Tag Archives: Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship

Meet the student-led startups in the 2015 Jones + Foster Accelerator

Taking a startup from idea to reality is a daunting process. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones + Foster Accelerator, now in its fifth year, helps student-led startups navigate that process with six-months of mentoring from Seattle entrepreneurs and investors, a framework for defining measurable milestones, guidance in achieving those milestones, and the opportunity to earn up to $25,000 in follow-on funding.

Twenty-nine companies have completed the Jones + Foster Accelerator program since it began in 2010. Twenty-five of them are still in business today, raising millions in funding, becoming household names, forming partnerships with celebrity foundations, and winning prestigious awards.

The 10 companies accepted into the 2015 Jones + Foster Accelerator cohort run the gamut, from clean technology to healthcare innovation to peer-to-peer commerce. The one thing they all have in common is a great idea, and the drive to turn that idea into a successful venture. Over the next six months, these startups will polish their pitches, raise early-stage funding, manufacture their products, build marketing strategies. Each milestone they hit will bring them a few steps closer to their startup goals. We can’t wait to see what these student entrepreneurs can achieve!

2015 Jones + Foster Accelerator Teams

2015 J+F Accelerator Team Logos

 

 

 

 

Benchmark Environmental
Benchmark Environmental is developing an affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance stormwater treatment system. The Benchmark ECR will enable more companies and municipalities to effectively treat every pollutant present in stormwater runoff.

Budding Diagnostic
Budding Diagnostic is the road-side “breathalyzer” for THC and other illicit substances. The company has developed a revolutionary and non-invasive way to quantify drug levels, including THC, from a drop of saliva within a few minutes.

Eldergrow
Eldergrow provides a therapeutic connection to nature through gardening products and services that improve the quality of life for a growing community of elders living in residential and nursing care.

Hook
Hook is a smart home hub that makes inexpensive remote controlled outlets and bulb sockets “smart” to enable home automation on a budget.

JikoPower
The JikoPower personal power station converts waste heat generated during cooking into usable electricity

miPS
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.

Ownly
Ownly is an online marketplace that facilitates peer-to-peer beauty services on college campuses. Ownly offers college women a more affordable and convenient alternative to professional beauty services by connecting them with classmates and student makeup artists right on their college campus, so they can get their nails, eyebrows, hair, and makeup done at a fraction of the salon price and at the location of their choice.

Scholarship Junkies 
“Students helping students achieve scholarship success.” Scholarship Junkies provides students with an insider’s guide to the scholarship process from the perspective of students who’ve been there.

TriboTEX
TriboTEX is a clean-tech startup originated from Washington State University. The company’s product is a proprietary, eco-friendly nanoparticle with two functionally different sides that effectively reconditions moving parts during normal operation.

vHAB
vHAB is a virtual rehabilitation platform that aims to help patients regain fine motor skills of the hand and arm by making therapy fun and precisely tracking recovery.

Click to share
Click to share

 

A new challenge for health innovators

VieDiagnostics_BPC2015
Vie Diagnostics, a 10-minute DNA-based point of care test for contagious diseases, won the Grand Prize at the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition.

March 2016 will mark the advent of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s latest endeavor: the new University of Washington Health Innovation Challenge (HIC).

Healthcare has entered a period of unprecedented change. Throughout the world, innovators are developing creative solutions that increase the efficacy, efficiency, and accessibility of healthcare and transform the way we think about health. Many of these innovations are coming out of Washington state and the UW—both recognized leaders in health innovation. In the last year alone we’ve seen cutting-edge developments in genomic-based testing, telehealth, wearable devices, and other products and processes that will improve health and wellness worldwide.

“The healthcare ecosystem in Seattle is driving economic growth and innovations that affect our health and wellness,” says Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the UW Foster School of Business. “The players include the University of Washington, private companies, global nonprofits, healthcare incubators and investors, research institutes, and social entrepreneurs.  With the Health Innovation Challenge, we are building on the strengths of the UW and the Seattle community to provide a platform for students with a passion for health and healthcare to further develop their ideas and gain visibility for their innovations.”

