Foster’s Professional Sales Team takes 1st in national competition

Professional Sales Team
From left to right: Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Rick Carter (faculty), Meredith Barrett, and Natalie Jerome.

On October 15, Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Meredith Barrett and Natalie Jerome represented the Foster Professional Sales Program at the National Team Selling Competition (NTSC) hosted by Indiana University at the Kelley School of Business. The NTSC attracts 21 universities across the nation. Teams participate in a two-sales-call process in front of judges from sponsoring corporations 3M and Altria. Teams compete in three divisions with the top competitor in each division advancing to the finals. The University of Washington took top division honors and advanced to the finals, ultimately achieving a 1st place victory.

The 2014 National Team Selling competition demanded a large upfront time commitment by our students as they learned the complexities of selling, team work, presentation skills, and overcoming objections. Students learned how to digest the challenges and opportunities of a case and then, trusting the strengths of each team member, present the rollout of a private label product line. Numerous hours of training, rehearsing, and strategizing on this case took place prior to the trip to Indiana. Jack Rhodes, Director of the Foster School of Professional Sales, assembled a team of four seniors to represent Foster. Soon after, Jack engaged a study team joined by Foster’s Professional Sales Program Assistant Director Rick Carter, Joe Vandehey of Altria, Jeff Lehman of Mentor Press, and graduates from prior year’s competition spent many hours preparing the students for this remarkable competition. When asked what the best part of the competition was—besides winning—students agreed that it was the team experience and confidence gained in the preparation. Alex Crane received the MVP of our division and remarked, “of all of the training I’ve had in school, this experience was the best practical learning experience in preparation for the real world.”

About the Foster Professional Sales Program

The Foster Professional Sales Program provides students with the knowledge and real-world experience necessary to be successful in sales. This nationally ranked program teaches how to sell, manage, and lead. These skills can be used not only for your future career, but for your lifetime in business. Given a job placement rate of over 90%, this combination of interning and curriculum has proven to be invaluable for students as they graduate and enter the job market.

Meet the GBCC 2015 Student Leadership Team

2015 Endeavor Statement: We want to run the world’s best global business case competition for undergraduate business student competitors and UW organizers through active participation by the Foster Undergraduate Community, in order to create memorable experiences while promoting student leadership and cross-cultural interaction. 

 Davis Brown

GBCC Co-ChairDavis Brown is a senior at the Foster school studying Finance. He is globally minded and is always looking for any way to get involved in international business or culture. Last year he had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Germany for 5 months. While in Europe he had the chance to visit many different countries, but he loved the culture of Barcelona, Spain and the amazing city life of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Davis hopes to one day work internationally and have the opportunity to improve his foreign language skills. Outside of the classroom, Davis enjoys exploring new areas in and outside Seattle, going to concerts, and searching for the best desserts in Seattle. He is extremely excited to be co-leading GBCC this year and cannot wait for the competition week to begin.
 Marina Oldfin GBCC Co-ChairMarina Oldfin is a senior at the Foster School of Business, majoring in Information Systems, Operations & Supply Chain Management, and a Certificate in International Studies in Business (German Track). She recently studied abroad this last Spring quarter in Vienna, Austria.  It was an absolutely amazing experience studying abroad – and she made many new connections! She would love to visit Vienna again, but also travel to other places I have yet to go to. Marina is very excited to be a Co-Chair for GBCC this year and hopes to make it a memorable experience for everyone

Making the entrepreneurial leap: leaving the corporate world and diving into startup life

EntreLeap3_448x448On November 5, the founders of four hot Seattle-based startups gathered at the UW Foster School to discuss their experiences in leaving the corporate world and diving into startup life. John Gabbert (Pitchbook), Bryan Maletis (FatCork), Jane Park (Julep), and Tom Seery (RealSelf), spoke on making the decision to leave the security of a big company, the differences between corporate and startup work, and how important industry experience was before making the entrepreneurial leap. But some of the most fascinating advice of the evening applied not just to those making the corporate/startup switch, but to entrepreneurs in general. Here are some of our favorite answers to questions on matters of time, money, passion, and luck.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? How many hours do you work, and when are you most productive?

