March Madness is coming, and athletes, coaches, and fans all over the country are gearing up for another exciting season—the sweat, the competition, the glory! But Chris McCoy (BA 2011) is excited for another reason. March Madness 2015 will mark the public beta launch of a startup effort seven years in the making. YourSports is a new sports networking platform that aims to change the way people connect through sports online.
“Sports is the ultimate connector,” says McCoy, who started YourSports during his senior year at the University of Washington. “It has an inherent ability to build relationships at all levels—high school softball teammates, 2010 Winter Olympics competitors, 12th fans—but until now these relationships haven’t been collected online in a centralized location.”
Sure, you can find fellow fans or your college soccer teammates on Facebook or Linkedin, but there’s a lot of chatter on those social platforms, and only a small portion of it is about sports. There’s also many mainstream sports media websites, but those don’t offer the personalization that comes with social networking sites. McCoy is banking on the belief that sports communities want a personalized dedicated sports experience.
McCoy explains that social platforms connect people by interest. “Think of it this way,” he says, “Facebook was student directory-meets-social network. Linkedin is resume-meets-social network. YourSports does the same with sports data. We’ve taken the most comprehensive historical and geographical sports data on the planet and gathered it online in one place to unite teams, athletes, fans, and influencers from all levels, throughout history, and around the world.”
YourSports currently employs about 20 people—mostly engineers and data scientists—in 9 cities, working to build out a platform based on millions of pieces of local and national data from 100+ years of sports history. They have already created 500,000+ profiles of athletes, schools, and sports venues, raised $1.7 million in angel investment, and have seen a steady stream of people joining (“in the low thousands”) since launching their private beta in 2012. McCoy has also recruited a strong board of advisors, including ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jerry Crasnick and Ward Bullard, former head of sports at Google+. After YourSports’ public launch during March Madness, McCoy will continue to work on the next step: monetizing YourSports using a commerce model that connects users with places and products recommended by their favorite athletes. “If we get it right,” says McCoy, “YourSports will become one of the most interesting sports marketing and commerce platforms on the planet.”
The Foster School’s Professional Sales Program and the Husky Sales Club pulled off a huge win. On Tuesday, February 24, over 35 corporations joined us for our most successful Career Fair yet. A representative from E&J Gallo said, “This is the best Career Fair we attend. You have the right student population and potential employees for us.” Close to 200 students connected with potential employers to talk about opportunities and careers in sales and to explore the variety of opportunities.
The Professional Sales Program would like to recognize the Husky Sales Club for helping plan, recruit, and execute such a large event. Sponsors are signing up for next year already.
YEOC Session: January 2015
With their polished resumes and personalized YEOC business cards in tow, students kicked off the January 2015 session by attending the first ever YEOC Resource Fair. Program Manager Korrie Miller says that over 23 companies and non-profits (Microsoft, Foster Lavin, Girls Who Code, and YMCA to name a few) participated, interacting with students and helping them find summer jobs, internships, and even scholarships.
The remaining activities of the day focused on finance, both personal and professional. Students heard from Mentor Joshua Banks on the importance of investing and from Microsoft Finance Director Cliff Camp on the significance of the mentor-mentee relationship. Students also learned how to navigate financial aid packages and create personal budgets via the financial freedom game, led by Mentor Maria Garcia.
See photos of the January session below:
YEOC Session: February 2015
The focus on this month’s session was iCreate Consulting Challenge, YEOC’s annual commercial competition. Working with partner organizations the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) and Foster’s Consulting and Business Consulting Center, students were tasked with developing a marketing strategy and viral Instagram video for a burgeoning, education-focused organization. In line with YEOC’s mission to address inequities in the high-school-to-college pipeline, the group receiving consultation was the Urban Technology Center, an initiative of ULMS designed to attract underrepresented students to STEM.
After hearing Michael Verchot, the director of the Consulting and Business Development Center, discuss past consulting projects and ULMS Board Chairman Nate Miles argue the importance of resiliency, fellow ULMS Board Member Kia Franklin divulged the specific challenges facing the Urban Tech Center’s launch in Seattle. Under the guidance of Mentor Danielle McConnell (a YEOC alum herself) and the Mentors-in-Training, students separated into groups and began working on their marketing plans and videos. After only an hour and fifty minutes of preparation and feedback sessions, students then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, their parents, and the many others in attendance. Program Manager Korrie Miller reports, “It was a packed house!”