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship is partnering with various colleges, schools, and departments across campus to promote the challenge to a broad group of students, from multiple disciplines. “The exciting thing about health innovation,” says Bourassa-Shaw, “is that it’s not limited to students and researchers in medicine.” Health innovation takes many forms—data-driven discovery, new billing solutions and business models, new ways to monitor health, improvements in efficient healthcare delivery, etc. Students in the HIC could literally come from any discipline.

Empreva_BPC2015_1094x730
2015 UW Business Plan Competition Second Place Prize Winner Empreva has developed a new method of birth control and STI prevention.

The HIC will be structured much like the Buerk Center’s well-regarded Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Interdisciplinary student teams will develop new solutions to existing problems—new approaches to helping people live healthier lives, new opportunities for care and treatment, new products or services—and prove that their solutions could be viable in the health/healthcare market. Teams will pitch their ideas and demonstrate their innovations to a room of judges in late March 2016 for a chance to win $10,000 in seed funding for their venture. The Buerk Center has no doubt that UW students will embrace this new challenge—six of the eleven prize winning teams in the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition were health-related.

The HIC will launch with a new 2-credit class, ENTRE 579/490 Health Innovation Practicum, in fall 2015. Taught by Sam Browd (UW Medicine, Children’s Hospital, serial entrepreneur) and Emer Dooley (Foster School of Business), the class will teach the mechanics of taking a promising healthcare solution from inception to commercialization. Topics to be covered include big problem areas in both domestic and global health, the biodesign process, the health innovation pipeline (including intellectual property, company formation, and healthcare markets), and the medical regulatory process.

Click to share
Click to share

 

$77,500 awarded to student-led startups

LindaDerschang_Keynote_2015_828x900
Linda Derschang, 2015 UW BPC Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker

May 21, 2015 – “No matter how smart we are, or how smart we think we are, we all need advice,” said keynote speaker LInda Derschang, founder of The Derschang Group, GSBA 2015 Business Leader of the Year, and owner of some of Seattle’s favorite bars and restaurants, “But remember,” she continued, “advice is like a gift. Say thank you, but make sure it fits before you rip the tag off.”

Derschang spoke to a crowd of over 300 judges, mentors, and student entrepreneurs who were gathered at the Bell Harbor Conference Center Thursday evening to award a record number of prizes—14—and a record amount of seed funding—over $77,000—to participants of the 18th annual  UW Business Plan Competition.

The UW Business Plan Competition, run by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business , offers innovative and entrepreneurial students an opportunity to turn their ideas into compelling and viable startups. In the past 18 years 1,278 student teams from 16 colleges and universities around Washington State have participated in the competition, and the Buerk Center has awarded over $1.3 million in prize money/seed funding to 140 winning teams—over half of which are still in business.

While this year’s winning teams represent many industries, a significant number are innovating in the area of life sciences. Empreva, for example, has developed a new method of birth control and STI prevention, and vHAB’s technology helps stroke patients rehabilitate their fine motor skills.

The winners will use their prize money to turn their student teams into early-stage startups—some may apply to the Buerk Center’s Jones + Foster Accelerator, which provides mentoring and guidance through the decisive first six months of the startup process.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

$25,000 Grand Prize

sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation

VieDiagnostics_GrandPrize2015_900x693
Vie Diagnostics with Michael Bauer, President of the Herbert B. Jones Foundation

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.
Team members: Mark Borysiak, Charlie Corredor, Babak Modhadam


$10,000 Second Place Prize

sponsored by WRF Capital

Empreva_SecondPlace2015_900x534
Empreva with Buerk Center Advisory Board member Ron Howell, President and CEO of the Washington Research Foundation

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.
Team members: Anna Blakney, Matt Brady, Yonghou Jiang, Jonathan Kilpatrick, Tracy Lam-Hine, Renuka Ramanathan

$7,520.15 Finalist Prize

sponsored by the Friends of the BPC

Hook_Finalist2015_900x578
Hook with Buerk Center Advisory Board member Elizabeth Morgan, partner at IBM

Hook (University)
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.
Team members: Anirudh Goel,  Rahil Jain, Paul Jeyasingh, Kashyap Kasturi Rangan, Robert Moehle, Saurin Shah, Eric Vera, Arthur Wang, Maxwell Wheeler

$5,000 Finalist Prize

sponsored by Fenwick & West

vHAB_Finalist2015_900x626vHAB (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.
Team members: Dimitrios Gklezakos Rita Jabbouri, Tyler Libey, Brian Mogen, Ellyce Shullman

 

$5,000 AARP Prize

Targeted for teams that best address the challenges faced by low-income seniors: affordable age-in-place housing; affordable healthy food; increased income; and the impact of isolation on physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Co OpticalCo 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.
Team members: Samuel Byrd, Zane Duke, Amber Graviet, Qassem Naim

 

$5,000 Wells Fargo Clean Tech Prize

Recognizes a venture with products, services, or processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes.

