There are more than 2 billion people who live on less than $2 per day. The good news? Effective poverty solutions have already been developed. Today’s challenge is finding a better way to distribute health products like vaccines, energy products like solar lamps, and many other proven solutions to some of those 2+ billion people. Entrepreneurs from the Foster School of Business and the University of Washington are tackling this challenge. They are starting organizations that we believe can grow to be the biggest, more high impact ventures on the planet”. – NICHOLAS FUSSO, Program Director at D-Prize
D-Prize is an organization dedicated to expanding access to proven poverty solutions in the developing world. The Foster School’s Global Business Center is pleased to be part of the growing family of D-Prize academic partners. This winter, five UW teams competed in the inaugural Foster D-Prize by offering distribution innovations for proven poverty solutions. Each team (including at least one MBA student), was challenged to either 1) Improve vaccine supply chains, 2) Distribute solar lamps, or 3) Deliver Sexual Education to girls to reduce the risk of HIV
Five UW teams submitted 2 page concept notes that were judged by D-Prize. On Wednesday, January 14th, the five UW graduate student teams showcased their distribution solutions at the Foster D-Prize Trade Show. At the trade show, the UW Global Business Center announced which of the 5 teams D-Prize selected to advance to the next round of the competition. Tradeshow guests also voted for the winners of two $1,000 prizes (People’s Choice and MBA Choice).
In the next round of the competition, teams will write full proposals and compete to win $10,000 to implement their solution this summer in a developing country. D-Prize management told the UW Global Business Center they were extremely impressed with the quality of UW submissions in the first round of the competition. The average acceptance rate into the second round among university D-Prize programs is 20-40%, and is only 5% in the global competition. For the first time in the history of D-Prize competitions, they invited all UW first round teams to move on to the next round of the competition.
Foster D-Prize is open to currently enrolled UW graduate students in any discipline who submit a plan that uses business principles to create distributions solutions to existing social enterprise models. Applications for the 2nd annual competition are due in November 2015. Learn more about Foster D-Prize.
The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business has received a $150,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program in support of the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.
In mid-December 2014, Members of the Buerk Center and Foster School community, including Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Buerk Center director Connie Bourassa-Shaw, met with representatives from Wells Fargo to accept the grant and share a few words on their mutual commitment to clean technology and the “green economy.”
The Environmental Innovation Challenge, now in its seventh year, provides a platform for students to explore the scalability of innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to environmental problems—a market that has grown exponentially in recent years.
“The focus on ‘green’ is exploding,” said Jiambalvo, noting dramatically increased efforts by large, established institutions to “green up” every aspect of what they do.
Marco Abbruzzese, Wells Fargo senior regional manager, agreed, saying, “We want to be a leader in clean technology and innovation because it’s the right thing to do, because the problems are so big, and because a positive impact on the environment also positively impacts our bottom line.” He went on to list some of Wells Fargo’s recent accomplishments, including granting over $3 million to 64 environmental programs. “We love what you are doing with the Environmental Innovation Challenge,” he said, “and we’re delighted to be able to support it.”
About the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation Grant Program
The Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program funds clean technology incubator and accelerator programs, along with research and development projects involving universities and colleges. It supports building a framework for entrepreneurs seeking to provide scalable solutions in the low carbon economy.
About the Environmental Innovation Challenge
The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington sparks creative thinking, innovative approaches to problems of environmental significance, and encourages cross-disciplinary teams. EIC student teams define an environmental problem, develop the solution, build a prototype, and write a business summary that defines the market opportunity and potential for impact. The next challenge will take place on April 2, 2015. Learn more about the EIC.
Guest post by Nick Dwyer, Foster MBA Candidate, 2016
Before enrolling in the full-time MBA program at the Foster School this fall, I often heard full-time business students characterized as “day students”. But with the vast number of engaging presentations, speakers’ series, networking opportunities and other evening events at our disposal, I now realize this was a misnomer. While I’m not currently taking any evening classes, my on-campus education rarely ceases before 6PM. Perhaps my most notable example is the evening of November 20th, when I had the opportunity to hear from the former US ambassador to Japan, John Roos.
Ambassador Roos came to the Foster School as part of the Tateuchi Foundation Asian Business Distinguished Speaker Lecture, a series of annual speeches by business leaders focused on presenting US-Japan business opportunities.
By partnering with the Tateuchi Foundation, we can honor the legacy of Mr. Tateuchi’s business success and further the Foundation’s goals of promoting international understanding, knowledge, and relations.
