Student teams selected to compete in the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition

The University of Washington Business Plan Competition (BPC), now in its 18th year, is a platform for student-led ventures. It provides an opportunity for entrepreneurial students across Washington State to take their ideas beyond the classroom and test them out in a real-world setting. A business built around stylish sports socks, nose-to-brain drug delivery, or Emergency Medical Response might look great on paper, but not until you present it to a room full of entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors will you really know if it has potential.

A record 103 student teams applied to the 2015 BPC. After an initial screening round, 37 teams were selected to move on to the BPC Investment Round on April 28. There, they’ll pitch their ideas to 300+ judges—entrepreneurs, lawyers, investors, and other top professionals—in the hopes of earning a spot in the Sweet 16 and, ultimately, a chance to win the $25,000 Grand Prize.

Best of luck to the teams in the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition!

Alpha Endeavors
University of Washington Tacoma

Alpha Endeavors seeks to disrupt the antiquated residential real estate investment marketplace by alleviating a massive amount of transactional friction in the acquisition process. The company helps residential real estate brokers who serve investor clients to sell more real estate through a software facilitated process that implements predictive analytics, administrative automation, and integrates modern data gathering techniques.

Auctora
University of Washington

Auctora’s automated recruiting tool seamlessly screens, sorts, and schedules candidates so that corporate recruiters can utilize their time more effectively while sourcing job applicants. No dealing with paper resumes; no back-and-forth emails between recruiters and candidates – welcome to recruiting in the 21st century!

Authality
University of Washington

Authality’s first product, Klide, is the most secure and convenient smart lock, and the only smart lock that meets the demands of Airbnb hosts. Klide pairs a physical lock with a mobile app that allows hosts to distribute revocable “keys” to guests and control access remotely.

Avayla Weddings
University of Washington

Avayla Weddings is a software platform designed to provide wedding vendors with better marketing and increased profits while simultaneously acting as the market-leading information tool for couples in the same way that TripAdvisor works for the travel industry. Avayla is the most efficient, enjoyable, and user friendly way for couples to find, contact and book the venue of their dreams.

Baunsu
University of Washington

Have you ever been at lunch and realized the 30 minutes you wanted to spend had turned into an hour? Have you ever been late for a meeting because you just couldn’t find a server to pay your bill? At Baunsu.com you can order and pay for your food ahead of time, getting rid of the hassle in the dining experience. Once you arrive, your food will be served, leaving you time to concentrate on the flavors and experience instead of the wait. It’s Baunsu.com!

Benchmark Environmental
University of Washington
Washington State University

Benchmark Environmental is changing the way we treat storm water. By combining innovative design with new technologies, our treatment solutions are affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance. Benchmark Environmental’s products enable more companies and municipalities to treat storm water runoff effectively–a win-win for customers and the environment.

Bettery
University of Washington Tacoma

Bettery provides consumers with the most cost effective, convenient, and sustainable portable power solution on the market. Bettery taps a growing demand for sustainable solutions by offering batteries as a low cost subscription service.

CaseBooker
Seattle University

CaseBooker is a simple, convenient, and local online mobile application and service that helps law students buy and sell their casebooks (legal textbooks) and other supplementary materials with other law students on their campus.

Co Optical
Washington State University

Co Optical specializes in lifestyle management technologies, with a flagship product that revolutionizes diabetes management by continuously and non-invasively monitoring blood glucose. This wearable device, structured as a pair of glasses, improves convenience and enhances the overall user experience allowing seamless integration of lifestyle management strategies into the everyday lives of people with diabetes.

Community Supported Bio
University of Washington and BGI at Pinchot University

Community Supported Bio turns trash into treasure. It offers turnkey lease-to-own B2B solutions to upcycle food & beverage waste into renewable fertilizer & fuel.

Eldergrow
Seattle University

Old growth happens when nurtured. Eldergrow is a start-up company that connects nature to elders so that they can continue to flourish in their later years of life. Gardening every day reduces the risk factors for dementia by 36%! Through a portfolio of meaningful gardening and nature-related products, Eldergrow will improve the quality of 10,000 elders lives by the end of the decade.

Empreva
University of Washington

Empreva aims to empower and engage women across the world to take their health into their own hands by providing a safe, convenient, and comfortable method for birth control and STI prevention.Empreva is developing birth control and combination birth control/anti-HIV products to benefit the health of women in high-HIV burden areas of the developing world who lack options for protection. For every purchase of an Empreva birth control product in the U.S., Empreva will donate one combination product to a woman in need in the developing world to help achieve sexual health and empowerment for women everywhere.