NOVA TechnologiesNOVA 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.
Team members: Hannah Bouscher-Gage, Christian Erickson, James Kintzele, Ashley Loper, James Mayther, Sarah O’Sell, Adam Slater, Ryan Sumner


 

$2500 Best Idea Prizes

Best Technology Prize

sponsored by UIEvolution

Microsoft Word - UW_ES_1page.docxTriboTEX (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.
Team members: Tom Gualtieri, Matt Hanley, Qassem Naim, Pavlo Rudenko

Best Marketplace Prize

sponsored by ebay Enterprise

Park A LotPark 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.
Team members: Diane Dettling, Bo Gao, Daniel Johnson, Justin Meith, Anna Nordstrom

Best Service/Retail Prize

sponsored by REI

SmartyPantsSmartyPants (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.
Team members: Caitlin Cramer, Christian Redd, Shon Schmidt, Vince Wu

Best Consumer Product Prize

sponsored by Accenture

HookHook (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.
Team members: Anirudh Goel,  Rahil Jain, Paul Jeyasingh, Kashyap Kasturi Rangan, Robert Moehle, Saurin Shah, Eric Vera, Arthur Wang, Maxwell Wheeler

Best Sustainable Advantage Prize

sponsored by Sensors In Motion

JikoPowerJikoPower (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.
Team members: Ryan Ahearn, Joe Koch, Aaron Owen, Daniel Parrish, Shubba Pratiwadibhayankar, Meghna Singla

Best Innovation Prize

sponsored by Perkins Coie

Vie DiagnosticsVie 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.
Team members: Mark Borysiak, Charlie Corredor, Babak Modhadam

Best Health/Healthcare Prize

sponsored by Cambia

EmprevaEmpreva (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.
Team members: Anna Blakney, Matt Brady, Yonghou Jiang, Jonathan Kilpatrick, Tracy Lam-Hine, Renuka Ramanathan

Best Idea for the Future Prize

sponsored by DLA Piper

PowerPoint PresentationmiPS (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.
Team members: Alex Jiao, Jenna Strully, Ned Whalen

 

Click to share
Click to share

 

 

What do business plan competitions accomplish?

I had lunch with a good friend last week—someone who supports tech entrepreneurship and the larger Seattle startup community. He asked if there was research to detail the value of business plan competitions. What, he asked me, do business plan competitions accomplish?

UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams, judges, and mentors at the Business Plan Competition Investment Round

There are 350+ entrepreneurship centers in US colleges and universities, and my sense is that less than 70% of them have competitions called business plan competitions, startup competitions, new venture competitions, etc. Some programs require their own students to participate in their competition, a good number of them have national or international scope, and a number of them have themes (social, tech, global, undergraduate, graduate). Most all of them award money, and some of them, like Rice University, offer BIG money.

OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
OlyKraut, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

Competitions, in my opinion, shouldn’t be easy, and students should never get a grade for competing. If you want to mimic the realities of the entrepreneurial world in the safe environment of a university, you have to up the ante. Make the competition as real world as possible, with deadlines and deliverables that require student teams to use all the resources they can muster to succeed.  Yes, we assume that students are smart, talented, driven and motivated. How good are they at combining those personal characteristics with an idea, a vision and turning it all into a compelling business? It’s a test. But not like any they’re used to.

Competitions require that student teams butt up against reality. Anyone can write a business plan, but tell me about your execution strategy. What traction do you have to date? Give me a customer profile. Who’s your mentor, your industry expert? Who on your team is going to leave to take a job after graduation—and who’s starting the company?

UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014
UpHill Designs, UW Business Plan Competition 2014

The UW Business Plan Competition is badly named, and we know it. We started the event in 1998, when every major university was starting a  BPC. Then it was about the plan, but the plan was demoted in 2006 and now the 100+ teams apply with an executive summary. In the 18 years we’ve offered our Business Plan Competition, 4,091 students on 1,278 teams from 16 colleges and universities around Washington State have applied. We’ve given out $1.3 million in prize money/seed funding to 128 winning teams. We guess that 75+ teams that went through the competition are still in business, contributing to the (mostly) Washington economy. The 2003 grand-prize winner, NanoString, went public in 2013.

But here’s the real value of the BPC:  it’s hard. It takes discipline and motivation and sheer determination. It demands that teams overcome doubt and anxiety, team dynamics, and their own misconceptions of how things should work or who deserves what. It requires them to move past the paralysis that will surely come when their initial market vanishes or when financial projections are scoffed at. The pain and frustration would make it easy to quit. And some do. The survivors become entrepreneurs.

Click to share
Click to share

 

 

 

Meet the Author

ConnieBourassaShaw_editsAs director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business, Connie Bourassa-Shaw works to integrate entrepreneurship into the student experience at the University of Washington. She’s responsible for the strategic direction of the center, ensuring the relevance of its curriculum and practical experiences, working with student entrepreneurs, and developing new initiatives. The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, which received a $5.2 million naming gift in January 2013, produces the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge and the highly visible Business Plan Competition.

 

Meet the UW Business Plan Competition Sweet 16

BPC Investment Round 2015
A sea of student teams and judges at the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition Investment Round

37 student-led startup teams from colleges and universities across Washington state gathered at the University of Washington HUB yesterday to compete in the 2015 Business Plan Competition Investment Round. For four hours, the teams pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to  250+ judges—many of whom said it was the most impressive group of teams in the history of the BPC— in the hopes of landing a spot in the next round of the competition. By the end of the afternoon the scores had been tallied and the sixteen top-scoring teams were announced. These teams will move on to the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the 2015 BPC—one step closer to winning the $25,000 Grand Prize. Congrats to the Sweet Sixteen!

The UW Business Plan Competition is presented by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business.

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.

Benchmark Environmental
University of Washington and 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Click to share
Click to share

 

 

See what others have to say about the BPC on Twitter: #UWBPC2015

 

Twitter for entrepreneurs: using social media to build your personal brand

T.A. McCann is many things to many people: entrepreneur, mentor, angel investor, America’s Cup winner … (I could go on). On Thursday, April 23, the founder of Gist (which sold to Blackberry in 2011) and Rival IQ assumed the role of social media pro and spoke to a room of up-and-coming entrepreneurs about how to use Twitter to build their personal brand and promote their companies.

McCann’s presentation, called Twitter for Entrepreneurs, was packed with solid social media advice and anecdotes. We’ve included a few of our favorites below. You can see McCann’s full slide deck here.

1. Twitter is for learning

Always be learning “Twitter is this amazing place where many of the smartest people in the world are pushing their ideas out in real time,” says McCann. Experts, CEOs, and thought-leaders are on Twitter sharing information that they feel is of value.  If you follow the right people, they will educate you on whatever it is that you care about.

 

2. Twitter is for building relationships

building relationshipsTwitter is an amazing resource for building relationships with people you don’t know, but with whom you share a connection. McCann didn’t know Brad Feld (a well-known investor, entrepreneur, and co-founder of TechStars) when he first contacted him on Twitter. What he did know was that they shared a connection–a love of running.  McCann reached out to Feld with a simple tweet prior to a conference they were both attending: “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 replied and suggested the two of them meet up and run together. So they did. Feld ultimately ended up leading the series A financing of Gist. McCann used Twitter to build a connection that  led to success for his company (and a great friendship).

 

3. Once you’ve got the hang of it, become a thought leader

thought leader“If you like using Twitter,” says McCann, “you will evolve from purely consuming (listening and learning) and connecting, to sharing your own perspective with your followers.” Once you develop your perspective in a particular area, you have the opportunity to become a thought leader, someone Twitter followers look to for opinion on a given subject. “Once you become a thought leader,” says McCann, “you';; begin to accrue value to your business.”