John Gabbert:
“If you highlight 90 to 100 hours a week on a calendar, it looks pretty ridiculous, but that’s how much I worked in the early days, on specs, plans, and financials. But the key thing to know isn’t how many hours you work. It’s the fact that [the company] is always on your mind. When you wake up in the morning, when you’re in the shower . . . it’s an all-consuming thing. “

Tom Seery:
“I do a lot of work from about 8pm to midnight—that’s when I’m in power mode. My days are spent recruiting and networking. Networking is so important. I will always take a coffee meeting with someone who contacts me to say they are interested in founding a startup. I never say no, because I’ve been there, and I want to encourage people to network. If you can’t shamelessly reach out to and keep up with people who are important in this community, you might not be the right person to have your own startup.”

Q: Had you done any financial planning when you decided to quit your job?

Bryan Maletis:
“I bootstrapped everything. I was fortunate to have savings to do so. I kept having to put more and more of my savings into the company, and it got worrisome, but when I was putting in my money, I knew that failure was just not an option. I had to say, ‘this is going to work, because we’re putting all of our savings into it.’”

Jane Park:
“My parents owned a 7-Eleven when I was growing up, and we lived above it. I wasn’t use to a life of luxury, so I’ve always felt that money is something you can make, but it’s not what defines a life. There is definitely some freedom in that. I did have some savings from my former jobs, but I went through that pretty quickly. Once we reached a point where we were so big that I could not personally cover our burn rate, it was actually a relief. It was finally beyond my reach to help.”

Q: How passionate do you have to be to start your own company?

John:
“I think passion may be the most important thing. I’d put it up there with grit and determination, but I think passion is really the driving force. Thousands of people will tell you no, whether you’re raising money, trying to get people to buy your product, or convincing people your idea will work. If you’re not passionate, it’ll suck.”

Bryan:
For a founder of a company, passion is the most important thing. If I didn’t love champagne and love sharing the product with people, my job would be very hard and dull, and I wouldn’t have stuck it out during the first two years when I was making no money.

Tom:
“I’m actually not passionate about the cosmetic surgery market. But I am extraordinarily passionate about elements of it—what we’re doing for consumers, and the feedback we’re getting. And I am super passionate about my ‘hidden agenda,’ which is to change things about the world through reconstructive surgery. We support surgeons who travel around the world to perform surgery on children and adults who have eminently correctable problems. After surgery, these people can return to life as normal or begin to have a life. So I founded RealSelf thinking I was doing one thing, and discovered my purpose along the way. I’m passionate about making this world a better place.”

Jane:
“It doesn’t matter if your passion is for any particular market or product, but being an entrepreneur means you have to have passion for innovation and a belief that your company is doing something good for the world. That has to be at the core of what keeps you moving forward.”

Q: (from moderator Connie Bourassa-Shaw)
“College students have been taught their entire life that it pays off to be smart. You get in the University of Washington because you’re smart. Life goes your way because you’re smart. But entrepreneurs should never underestimate the power of luck. So, would you rather be lucky or smart?”

Bryan:
“I’d rather be lucky than smart. I believe I am lucky. When I met my wife, she pushed me into doing this. I still don’t have the smarts for it, but I believe that you should surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and better than you at different things, and I’ve been lucky to be able to do that.”

John:
“Lucky, and just smart enough.”

Tom:
“I adopted two children from orphanages in china, so I appreciate what it means to be born in a country where we have privilege and access to amazing resources. Three years ago I would have answered smart, but now I’m in the lucky category.”

Jane:
“I think I would have said smart, you can’t control luck, but I think what I hear everyone else expressing is a sense of gratitude, and I definitely have that. People laugh at me because I’ll say to employees as they arrive at work, ‘Thank you for coming back to work!’”

 

 

Money follows vision

As the executive director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Simon Woods must strike a delicate balance between the business and artistic sides of his organization. While for-profits may be based on creating value, non-profits are centered on creating “impact.” So, there’s always a struggle when deciding to “do things that lose more money, but make more impact,” Woods said.