See a few photos from the session below. Student photos and video can be seen here.
Photo credits to YEOC mentors Emmeline Vu and Skyler Rodriguez.
This blog post is a part of a series focusing on monthly YEOC student activities. Visit the YEOC page to learn more about the program.
At the Foster School of Business, students are not only focused on excelling in their coursework and extracurricular activities, but are also using their skills and talents to give back to the community. Each year the Foster School hosts a Week of Service and encourages Foster student organizations to participate by hosting a philanthropic event for a charitable cause of their choosing. This year, our theme was “Pay It Forward” and the hard work and dedication of Foster student organizations resulted in over 1,500 volunteer hours devoted to aiding a variety of charitable causes and organizations throughout the community.
We would like to sincerely thank our generous sponsor, UPS, and everyone who participated to make a difference and make this year’s Week of Service our most successful one yet. We hope to continue the Week of Service for years to come and cannot wait to witness the amazing impact Foster students will continue to make on the community.
Below are highlights from this year’s service week.
American Marketing Association teamed up with Ad Club to fundraise for the Fight For Air Climb hosted by the American Lung Association. Their efforts allowed them to fundraise over $250 to the event.
Business Information Technology Society (BITS) organized a pizza fundraiser throughout the Week of Service, raising both funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and donated over $300.
Beta Alpha Psi and Foster Finance Association volunteered at an Earthcorp event and helped remove invasive plants and blackberries around the community.
Business Leaders in Healthcare partnered up with Operations Supply Chain Management to create care packages to send to our troops.
Undergraduate Women in Business and Business Ethics Association co-hosted a Week of Service Mocktail Party that allowed attendees to not only mingle with fun drinks, but to also participate in an interactive workshop on cocktail party etiquette. Their proceeds were donated to support the YWCA Dress for Success Program.
Alpha Kappa Psi got together with Husky Sales Club, ALPFA, and UW Society for Human Resource Management to clean up The Ave.
Business Impact Group and Undergraduate Management Consulting Association took a trip to a local Boys & Girls Club to shed some knowledge about career opportunities.
Out for Business partnered with the Chicken Soup Brigade to help package nutritional meals for those dealing with chronic conditions and hunger.
AIESEC and CISB (Certificate of International Studies in Business) collaborated to collect item donations that were then donated to StandUp For Kids in order to help homeless youth in our community.
The Association of Black Business Students and National Association of Black Accountants volunteered at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club and helped with organizing and cleaning up.
ASCEND and Asian Business Student Association passed out information and promoted UW Red Cross.
Start Up UW, Montlake Consulting Group, and Husky Traders hosted an event to promote VenturePolicitics, a startup focused on lobbying for immigration reform at the White House.
Curtis Reusser, CEO of Bellevue based aerospace manufacturer Esterline, addressed a packed crowd in Anthony’s Forum during the most recent Leaders to Legends Breakfast. While discussing his decades-long career in the engineering sector (he’s an alum of UW’s engineering school), Reusser delved into the mechanics of running a large, yet under the radar company, revealing everything from his approach to activist investors to decentralization. Watch the full lecture below:
Foster’s mentoring maven, Susan Canfield, discusses how the time-honored practice has evolved, and how you can get involved
Mentoring is having its moment.
An ancient concept, the powerful exchange between expert and apprentice is experiencing a surge in the public consciousness. Mentoring is a buzzword in business. Columnists hold forth on its virtues. And formal programs proliferate at b-schools.
What’s new to learn about the ancient art of mentoring?
Susan Canfield: Plenty! Mentoring has evolved in recent years. Traditionally, people viewed themselves as either a mentor or a mentee. Today we recognize that we can be both at the same time and throughout our lives. It was once assumed that a mentor must be more senior and experienced than the mentee. In fact a mentor can be anyone from whom you can learn. In the past it was common for the mentor to choose the mentee and structure and drive the relationship. Now we know it is better if the mentee chooses the mentor and drives the relationship. Finally, mentoring used to be seen more as a formal, ongoing relationship. Today we know it need only last as long as it is useful and may be based solely on observation.
