors and their ideas.”

GSEC is open to currently enrolled degree-seeking students in any discipline, at any level of study, and at any higher education institution worldwide who submits a plan that uses business principles to create a sustainable solution to poverty, health and economic growth in the developing world. Applications for the 10th annual competition are due November 12, 2014. Learn more at http://www.foster.washington.edu/gsec/

AOF High School students learn about foreign market strategy

AOF & GBCC EventThe University of Washington Foster School of Business’ flagship international event, the Global Business Case Competition (GBCC), brings together undergraduate university students from the United States and 12 – 14 other countries to compete in a fast-paced and challenging business case study. While GBCC week culminates with team presentations to corporate and community judges, it also serves as a forum for cross-cultural learning, and engages the student competitors as mentors for local high school students.

In 2008, we launched a partnership with the national Academy of Finance (AOF) program, which offers high school students an opportunity to study business topics to prepare them for college and their future careers.  Since then, over 500 high school students have come to campus to learn about global business strategy, presentation skills, study abroad, and international business and finance degree options and career opportunities.

This year’s AOF event brought students from three local high schools, Ballard High School, Chief Sealth High School, and Franklin High School, to the University of Washington campus for a full day workshop during GBCC week. During the workshop the AOF high school students were paired with undergraduate business students from around the world, and together they worked through several exercises focused on cultural understanding and developing global business strategy.

The university student participants mentored AOF students on how they approach difficult business cases, and what frameworks and tools they might use to breakdown an international business problem. The students spent part of the day working together on analyzing a case focused on The Boeing Company’s foreign market strategy, completing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses of Boeing’s opportunities in both Latin America and Africa. The students were tasked with determining which market Boeing should spend more resources trying to cultivate business.

In years past, the AOF and GBCC students have studied cases ranging from how Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group should handle piracy issues to examining the competitive landscape of Coca-cola and Pepsi over 100 years of rivalry to determining a marketing plan for a Mattel toy brand.

This partnership has resulted in a unique event each year that brings together a diverse group of high school students with university students from all over the world. The AOF students have the opportunity to learn about different culture and what it might be like to study international business in college. An AOF Board member shared that “getting this opportunity … broadens their experiences and offers insight into higher education opportunities.”

To learn more about the Global Business Case Competition and the Academy of Finance program, visit: www.foster.washington.edu/gbcc.

Special thank you to Wells Fargo for their generous support of this program.

Achieving the American dream

Exequiel Soltero, owner of Maya's (gentleman in orange shirt), stands with his UW BEDC Student Consulting group.

Exequiel Soltero, owner of Maya’s (front row, third from left), stands with his UW BEDC Student Consulting group and advisors.

Exequiel Soltero arrived in the U.S. from his small hometown on the southwestern border of Mexico determined to pursue the “American Dream” via the traditional culinary delights of his native Mexico.

A positive mindset, entrepreneurial spirit, and desire to provide for his family aided Exequiel to labor through the restaurant industry, beginning as a dishwasher and progressing to a waiter. By 1979 Exequiel had accumulated enough savings to open his own restaurant devoted to Mexican cuisine, Maya’s Family Mexican Restaurant in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood. Staying true to the restaurant’s name, and Exequiel’s initial motivations for opening a restaurant, each and every one of his siblings—nine sisters and three brothers—spent time working together to build a strong foundation for Maya’s.

Nearly 35 years later, Exequiel’s authentic recipes have lured a solid following, and allowed him to expand well beyond the original 850-square-foot restaurant. Maya’s brand now includes a full-service Mexican restaurant and a growing catering service.

As the trend of mobile food trucks is continuing to grow, Maya’s has launched a fleet of food trucks that will soon be located next to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field during Seahawks and Sounders FC games, as well as on Microsoft’s Redmond campus during weekday lunch hours. With growth, however, comes new challenges and Exequiel realized that success of Maya’s new division-based business hinged on seeking outside guidance.

Exequiel, who has been a long-time friend and partner of the Business & Economic Development Center (BEDC), turned to the BEDC’s to participate in our Student Consulting Program to help him reach his business goals:  “I was motivated to participate with the BEDC Student Consulting Program because I was interested in growing my business, and what better way to grow my business than to get the input from business students, teachers, mentors and advisors.”

The BEDC’s Student Consulting Program improves management and marketing skills of small business in under-served communities with the aid of teams comprised of of business students and faculty of the UW Foster School of Business, Foster alumni, and mentors drawn from the Seattle Rotary Club. Exequiel explained what he was hoping to gain from his participation with the Student Consulting Program:

 “I was hoping to receive a different perspective from my own. I have several ideas and visions for the restaurant and catering department, but I felt I needed to get the opinion from someone who has valuable input that could help change the way I do business.”

Through the Student Consulting Program, Exequiel, along with 14 other business owners, was provided advice from his student consulting team on how to strategically grow all divisions of Maya’s, including specially-tailored marketing strategies and financial/managerial guidance.

Now, as Exequiel’s interaction with his student consulting group concludes and he begins the process of actualizing the plans and goals presented with the continuing support of his BEDC mentors and advisors, he has great hope for his company’s future:

“I feel very positive about the future of my business, especially with all the recommendations the student team had to offer at the presentation [of their findings]. I learned the importance of sending out thank you notes to all catering customers upon completion of their event, [the value of] up-selling, tips to get my food cost and labor back to a respectable percentage, and that having someone managing our social media outlets would dramatically help with sales and customer retention.”

If you are business interested in being a part of the 2013-2014 Student Consulting Program, or if you have any questions about the Program, please contact Wil Tutol at wtutol@uw.edu.

GBCC 2013: Champions analyze wine industry case

Winning Team, Concordia University

GBCC Champions, Concordia University

Saturday April 13th was an eventful day.  The Global Business Center hosted its 15th annual undergraduate Global Business Case Competition – where twelve teams representing ten different countries competed for the title of Champion.

Each of the GBCC teams spent 48 hours analyzing a business case on Frog’s Leap Winery, which is known for its commitment to sustainability.  The winery produces high quality wines using organically-grown grapes and was a leader in adopting an environmental management system for production. The teams, who are outside consultants, were asked to make recommendations in three areas:   (1) the next sustainability initiative that Frog’s Leap should undertake, (2) identification of two potential markets outside the US, and (3) marketing plans for those new markets.

After a competitive preliminary round, four teams were selected to move on to the final round: Concordia University, National University of Singapore, University of Arizona, and University of Hong Kong.  With over 100 people in attendance, the final round presentations were exciting to watch. In the end, the judges chose Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) as this year’s Champion.

Concordia University students had a four pronged strategy for Frog’s Leap Winery. They recommended that for Frog’s Leap to increase sales but remain small and committed to sustainability initiatives, they should take the following actions:

  • Increase presence in Japanese market following a product development strategy
  • Enter the Chinese market following a market penetration strategy
  • Use recycled bottles
  • Plan the succession processGBCC Group

We would like to acknowledge the hard work of our GBCC Student Leadership Team who spent countless hours organizing this big event. Nicole Winjum and Brandon Upton led their group of six student managers and over 30 volunteers to a successful 15th annual GBCC.

And finally, GBCC would not be possible without our major sponsors: The Boeing Company, Costco Wholesale, F5 Networks, Russell Investments, Starbucks Coffee International, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo.

For more information, visit: http://www.foster.washington.edu/gbcc