The event is made possible by the Tateuchi Foundation, a family foundation charged with building bridges of understanding between the United States and Japan. Given this mission, its unlikely there is a more fitting presenter than John Roos, who served in his role as ambassador to Japan from 2009 to 2013.
One of the most interesting points of Ambassador Roos’ presentation was his atypical professional background for an ambassador. Unlike most American ambassadors to Japan, John Roos never held a significant public office before his ambassadorship and was not a political figure in Washington, DC. Before Japan, Roos was a lawyer in Silicon Valley, where as CEO he led a premier technology law firm.
He explained that he was such an outsider that his wife quipped that he “didn’t have a chance in hell” before formally receiving his nomination for the post. But his less than common background was appealing to President Obama, who appreciated his experience in technology and innovation and his understanding of Asia-Pacific business. “But most of all, it was just a matter of trust” Roos confirmed.
As someone who has always been interested with the economy of Japan, I particularly enjoyed watching Ambassador Roos interact with Japanese students in the Q&A part of the evening. What emerged was a major difference of opinion between the state and potential future of Japan. Several students commented they felt pessimistic about the future of Japan, given the weak economy, the high population loss, and the high national debt. Ambassador Roos reminded them that Japan is still the third largest economy in the world and that 90% of the world would trade places with them. When asked what is the best characteristic of Japanese business, Roos stated that “quality and attention to detail permeate the whole society” and there is a very high level of service, which can continue to drive the Japanese business. He also sees the Japanese business culture beginning to address its lack of entrepreneurial thinkers and businesses, which will be key for future economic growth.
While Japanese business was a major conversation point for the evening, Roos also discussed a number of geopolitical issues, including the thorny relationship between Okinawa and the United States, the dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, and North Korean threat to Japan. He also described the biggest challenge of his ambassadorship; the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. The link between national security and economic wellbeing was not lost on the ambassador, as he frequently pivoted between both topics.
In all, Ambassador Roos painted a complex yet optimistic picture of Japan and Japanese businesses. His belief in the country is illustrated by his current position on the board of directors at Japan’s largest electronics company, Sony. While Japan has to overcome it’s shrinking population and stiff competition, his ambassadorship allowed him to see up close what makes Japan so dynamic.
While I certainly don’t wish to underestimate my daytime classes and activities, Ambassador Roos certainly demonstrated that learning about global business doesn’t necessarily slow when the sun sets at Paccar Hall.
Although belated, the Global Business Center would like to extend an enormous congratulations to Janet Yang, Gail Letrondo, and Saya Kashiwamura who won 2nd place in the Chinese track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition on November 7th.
The Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition is a unique opportunity for students to showcase their business acumen and foreign language skills by analyzing a real-life global business problem, and presenting their solution to a panel of judges made up of international business professionals in a non-native language.
These three young women competed against teams from prestigious universities across the country. They did an outstanding job analyzing the case and presenting their solution – in Mandarin Chinese! Judges were impressed by the insightful and innovative problem solving and detailed financial reports presented by the University of Washington team.
“I didn’t really expect to start my own business,” says Todd Hansen, looking back to his time as an undergraduate studying biochemistry at the University of Washington. But he had always been interested in clean technology and the reduction of fossil fuels, so when he discovered a really interesting concept for reducing emissions, he decided to pursue it. “Lo and behold,” says Hansen, now the co-founder and CTO of InTheWorks, an engineering and design development company, “that concept turned out to have a lot of potential.”
InTheWorks’ patented product is “essentially a unique emissions control system,” says Hansen. The company holds a total of 4 patents on a catalytic converter that can be used with any type of gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine to significantly reduce emissions, increase fuel economy by 4% to 5%, and increase horsepower 4% to 6%. And where other ways to improve fuel economy and power (aerodynamics, tire redesign, weight reduction) are costly, installing InTheWorks’ converter actually lowers manufacturing costs by 12%, due to reduced precious metal content.
InTheWorks’ technology was impressive from the get-go (the company won a prize in the 2009 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge by focusing on marine engines), but it’s in the past few years that Hansen and his team—CEO and co-founder David Endrio and executive vice president John Gibson—have seen tremendous progress. In 2011 InTheWorks’ prototype passed both EPA and CARB tests with flying colors, and further, more extreme testing in 2013 validated the 2011 results. The company has three full time employees, has raised $1.5 million in funding, and recently formalized a partnership with ClaroVia Technologies (known for its OnStar vehicle navigation system).
