Todd Fishman, Nathan Kaiser, and Katlin Jackson: marketing your startup

Startups are hard—identifying opportunity, developing a business plan, understanding legal issues, marketing your product. Luckily, you can learn a lot about navigating the startup world from entrepreneurs who’ve been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

Resource Nights, presented during winter quarter by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, feature experts from the local entrepreneur community sharing their knowledge on various aspects of starting a business.

This week’s class, “Marketing your Startup,” featured Todd Fishman (Evergreens Salad), Nathan Kaiser (2bar Spirits), and Katlin Jackson (Haiti Babi). The three entrepreneurs shared their thoughts on identifying their startups’ uniqueness, developing marketing strategies, and establishing footholds in competitive environments.

Read some of our favorite advice and insights below, watch the entire class video here, and check back weekly for more Resource Nights coverage.

Nathan Kaiser on identifying your uniqueness:

2bar_6.2013_2“Branding is how you play the game and grow your business to wherever you want to take it,” says Kaiser, “and our brand is about legacy.” His company, 2bar Spirits, takes its name from the family ranch back in Texas—a story that is shared with every potential customer. While the brand is also known for being entirely handmade from local ingredients, Kaiser believes that 2bar “resonates in the consumer’s mind for the reasons that are important: legacy and celebration.”

Todd Fishman on communicating uniqueness:

static1.squarespace.com“We communicate our uniqueness through our people,” says Fishman, explaining that it’s his employees who share Evergeens’ distinctive qualities—a focus on health, organic and sustainable ingredients, giving back to the community—with customers. “When we are hiring, we look for people with heart—with the ability to communicate and care—over people with technical skills,” he says. “We pay more for better quality employees, and we don’t rush the hiring process.”

Katlin Jackson on messaging:

HaitiBabi_set+stone+teal“Figure out what the customer actually cares about,” says Jackson, whose company employs moms in Haiti to knit baby blankets that are sold in the United States. “If someone has just one second to learn about [Haiti Babi], what is it we want them to take away?” she asks. For Haiti Babi, she says, “It’s hope. We want them to understand that this is a hopeful product.”

Todd Fishman on preparation:

“Take every meeting, meet with everyone you can, and follow up,” says Fishman, when asked what advice he’d give to those just starting out. “ When Hunter [his cofounder] and I moved from New York back to Seattle, we met with 320 people in three months. That is ultimately how we’ve succeeded to where we are now.” He continued, speaking directly to the students in the audience, “You are at a University that has unlimited connections and networks. Tap into that!”

Foster undergrads win first place at accounting case competition

PwC Case Competition winners
PwC Case Competition winners from left to right: Lindsey Jackson, Natasha Pulliam, John David McCleary and Trenton Dos Santos-Tam

Another Foster team takes first place!

After winning the PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Case Competition local preliminary round, competing against 46 other universities via video for one of five finalist’s spots, and presenting at the company’s New York City headquarters, a team of four Foster accounting undergrads took home the first place prize.

Frank Hodge, Foster professor and Accounting Chair, reports that during the final round (which included challenging questions from PwC national partners and directors) the students “presented with poise and handled the questions beautifully!”

Congratulations to students John David McLeary, Lindsey Jackson, Natasha Pulliam, Trenton Dos Santos-Tam and faculty coach Jake Thornock!

Alaska Airlines takes the Environmental Innovation Challenge to new heights

EIC Banner 2015_541x138

If you’ve taken an Alaska Airlines flight recently, you may have noticed some changes on board—in-flight recycling, drinks served in InCycle Cups, 100% recycled paper products in the restrooms. These changes represent the many steps the airline is taking to become a leader in sustainability by reducing the environmental impact of its services—lowering fuel emissions and energy use, cutting waste, and using fewer non-sustainable resources.

In addition to these efforts, Alaska Airlines has committed to a 10-year sponsorship of the Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington, demonstrating its dedication to innovation that addresses the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

The EIC challenges interdisciplinary student teams to define an environmental problem, develop a solution, design and build a prototype, create a business plan that proves their solution has market potential, and pitch to a crowd of judges at a demo-day event. Since its inception, the EIC has attracted 726 students (161 teams) from Washington colleges and universities, distributed $188,585 in prototype funding, and awarded over $140,000 in prize money. Each year, 250+ professionals from Seattle’s environmental and entrepreneurial communities participate as judges, mentors, and coaches in this annual event.

Pam Tufts with EIC 2014 winner Korvata
Pam Tufts with EIC 2014 winner Korvata

“Receiving a 10-year commitment from Alaska Airlines is huge,” says Pam Tufts, assistant director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and manager of the Environmental Innovation Challenge. “It’s an acknowledgment that the EIC, now in its seventh year, is making significant contributions to innovation in clean technology and sustainability. The Alaska Airlines naming gift will provide long-term stability so that we can continue to expand the program and nurture cultivate cross-disciplinary environmental innovation for years to come.”

This year’s Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge will take place on April 2, 2015. Stay tuned—we can’t wait to introduce you to this year’s teams!

Want an idea of what’s to come? Meet last year’s winners.

Learn about another EIC sponsor.