Simon WoodsOn October 29, Woods presented at the Leaders to Legends lecture series and discussed the recent challenges and transformations the Seattle Symphony faced under his direction. According to Woods, the previous decade was not an easy one for the organization, beset by external pressures like the recession, and internal friction from the misalignment of artistic vision among members. Symphonies are large and fragile organizations: “They’re like giants—they fall hard,” he said.

Woods came to Seattle in May 2011, during “a moment of great artistic potential aligned with a moment of financial peril,” he said. Together with Music Director Ludovic Morlot, Woods has been instrumental in defining and executing a vision to establish the Seattle Symphony as a dynamic, forward-looking, and community-focused organization. Woods worked previously as Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, President and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Vice President of Artistic Planning and Operations at The Philadelphia Orchestra. He’s spent the better part of 20 years on the business side of music.

Woods explained the six-part plan that helped turn things around for the Seattle Symphony.

  1. Change the brand from traditional to contemporary. According to Woods, Seattle is a progressive city, so it needs a progressive orchestra.
  2. Plan boldly. To match the new brand, the Seattle Symphony started taking more risks in its programming by performing more contemporary pieces, playing in different spaces, and collaborating with rock, pop, and rap artists.
  3. Control the messaging. Woods underscored the importance of staying on message, so that the organization could present itself as “the orchestra of Seattle, not just in
  4. Work to build a financial bridge to the future through fundraising and re-budgeting.
  5. Focus on the long term. The Seattle Symphony didn’t ask its constituents for help now, but rather for help becoming a great organization for the next generation.
  6. Gather morale. Woods wanted to “build an internal culture of collaboration and harmony.”

So far the plan has paid off, and the Seattle Symphony has balanced its budget for three years in a row. When you “invest in reflecting the values of your city, not surprisingly, you get rewarded,” Woods said. More significantly, the organization’s impact has not diminished. In fact, the Seattle Symphony has a greater impact than ever, as demonstrated by the launching of new projects like its music education program, prison outreach program, and the creation of a record label, to name a few.

The challenges may not be over, but Woods remains optimistic. “As the world speeds up, there is more and more need for beauty and peace in life,” he said.

The Foster Why

In the Foster School’s Behavioral Lab, a remarkable collaboration of faculty and students is discovering why we do the things we do

 Foster WhyWe’re more likely to do bad things when exhausted.

This notion has become almost doctrine among ethicists, the broad conclusion of a large and convincing body of research. It follows a solid line of logic: mental fatigue depletes will power, leaving us vulnerable to the temptations of cheating, lying and stealing (and a litany of other ills).

But this reasoning has always struck Xiao-Ping Chen as missing some important context. Isn’t it possible, she wondered, to be too tired to cheat?

To find out, Chen, a professor of management and the Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration, Scott Reynolds, an associate professor of business ethics and Helen Moore Gerhardt Faculty Fellow, and doctoral student Kai Chi (Sam) Yam went to the Foster School’s state-of-the-art Behavioral Lab to test this hypothesis on Foster undergrads.

They began by taxing the brains of their experimental group—half the participating students—with a puzzling mental exercise to identify the colors of words that spell a different color (the word blue in red type, for instance). A test confirmed the puzzles worked as planned.

Next the students read fictional reports of a poll revealing society’s view on cheating. In one, the vast majority considers low-impact cheating unacceptable; in the other, the majority gives it a pass. A test confirmed that the participants’ views were influenced by the report they had just read.

Finally, the students faced their own temptation to cheat. Each was asked to solve a series of challenging math equations and self-report their results, earning $1 for each correct answer.

What they didn’t know was that the problems were unsolvable.

Subjects, then space

 Behavior studies such as this were more difficult and expensive to conduct in the days before computer labs and web-based surveys. But even today, studies of any complexity are likely to achieve conclusive findings only in a dedicated physical space.

“A traditional lab is invaluable when you are doing more involved behavioral or interactive research,” says Mark Forehand, a professor of marketing and the Pigott Family Professor in Business Administration.

When Forehand joined the Foster faculty in 1997, the only space available for behavioral experiments was the Balmer Hall computer lab. It was far from dedicated, and far from perfect.