So what’s next for InTheWorks? “We’re primarily focused on licensing our technology,” says Hansen, “and we’re ready to reach out to OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] and Tier 1 suppliers.” At the same time, InTheWorks plans to pursue in-house manufacturing and distribution of marine applications of its technology. “And we’re always looking for additional technologies to add to our portfolio,” says Hansen, so his focus is already on the next innovation: “Diesel is on the horizon,” he says, “and we’re optimistic that we will be noticed by game changing companies.”
Entrepreneurship education is in demand. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing subjects on today’s college campuses. According to a 2013 paper published by the Kauffman Foundation, only 250 entrepreneurship courses were taught in the United States in 1985. By 2008, that number had ballooned to 5,000. Today, over 9,000 faculty members teach at least one course in entrepreneurship and more than 400,000 college students take classes on the subject. As the number of future founders and entrepreneurs taking these classes continues to grow, it is crucial that faculty deliver the best possible content, developed from cutting-edge research. Enter the West Coast Research Symposium on Technology Entrepreneurship, an annual conference that brings together scholars from major universities to share their latest insights into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.
In early September, 79 faculty and PhD students from across the U.S. and overseas gathered for the 12th annual WCRS, held at the UW Foster School of Business, to collaborate and gain valuable feedback on novel research in areas such as nascent markets, technology innovation, and funding. This sharing of ideas often leads to stronger, more robust research that will soon find its way into hundreds of college classrooms. When Abhishek Borah, assistant professor at the UW Foster School of Business, presented his paper on social media’s impacts on IPO underpricing, his premise was that underpricing was something that underwriters, investors, and firms all want to avoid. However, faculty members from the University of Alberta and Santa Clara University encouraged him to avoid a purely finance-based view of IPO underpricing and probe deeper into the motives of the bankers involved in the process, to better understand how different types of actors impact IPO pricing. Feedback like this results in more sophisticated research, increasing the likelihood of publication in top-tier journals, and ultimately improving the education of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
A key element of the WCRS is a one-day doctoral workshop, held prior to the conference, that provides an opportunity for PhD students in entrepreneurship to present their research interests, learn what goes into quality research, and gain wisdom from leading scholars in the field. This workshop preparation is invaluable for PhD candidates. As Suresh Kotha, professor at the UW Foster School of Business and one of the leaders of the WCRS, explained: “Many of the faculty presenting this year attended the conference as doctoral students. It was wonderful to see how they’ve blossomed into successful and confident faculty members.”
The West Coast Research Symposium and Doctoral Workshop are sponsored by the University of Washington, Stanford University, University of Oregon, University of Southern California, and University of California Irvine, with a grant from the Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation.
The CIBERs were created by Congress in 1988 to increase and promote the nation’s capacity for international understanding and competitiveness. The Global Business Center, housed at the Michael G. Foster School of Business, has been a grant recipient since 1990. The competition this year was fierce as the pool of available grants had been reduced from 33 to just 17.
Securing the CIBER grant enhances the Global Business Center’s capacity to develop business leaders with the knowledge, skill and vision needed to collaborate and compete across the globe. “Global Business education is critical to the future success of our students and to U.S. competitiveness,” said Dean Jiambalvo. “Creating learning opportunities that build global business expertise is a top priority of the Foster School of Business. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education in supporting this priority.”
The Global Business Center will leverage this grant funding to draw on the strengths of the UW in implementing thirty-six new initiatives over the next four years with a focus on: (1) understanding Asia-Pacific markets; (2) the role of supply chains in global trade and investment; and (3) experiential learning for career-readiness.
Some of these new initiatives include:
Career-focused study abroad and global experiential learning opportunities for students.
Programs that support faculty research and teaching related to the business, economic and cultural environments of Asia.
Education for the business and academic communities about new Arctic trade routes.
Global Career Pathways Programs that prepare community college graduates for careers in international trade, supply chain management, and cybersecurity.
“This award reinforces the strengths of the Foster School’s top ranked international business specialty programs,” explains Debra Glassman, Faculty Director of the Global Business Center. “We are honored to remain a part of the national CIBER network and look forward to producing more innovative global opportunities for students, faculty and the community.”
Putting together this winning proposal and rolling out these new initiatives would not be possible without the immense support that the Global Business Center receives from numerous individuals, community and corporate partners, and the University of Washington. Thank you to all of our supporters!
Presented by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneur Week is an annual window into the world of entrepreneurship. Over the course of five days, the Buerk Center hosts events featuring Seattle’s high-profile thinkers, dreamers, innovators, and doers. Whether you’re a die-hard entrepreneur, interested in working for a start-up, or just entre-curious, this is your opportunity to meet and learn from venture capitalists, start-up CEOs, and serial entrepreneurs.