 

4. Bottom line: CEOs who aren’t on Twitter are letting their company down

CEOs on TwitterAll CEOs use Twitter in different ways. Some use it to communicate with customers or other industry leaders.  Some act as thought leaders and create their own content. And some simply amplify others’ content. But the bottom line is that once the leader of a company has a strong following on Twitter, it becomes a powerful marketing tool. On March 30, 2015, Tesla Motors’ CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted a major announcement, and Tesla’s stock price suddenly shot up:
ElonMuskTweet
TeslaStockJump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Don’t forget the 5-3-2 rule

5-3-2Does Twitter seem overwhelming? Don’t worry–you don’t have to spend all day tweeting and re-tweeting. Just remember the 5-3-2 rule: For every 10 posts:

  • 5 should be about your space: What does your company do? Find thought leaders that do the same and re-tweet their content
  • 3 should be your thoughts on a particular subject: Have an opinion on news that applies to your company? Share it!
  • 2 should be personal: Show some personality? Tweet about your favorite new song, or what you think will happen on the next Game of Thrones

Don’t forget to check out all of T.A. McCann’s Twitter for Entrepreneurs slides, and share this post on Twitter:

Click to share
Click to share

Artie Buerk: the networker’s effect

Artie BuerkCatalyst of ventures and connector of people, Artie Buerk has financed the future of entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.

It began with a gift. An investment, really, in an idea that had yet to be so much as scribbled on a cocktail napkin.

In 1990, Artie Buerk (BA 1958) and his wife Sue (BA 1974) pledged $100,000 to support entrepreneurship at the UW Business School. The problem? There was no entrepreneurship to support. No center, no program, no business plan competition, not even a single class.

A vigorous catalyst of new ventures, Buerk insisted that this deficiency be addressed. Immediately.

“My whole life has revolved around startups and small businesses, the engines of the Northwest economy,” he says. “I felt the UW should have a program to educate future entrepreneurs.”

Buerk found a small cabal of faculty with similar leanings. Most prominent among them was Borje “Bud” Saxberg, then chair of the Department of Management, who had noted the region’s uptick in entrepreneurial activity. “The answer was there,” recalls Saxberg, “waiting for action.”

Artie equaled action. He helped Saxberg’s task force sketch the original Program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and taught them how to raise the capital to launch it.

That was the seed. From it has grown a veritable dynamo of entrepreneurial education and activity, centered at the Foster School of Business but increasingly reaching across the University of Washington. Now that dynamo has been renamed the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, in honor of the Buerks’ recent $5.2 million gift to finance its future.

“Artie always says that there’s no shortage of ideas. But we need leaders who can take those ideas and turn them into something valuable,” says Jim Jiambalvo, dean of the Foster School. “With the Buerks’ support of our entrepreneurship center—the Buerk Center—we’ll create more entrepreneurial leaders, and we’ll extend our reach to discover those young people who don’t yet realize they have the entrepreneurial DNA.”

Startup

Buerk realized it early on. His first business was a Seattle Times paper route in his childhood neighborhood north of Matthews Beach.

He studied business at the UW, served as a supply officer on a destroyer in the US Navy, then earned an MBA at the Harvard Business School. Several years with big corporations convinced him that he was meant to build from the ground up.

One of Buerk’s first entrepreneurial challenges came, ironically, back at the UW. In 1968, he was hired to direct its fledgling alumni fund and development office. The bare-bones operation was raising a paltry $40,000 a year. “We were 25 years behind other public universities and 200 years behind the Ivy League Schools,” he says. “To me, it was a real opportunity.”

Buerk studied the field’s best practices, modernized the alumni database and department infrastructure, and increased the donor base exponentially—on his own and with a crackerjack staff. His early hires included Marilynn Dunn, the UW’s influential first vice-president of development, and Robb Weller, the legendary King of the Yell Squad, who could single-handedly light up a crowd of 70,000.

Buerk’s team of strivers got the private support flowing. By 1977, his operation was raising nearly $20 million a year (a legacy that has climbed to an annual $320 million today).

“It was entrepreneurial, something I had a real passion for,” Buerk says. “I’ve never had a job that was more fun.”

Back in business

Buerk’s expertise in raising money became a valuable asset. In the late ‘70s a couple of old friends, Chuck Barbo and Don Daniels, recruited him away to help finance their odd-lot portfolio of small businesses—among them Christmas tree farms, raw land, horse arenas, and a self-storage business.