Forehand made do. But he also began pushing for improvements to the research environment. He first tapped into a continuous source of research subjects by creating a new subject pool populated by undergraduate students enrolled in MKT 301. To gain exposure to the research process, students are given the option to participate in two behavioral studies during the quarter or complete independent research on published behavioral studies. Later, a similar pool was created for studies on the management side from students enrolled in IBUS 300.

The cohort of social scientists grew at Foster. And as the blueprints were drawn for the long-awaited PACCAR Hall, Forehand secured, at last, a dedicated space appropriate for his colleagues’ work. The Behavioral Lab opened for business in fall 2010.

Behavior cave

The lab is buried deep beneath the soaring glass and vaulted walls of PACCAR Hall’s atrium and gallery, below its high-tech classrooms and tidy cloisters of faculty offices, in one of the most unassuming suites in the building.

A small sign at its entrance whispers its presence. An unadorned reception nook opens to a partitioned room aligned with computer carols. A couple of spare meeting rooms wait in the wings. There is no art on the walls. No light or sound leaks in from outside. The tone is neither sterile nor penal. Just a little bland. Nondescript. Neutral.

For a laboratory to study human behavior, it’s perfect.

“We didn’t get what most would consider an ideal space,” says Forehand. “But for a lab, it’s great. We don’t want windows. Something as simple as a sunny or cloudy day has been shown to affect how people respond. So the basement location is actually a great thing.”

Everything in the lab is designed to maximize experimental flexibility, privacy and control. “It’s a huge advantage of doing a study here,” says Ann Schlosser, an associate professor of marketing who specializes in online behavior. “It’s so much easier to get high-quality findings here, especially when you are doing a computer-mediated or online activity.”

Never a dull moment

The lab runs like a factory through the midsection of each quarter. Schlosser and Ryan Fehr, an assistant professor of management, manage their respective department’s activities, with doctoral students overseeing day-to-day operations and undergrads serving as lab assistants. Thousands of student subject hours allow dozens of studies to take place each year.

Power users include a growing cohort of Foster faculty multiplied by their doctoral students who, despite second billing, tend to be the heaviest users of all.

On the consumer behavior side, the list includes Forehand, Schlosser, Nidhi Agrawal, Shelly Jain, Richard Yalch, Jeff Shulman, Rob Palmatier, Natalie Mizik and Abhishek Borah. On the management and organization side, the usual suspects are Fehr, Chen, Reynolds, Chris Barnes, Christina Fong and Michael Johnson.

Add to the list new faculty recruits David Welsh, an assistant professor of management, and Lea Dunn, an assistant professor of marketing whose research in brand attachment, social influence and consumer emotions will fit right in. “A lot of my work involves manipulation of social interaction or emotions, which require in-person engagement,” Dunn says. “So the Behavioral Lab was an important factor for my deciding to come to Foster.”

Pushing the envelope

If the Behavioral Lab specializes in consumer and organizational behavior, it also serves as proving ground for studies in leadership, entrepreneurship, ethics, behavioral finance and accounting, and many more topics in the vast range of human behaviors in the context of business.

Recently Fehr studied whether moral diversity—the degree to which someone shares your same moral code—affects the level of conflict in negotiations.

A group led by Bruce Avolio, director of the Foster Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, is using the lab to help develop a means for organizations to valuate intangible assets such as leadership.

Team Schlosser recently investigated the effects of cyber exclusion—being left out or ignored online—on a person’s feelings. Another study, of sports drink packaging, confirmed that consumers associate an upward orientation of the logo/text with activity, and a downward orientation with rest or relaxation. A third study found that feelings of gratitude lead a person to indulge in sweet over savory treats.

Reynolds and several doctoral students have found that employees can develop a sense of moral entitlement after engaging in pro-social behavior at work.

Barnes and Yam have examined the impact of morality on sense of humor (and found them to be pretty mutually exclusive).

 Lloyd Tanlu, an assistant professor of accounting, investigated how thinking about scarcity affects a person’s financial decision making.

A Borah study found that one-sided online reviews are more persuasive to people who are researching on behalf of a close friend or boss, whereas two-sided reviews work better in the lower-stakes case of researching for an acquaintance.

Chen and Suresh Kotha, faculty director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, are documenting the way people respond to different tones of entrepreneurial pitches—authentic, passionate, confidant—on crowdfunding sites.

A study guided by Fong found that the presence of emotions in the workplace decreases the likelihood that employees will be objectified and increases the likelihood of mutual support.

Mizik and her doctoral students are investigating how consumers develop loyalty to brands.

And the Agrawal group has studied the effect of different voting mechanisms on group decision making, the effectiveness of different types of public health messages on healthy eating, and how the use of causal language—“because,” “since” or “thus”—in explaining an employee’s performance ratings improves her subsequent performance.

In conclusion

In their study on fatigue and ethics, Chen, Reynolds and Yam came to a clear conclusion. The mentally depleted students who were primed to view the world as permissive of cheating proved more likely to fudge on their math scores for few bucks. But the depleted students who were primed to believe that society doesn’t tolerate cheating cheated less.

So exhaustion can actually make us less likely to act unethically when the act is complicated by a high degree of social consensus that it’s wrong. In these cases, Chen explains, mental fatigue depletes the energy required to cheat—and keep from being caught.

Additional studies confirmed this thought-provoking finding which was recently published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Like other successful behavioral studies out of Foster, the work contributes knowledge to the academic literature and wisdom to attentive managers.

“Periods of overwork and exhaustion are inevitable in an organization,” says Chen. “And it is at those times, when employees are most vulnerable, that a culture of integrity and honesty is essential as a deterrent to unethical acts.”

That’s one more mystery of human behavior solved by this remarkable collaboration of faculty and students at the Foster School.

But there’s always another question to be answered in the Behavioral Lab.

Read about a student who turned undergraduate research at Foster into a promising academic career.

Student Turns Scholar

A former Foster student’s undergraduate exposure to behavioral research has led to a promising academic career

Mercurio
Katie Mercurio

Serving as an experimental subject in the Foster Behavioral Lab may not be the highlight of every undergrad’s experience. But Mark Forehand, a professor of marketing at the Foster School and architect of the lab, believes it’s appropriate for students to contribute to the research mission of the University of Washington.

“It’s great to have subjects to run our experiments on,” he says. “But it’s also important to expose students to the process of research.”

And every so often, it clicks with someone.

Like Katie Mercurio (BA 2004, MS 2006, PhD 2010). One of the earliest students conscripted into behavioral studies in the old Balmer lab, she found herself subject to a particularly fascinating experiment on the effect of celebrity voiceovers on consumer brand attitudes.

The experience inspired her to seek a research apprenticeship with the study’s principal investigator—Forehand. Mercurio began analyzing data and eventually started running some experiments. While continuing studies in the Foster PhD Program she ran the entire Balmer Lab during construction of its new home just next door.

“I was involved in the Behavioral Lab almost from its start,” she says. “And there has been a huge evolution terms of students participating and the number of studies. It just keeps growing.”

After Foster, Mercurio did a post-doc stint at UCLA before becoming an assistant professor at the University of Oregon. She teaches the voiceover study in one of her courses. Her research specialty is in social identity, a topic she first studied as an undergrad. And, like a growing diaspora of Foster grads, she runs a behavioral lab at her current business school.

She notes that the Foster Behavioral Lab is a two-way force. Its graduates disseminate knowledge and expertise to other universities while scholars trained elsewhere gravitate here to work in it.

“To get the best faculty you have to have the best facilities. And you have the best facilities here,” Mercurio says. “You are attracting the best talent in behavioral research because of that lab.”

Read more about the Foster Behavioral Lab.

The Carletti Expedition–Prologue

Guest post by Wilson Carletti, recipient of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship (read more about the fellowship and Carletti’s backstory here).

Wil Carletti I do not think there is necessarily a definitive “line,” that we cross and magically become adults; however, as I look around, I watch my best friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers (real, intelligent human beings) crossover from being merely faces in the crowd to the ones standing onstage. Better yet, they’re not just standing, they are dancing, celebrating, creating beautiful art, expressing themselves. They’re winning PAC-12 championships (and IMA championships), creating clothing lines, moving to faraway places, building companies, designing products, and literally saving lives. They are starting non-profit organizations, they’re becoming doctors, lawyers; they’re pushing their limits, as well as those around them. As I stared out the airplane window—the sun had just set behind Managua—I began to think about just how far I was about to push my own limits.

