All posts by Sara Jones

A look inside the TMMBA Venture Capital Investment Competition

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012

This past spring our graduating students wrapped up their TMMBA experience with a new course in the curriculum – the Venture Capital Investment Practicum.

This two-day course is taught by Foster alum and GeekWire Chief Business Officer, Rebecca Lovell. It is designed to pull together all of the TMMBA coursework viewed through the lens of venture capital investing.  Working in teams, students dove into one tech startup in detail, evaluating its potential for investment.  Classes featured guest speakers and involved practical application of the concepts.

The course ended with all-day competition. Acting as VCs, students evaluated business plans of two local startups and selected one to invest in. Leading up to the competition teams reviewed the executive summaries, put together an initial analysis, and drafted questions for the entrepreneurs.

The day of the competition was a flurry of activity. Each entrepreneur pitched their business to the class and then teams held mini “due diligence” sessions with the entrepreneurs throughout the morning. Teams had only an hour and a half during a working lunch to make their final investment decision, develop an executive summary, and put together their presentation slides.  During the afternoon teams presented and defended their decisions to a panel of judges from the startup community.

At the end of the day, there were two winning teams. Here’s what a few of their members had to say about the experience:

“The real world doesn’t lay everything out for you, and neither did the VCIC. It really challenged us to apply the concepts we learned in a so-this-is-what-it’s-really-like kind of a way.”  – Amy Klehm, Team Honeybadgers

“I really didn’t know what to expect, except to give it my all. I didn’t expect for our team to win, even after my teammate Krishnan cheered us on. The experience altogether was intense, fast-paced, and very rewarding. Now I know how to be on the other side of the table when it comes to entrepreneurship. While playing the VC role, I definitely learned how to ask the necessary questions in order to determine what is a significant and promising investment.”  – Roann Lubang, Team Sporks

“The TMMBA Venture Captital course/competition was a great way to gain a glimpse into and to experience the VC process. It was also an excellent way to network with some of the most active members in the Seattle Startup community.”  – Krishnan Ananthanarayanan, Team Sporks

Team Sporks, TMMBA Class of 2012
Team Honeybadgers, TMMBA Class of 2012

The spirit of the game

Sara Jones, Assistant Director, Class of 2012

Last month I helped organize the launch of our 2nd annual TMMBA Ultimate team for the DiscNW Summer Corporate League. Along the way, I was convinced to sign up for the team and then thought,  “What have I gotten myself into?”.

Let me explain. Although I had been involved in performing arts for the first 20 years of my life, I hadn’t played a team sport since I was about 5 or 6. Frisbee is not something I’m good at and I’ve seen the level of competitiveness and skill of some Ultimate players.

I went into our first game on June 6 nervous, anxious, and a little overwhelmed. I wanted to do well and not let the team down, but I also didn’t know a thing about Ultimate. I read up on the rules and watched video clips ahead of time, but I still didn’t feel very confident.

Tonight is our 4th game and we’re playing against Cotton Kills, the REI team. They have some talented players, but I’m actually looking forward to the game.  So, what’s changed in the last month? Here’s my rundown of the first three games and what I learned along the way.

Game 1: We played Royal Flush and won, 15-14. We had a lot of beginners that night and spent pre-game time trying to get the basic rules.  I ended up guarding a really good female player, felt stressed-out, and was trying to learn defense.  I was so wrapped up in my own head that I don’t really remember seeing the frisbee more than once or twice the whole game. According to my teammates there was a strong back and forth battle throughout the game with some amazing plays by a few of our very skilled players. