Foster team wins 2010 Global Business Case Competition

UW Foster School of Business undergraduates—Joyita Banerjee, Kaitlin Johnson, Derrick Nation and Jeremy Supinski—won the Global Business Case Competition for their analysis of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner. The business case, written by Foster School Professor Suresh Kotha, focused on the Boeing 787 production problems and identifying future directions at Boeing.

gbcc-winners“The Foster team did a great job of identifying the issues of the past and creating solutions for the short term. The team then really focused on how to create stronger opportunities in markets using Boeing’s existing and new competitive advantages, recognizing that Boeing has increased its competitive advantages with the trials and tribulations of the 787,” said Rick McPherson, Foster School management lecturer and the UW team’s advisor.

This team was one of four teams that made the final round along with students from National University of Singapore, Copenhagen Business School, and a mixed global team consisting of a four students from universities around the world (US, Hong Kong, Spain and Singapore). Undergraduate finalists presented to a panel of corporate judges, including the finance director of the Boeing 787 project.

Judges commented that many of the student presentations—in addition to the winning UW Foster School team—were on par or better than those by leading consultants and experienced professionals. And the students pulled their analyses together in a mere 48 hours.

The Global Business Center has put on GBCC for the past twelve years and this is the 2nd time a UW team won.

PHOTO:  The 2010 Foster School winning team with Hans Aarhus of Boeing (third from left) and Foster Associate Dean Tom Lee (far right).

The rebirth of cool

Marcus Charles resurrects one of Seattle’s cultural icons

To some, the old Crocodile Café was as essential a Seattle icon as Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Safeco Field or the Ballard Locks. The venerable rock club gave rise to “Grunge” and helped put Seattle on the map, then became the local music scene’s living room for nearly two decades.

And then, in late 2007, the Croc closed—abruptly and without ceremony. There were no takers to resurrect the cultural landmark. Until the former owner approached one last candidate.

Marcus Charles (MBA 2008) had been in the entertainment business since high school, when he would organize massive parties. While earning a degree in communications at the UW he created and test-piloted a management internship at Anthony’s Homeport, learning the ins and outs of the restaurant trade. When he was 23, he opened Marcus’ Martini Heaven, a Pioneer Square club that cashed in on the retro swing craze of the mid-1990s. He opened the Bad Juju Lounge, then Jack’s Roadhouse, then Neumos, then Spitfire. With a partner in 2000 he took on the nascent Capitol Hill Block Party, turning a little DIY event into a full-on music festival, drawing 20,000 fans to hear 50 bands last summer.

But the life of an impresario is not without its downside. “Ten years is a long time in the rock and roll business,” Charles says. “I was (and am) still married, collaborating with longtime partners, and no stints in rehab—monumental achievements in our world. But I was ready to change directions.”

He sold all of his properties except the Block Party, and enrolled in the Foster School’s Executive MBA Program. Despite being one of the least corporate types in the room, he flourished and graduated adept at checking his shrewd intuition through a formal, strategic framework.

But the nightclub business called him back. A terrible job market in 2008 made a small property for sale in Belltown look pretty attractive. Charles recalls, “I told myself, ‘You can do one little bar and the Block Party and still get a job.’”

He opened a bar called Juju. But before the job search could continue came the irresistible offer to buy another languishing property just up the street. Charles negotiated down the Crocodile Café’s selling price, assembled ten investors to finance the renovation, then spent months overhauling systems, reconfiguring the space, hiring the right “taste makers” to bring back the crowds. He cleaned up the place, but not too much. “It had to be a rock club,” he says.

Now, past the one-year anniversary of its rebirth, the Croc is solvent and as popular as ever. “We’ve re-energized the brand, as they like to say in business school,” says Charles

“We’ve lost so many Seattle institutions in the past few years and acted too late to salvage them (think the Sonics). A lot of people didn’t want the Crocodile to go away. And sure, I felt the pull of nostalgia, too, a sense that this was a place worth preserving. But I also knew that its history was also the thing that would make the new business viable.”

Greenlining: how can we make it work for the Northwest?

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganMost of us know about “redlining,” the historic practice of disinvestment by banks, insurance companies, and other institutions of communities of color and low income people.  In the 60’s and 70’s, there were a flurry of corrective actions at the national level, such as the 1968 Fair Housing Act and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.

The concept of “greenlining” was invented to turn redlining on its head by reinvesting in low-income, minority and disabled communities. A multi-ethnic Greenlining Coalition was formed in California in the mid-1970’s. In 1993, they established the Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic public policy research and advocacy center. The Institute’s programs range from leadership training to policy advocacy to a Green Assets program supporting sustainable businesses in communities of color.