As president—and an investor—Buerk convinced the founders to focus on the storage businesses, to be renamed Shurgard. And he helped Barbo and Daniels methodically build a nationwide brand, raising $750,000,000 for the expansion through a vast constellation of brokered deals.

Buerk spun off a successful records management company called Intermation and helped take Shurgard public in 1994 before moving on.

His investment had grown exponentially. And now the money was liquid.

So Buerk put it to new work. He founded the Seattle School Fund for Excellence (now the Alliance for Education). And, with a group of partners—“A who’s who of the Foster School’s Advisory Board”—he turned a 401K division of Washington Mutual into Northwestern Trust (acquired by Harris Trust).

In 1997, he co-founded the private equity firm of Buerk Craig Victor, now Montlake Capital. It was the heyday of the Internet boom, when capitol gushed toward anything with a .com suffix. But Buerk was a skeptic. He chose to invest in firms that demonstrated solid fundamentals—proven products/service, realistic projections, genuine leadership. Over the next decade-plus, he opened a new branch of legacy, molding growth companies and mentoring their leaders—from Door to Door Storage to Blue Dog Bakery, from HaloSource to SOG Knives.

People person

Whatever the business, Buerk’s true business has always been people. His vast personal network is legendary, and ever growing.

“Artie knows everyone, and everyone knows Artie,” says venture capitalist Neal Dempsey (BA 1964), a fellow founding champion of entrepreneurship at the UW.

It is, perhaps, because Buerk takes networking more personally than most. He had to. “My father died when I was 11, and it was just my mom and me,” he says. “If I was going to have a family, I knew I was going to have to build it out of friends and relationships.

“And that’s the way I look at it: not just a network, but my extended family.”

It’s a philosophy with a long-term perspective.

“Some people think of networking in terms of what they can get out of it,” says Kris Lindquist (MBA 2011), the director of strategic business development at Amazon.com who met Buerk through Foster’s MBA Mentorship Program. “But Artie gives twice as much as he takes. He pays it forward.”

He’s the consummate connector of people who show intelligence and initiative.

“If you want to know who to talk to in an industry or about a specific topic, Artie will typically know someone off the top of his head,” adds Sara Weaver (BA 1991, MBA 2001), a Buerk Center advisor who once worked at Buerk Craig Victor. “And he is very generous with his contacts and resources. He takes a real interest in helping people grow and succeed.”

“Building and maintaining relationships makes your life a lot more successful and valuable,” adds Buerk. “The greatest thing, to me, is to see the success of someone you’ve helped.”

Bow Down to Washington

Artie BuerkMost of Buerk’s connections seem to triangulate with the UW. He splits allegiances with the Harvard Business School (he’s been a dedicated class secretary for 50 years). “But my blood is purple and gold,” he confirms.

It’s a loyalty forged during busy, happy days as an undergrad. Bussing in to Roosevelt High School from Seattle’s northern frontier left little time for involvement. So Buerk resolved to engage in the life of the UW in every possible way. He studied business in the classroom, but learned to lead all over campus. Managing the Husky football and basketball teams. Training with Naval ROTC. Running the campaigns of the student body president and vice president. Serving as senior class officer, president of the Oval Club and member of Fir Tree.

Buerk was named “Outstanding Senior Man.”

He graduated, but never really left. After his decade as the UW’s first professional fundraiser, Buerk was a trustee of the UW Foundation and chair of the UW Development Fund. He taught personal finance through UW Extension for years. He’s a past president and board chair of the UW Alumni Association. He serves on the advisory boards of the Information School and the Foster School, having chaired the Foster board through the final years of the last capital campaign. He’s also mentored for years at Foster, and is on the board of the UW Angel Fund.

For these many decades of service—multiplied by the thousands he inspired to do the same—the UW honored Buerk with its 2007 Gates Volunteer Service Award.

The recipient claims he has got more than he’s given: “I’ve never had any association with the U that hasn’t been fun and successful,” Buerk says. “It’s hard to replicate that record in any other element of life.”

Center of attention

And few UW touchpoints have been as satisfying or successful as the mature, innovative center that has grown from Buerk’s somewhat speculative investment two decades ago.