JikoPower
University of Washington

JikoPower makes thermo-electric generators to turn ordinary cook stoves into personal charging stations for off-grid households that have small electronic devices in the developing world. JikoPower POWERS devices, but it EMPOWERS people.

FullCircle Technologies
University of Washington

FullCircle Technologies is an education technology company empowering K-12 teachers, administrators, counselors, and staff with fast, easy to use, intuitive software to allow educators to focus on maximizing student learning. SITAR – Student Intervention Tracking and Reporting, is the company’s first product that helps schools track both academic and non-academic interventions and proactively reduces future interventions by focusing on the communication and action plans between teachers, staff and parents.

Genie
University of Washington

Genie is a file browser that understands and looks at files exactly the way a human does. Gone are the days of having to go through long lists of generic file names for images. Remember what an image contains? Tell Genie and it does the rest for you.

Go KEFI
Washington State University

Go KEFI is an experience-based travel website that helps you plan vacations based off desired experiences and budget. The team won first place at Spokane Startup Weekend 2014, and has since sparked a movement for a new way to travel.

Hook
University of Washington

Hook is a home automation hub that offers smart home capability to the price sensitive consumer. Customers are able to convert existing electronics in the home to smart compatible devices, keeping these products up-to-date for years to come. Consumers will enjoy convenience with control via their mobile devices, savings on energy costs, and improved home safety. With an affordable price and remarkable ease of use, Hook aims to make smart home technology accessible to the masses.

Ion Informatics
University of Washington

Ion Informatics is developing a proprietary technology that provides critical health information enabling battery operators to maximize the value that can be extracted from each battery through more informed decision making. Applications for improved battery state diagnostics in the marketplace are extensive, applying to any system where large scale batteries are used. The information rich diagnostics developed by Ion Informatics will transform the storage sector by allowing more robust, intelligent, and informed battery management.

Limefy
University of Washington

Limefy makes business networking you can wear. You’re in a big crowd where you don’t know anyone. It’s intimidating. You want to meet someone with similar interests but you don’t know how. LiGo can help you.

Meridian Lee
BGI at Pinchot University

Meridian Lee is a conscious fashion company making chic, distinctive fashion accessories. By collaborating with marginalized artisans around the world, Meridian Lee is able to create handcrafted designs and artisans are able to earn an income and live healthier, safer lives.

miPS
University of Washington

miPS is the first consumer stem cell generation and cell banking service. miPS allows consumers to store their adult cells to prevent cellular aging, generate stem cell lines for research, and use banked cells for future stem cell therapies.

NOVA Technologies
Western Washington University and University of Washington

NOVA Technologies’ Smart Solar Window uses transparent nanotechnology to create clean, local electricity that can turn skyscrapers into giant solar arrays and reduce HVAC systems costs, an innovative link to a carbon neutral future.

Ordr.it
University of Washington

For small businesses, creating and managing purchase orders is a time-consuming manual task. Ordr.it offers a modern supply chain solution for small businesses that allows users to better manage purchase orders and collaborate on pending orders with their vendors.

Otogear
University of Washington

Otogear is a stylish, customizable, environmentally friendly, reusable silicone earplug designed to help sustain a healthy hearing environment during loud events. In addition, Otogear promotes the reduction of waste by being reusable and biodegradable.

Park A Lot
University of Washington

Park A Lot is a platform connecting private businesses who have unused parking spaces with customers looking for parking. Lot owners sign up on a hop-on, hop-off platform and their lots become available to the public, generating them revenue. Customers use Park A Lot’s website or app to purchase parking on a lot of their choice from their home or mobile device.

Parky
University of Washington

Parky makes paying parking tickets suck less! Parky is a cloud-based app for receiving automated notifications once a parking ticket is issued to a vehicle owner. The app sends payment reminders and allows users to make one-click payments, reducing the anxiety related to missed parking payments and late fees.

PowerNode
University of Washington

PowerNode is a web-based power monitoring system for industrial machinery that utilizes machine learning to perform predictive maintenance, reducing costs associated with operation, maintenance and machine down time.

RainCity Heart Lab
Seattle University

Seventy percent of patients who have suffered a heart attack for the first time were previously classified as low risk for cardiovascular disease based on the current testing methods. RainCity Heart Lab (RCHL) is a specialty diagnostic lab that offers a better diagnostic test called CALLIS. CALLIS (Calibrated Lipoprotein Ion Separation) is a blood test for accurately quantifying intact lipoproteins for improved Cardio Vascular Disease risk assessment.

Saffron and Rose
Cornish School of the Arts and University of Washington

Saffron and Rose provides stylish and comfortable yoga-inspired apparel that supports the true health of the body and the planet. Using natural and organic fibers in beautiful colors, Saffron and Rose apparel enables a positive mood, a balanced body, and a general sense of well-being.

SmartyPants
University of Washington

SmartyPants reinvents toilet training and mitigates adult incontinence issues to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills. It predicts impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet. The company’s innovative, first-of-its-kind, technology creates value for the consumers by saving on diaper purchases and the environment by reducing waste and biohazard from disposable diapers.

SportSocial
Seattle University and University of Puget Sound

Sport-Social provides the easiest way to spontaneously organize, locate, and join pickup sports activities through a social platform.

Storyline.Life
University of Washington

Sheer volume of life moments – scattered across electronic devices and online accounts – and lack of organization make it difficult to find precious moments and to assemble them into stories. Ironically, even as more life instances are captured, stories are increasingly buried in digital chaos. In an attempt to record many experiences, users risk losing the very memories they want to preserve. Storyline.Life is a storytelling platform to conveniently capture, organize and connect moments so that they can be shared as meaningful stories.

ThreeBar
University of Washington

ThreeBar is a revolutionary website tracking and content delivery platform that allows any business to easily and cost efficiently hyper-target customers. Using a customer’s past web viewing habits, locational data, and demographic profiling, ThreeBar enables businesses to deliver custom website content and test special offers in real-time– all with the simplicity of a point and click user interface.

TriboTEX
Washington State University

TriboTEX aims to extend the operational life-span of industrial machinery by improving efficiency where lubricated friction takes place. TriboTEX’s self-assembling nanostructured lubricious coating provides regenerative effects to frictional surface during normal operation.

vHAB
University of Washington

vHAB is a virtual rehabilitation platform that helps patients regain fine motor skills to lead autonomous lives again. vHAB enables occupational therapists to customize patient treatment and accurately monitor progress through engaging and dynamic video games. System portability and precision metrics pose a competitive advantage for rehabilitation facilities, allowing delivery of quality treatment to patients – anywhere, anytime. vHAB saves rehabilitation facilities time and money. Most importantly, vHAB empowers patients to reclaim their independence.

Vie Diagnostics
University of Washington

A significant portion of patients attending STD clinics fail to follow up for treatment, even when tests are positive and the risk for transmission and complication is highest. Vie Diagnostics’ disruptive molecular diagnostic technology will reduce the spread and pain of STD infections by allowing patients to be tested and treated in a single clinical visit. Its tests will provide better patient management, lower costs for clinics, and improve overall public health.

Yowgii
University of Washington

Yowgii has the potential to disrupt the bottled water industry and the water filtration industry. The global bottled water industry is worth over $157 billion a year, but is heavily comprised of plastic bottles with significant environmental footprint and potential for contaminants. Yowgii combines environmentally-friendly water delivery with innovative water purification to deliver the best drinking water to consumer and promises pure water for a better you!

 

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When rankings focus on student results, Foster rises to #12 in U.S.

If business schools were ranked based on MBA students’ results, the Foster School would leap to #12 in the country, according to MBA ranking site, Poets & Quants.

Poets & Quants re-ranked the schools in response to a recent Fortune magazine essay by Dean Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University’s Business School, who recommended weighting the MBA rankings based on student inputs and outputs. Hubbard wrote, “Every business school dean, myself included, will tell you that their school is the best, so as much as it pains me to say, you should probably look past the deans. Instead, look to the students. It’s in the student network that you will find the metrics that matter for assessing any business school: inputs and outputs.”

What would a new ranking focused on student metrics look like?
Poets & Quants analyzed publicly available data to re-weight the ranking of the top 25 business schools in the U.S. When those student inputs – applications per seat and yield (acceptance of admissions offers) and outputs – job placement rates and pay – are weighted most heavily, schools that focus on student results rise to the top.

Based on the student performance factors, Foster ranks #12, above Duke, Yale, Cornell and Michigan, and third among public schools.

Poets & Quants
A New Ranking Of The Top Business Schools

School Index P&Q Rank Apps per seat Yield Pay Jobs
  1. Stanford 100.0 1 17.9 78.7% $142,834 92.1%
  2. Harvard 91.3 2 10.2 88.8% $144,750 89.4%
  3. MIT 86.2 7 11.7 62.3% $142,936 92.8%
  4. Berkeley 85.3 10 14.4 52.5% $140,935 86.7%
  5. Wharton 82.0 4 7.1 68.0% $142,574 95.6%
  6. Columbia 81.6 5 7.8 70.4% $139,006 91.1%
  7. NYU 79.8 10 11.3 48.7% $135,933 90.4%
  8. Chicago 79.0 4 7.2 59.4% $137,615 97.2%
  8. Tuck 79.0 8 8.7 52.2% $142,489 93.8%
10. UCLA 78.1 14 11.7 48.2% $127,535 88.6%
11. Kellogg 77.2 6 6.7 63.9% $136,357 88.6%
12. Foster 75.9 23 9.8 44.7% $125,367 95.8%
13. Darden 75.5 13 8.4 45.8% $136,474 93.4%
14. Duke 75.4 9 7.8 50.9% $137,154 89.8%
15. Yale 73.9 12 8.5 49.5% $126,871 88.9%
16. Olin 73.1 24 12.1 30.9% $111,974 96.9%
17. Cornell 72.8 15 6.3 52.6% $132,316 89.8%
18. Emory 72.5 20 7.5 43.5% $128,347 94.8%
18. Michigan 72.5 11 5.5 50.9% $140,497 89.7%
20. Texas 72.0 19 7.9 44.4% $126,160 91.3%
21. Tepper 71.4 17 6.9 46.6% $131,865 88.3%
22. Kelley 68.4 20 6.6 45.6% $119,581 88.1%
23. UNC 67.6 18 6.8 37.9% $124,641 89.0%
24. Owen 66.3 25 5.3 44.7% $113,830 90.8%
25. Georgetown 64.4 22 6.1 34.5% $118,938 88.5%

Source: Poets & Quants analysis from publicly available data

Read Dean Hubbard’s full essay in Fortune and the How A Dean Would Rank Business Schools article in Poets & Quants.

Learn more about Foster’s current rankings.

Global Business Case Competition exports inspiration around the world

GBCC-facesEvery year the Foster School’s Global Business Case Competition (GBCC) welcomes the world.

Bangladesh and Brazil. Egypt and Estonia. Israel and Italy. Jamaica and Japan. Korea and Kuwait. Pakistan and Peru. Serbia and Singapore. Uganda and the United Kingdom. In all, 52 nations have sent their best and brightest undergraduate business students to match wits in the GBCC since its 1999 launch.

Now this long-time importer of competitors is exporting inspiration.

Kindred competitions in Portugal, New Zealand, Belgium, Sudan and Colombia have been inspired by unforgettable GBCC experiences and informed by its best practices.

GBCC-Presentation2After Brendon Potter, student development and engagement manager at the University of Auckland Business School, brought a team to Seattle for its first international experience in 2004, he was moved to launch his school’s own champions league of case competitions. “Because of that invitation to the GBCC, we have established a significant case program of our own,” says Potter. “And it was the motivation to instigate our own Champions Trophy Case Competition in 2008, to which we’ve been delighted to welcome the Huskies on several occasions.”

Some 12,000 miles and a hemisphere away in Portugal, Renata Blanc de Melo had a similar response when she brought a team of students from the Universidade do Porto to the 2007 GBCC. The lecturer and senior consultant began drawing up plans to replicate the competitive and cultural experience and in 2013 launched the FEP-UPORTO International Case Competition. “There is no case competition culture in Portugal, so being invited the first time was a departing point for us,” says Blanc. “And regarding our own competition, GBCC was undoubtedly a benchmark.”

This year, two former Foster students are instigating GBCC-style competitions to serve students in their respective corners of the world. Aysa Miller (BA 2004) and Nathan Bright (BA 2014) are both alumni of the Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB), Foster’s nationally-ranked specialty program that gives undergrads a competitive edge in global business through language immersion, study or work abroad, and practical experience.

Miller, the economic and deputy commercial officer at the US Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, has assembled a team of students representing three Sudanese universities to compete at this year’s GBCC. He’ll follow up with a local case competition hosted by the Ahfad University for Women—the first in the east African nation.

Bright, a teacher of international business, technology management and marketing at the Universidad de Manizales in Colombia, decided that a GBCC-style competition would benefit his students. To pull it off, he’s been working with Kathleen Hatch, assistant director of undergraduate programs at the Global Business Center.

GBCC-2014 winnersHatch offers open source guidance to Bright, Miller and any others seeking to replicate the life-changing experience that the GBCC annually delivers through its heady mix of company visits, social events, professional development, cultural exchange and rigorous competition to solve a real-world international business challenge.

She’s not surprised to see the competition’s effect rippling so far and wide.

“I think that GBCC has been an inspirational model to other business schools because it incorporates everything that is so critical to business education today—cross cultural communications, team work, and strategic thinking,” says Hatch. “It forces students to grapple with the complexities of doing business in today’s global landscape.”

Not to mention, it’s great fun.

This year’s Global Business Case Competition takes place April 13-18.

MBA leaders experience transition under pressure

This post was written by staff members from the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking

MBA studentsOn Friday March 13, the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking (CLST) and Foster MBA Association (MBAA) celebrated the upcoming leadership transition as elected 1st year students prepare to take over the reins from soon-to-graduate 2nd year students. This event is part of our year-long Leading Across Boundaries (LAB) workshops series. The theme chosen for this half-day event was to Transition under Pressure.

MBA studentsWorking in four parallel teams of six to eight students, each team was charged with designing a giant Rube Goldberg machine! Teams consisted of both 1st and 2nd year students. Machines were required to involve at least 4 transfers of energy from one “mini” machine or component to the next culminating in a final machine that would drop a weight into a cup. Armed with an array of materials including dominoes, mouse traps, springs, and marbles, second-year students were instructed to work on the upstream portion of the machine and first-year students were instructed to work on the downstream or terminal portion of the machine. Midway through the event, the facilitators transferred a key player from each team to another team and added design requirements. The purpose of this challenge was three-fold:  1. To focus on how well, under extreme time pressure, the 1st and 2nd year MBAs coordinated the effort and communication needed to make all parts of the machine connect and work as one; 2. To examine how well teams adapted to unexpected and disruptive changes in their structure and resources; and 3. To observe how leadership emerged and was shared to achieve the team’s objectives.

MBA studentsFollowing the ending of the game competition, feedback about how the teams worked to achieve their goals was provided by the judges – CLST’s Bruce Avolio and Chelley Patterson; 2012 alumnus, former MBAA Executive Vice President, and co-founder with CLST of the LAB series, Colin Beazley; and Director, Full-time MBA Student Affairs, Sigrid Olsen.

Many thanks to outgoing MBAA Executive Vice President, Soleil Kelley, for keeping the LAB tradition alive and for all his thought- and leg-work putting together this Rube Goldberg event! And now we move on to working with the new MBA leadership on the next LAB event as we move into the Spring quarter…

Watch video of the event below:

 

L.A.B. sessions enable MBA students to discuss topics of interest with business and community leaders while  developing their own leadership skills. The sessions are sponsored by MBAA and CLST. Visit CLST’s website to learn more.

Great reads: personal finance

Ask a group of finance and accounting faculty at the University of Washington Foster School of Business to recommend a book on personal finance and you wouldn’t expect to get a list of “Get Rich Quick” titles. Nor did we. Instead, our selected scholars dug deeper, offering more discerning picks to improve your command of investing and comprehension of the financial markets, with a couple of unorthodox choices and one clear favorite:

random-walk-down-wall-streetA Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Burton G. Malkiel)

“A great book that explains why the average retail investor should hold low-cost index funds (as I teach in my core MBA class). Don’t waste your time and money picking stocks since even the pros have a hard time beating the market. I hold the market and I always sleep very well at night!”
Thomas Gilbert, Assistant Professor of Finance.

“Malkiel discusses how capital markets work and explains in intuitive terms why they are as efficient as they are in a really approachable and interesting way.”
Lance Young, Senior Lecturer of Finance and Business Economics

“A classic primer on individual investing, this book is a great read for beginners and more advanced investors alike. Malkiel walks through basic investing strategies in a non-technical and entertaining way. I’ve recommended this book to several family members who were starting out on their own investing.”
Jennifer Koski, Associate Professor of Finance

“Malkiel is a Princeton economist and a long time Vanguard director.  Read the book and learn how to become a true ‘Boglehead.’ Diversify, buy and hold, minimize transactions costs. It really is that simple.”
Rocky Higgins, Professor of Finance

“A classic that provides a great overview over investing and keeping costs under control.”
Stephan Siegel, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics

undercover-economistThe Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run—or Ruin—an Economy (Tim Harford)

“Fiscal and monetary policy have become the topic of dinner table conversations since the financial crisis. Harford provides an easy to access book on the different theories on how to create a thriving economy. It’s detailed enough to be useful but not so nuanced as to overwhelm readers less familiar with macroeconomics.”
Jonathan Brogaard, Assistant Professor of Finance

only-investment-guideThe Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need (Andrew Tobias)

“I first read this book when it came out in 1978. I then gave it to several non-academics to read, including my mother. It is simple, usually correct, often funny, and free of the jargon designed to make readers feel stupid. These characteristics put it way out front of the class of personal finance books. While the world was much different 30 years ago, I am confident the recent new editions will be very helpful.”
Ed Rice, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics

the-big-shortThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Michael Lewis)

“Lewis takes a look at five investors who figured out that the housing market was overvalued in 2005 and the travails they faced in ‘betting’ against the market. This illustrates how difficult it is to find mispriced assets in a capital market and how hard it can be to actually profit from the mispricing if you do manage to find it.”
Lance Young, Senior Lecturer in Finance and Business Economics

how-we-decideHow We Decide (Jonah Lehrer)