After landing and standing in line at customs, I found the shuttle that would take me to Granada. At this point, darkness made it difficult to take in much of the scenery, so I chatted with the driver a bit. While it seems as though Nicaragua takes the lines on the road a little more seriously than drivers did in China (I participated in an Exploration Seminar there), it took me awhile to get used to. I kept noticing buses with bright, blinking, colorful lights all over the front end – I asked the driver what that was for. Apparently it’s legal in Nicaragua, so why not? “You should see this place during Christmas time – the entire road looks like a Christmas tree,” he exclaimed.

We made it safely to the hotel, and, as I sat there, about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, I decided I would write to reflect on what was. I would write to grow, as I explore what will be. And I would write to inspire others to pursue what could be.

Of all the paths I described above, none is more worthy than the other; you do not have to be an astronaut or rock star (or go on an 8-month long adventure for that matter) to make a positive difference in this world. Find something that you are passionate about and share it with those around you. Find your stage.

I felt excited to try to find my stage over these next eight months. While I definitely felt nervous, I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was. I have been thinking about this for months now, and finally, I was ready.

The next day, when I awoke in my warm, humid hotel room in Granada, I felt like I had woken up from a long dream. I was a bit anxious – I knew no one and I was far away from home. Finally I strode confidently out onto the cobblestone street.

Adapted for the Foster Blog with the help of Wilson Carletti. More episodes to come. Follow his unabridged journey here.

Take it from T.A.

T.A. McCann speaks to an Entrepreneur Week audience about networking
T.A. McCann speaks to an Entrepreneur Week audience about networking

We’ve heard it said a million times: “It’s all about who you know.” Whether you’re looking for a job, talent to join your startup team, or investors to fund your great idea, leveraging your network will help you achieve your goals. But how do you go about building a strong network? To answer this question, we turned to rockstar entrepreneur T.A. McCann, the founder of Rival IQ and Gist, which he sold to Blackberry in 2011. McCann is an active angel investor, a startup advisor, and a former America’s Cup winner. He is also a master networker, and attributes much of his success to the power of connection. In his words, “Your success is directly correlated to the size and strength of your professional network.” McCann joined us during Entrepreneur Week 2014 to share some of his best networking advice. We’ve included a few of our favorite tips below:

  • Do your homework
    If there’s someone out there you’d like to meet, do your research. A few years ago, McCann was headed to a conference where he knew he’d have the opportunity to connect with Brad Feld, “one of the best investors out there.” McCann did his research, and found out that Feld is a runner. He reached out to Feld via twitter with a simple note, saying “I know you’re a runner, and I’m hoping to run while I’m at this conference. Can you recommend any good places to run while I’m there?” Feld got back to him and suggested the two of them meet up and run together. So they did. Feld ultimately ended up leading the series A financing of McCann’s company, Gist. “All because I did the research to figure out who this guy was and what he cared about,” says McCann.
  • Add something of value, and give before you get
    Great networkers ask themselves, “What can I do for this person?” before they ask, “What can this person do for me?” If you’ve found someone you’d like to add to your network, do your research, ask questions, and learn what’s important to them. Once you do this, share something of value with them. This might be an opinion, relevant information, or a new connection. “Think about how you can give something that’s going to help the other person first. If you give first, you’re much more likely to get in the future,” says McCann.
  • Get involved
    “Volunteer your time,” says McCann, “and you’ll make new connections at the same time.” McCann spends a lot of time sharing his experience and ideas at Startup Weekends, where he’s constantly exposed to fresh ideas and smart people to add to his network. “Startup Weekend is a kind of competition,” he says, “but it’s much more about building skills and meeting people.”

Want more networking advice from T.A. McCann? Check out his slides here.

Share this post with your friends and followers!
Tweet: Take it from T.A.:

InTheWorks: minimizing motor emissions

IntheWorks CTO, Todd Hansen (left) with CEO David Endrigo.
IntheWorks CTO, Todd Hansen (left) with CEO David Endrigo.

