The BEDC is again working to support small business growth in Southeast Alaska. A team of four UW Foster MBA students has spent winter quarter working with the Ketchikan Indian Community in an effort to grow local business and tribally-owned enterprises. The students taught entrepreneurship classes over the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend for 30 current and aspiring business owners. Ketchikan, the southernmost city in Alaska, has an economy based on tourism and fishing; and many of the new business ideas will cater to tourists from cruise ships or independent tourists.
Since the entrepreneurship classes, the MBA students have been working with outdoor adventure, culinary training, historic tourism, clothing retailer, and construction companies.
MBA student Jennifer Yanni believes she learned as much or more as her clients did “I had never written a business plan before so this gave me some real-world experience to put on my resume. It also helped me think about how you sell new ideas to an existing market.”
This is the 15th project that the BEDC has completed for a Native American Tribe or Alaska Native Corporation and we’re already looking for our next projects. If you know of a tribe that would like a MBA team please contact Michael Verchot.
Increasing protein-based food in Nigeria, promoting coffee in Rwanda, reducing indoor air pollution from cooking in Bangladesh, building a wheelchair out of bamboo—these are a few of the ideas presented in the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition, which was hosted by the Foster School’s Global Business Center, had 14 semi-finalist teams from Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, and the U.S.—including one UW team—competing in Seattle for over $30,000 in prizes. The winners were announced at a celebration dinner on February 28, 2013.
Grand Prize $12,500 = Jorsey Ashbel Farms
Jorsey Ashbel Farms turn mango seeds into livestock feed. This tackles the poverty issue of protein-energy malnutrition, which affects millions of disadvantaged people in Nigeria, particularly women and children. They have already generated $31,000 in revenue, proving their business model works. When Mauricio Vivero from the Seattle International Foundation announced the winning team he said, “The final judges noted that the winners proved the model worked, which was fundamental, and also that the business plan thoughtfully and fully addressed the social good.” Blessing Oritseweyinmi Mene from National Open University in Nigeria and Ashbel Ngalabak Ayuba from Ahmadu Bello University presented the idea at GSEC. The other team member is Godson Chizurum Ogumka from Abia State University. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle International Foundation and Microsoft.
Information & Communication Technology Prize $10,000 = Social Cops
Prukalpa Sankar and Varun Banka from Nanyang Technological University launched Social Cops so ordinary citizens could easily report civic issues such as uncollected trash, potholes, leaking water pipes, etc. to local government officials with their mobile phone in their home country India. The civic reporting platform will begin a pilot this summer in Delhi. This prize was sponsored by Microsoft.
Global Health Prize $10,000 = LifeChair
LifeChair produces a wheelchair made of bamboo and rickshaw wheels. It is significantly less expensive than the wheelchairs currently available in Bangladesh and is designed and built to be used in rural areas. Makame Mahmud and Naseef Us Sakib from University of Dhaka created this company to help handicapped Bangladeshis become active members of society. This prize was sponsored by the UW Department of Global Health. Rotary Prize for Social Impact $1,500 = Coffee Promo Co.
Coffee Promo Co. was started by Jean-Christophe Rusatira and Candide Mujawayezu, two medical students from the National University of Rwanda. Their goal is to install washing stations right at the coffee farm so the farmers can sell their beans already sorted and processed and get a much higher price, as well as improve yields by providing more training to farmers and planting better coffee trees. Once the farmers and workers make more money from coffee bean production, they will have more money to spend on healthcare and education to improve their communities and living standards. This prize was sponsored by the Seattle Rotary.
National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance E-Team Prize $5,000 and a Venture Lab Workshop = Disease Diagnostic Group
Disease Diagnostic Group uses the low-cost Rapid Assessment of Malaria (RAM) device to provide a handheld diagnosis for malaria in one minute at very low cost. This team also won the Investor’s Choice Award at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition Trade Show.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn spoke at the beginning of the celebration dinner. He said that while the people who proclaimed Seattle as a city of the future 50 years ago didn’t get everything right, they were right in a few areas. “They did get it right that it is appropriate, it is right to be innovative, creative, and idealistic. It is right to think about others and that’s how we’re going to keep working to build a city of the future.”
The keynote speaker at the award banquet was Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, owner and CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen, which produces products for prevention of infectious diseases such as malaria. The company’s LifeStraw® water filters were named one of the best inventions by Time and one of the best innovations by Esquire and also won the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas. Frandsen, however, said of accolades LifeStraw® has received, “None of this matters unless it’s in the hands of the people who need it most, and that’s where the real innovation is.” He covered three kinds of innovation required to solve global health issues: innovation around creativity of new tool development, innovation around the deployment of new tools, and innovation around financing.
Guest post by Jene Etheridge, Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) Ambassador, Foster undergrad and President of UW Social Entrepreneurship Club
Entrepreneurs, students, engineers, and investors filled Anthony’s Forum in Dempsey Hall on the UW Campus with excitement and curiosity as teams from all over the world prepared to present at the 2013 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition’s Trade Show. The evening began with one-minute pitches from each team which highlighted their solutions and resulting benefits for social issues. The issues ranged from problems of respiratory disease and unclean water to accessible housing and resources.
Volunteer judges from the Seattle business, education and nonprofit community joined community members and host families—all of whom were given a hypothetical $1,000 to invest in the teams, culminating in an “Investor’s Choice” and “People’s Choice” Prize awarded at the end of the event. Judges included representatives from the Evans School of Public Affairs, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sophos Law Firm, Ness Consulting, and various UW departments.
When I talked to Brijesh Sharma, a first-time GSEC attendee and a Hubert Humphrey Fellow, he emphasized his intrigue in the range of ideas and innovative solutions. “The hardest part is choosing who to invest in,” he said, “but it’s an opportunity to test the teams’ ideas and helps build confidence for them.” An emphasis on high social impact instead of profit is something that an undergraduate business student isn’t used to hearing, but for this week the lens is re-focused through GSEC, which defines success by social impact.
I was curious as to how some of these companies even started, and was interested in Prukalpa Sankar’s story about where the idea came from for Social Cops, an open web and mobile platform where citizens, councils and corporations come together to solve civic problems. “We didn’t want to go corporate when we studied business.” She mentioned that they were inspired to start Social Cops because of the social movement, India Against Corruption. Not only are these social movements creating catalysts for change, but also urging members in their communities to mobilize and take action into their own hands.
Although some in attendance were major players in the business world, I realized they were there to find a cause they believed in that had the right people to carry out a solution with a positive social impact. I knew my fellow ambassadors would leave the trade show inspired to make change in our own communities. When I talked to Joyce Tang, a student ambassador for the livestock provider Jorsey Ashbel Farms, she emphasized even more student involvement for events like GSEC. “You meet the world here!” She told me as we watched the teams attentively answering questions from judges. “I think people forget that business can be used to benefit others too.” GSEC is somewhere to get inspired, because we see how social entrepreneurship is even more important to the founders of these companies. They’re passionate about these innovative solutions because they have grown up with these issues firsthand.
Troy Hudson, one of the participating investor judges, added a new perspective to the group as an immigrant from Guyana and Seattle business executive. “It’s important to use these business
skills to solve social problems and reinvest the profit back into a sustainable solution,” he said. The judges, along with fellow students and members of the Seattle community, offered a great opportunity for dynamic discussion on past projects and international travels, as well as innovative resources.
It seemed like the two hours had been only minutes when the announcements were made for the Investors’ and People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in GSEC history, each team received votes from the investor judges. The deliberation was so difficult the People’s Choice Award was presented to two teams: Eco-Chula from University of Dhaka in Bangladesh and Coffee Promo Co. from National University of Rwanda. The Investors’ Award was presented to one of the U.S. teams, Disease Diagnostic Group from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Congrats everyone!
Guest post by Kelly Shen, Foster undergrad and Certificate in International Studies in Business (CISB) student
She is a Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) ambassador to Team LifeChair from Bangladesh.
Around noon on Monday, the Douglas Forum slowly filled up as teams from all across the world staggered in to attend orientation for one of the most prestigious competitions for university-level students. Amongst the crowd this year were engineering students from India and business students from Bangladesh, community members from the area, UW professors and students. For some, this was their first time traveling outside of their home countries; for others, their first time in America and for some, their first time in Seattle.
Each year, the Global Business Center hosts the week-long Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition on the University of Washington campus and brings together undergraduate and graduate students driven by the common goal of creating sustainable, positive solutions to the issues they face in their home countries and around the world. Unlike case competitions, participants of the GSEC come to the competition knowing what they are competing on—a solution for a challenging social issue. For many of the participants, this week is a chance for them to showcase their months, and even years, of hard work.
The majority of the teams arrived over the weekend. Armed with heavy coats and umbrellas, they took on sightseeing in Seattle during the day. One team, from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India told me about their Seattle exploration. When I asked if they went to the first Starbucks and Pike Place Market, one team member replied “Too many people!” and his teammate laughed, “Too many fish!” When I asked if there was anything in particular they wanted to see in Seattle, the team told me that anything would be fun since they were too busy preparing their presentation before their trip to even look up what to do in Seattle. This just shows the passion these teams have for bettering society.