I titled my book Mentoring Moments because, after many years observing mentoring relationships and conducting interviews on the subject, I learned that mentoring moments can come from formal programs and one-time meetings. They can come from family, friends, colleagues and even people we hardly know. They can come from hearing wise words and seeing wisdom in action. In fact they often come when we least expect them and most often need them.
What do you think accounts for the growing interest in mentoring?
A number of factors. People are seeking ways to accelerate their learning as they navigate more frequent career changes and face life’s challenges. Baby Boomers are arriving at a time in their lives when they want to give back. Universities are finding mentor programs attract prospective students, enrich their students’ academic experience, and provide them with career insights and connections. And businesses are seeing evidence that mentoring brings bottom-line benefits and addresses the issue of knowledge transfer before those Boomers walk out the door.
What are the hottest mentoring trends?
There are several. In reverse mentoring, younger recruits provide senior staff fresh perspectives and feedback—and maybe even a few tips on social media. Group mentoring, a trend we’ve pioneered at Foster, is an efficient alternative to one-on-one one relationships. And our experiments with speed mentoring have received unexpectedly rave reviews from both participating students and mentors. When a mentee prepares ahead and comes with specific questions, you’d be surprised at how valuable a short, focused meeting can be.
Who should seek a mentor? Only the young and inexperienced?
We can all benefit from a mentor—or many mentors—throughout life. It’s a relationship that enhances our learning and growth, no matter what age. And, if we’re lucky, mentors inspire us as well.
My vibrant, still-learning 94-year-old mother has a number of informal mentors. One is Grace, a 99-year-old friend who travels, has an active social life and gets up early to swim every morning. Grace is an informal mentor and inspiration to my mother in how to continue aging with grit and gusto.
Stewart Parker (MBA 1981), a Foster MBA Mentor who founded Targeted Genetics, says that you can get along without mentors, but it may be harder to fully realize your opportunities and potential. Mentors make it easier to have perspective and a healthy approach to life.
How do you find a mentor?
We can seek mentors in formal programs (at work, school or community organizations) or create them informally on our own.
Formal mentoring programs in companies, for example, can run the gamut from being available to all employees to only being offered to select, high-potential managers. Increasingly mentor programs have become more widely available because of growing evidence that they help attract and retain talent, contribute to employee engagement, enhance training opportunities, and support leadership and diversity initiatives.
Informal mentoring opportunities are all around us and are often there just for the asking. If you are open, curious, and eager to learn, then it is natural to seek conversations with people you want to learn from. Avoid starting with “will you be my mentor?” Instead, ask for advice or feedback about a specific question or problem. One conversation over a cup of coffee may be sufficient. However, if you would like to meet again, you may eventually use the word “mentor.” Or maybe not.
At Foster, we encourage our MBAs to take advantage of our formal MBA Mentor Program and seek informal mentoring opportunities as well. Better yet, I recommend creating a mentoring network consisting of diverse people with unique experiences, skills and perspectives that can be your guides in different parts and stages of your life. This dynamic approach might include a combination of ongoing mentors and others who move in and out of your life as your interests and needs change.
How does a dynamic approach work?
A great example is Chris Howard (MBA 2007), founder of Fuel Capital, a San Francisco venture firm. As an incoming MBA student, Chris immediately impressed me with his networking savvy. He knew the power of creating a mentoring network—including faculty, staff, peers, alumni and members of the business community—that he called his “board of advisors.” He was very intentional about what he wanted to learn and finding people he wanted to learn from.
Along with this fluid board of advisors, Chris took full advantage of our formal mentor program and chose Richard Tait, co-founder of Cranium and founder of Golazo, as his mentor. Both Chris and Richard were seeking a goes-both-ways mentoring relationship, and they clicked immediately. Eight years later, they’re still learning from each other and regularly return to Foster to speak on their powerful mentoring relationship.
Chris would be the first to admit that all of these relationships helped him turn a pre-MBA career in advertising into a successful second act in venture capital.