“I didn’t really expect to start my own business,” says Todd Hansen, looking back to his time as an undergraduate studying biochemistry at the University of Washington. But he had always been interested in clean technology and the reduction of fossil fuels, so when he discovered a really interesting concept for reducing emissions, he decided to pursue it. “Lo and behold,” says Hansen, now the co-founder and CTO of InTheWorks, an engineering and design development company, “that concept turned out to have a lot of potential.”

InTheWorks’ patented product is “essentially a unique emissions control system,” says Hansen. The company holds a total of 4 patents on a catalytic converter that can be used with any type of gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine to significantly reduce emissions, increase fuel economy by 4% to 5%, and increase horsepower 4% to 6%. And where other ways to improve fuel economy and power (aerodynamics, tire redesign, weight reduction) are costly, installing InTheWorks’ converter actually lowers manufacturing costs by 12%, due to reduced precious metal content.

InTheWorks’ technology was impressive from the get-go (the company won a prize in the 2009 UW Environmental Innovation Challenge by focusing on marine engines), but it’s in the past few years that Hansen and his team—CEO and co-founder David Endrio and executive vice president John Gibson—have seen tremendous progress. In 2011 InTheWorks’ prototype passed both EPA and CARB tests with flying colors, and further, more extreme testing in 2013 validated the 2011 results. The company has three full time employees, has raised $1.5 million in funding, and recently formalized a partnership with ClaroVia Technologies (known for its OnStar vehicle navigation system).

So what’s next for InTheWorks? “We’re primarily focused on licensing our technology,” says Hansen, “and we’re ready to reach out to OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] and Tier 1 suppliers.” At the same time, InTheWorks plans to pursue in-house manufacturing and distribution of marine applications of its technology. “And we’re always looking for additional technologies to add to our portfolio,” says Hansen, so his focus is already on the next innovation: “Diesel is on the horizon,” he says, “and we’re optimistic that we will be noticed by game changing companies.”

WCRS: improving entrepreneurship education

Entrepreneurship education is in demand. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing subjects on today’s college campuses. According to a 2013 paper published by the Kauffman Foundation, only 250 entrepreneurship courses were taught in the United States in 1985. By 2008, that number had ballooned to 5,000. Today, over 9,000 faculty members teach at least one course in entrepreneurship and more than 400,000 college students take classes on the subject. As the number of future founders and entrepreneurs taking these classes continues to grow, it is crucial that faculty deliver the best possible content, developed from cutting-edge research. Enter the West Coast Research Symposium on Technology Entrepreneurship, an annual conference that brings together scholars from major universities to share their latest insights into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.

WCRS faculty and PhD students share ideas over dinner.
WCRS faculty and PhD students share ideas over dinner.

In early September, 79 faculty and PhD students from across the U.S. and overseas gathered for the 12th annual WCRS, held at the UW Foster School of Business, to collaborate and gain valuable feedback on novel research in areas such as nascent markets, technology innovation, and funding. This sharing of ideas often leads to stronger, more robust research that will soon find its way into hundreds of college classrooms. When Abhishek Borah, assistant professor at the UW Foster School of Business, presented his paper on social media’s impacts on IPO underpricing, his premise was that underpricing was something that underwriters, investors, and firms all want to avoid. However, faculty members from the University of Alberta and Santa Clara University encouraged him to avoid a purely finance-based view of IPO underpricing and probe deeper into the motives of the bankers involved in the process, to better understand how different types of actors impact IPO pricing.  Feedback like this results in more sophisticated research, increasing the likelihood of publication in top-tier journals, and ultimately improving the education of the next generation of entrepreneurs.

A key element of the WCRS is a one-day doctoral workshop, held prior to the conference, that provides an opportunity for PhD students in entrepreneurship to present their research interests, learn what goes into quality research, and gain wisdom from leading scholars in the field. This workshop preparation is invaluable for PhD candidates. As Suresh Kotha, professor at the UW Foster School of Business and one of the leaders of the WCRS, explained: “Many of the faculty presenting this year attended the conference as doctoral students. It was wonderful to see how they’ve blossomed into successful and confident faculty members.”

The West Coast Research Symposium and Doctoral Workshop are sponsored by the University of Washington, Stanford University, University of Oregon, University of Southern California, and University of California Irvine, with a grant from the Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation.

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