At night, these teams are up all night working—partially because of jet lag but mostly by their drive to deliver the perfect presentation. When I first met the LifeChair team from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, they told me that they had been up since 1:00 a.m. working. It was 1:00 in the afternoon. As you can imagine, most of these teams have traveled more than halfway across the world, boarding flights which last more than 10 hours. One team, FastTrack House, even told me about how they rode camels on their 20 hours layover in Dubai. But none of this stopped them—despite the jet lag and adjusting the change in environment, the teams persevered to deliver their elevator pitches and presentations to coaching round judges Monday afternoon.
Each year since GSEC first began in 2005, the scale of global issues and scope of solutions competition participants bring to the table have greatly increased. This year, GSEC is honored to invite 34 students from 9 nationalities and 12 universities in the United States, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Singapore. For these teams, getting to Seattle was no easy feat either. This year, the teams beat out 91 other competitors from 67 universities in 29 countries to get a chance to pitch their idea to the judges on Thursday. So if you see them around campus this week, congratulate them! Great job, GSEC teams and I can’t wait to see what this week has in store for you!
Guest post from Bob Ness, Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) Advisory Committee member. As we prepare for GSEC at UW next week, Bob reflects on what keeps him coming back each year, and you should too.
I’ve been involved with GSEC since 2006 as one of the first Advisory Board members. My friend and GSEC sponsor, Howard Behar, suggested I get involved. I started out judging and moved through various roles, including mentoring. Then we invented the trade show, and I did that. As a trustee of the Peg and Rick Young Foundation (another GSEC sponsor), I have also participated in supporting the competition financially.
The energy of the teams and the excitement of seeing innovation has kept me involved, and over the years I have gotten to know some of the teams. The Mongolian presentation (Radio Mongolia) of a product to provide radios in the Gobi resulted in a personal connection with the presenter. I’ve become friends with Lumana founders (winners in 2009) and have appreciated watching their organization bloom in Ghana. Our foundation provided Wello, a technology for rolling water from place to place, with seed money to pilot their work in northern India. Ruby Cup, a winner this past year from Denmark was also memorable in its efforts to provide a new feminine hygiene product in an international context.
I find the judge role most difficult. Giving direct and useful feedback the team can use requires finesse and good judgment. The other judges have many different skills, so finding a common language and method of coming to decisions as well as giving feedback is challenging. There is a lot of learning going on for the judges—the perspectives of the other judges hones your own ability to assess a social enterprise and the teams provide lots of opportunities for you to ask yourself hard questions. I think I’ve honed some of my own business and social enterprise skills in the process, and hopefully provided useful feedback to the teams as they attempt to improve their plans and innovations.
Seattle is a nexus for social entrepreneurship. GSEC has contributed to that movement in the international sphere as well as locally. Many of the social entrepreneurial leaders in Seattle have been involved in some aspect of GSEC. The idea that business can change the world by providing a social benefit and a return to investors is a strong concept that is finding favor in business schools across the world and, increasingly, investor interest. Students are excited to see and participate in social purpose organizations, and business schools that provide these opportunities are on the leading edge. GSEC is a great way for business leaders to become more familiar with the needs of the developing world and our increasingly challenged global natural environment.
Want to change the world? And use the free market system to do so? Check out the potential for innovation, new products and services, opportunities for investment, and a terrific educational opportunity for the teams and educational institutions involved…you’ll be glad you did!
When Katlin Jackson returned from her second trip to Haiti in January 2012, she was a woman on a mission. After spending time in a Haitian orphanage, she’d discovered that a good number of the children there weren’t orphans at all. Their parents were simply too poor to care for them. Within months, Katlin, along with UW junior Kari Davidson, cofounded Haiti Babi and entered the 2012 Business Plan Competition.
Haiti Babi now employs four Haitian mothers to knit and crochet high-quality, incredibly soft baby blankets and accessories that are sold to moms in the United States. In 12 months, Katlin and Kari have taken an idea, defined a mission (Moms helping Moms), and created a start-up company that is making real headway. They have a well-thought-out brand, fashionable products, and a detailed operations plan. Their Indiegogo campaign brought in double their fund-raising goal, pre-orders for their first blankets surpassed all expectations, and Haiti Babi has been featured in Seattle Magazine, Social Good Moms, and Disney Baby.
Much of Haiti Babi’s success can be attributed to the intelligence, drive, and dedication of its founders, but they’ve also had great help along the way. They were admitted into the Jones Milestones/Foster Accelerator in July 2012.