To a brand building expert, “Buerk Center” has a nice ring to it. It certainly says something about the institution.

“There’s no one more deserving to have his name atop the center than Artie,” says Neal Dempsey, whose own name graces the building that houses it. “It’s a hugely meaningful gift, and a hugely meaningful name. Artie is the best there is.”

True to form, Buerk wants the center—already in the Entrepreneur top ten—to be the best there is. He applauds the work of director Connie Bourassa-Shaw and her staff to elevate the original vision to an incredible vibrancy of practical activity and education. And he hopes this new infusion of resources from the naming gift fuels the center’s ongoing expansion throughout the UW system.

“The UW brings 45,000 brilliant people to a 640-acre spot to work every day,” Buerk says. “Our job is to turn that brain power into businesses that will be good for their founders, good for the university, and good for the Northwest economy.

“If we can integrate entrepreneurship into the fabric of the University, engage all kinds of students and faculty in the process, get them thinking of great ideas as potential businesses, we will have something that’s very powerful.”

Power is what the Buerks have provided the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

“A naming gift is the best endorsement,” says Bourassa-Shaw. “It’s an amazing vote of confidence. It says, I so believe in you that I’m proud to have my name associated with you for decades to come. It says, I’m betting money on your future. It says, I trust the center to do the right thing for students, for the UW, for Seattle. This is Artie’s legacy.”

The latest and greatest of many.

Foster announces $5.2 million naming gift for CIE

Guest post by Connie Bourassa-Shaw, Director of the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington Foster School of Business

Artie Buerk
Artie Buerk
You know this story: an entrepreneur with a vision, a ridiculously small but adept team, a set of core advisors who are devoted to the cause, initial customers who come on board early and stay loyal, gaining traction, finding investors, creating products/services—and enormous fun along the way.

No, I’m not talking about a UW student start-up or any other start-up for that matter. I’m talking about CIE and the vision we developed back in 1997 for creating an entrepreneurship center that not only teaches the essentials of entrepreneurship, but gives students myriad opportunities to follow their passion. Not that long ago, CIE was a start-up.

We developed the core curriculum and added electives that built on that core. We launched the Business Plan Competition in 1998, and we’ve awarded $1.3 million in seed funding to student-led companies, including NanoString, Contour, Gravity Payments, Cadence Biomedical, Impel NeuroPharma, JoeyBra, PatientStream, MicroGreen, etc. We started the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program for incoming freshmen in 2007, began the Environmental Innovation Challenge in 2008, and the Jones Milestones/Foster Accelerator in 2010.

In those early days of creating an entrepreneurship center, I got tremendous assistance and guidance from the CIE Advisory Board, including sage personal advice from Artie Buerk. Artie’s a Husky—practical but not dogmatic, enthusiastic but perceptive. And today the Foster School of Business announced that with a $5.2 million gift, CIE is becoming the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.

Naming gifts are the Holy Grail for university centers. It’s the longed-for vote of confidence. It says, I so believe in you that I’m proud to have my name associated with you for decades to come. It says, I’m betting money on your future. It says, I trust the center to do the right thing for students, for the UW, for Seattle.

I just wish you all could see the GIGANTIC smile on my face today. Thank you, Artie, for your belief in the CIE vision. No, I mean, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship vision.

About the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge

Student innovators have the potential to solve some of our world’s most pressing environmental crises. But in order to bring about change, these students need to bring their innovations out of the lab and into the marketplace.

Since 2009, the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) has challenged interdisciplinary student teams to define an environmental problem, develop a solution, produce a prototype, and create a business summary that demonstrates market potential. The quarter-long process culminates in a large, DemoDay-like event where a select group of teams pitch to a group of 150+ judges—investors, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and experts from across sectors. The top teams are awarded up to $10,000 in prize money, and everyone comes away with valuable feedback and experience to help them realize the market potential of their innovations.

What is The Lavin Program?

Interested in Entrepreneurship?

The Lavin Program at the University of Washington Foster School of Business delivers a unique curriculum + hands-on learning for undergraduate students – whether they want to launch their own start-up(s) or bring entrepreneurial thinking into an established business.

Learn more at startup.washington.edu.

(Created by Lavin alumnus Josh Allison, founder of AmpHouse Studios)