A recent Green Assets publication, Greening Our Neighborhoods: a Carbon Metric for All, makes a case for block-by-block “whole house” energy retrofits that target low-income neighborhoods that can benefit the most from energy savings. In the process, jobs are created and carbon is reduced. Their case study of 36 homes in Census Tract of Richmond, California documented significant energy and economic benefits from a range of weatherization, conservation and appliance replacement actions.

Funds becoming available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for energy retrofits and green programs can benefit the triple bottom line for natural, economic and social environments. Organizations like the Greenlining Institute are working to position businesses and communities of color to access these opportunities. Their experience and business model offers promising lessons for emerging businesses in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She writes the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Executive Development Program: Swedish testimonial

Click image above to play video.

Why Does Swedish Medical Center Support the Executive Development Program?

Swedish Medical Center is the largest, most comprehensive, non-profit health care provider in the Greater Seattle area.  For Swedish, it’s not just about facilities, research, and new techniques.  It’s about people coming together to provide the most compassionate care possible.  One of their values is continuous learning and improvement and as a way to achieve that value they turn to the Foster School of Business.  Watch the video above to see why they believe the Executive Development Program is such a good fit for their busy administrators.

Foster students consult for Brazilian restaurant in Seattle: part 4

Click on the image above to play video.

On March 13, 2010 the minority-owned restaurant Tempero do Brasil received its final recommendations and a few accounting tools from undergraduate business consultants assigned to help the Seattle restaurant improve its bottom line. The students and their advisors were working with Tempero as part of the UW Foster School Business and Economic Development Center’s annual winter quarter Multicultural Marketing and Business Development class.

In this last installment of our video series following the students, the team members detail in real business terms how Tempero’s business can be improved. The teams had a bevy of advisors over the quarter project from Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company; PNC Mortgage; and the international communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton.

See the entire 4-part series.

Winners of UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

“It’s like a science fair on steroids.” That comment by judge and venture capitalist Loretta Little (of WRF Capital) captured the essence of the University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge. 19 student teams from 7 Washington state universities and colleges met in Seattle on April 1 to pitch clean-tech, energy-saving business ideas and prototypes to more than 100 judges, venture capitalists, angel investors, professors and business leaders. Watch video highlights.

EIC_EnvitrumGrand prize = $10,000

A team of University of Washington engineers with a business called EnVitrum won the $10,000 grand prize for their innovative glass recycling and green building technology that converts glass into bricks that are stronger and cheaper than masonry and have a dual purpose of cultivating plants.

Second place + honorable mentions = $12,500

Second place with $5,000 went to Triangle Energy (a University of Washington team consisting of two Foster MBA students, one UW doctoral student in mechanical engineering, one UW doctoral student in biochemistry and one UW chemical engineering undergraduate) who created a mobile bioreactor that converts solid biomass into synthesis gas for energy use. Three honorable mention awards of $2,500 each went to interdisciplinary teams of engineering and business students: NanoWAVE (North Seattle Community College) created an energy-efficient, cost-effective LED lighting alternative for growing plants in nurseries, greenhouses and indoor gardens; iDriveSmart (University of Washington) created software that helps predict and encourage fuel-efficient driving; and Idyll Energy Solutions (Seattle Pacific University) created a solution to the idle, wasted energy of household electronics.

The 2nd annual UW Environmental Innovation Challenge was a collaborative venture between the UW Foster School of Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UW College of Engineering and UW College of the Environment. Learn more or get involved in next year’s Challenge.

Video: Cherry blossoms in full bloom on UW Seattle campus

It’s a cruel joke. Cherry blossoms are at their peak over spring break when students have fled the campus for vacations and a little off-campus reprieve between winter and spring quarters.

Seattle wakes up each spring and begins teeming with outdoor activity in anticipation of longer days, warmer weather and fewer rainy afternoons. UW campus, in the heart of the Emerald City, is a foot-friendly space of natural and architectural wonder. We hope you find a little inspiration in this cherry blossom video.

The UW Foster School of Business is just a few steps from the quad and Yoshino cherry trees. Considering a business degree? Prospective students might find this an ideal time to visit the Foster School and check out life on campus. Visit the undergraduate or graduate program offices – Full-time MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Master of Professional Accounting – or just get a feel for life around the UW Seattle campus by walking around. Spring is a perfect time to stroll.