What do exceptional mentees contribute to a great relationship?
Great mentees take initiative and maintain contact with their mentor. They know what they want to learn and they actively drive the relationship. They prepare for meetings. They are honest about challenges at work and in life, and are open to feedback. They respect their mentor’s time. They express appreciation and lend mentors a hand when they can. They create a network of mentoring relationships. They pay it forward and seek opportunities to mentor as well.
In short, great mentees are hungry to learn and appreciative of all the wisdom they can observe, hear and absorb.
Who should be a mentor? And why?
Anyone who wants to facilitate the professional and personal development of another should consider mentoring, not only for the sake of the mentee but also for their own growth and opportunity.
Studies from the pioneering corporate mentoring program at Sun Microsystems found that mentors are 20 percent more likely to receive a raise, and six times more likely to be promoted. And, according to several longitudinal studies cited in George E. Vaillant’s Aging Well, those who mentor—seeking to better the world not only for themselves but for others—effectively triple their chances of being joyful in their 70s.
Outside of formal programs, how do you go about offering mentorship?
The short answer is: be someone people want to learn from.
In fact, you may already be mentoring and not even know it. Many of the senior executives I interviewed for my book mentioned learning great lessons from their bosses and leaders by simply observing their actions and behavior. In addition, these executives were encouraged to stretch and grow professionally by someone who believed in them. In many of these situations, the word “mentor” was never used.
How can you become an exceptional mentor?
Exceptional mentors see the relationship as a two-way street. They create an atmosphere of trust. They genuinely enjoy mentoring. They listen deeply and ask insightful questions. They give honest feedback. They are vulnerable and willing to share their own setbacks and how they overcame them. They see abilities in mentees they may not see in themselves. They discuss and help mentees set goals. They facilitate connections. They provide role modeling for work and life. They inspire mentees to be their best selves.
We may not all be born with the mentor gene but we can certainly strengthen our mentoring muscles with guidance, good role models, practice, and a genuine desire to get better. I have seen this among our MBA mentors, many of whom have been guiding and inspiring our students for a decade or more.
The Foster School launched its MBA Mentor Program in 1999 to offer students a broader and deeper understanding of business through regular meetings with business leaders from a wide array of companies and industries.
Though it’s a voluntary program, more than 250 full-time and evening MBAs each year take advantage of the golden opportunity to learn from one of 86 senior executives about careers, companies and industries, and to discuss the keys to effective leadership, overcoming challenges and finding long-term success.
The program has been so successful that director Susan Canfield regularly fields inquiries from the world’s top business schools—Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Chicago, MIT, to name a few—when they are considering installing or improving their own mentoring programs.
Canfield attributes the Foster program’s exemplary status to six differentiating qualities:
Leadership – The Foster School leadership—including Dean Jim Jiambalvo and Assistant Dean Naomi Sanchez—is a strong supporter of the MBA Mentor Program, providing essential backing and resources.
Longevity – At 15 years, it’s one of the oldest continuously running MBA mentor programs in the country.
Innovation – Foster has been on the vanguard of trends such as group mentoring, speed mentoring, reverse mentoring and promoting mentoring networks.
Efficiency – Mentoring software facilitates the logistics of mentor-student matching and students who serve as lead contacts synch schedules and organize preparation for meetings.
Flexibility — Within the program structure is a great deal of latitude to adapt based on the needs and wishes of mentors and students.
Commitment – The program is powered by a potent renewable energy—senior executives who serve as mentors year after year. “Our mentors say they get more than they give,” Canfield says. “They enjoy hearing what’s on the minds of future business leaders, they like being asked the tough questions that help them reflect on their own career and decisions, they are energized by being around bright and eager minds, and they enjoy getting to know other mentors who share their same commitment. Foster is lucky to be in the midst of many generous alumni and a giving-back business community.”
The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones + Foster Accelerator, now in its fifth year, helps student-led startups get off the ground. Companies accepted into this six-month program receive expert mentoring, a framework for defining measurable milestones, and the opportunity to earn equity-free follow-on funding.