Check out EntreWeek 2014 highlights below, and visit the Buerk Center’s events calendar for details and updates.
Entrepreneur Week 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Your Success, Your Network: Why, How, and Now w/T.A. McCann of Rival IQ and Gist 12:30—2pm Dempsey Hall 302
It’s all about connections—making them, keeping them, using them. Rockstar entrepreneur T.A. McCann will open EntreWeek with a presentation on building and leveraging your network.
Couldn’t make it to this event? Check out T.A. McCann’s slides here.
What Are You Wearing?
Dempsey Hall 302 From Google Glass to Apple Watch, Fitbit to USB jewelry, everyone’s buzzing about wearables. Join a panel of experts as they discuss the ins and outs of wearable technologies and what’s next in this burgeoning market. Panelists:
Davide Vigano, cofounder and CEO, Sensoria
Alex Day, head of business development, Peach; former project manager, RTneuro
Matthew Jordan, director of research and strategy, Artefact
Eric Jain, founder and CEO, Zenobase
Remaking How We Make Things 4—5:50pm Paccar 292
Pete Agtuca and Dr. Eric Rasmussen will speak about responsible manufacturing and redesigning with sustainability in mind. What does this mean? Here’s a good example:
When most of us think of wind turbines, we think of those massive towers stretching across open spaces where wind is steady and strong. Agtuca, founder of 3 Phase Energy Systems, has re-thought wind power generation, and patented “Powersails”, which generate energy right where it’s needed. Speakers:
Pete Agtuca, founder of 3 Phase Energy Systems
Dr. Eric Rasmussen, Infinitum Humanitarian Systems
Reinventing Healthcare 5:30—7:30pm Dempsey Hall 302
No surprise: healthcare is undergoing a transformation. Regulatory changes, advances in technology, a more-informed consumer—all of these shifts present a new healthcare industry that is rife with opportunity. Come meet with entrepreneurs who are changing face of healthcare in surprising ways. Panelists:
Amber Ratcliffe, Carena (formerly, co-founder of NanoString)
Aaron Coe, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals
Peter Scott, Burn Manufacturing Leen Kawas, M3 Biotechnology
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Venture Capital Walk 8:30am—1:30pm
Downtown Seattle Visit top venture capital firms Vulcan, Maveron, and Madrona, whose portfolios include such well-known companies as Gilt, Dreamworks, eBay, Zulily, Appature, and Redfin. (Students only. Registration required.)
It’s Good to Share: The Peer-to-Peer Economy 5:30—7:30pm
Dempsey Hall 302 You can’t swing a pink Lyft mustache these days without hitting a shared economy startup. Uber, Air BnB, Poshmark—they’re everywhere, and with good reason. Why buy when you can rent from others? Why not make a little cash sharing something you don’t use all the time anyway? Come meet three CEOs in the thick of things, and learn why your mom was right all along: it’s good to share. Panelists: Nathanael Nienaber, CEO, Ghostruck Phil Kimmey, co-founder, Rover
Sean Dobrosky, FlightCar
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Startup Hall Tour 12:30—2pm
Condon Hall Join us for a tour of Startup Hall, the new hub of innovation in Seattle’s University District. You’ll meet Chris DeVore of TechStars and Founder’s Co-op, UpGlobal’s Marc Nager, and other residents of this new home base for entrepreneurs.
Brace for Impact: Mission-Driven Entrepreneurship 5:30—7:30pm Dempsey Hall 302
Social entrepreneurship defines success as increasing a company’s bottom line while addressing some of society’s most pressing problems. Come learn how three impact entrepreneurs have taken simple ideas—a restaurant, a baby blanket, a co-working space—and used them to improve our world.
Matt Gurney, FareStart
Katlin Jackson, Haiti Babi
Lindsey Engh, Impact HUB Seattle
Friday, October 17, 2014
2014 UW Innovation Open House 2—5pm Dempsey Hall 302
Hosted by UW C4C and the Buerk Center, this is your opportunity to: network with local investors, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs; meet the founders and leaders of top UW spinouts; learn about promising new technologies developed in UW research labs; and discover the world of venture and angel investing.
October 17th and 18th will mark the inaugural DubHacks Hackathon, the first and largest hackathon in the Pacific Northwest. The event is being held at the Husky Union Building on the University of Washington campus and has already drawn attention from student hackers across the United States. Seattle, Washington has been chosen for its central location in the Pacific Northwest and for its well-established reputation as a high-tech city and entrepreneurial center. Hosted by Startup UW, Sudo Soldiers, and the Informatics Undergraduate Association.
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 theWall 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
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.