“A great book for someone who wants to understand the mental process underlying personal finance decisions.”
Frank Hodge, Professor of Accounting

 

 

financial-shockFinancial Shock: Global Panic and Government Bailouts – How We Got Here and What Must Be Done to Fix It (Mark Zandi)

“Zandi identifies the origins of the subprime financial crisis—the most important financial event since the Great Depression—and examines the impact the crisis had on financial markets, the economy and households.”
Frances Maloy, Lecturer of Finance and Business Economics

 

wall-street-journalThe Wall Street Journal, Money, Bloomberg BusinessWeek

“I really don’t read personal finance books, but I try to accumulate knowledge and ideas through these periodicals which do a pretty good job covering personal finance.”
William Bradford, Professor of Finance

 

dilbertDilbert and the Way of the Weasel (Scott Adams)

“I’m actually recommending125 words of this book by the creator of Dilbert. His Everything You Need to Know about Financial Planning is so sound that I teach it in my class and so concise that it fits in a book recommendation. Here’s the whole thing: ‘Make a will. Pay off your credit cards. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support. Fund your 401(k) to the maximum. Fund your IRA to the maximum. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it. Put six months’ expenses in a money market fund. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues) hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.’ ”
Jonathan Karpoff, Professor of Finance

Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge awards $37,500 to student innovators

“Alaska Airlines wants to get better and better at being a leader in environmental responsibility, so today we’re here to learn from you,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president for communications and external relations, in his welcome address at the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge.

The “you” he was speaking to was a group of 22 student teams from 7 colleges and universities across the state of Washington, gathered at the Seattle Center to pitch their innovations in clean technology, renewable energy and water resource management.

IMG_4148 (1)Throughout the afternoon these innovative and entrepreneurial students demonstrated their prototypes and fielded questions on everything from technology issues to market viability from a room full of 160+ judges and another 100 guests.

While all in attendance undoubtedly learned something from every team, only five teams went home with a portion of the $37,500 in prize money.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge!


 

$15,000 Grand Prize & $5,000 Clean Energy Prize

(sponsored by Wells Fargo and the UW Clean Energy Institute)

FireBee (University of Washington)

Student Team members:
Ryan Ahearn, undergraduate, mechanical engineering
Aaron Owen, undergraduate, mechanical engineering
Daniel Parrish, undergraduate, mechanical engineering

FireBee is a portable thermoelectric generator that turns cooking fires into personal power stations,  creating an alternative energy source for people in countries that are otherwise off the grid.
FireBee





$10,000 Second Place Prize

(sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation)

Hook (University of Washington)

Student Team Members:
Rahil Jain, graduate, electrical engineering
Robert Moehle, graduate , Foster School of Business
Hoolk_2ndPlace_EIC2015

Hook is a home automation hub that allows customers to convert existing electronics  to smart devices, decreasing energy consumption, improving home safety, and reducing the amount of electronics that are routinely discarded in landfills.


$2,500 Honorable Mentions

(sponsored by Starbucks,  UW CoMotion, and Puget Sound Energy)

EcoStream (University of Washington)

Student Team Members:
Michaela Byrne, graduate, Foster School of Business
Tianchi Liu, undergradaute, computer science & engineering
Ryan Osher, graduate, Foster School of Business
Shon Schmidt, graduate, bioengineering
Wenxuan Wu, undergraduate, electrical engineering
Han Ye, undergraduate, electrical engineering

IMG_0899 (1)

EcoStream builds awareness and lifelong habits to conserve our most valuable resource by helping people conserve water and change their usage habits in a fun and inexpensive way.

 

Ion Informatics (University of Washington)

Student Team Members:
Charles Daitch, graduate, Foster School of Business
Brendan Erickson, undergraduate, chemical engineering
Daniel Gilbert, undergraduate, chemical engineering
Matthew Murbach, graduate, chemical engineering
Uttara Sahaym, graduate, Foster School of Business
Arianna Whitten, undergraduate, chemical engineering

IMG_0942

Ion Informatics is developing a proprietary technology that provides critical information to battery operators, optimizing asset utilization and prolonging the useful life of the battery. The end effect is a dramatic increase in value that can be extracted from each battery by enabling viable second use battery systems.

 

 Bettery (University of Washington Tacoma)

Student Team Members:
Brendan Crawford, undergraduate, computer engineering
Chris Dejarlais, undergraduate, finance & computer science
Vishaal Diwan, undergraduate, computer science

Bettery provides a better model for battery use: a reusable subscription service that gives consumers unlimited access to reusable batteries with a monthly subscription.