This year, seven companies completed the six-month accelerator program. From July 2014 to February 2015, the teams worked with committees of Seattle-area investors and entrepreneurs to meet critical startup milestones—making product improvements, developing sales and marketing strategies, licensing intellectual property, raising capital.
On February 3, the seven teams made final presentations to a panel of judges and were awarded up to $25,000 in follow-on funding. $25,000 can represent three months of runway for an early-stage company, but we think it represents more than that. It represents our confidence in their potential–we can’t wait to watch these companies achieve startup success!
CardSwapr is a solution to the broken secondary gift card market. Since 2008, over $44 billion gift cards have gone unused. CardSwapr’s app allows users to quickly and conveniently trade an unwanted gift card for something they will use, or sell it for cash.
Team: Sam Tanner (UW Foster School), Bryan Gula (UW Informatics) Awarded: $25,000
Over the last 30 years, 911 calls for fire department emergency medical responses have increased by 400%. And as it turns out, only 60% of these calls are true emergencies. Sending firefighters and emergency vehicles to respond to non-emergency 911 calls is expensive for fire departments, and unnecessary emergency room visits are costly to insurers. FDCARES has developed an innovative response model that lowers costs by redirecting non-emergency calls to new tier of the fire department that has the capacity to stabilize patients in the home or transport them to a non-emergency care facility.
Team: Mitch Snyder (Battalion Chief, Kent Fire Department), Jimmy Webb (Captain, Kent Fire Department) Awarded: $25,000
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the fourth most common greenhouse gas, and has 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. This is a major problem for food and beverage retailers who use N2O cartridges to make whipped cream. Korvata has invented a patent-pending food-grade alternative that emits 50% less greenhouse gas without altering the deliciousness of the end product.
Team: Chris Metcalfe (UW Foster School MBA), Soleil Kelley (UW Foster School MBA) Awarded: $25,000
Lasting Smiles works to create lasting change in communities around the world. Lasting Smiles lip balm is created with organic, fair trade ingredients sourced from small-scale farmers in India, Peru, and Burkina Faso. Lasting Smiles ensures integrity and responsibility throughout the supply and manufacturing chain—no testing on animals, all pure & organic ingredients, and the highest commercially feasible post-consumer recycled packaging. The startup has formed a strategic partnership with Smile Train, the largest cleft lip and palate nonprofit in the world. Twenty-five cents of every lip balm this startup sells will go directly towards funding surgeries for children with cleft lips and palates.
Team: Zoe Mesnik-Greene (UW Foster School) Awarded: $10,000
Only 3% of the food consumed in Spokane, WA is produced locally. Yet the demand for a robust local food system to supply restaurants and schools is high. LINC Foods is a Spokane, WA-based hub that connects local farms to institutional-scale markets by selling their fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meats, cheeses, and eggs to large institutions (school districts, universities, hospitals), restaurants, and grocery stores.
Team: Beth Robinette (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA), Joel Williamson (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA) Awarded: $25,000
Olykraut combines local produce, original recipes, and “the magic of fermentation” to create delicious fermented vegetable products (think sauerkraut). The company has been producing and selling its products since 2008, and its popularity continues to grow. By producing this healthy food made with ingredients from farms in Western Washington, Olykraut is investing in the health of local people, local farms, and the local economy.
Team: Sash Sunday (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA), Michelle Anderson (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA), Domonique Juleon (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA), Dorothy Mitchell (Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA) Awarded: $25,000
Uphill Designs produces innovative and sustainable hiking equipment for outdoor enthusiasts. The startup’s trekking poles are made of bamboo—a renewable and low-cost material that is stronger and more flexible than aluminum—and the pole handles are made of post-consumer recycled cork. And in keeping with its commitment to sustainability, a percentage of Uphill Designs’ sales will go to the Pacific Crest Trail Associations and the communities where the company sources its materials.
Team: Daniel Sedlacek (UW MS Material Science & Engineering), Mounica Sonikar (UW MS Material Science & Engineering), David DeBey (UW Foster School MBA) Awarded: $25,000
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:
“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:
“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:
“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!”
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!
– Faculty perspectives, alumni happenings, student experiences, Seattle and Pacific Northwest community connections, and a taste of life around the Foster School.