Featured minority business: Mundiali

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganFeatured Minority Business: Mundiali
Bellevue, WA

Mundiali means “The World.” for Alex Agudelo it means a business vision that helps traditional business models move to innovative and environmentally-conscious ways of doing business. His business philosophy will inspire minority entrepreneurs who share his passion for the green economy.

He founded Mundiali in 2008 as a “triple bottom line” business that helps other businesses address their impacts on the environment while adding to their return on investment. Agudelo got the idea for his company several years ago when he first became aware of innovations in renewable energy, biofuels and water quality. “I knew instantly that this is the future for the economy—where business needs to go and grow,” said Agudelo.

Today, Mundiali’s  group of ten consultants help clients that include anything from technology companies to farmers—anyone who wants to make the transition to sustainability through energy consumption or other business practices. “Our assessments are refined, scalable and provide a great deal of intellectual property and wealth for clients,” said Agudelo.

The company’s biggest challenges have been developing a market presence and in obtaining financial backing. “It’s a fact that brand and name recognition is critical—people need to recognize the name and understand the value we bring before engaging us. Access to capital support is necessary to take our business to the next level. The Stimulus Package has yet to filter down to businesses like ours!”

Despite these challenges, he believes there is tremendous opportunity for minority-owned businesses to access opportunity in the green economy. “There is an abundance of opportunity for anyone who wants to play in the green economy,” said Alex. He adds, “You cannot waiver from your initial and original goal. Don’t give up. Forge forward. We are diving into a new economy and the field is yet to mature.”

Want to learn more? Visit www.mundiali.com.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She will be writing the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Foster students return to Panama for spring break

This spring break roughly 29 University of Washington students, most from the Foster School, will descend on a mountain village in Panama to help the villagers there improve their farming business and hopefully rise a little further above subsistence-level farming.

The trip was set up by the Global Business Brigades, a nationwide student-led organization with a UW chapter. A dozen students are also getting course credits for the trip through the Foster School. The lead UW student organizers—Foster students David Almeida and Blake Strickland—said the team plans also to revisit a coffee plantation where 18 Foster students spent the 2009 spring break. Almeida’s group will evaluate the impact the students had on the coffee plantation and find out if the farmers have put into practice the team’s recommendations.

“All 29 of us are extremely excited for this chance to make a real and positive impact in the lives of people living in Machuca,” Almeida said. “Through working with the farmers, living in the village, embracing their culture, and making a difference, the next week will be sure to change our lives as much as theirs.”

This year, the team will spend most of their spring break on the Machuca Farm located in the Cocle province, roughly three hours from Panama City. The farm is a 25-minute hike from the end of the nearest roadway. The community has about 800 inhabitants, but the farm group that the students are focusing on has 14 members and supports roughly 35 people. The farm grows yucca, plantain, rice, beans, corn and other crops and also raises chickens, goats and fish in a pond.

In the team’s trip preparations, the undergraduates identified four main areas where they hope to have an impact—processing chickens, bread making, goat milk products and organic products.

Almeida and several other team members plan to post updates on this blog. Stay tuned.

NanoString: a big idea turns counting molecules into a thriving business

NanoString founder Amber RatcliffAmber Ratcliffe was close to graduating with her MBA in 2003 and had accepted a job offer at an established Seattle biotech firm when she submitted her plan for NanoString to the UW Business Plan Competition. To her amazement, her plan for the life sciences start-up won the grand prize, the “Best High-Tech Idea” award and $31,000 in start-up capital, leaving Ratcliffe with a big decision to make.  

“I wasn’t going to live my life wondering what might have been,” she said. So she changed course, put the entrepreneurial strategies she’d learned at Foster into practice, and co-founded NanoString Technologies in June 2003. NanoString commercialized an innovative technology invented at the Institute for Systems Biology to use DNA barcodes to detect and count molecules in biological samples. It might sound like science fiction, but the technology is now helping researchers at organizations like the National Cancer Institute gain a better understanding of how to battle cancer.

“Researchers, like entrepreneurs, want to solve the problems that no one else has been able to crack,” said Ratcliffe, who is now the company’s director of marketing.  “Foster gave me the tools to be an entrepreneur and now NanoString is giving scientists the tools to conduct studies that were previously inconceivable. It’s an exciting and rewarding combination.”

Her decision to take a chance on NanoString has been validated: the company has been shipping products internationally since 2008 and has raised over $47 million in venture capital. The next big challenge for NanoString is the competitive clinical diagnostic market. “NanoString’s combination of features are very well suited for this new market,” Ratcliffe said. “We believe this technology has the potential to make a significant contribution to the practice of medicine.”

Hear Amber’s story and check out: www.nanostring.com

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