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Terry Drayton and Adina Mangubat on business planning and risk

Buerk Center Resource Nights: Business Planning and Risk

Startups are hard—identifying opportunity, developing a business plan, understanding legal issues, marketing your product. Luckily, you can learn a lot about navigating the startup world from entrepreneurs who’ve been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

Resource Nights, presented during winter quarter by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, feature experts from the local entrepreneur community sharing their knowledge on various aspects of starting a business.

Drayton_Storrage Adina (small)

This week’s class, “Business Planning and Risk,” featured Terry Drayton, founder of Storrage and Adina Mangubat, founder of Spiral Genetics. The two entrepreneurs shared their thoughts on startup relationships, managing risk, and entrepreneurial game plans.

Read some of our favorite advice and insights below, watch the entire class video here, and check back weekly for more Resource Nights coverage.

Business Plans

“The business plan should be a living document because the market is constantly shifting underneath you. You’ll work hard on a business plan, bring it out into the real world, and realize it’s not going to work. Starting a business is basically a never-ending game of pivoting,” says Mangubat, whose startup made three substantial pivots before landing where it is today.

“I’m a believer in the one-page business plan, says Drayton. “When I got my MBA back in the early 80’s, business plans were graded by the pound—100s of pages of crap.” But now, well into his entrepreneurial career, Drayton likes the idea of having to fit everything down on one page. “It forces you to be brutal with editing and only include the things that really matter,” he says.

Finding the Right Startup Partner(s)

“Finding the right startup partner is like choosing your significant other,” says Mangubat. “You don’t want just anybody. Just like in love, you have to be picky and patient, and wait until you find someone who resonates with what you’re trying to do—someone who you can trust and communicate with.”

Measuring Risk

“You can come up with 500 reasons not to do something, and by the time you’re done meeting with a list of venture capitalists and angel investors, they’ll have given you 500 more,” says Drayton. “Your job is to pay attention to the ones that keep you up at night.”

“Hundreds of people will tell you no,” says Mangubat. “They will tell you you’re too young, not qualified, or crazy. But if you are passionate about what you are doing and really believe you can do it, don’t listen to them, and just go for it.”

The Startup Game

“Think of how bad some [NFL] teams are,” says Drayton, while speaking on the importance of having a game plan. “They have the same amount of money as other teams, they can hire the same people, have the same amount of draft picks, but they’re just awful. It’s because they need a game plan. Imagine the Seahawks without a game plan. It would be inconceivable!”

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Forty years of making a difference: Foster recognizes long-time supporter

Carol Batcheldor and Dean Jim Jiambalvo
Dean Jim Jiambalvo with Carol Batcheldor

This blog post was written by Alicia Fereday Hull, Philanthropy Officer for the Foster School. 

When Carol Batchelder (BA 1955) gave her most recent gift to the Foster School of Business, she hit an incredible milestone. She has been giving to the Foster Difference Fund each year for the past 40 years. Beyond her commitment to business education at the university, Carol has served on the UW Foundation Board, is an active member of Alpha Phi and often travels abroad with the UWAA. On January 21st, Dean Jim Jiambalvo took a moment to recognize Carol for her generous support. Thank you Carol, for helping to advance the Foster School to where it is today.

Foster undergrads take 2nd place at National Diversity Case Competition

For the first time in UW history, Foster School students participated in the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition at Indiana University. Traditionally held during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Foster undergrads competed against students at Yale, Morehouse, and more to take the number 2 spot and win $5,000 in prize money.

Congratulations to Danielle McConnell, Tina Moore, Mayowa Laniran, and Joshua Banks for all of their hard work!

See photos from the competition below:

Diversity Case Competition
Students competed against Southern University, Yale, Morehouse and University of Arkansas to make it to the final round
Diversity Case Competition
Team Foster presenting in the final rounds to 10+ corporate judges and all universities
Diversity Case Competition
2nd Place Plaque!
 Diversity Case Competition
Final results
Diversity Case Competition
Team Foster all smiles after taking 2nd place! L-R: Tina Moore, Mayowa Laniran, Danielle McConnell and Joshua Banks

Inaugural Client of the Year Award

Guest post by Michael Verchot, Director of the Consulting & Business Development Center.

Craig Dawson

For nearly 20 years the Consulting and Business Development Center has been providing student consulting services and business education programs for owners and managers of small businesses across Washington. For the first time ever, we recognized a business that has successfully used more than one of our programs to grow their profitability and their number of employees.

At our Minority Business Awards banquet earlier this month, we recognized Retail Lockbox as the inaugural recipient of our Client of the Year Award.

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of this company. What started as a simple lockbox company offering one service has grown into a firm offering lockbox, merchant services, and document management services. They have private sector, public sector, and nonprofit clients in the healthcare, telecommunications, utilities, insurance, and property management industries.

When they first connected with the center their revenues were slightly more than $2 million.

Three times in the last 12 years the company has worked with student teams from the Center to develop five-year strategic plans. The owners of the company credit these five-year plans with providing the framework they’ve needed to grow their sales to close to $6 million and add more than 50 employees. They’ve also used the Center’s week-long Minority Business Executive Program to improve the strategic decision making of their top executives.

Because of how Retail Lockbox has grown by leveraging resources from the Consulting and Business Development Center they’ve become one of the most vocal advocates for the center and they’ve encouraged other businesses to become engaged in their programs.

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