The JM/FA at the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship is a TechStars-like program that provides a milestones-based framework, monthly coaching from Seattle entrepreneurs and investors, and connections that help student teams make the transition to start-up companies. From July 2012 to February 2013, 10 teams worked to recreate their teams, develop their technologies or get product to market, and raise early-stage funding. On February 13, eight teams were awarded between $10,000 and $25,000 for their efforts.
PatientStream, a cloud-based electronic patient-tracking system for hospitals, licensed its technology from the University of Washington and secured a $500,000 investment from the W Fund. Ben Anderson (TMMBA 2012) is the founder, and brought in Keith Streckenbach as COO and co-founder to drive sales. Anderson quit his day job at UW Medicine/Harborview in October.
Haiti Babi provides mothers in Haiti with employment to keep their children out of orphanages. As part of their “Moms helping Moms” mission, Haiti Babi’s mothers knit and crochet high-quality, incredibly soft baby blankets that are sold in the United States. Co-founders Katlin Jackson and Kari Davidson (BFA 2014) raised funding through an Indiegogo campaign, pre-orders for blankets surpassed all expectations, and Haiti Babi has been featured in Seattle Magazine and Disney Baby.
LumiSands was awarded a $150,000 National Science Foundation SBIR Phase-I Grant and a $50,000 gift from the Washington Research Foundation for the development and manufacture of its silicon-based alternative to rare-earth phosphors used in LED lighting. Co-founders Ji-Hao Hoo (PhD 2013) and Chang-Ching Tu have negotiated an agreement with the University of Washington, and are still in the technology development phase.
JoeyBra, “the first sexy and comfortable fashion bra with a pocket,” closed a successful angel investment round, produced a new, quality sports bra with a waterproof pocket in a full range of sizes, and has been featured by Forbes, MSNBC, and CNN. Mariah Gentry (BA 2013) and Kyle Bartlow (BA 2013), the co-founders, have contracted with a former Miss America as a spokesmodel and will launch their product nationwide in April 2013.
Microryza, a KickStarter-type site for smaller science and research projects,was admitted into Y-Combinator in October and moved to the Bay Area. Cindy Wu (BS 2011) and Denny Luan (BS 2011) have raised more than $170,000 and their site has funded projects from tracking Magellanic penguins to sustaining native bees and student-designed electric racecars. Update: March 28, 2013 – Microryza was named one of the top 5 Y-Combinator start-ups to watch by Inc. Magazine.
Strideline sold more than 60,000 pairs of their signature city skyline crew socks in 2012. Co- founders Jake Director (BA 2013) and Riley Goodman (BA 2013) have organized a national sales team, are now selling in Nordstrom and Zumiez, and were the subject of a UW TV short feature
SuperCritical Technologies has designed and will build compact modular power plants that provide up to 5MW of clean, reliable electricity for heating and/or cooling. Chal Davidson (MBA 2012) is the CEO, with Max Effgen (MBA 2012) as a co-founder. The company raised $200,000 in angel funding to complete the conceptual design and establish supplier relationships, and is currently fundraising to build the prototype.
UrbanHarvest is an urban farming company that grows high-value hydroponic lettuces and herbs within feet of where they’ll be consumed. The brainchild of Chris Bajuk (MBA 2011) and Chris Sheppard (MBA/JD 2012), UrbanHarvest is currently negotiating with a large SoDo corporation to build a rooftop greenhouse.
So what’s next? The work certainly doesn’t stop here. As any entrepreneur knows, it takes more than six months to grow a thriving business. And that’s what the JM/FA ultimately provides at the end: additional runway. This follow-on funding is a testament to the companies’ hard work so far, and an investment in what we know they can become.
The Jones Milestones/Foster Accelerator is funded by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation and additional private donors who, like us, believe in the ability of student entrepreneurs.
Dr. Leroy Hood, a pioneer in the systems approach to biology and medicine, spoke at UW Foster School in January 2013 about innovation, complexity, P4 Medicine—predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory—and much more.
Dr. Hood has played a role in founding more than fourteen biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Darwin, and The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Of the 6,000+ scientists world-wide who belong to one or more of these academies, Dr. Hood is one of only fifteen people accepted to all three. Additionally, Dr. Hood has published more than 700 peer reviewed articles and currently holds 36 patents.
In a career of dramatic innovation, Dr. Hood has seen a number of paradigm shifts. He identified four common traits. Each paradigm change:
Fundamentally altered how, in his case, scientists think about biology and the practice of biology.
Faced enormous initial skepticism and, in some cases, actual hostility because there were perceived threats to the traditional way of getting things done.
Forced the creation of new organizational structures—the bureaucracy that comes from existing organizational structures hurts the ability to change the way you think about something.