The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge is presented by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business, University of Washington.

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In Beijing, an internship worth yakking about

Guest post by Joyce Tang, Foster undergraduate and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Joyce TangAt a recent Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) Alumni Panel, I heard a woman say she wished she had spent more time during her study abroad experience building a professional network, rather than only engaging with other students. I couldn’t agree more because I personally benefited from this decision while I was an exchange student at Peking University, the most prestigious higher learning institute in China.

After a meaningful summer internship in Shanghai, I knew I wanted to have more work experience while I was studying abroad. My resolve led me to find and accept an internship at a social enterprise called Khunu. This company produces premium yak wool apparel, while supporting the yak herders from whom the wool is sourced. With a great passion for social entrepreneurship and fashion, this was the perfect opportunity for me. Three days a week, I took a 45 minute commute—if I was lucky enough to squish my way onto the first subway that came during rush hour—to work and 45 minutes back to school.

During those three months, I learned things that turned my assumptions about China upside down. For example, I assumed most luxury fashion brands produced their products domestically to maintain quality and workmanship, but found out the factory we produced our apparel in was also used by a big name luxury label. It was also a lot smaller than I expected, as the picture in my head was of an enormous factory designed for mass production. Many people immediately think low quality when they hear the words manufacturing and China in the same sentence. However, this is not always the case. Khunu is one fashion label that is trying to redefine the “Made in China” tag.

What I learned at Khunu was reinforced at a panel discussion I recently attended on ethical sourcing, which was sponsored and organized by CISB and AIESEC. The vice presidents of global sourcing from Costco and Brooks Running Company spoke about the manufacturing, supplying, and operations practices of their respective companies. They emphasized the importance of setting a new market standard where businesses create value chains at every step of the process, rather than just supply chains. To accomplish this, the players at each stage of the chain—from cotton farmer to spinner to business to consumer—must demand and be provided fair compensation for the part they play. As I pursue a concentration and future career in operations and supply chain management, my experiences in CISB have played an invaluable part in helping me understand sustainable supply chains from both sides of the Pacific: Seattle and Beijing.

The honor and privilege of leadership

For B. Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer, leadership is the greatest privilege in life. On Wednesday, April 1, Turner provided a thorough discussion on the lessons he learned about being a leader, interweaving stories from his years of experience with companies like Walmart and Microsoft. Topics ranged from the necessity of self-awareness and continuous self-improvement in leaders, to the significance of simplicity in all businesses.

Watch the full presentation below:

Taste of Foster: The Business of Wine

Taste of Foster panelists
From left to right: John Blair (Dunham Cellars), Angela Jacobs (WineGirl Wines), Bryan Maletis (Fat Cork), and Paul Zitarelli (Full Pull Wines)

Whether it’s tech, aerospace, or retail, Foster alums are often at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. And in Washington’s wine industry, things are no different. With a focus on the business side of winemaking, the second annual Taste of Foster played host to a panel of four Foster alumni making waves in the burgeoning Pacific Northwest wine scene. Facilitated by Full Pull Wines owner/wine blogger Paul Zitarelli (MBA 2009), the panel included John Blair (MBA 2011), General Manager for Dunham Cellars, Angela Jacobs (MBA 2010), owner and winemaker for WineGirl Wines, and Bryan Maletis (EMBA 2010), owner of Fat Cork. Over the course of the evening, event attendees got to know a bit more about the panelists, their products, and their views on Washington’s growing wine industry. Below are a few highlights from the discussion.

Why do you think MBA’s aren’t well represented in the wine industry?
For John Blair, size is the issue. “A lot of wineries can’t afford to hire an MBA…I see that changing.” Bryan Maletis agreed with John, stating, “The big companies are getting bigger and there are more small startups. The big companies will be hiring MBAs.” Maletis also argued that more flexibility in state law will positively effect the number of MBAs in the wine business, especially when it comes to creating more direct-to-consumer experiences.

What are some misconceptions about the wine industry?
Be wary of over-romanticizing vineyard life says Angela Jacobs. “Living on a vineyard sounds fantastic,” she quipped, “but there’s frost in the winter and bugs in the summer. It’s amazing and rewarding but it’s not easy.” For John, it’s important to remember that a product is being sold. “It’s still a business,” he said, “a competitive business. I tell people when they go out to the grocery store that there isn’t a shelf more competitive that wine.”

Taste of Foster attendees

Advice for someone interested in getting involved in the wine industry?
Bryan advises those looking for a well-rounded sense of the wine business to set up informational interviews. “The most successful candidates ask to be connected with more people.” Drawing from his own experiences, Paul agreed, stating, “I definitely asked for more informational interviews.”