Required enormous risk taking.
Watch the video below for more highlights from his talk, including how the Human Genome Project transformed biology, implications of P4 Medicine, and his thoughts on the future of systems biology.
Leroy Hood was one of UW Foster School of Business Dean Jim Jiambalvo’s guest speakers at the annual Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, which include notable leaders in an array of industries from greater Seattle and around the country.
SM: My Evans School faculty mentor suggested it as a great opportunity and a Hubert Humphrey Fellow had an idea and approached me to work on it with him. I found the overall project challenging, fun and extremely rewarding, so I stayed involved in subsequent years.
GSEC: What was it like to compete in GSEC that first year?
SM: We found another person at the Evans school, an undergrad from the Business School, and a graduate student from the Communications department. We all brought a different perspective and expertise to the business plan that contributed to a very cohesive whole. I was greatly rewarded by working in a team and defending/presenting our plan to a group of judges that were not gentle. Our team placed second.
GSEC: What did you enjoy about being a judge?
SM: As I Judge I always focused on the social return investment analysis done by the teams and making sure a real effort was put into that component. I would dig deep into the assumptions that teams were making to see if they were believable. For me, judging is rewarding and fun but not as rewarding as being a mentor.
GSEC: What made mentoring so rewarding for you?
SM: For two years I was a mentor, which provided an opportunity to have real impact on a team’s plan as well as their presentation. The second year I worked as a co-mentor and we spent time going back/forth with the team especially focusing on their financials and really pushing them on all their assumptions throughout the plans. We were able to give them our experience with product development and clinical trials to help their plan be more realistic in the time frame and components that would need to be completed. Then the opportunity to work with your team during their week in Seattle is a fantastic experience. Our team went from doing a horrible presentation to one that was very polished and informative – and, they won the competition! Both teams were from overseas which made communication back/forth challenging but we did use Skype. It wasn’t as much until they were in Seattle that we were able to give the most help.
GSEC: As someone who has touched nearly every part of this competition and clearly feels so passionate about it and about social entrepreneurship, what would you say to a student who was considering applying? Or to a professional who was thinking of judging or mentoring?
SM: Do it. Any involvement is positive. The plans are becoming better and better every year and the students all have such passion that it is contagious.
To learn more or get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today the Foster School held a naming dedication for its newest facility: Dempsey Hall. The building is named after Neal and Jan Dempsey, who have been incredible supporters of the Foster School. Neal is a 1964 alumnus of the Foster School and has been engaged in myriad ways over the years. He has served on the Foster School Advisory Board for more than two decades and is a past chair. Alongside Mike Garvey and Ed Fritzky, he co-chaired the successful Foster School capital campaign that raised $181 million between 2000 and 2008. He has also given over $10M to the Foster School.
Dean Jiambalvo said at the dedication, “Neal is action oriented and unwavering in principle.” When Neal spoke, he called the next generation to action and encouraged them to give their time, energy, and money to the Foster School. He asked everyone in the crowd to raise their hand if they agreed to give back to the Foster School. Everyone’s hands were in the air. Neal took it a step further and shot of video of everyone with their hands raised–proof they would do what they said. He said it’s been a, “fantastic road to the finish line.” And he looks forward to seeing the next generation of supporters give back.
On September 28th University of Washington students Niki Kiga, Elizabeth Reisner, Emalina Berkshire, and McKenzie Schnell presented at the Washington State Summit on US-India Trade & Commerce about their experiences during the “Half the Sky” India Exploration Seminar. The students had traveled to India for one month studyingwomen’s leadership and issues related to social business – corporations, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and individuals creating business solutions to poverty and environmental issues persisting despite explosive growth in the Indian economy. The students brought a fresh perspective and personal insights to the summit which was focused on deepening trade ties and building awareness of opportunities between the state of Washington and Orissa.
The students shared stories about the highlights of their trip including visiting the innovative Aravind Eye Hospital, helping build a rain-water tank at a village school, joining a group of women at their weekly rooftop micro-finance meeting, and a papermaking business employing and empowering people with disabilities using tea-plantation waste materials. They emphasized that although they came from different academic disciplines and backgrounds that they all saw the influence and interconnections of business in all facets of society and were inspired by the way business can be a tool for empowerment.
During the Q&A the audience was especially interested in the long-lasting impacts the trip will have on their career choices, connection to India, and views of gender roles. The students talked about how before the trip, the group fund-raised $4,000 to buy a water tank for a village school and to open a pre-school in a rural area through the organizations they visited and how this experience inspired them to continue to support and be connected to similar organizations.
– Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.