Looking toward the future, where do you see the Washington industry?
Pointing to the recent purchase of Columbia Winery by a California distributor and the success of Woodinville’s Chateau St. Michelle, John responded, “I think the sky’s the limit.” Angela agreed, stating, “Our market is not even close to saturation. It makes it possible for people like me to start a small winery.”

How do you maintain the balance between the heart and business of wine?
“I don’t think there is a balance,” said Jacobs semi-jokingly. “It’s an art, a science, and a business.”

See more photos of Taste of Foster: The Business of Wine on the Foster GOLD Facebook page. To be notified of upcoming alumni events, be sure to subscribe to the Foster Alumni event calendar.

Foster students brew up delivery solutions for Starbucks

Guest post by Josina Garnham, experiential learning manager

Starbucks winning teamThe warm chocolatey-caramel notes swirling through the air is what you notice first–often times before you even open the door. When you do enter the storefront, you are enveloped by the sound of well-selected jazz, the buzz of the espresso machine and the friendly baristas calling out the names of customers and their made-to-order beverages.

Starbucks, a ubiquitous brand globally and especially here in Seattle, is seeking to extend this experience from their stores to meet its customers’ just-in-time demands. Graduating seniors from the Foster School were invited to join Starbucks in developing solutions on how to deliver fresh beverages without compromising on quality and maintaining the company’s value of “delivering our very best in all we do.”

Each quarter the Foster School partners with a Seattle-based company to develop a customized business case as part of a required capstone course (MGMT430) for all graduating seniors. The case, written by Anna Fung, Foster PhD student, and overseen by Rick McPherson, course coordinator, presents an urgent business issue in a condensed format. The Foster Strategy Development Case Competition is one of the largest single-day case competitions in the world. This winter’s competition with Starbucks featured 54 teams comprised of over 225 students.

For Dave Twehues, director of Global Corporate Strategy, the decision to partner with the Foster School was an easy one: “I think the value of the case competition from Starbucks is twofold. First, the participation of our partners as judges is a great way for Starbucks to connect with future business leaders and second, the exposure to the creative solutions delivered by the student teams brings fresh perspectives to really difficult business problems.”

To develop a winning solution, the students focused on Starbucks’s mission and values: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Madeline Sykes, a senior finance major, noted, “it is important to do research on the company’s values and we knew Starbucks values its customers very highly. We started off our presentation by presenting a story about a target customer and the customer’s needs.”

Student teams have three weeks to research the issue and prepare presentations summarizing their recommendations to business leaders—both Foster alumni and Starbucks employees who serve as judges. For Matt Hansen, an accounting major, “the Q&A section…is the hardest part to prepare for. This is one area that our team spent a lot of time focusing on because it is where groups can differentiate themselves by their ability to think on their feet and shows how confident they are in their business proposal/strategy.”

The winning team of Renee Chiang, Allison Gaylor, Matt Hansen, Rebecca Ruh, Kamal Sohal, and Madeline Sykes proposed meeting the challenge of delivering Starbucks beverages with the solution of creating smaller satellite “stores” which would focus on preparing drinks for delivery exclusively. Current stores maintain a brisk business with customers walking in the doors. The student’s research—including frequenting area Starbucks cafes—led them to hypothesize that increasing demands on these storefronts for delivery orders would slow service in both areas. From these small-scale, delivery-focused beverage outlets, bike messengers would be deployed to deliver both hot and cold drinks in specially designed temperature controlled bags.

Beyond understanding the company’s values, having a strong situation analysis, well-justified idea, and presenting their solution in a clear and compelling way, what really differentiates teams are their interpersonal dynamics. Ruh said, “Our success in the case competition was rooted in the relaxed, yet focused environment we created. Our vision developed alongside our team synergy. Taking this experience into the future, the strengths of lightheartedness and creativity, are key components that will define future teamwork endeavors, essential in today’s business world.”

“What I learned about teamwork and team dynamics I will definitely…take with me to my future career” said Renee Chiang. “This was my first time participating in a case competition and it taught me to be confident with myself and my ideas. That confidence would definitely be something I hope to apply to my career—from negotiation to pitching my ideas.”

On March 18, 2015 Starbucks announced the launch of delivery services in Seattle and New York City. Foster School of Business students will be amongst the first to be delighted by having a perfectly prepared, hand-delivered cup of coffee to fuel their last quarter of studies before graduating in June.

To learn more about previous Strategy Development Case Competitions please see our competition webpage and the following Foster Unplugged posts: Alaska Airlines and
Seattle City Light

- Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.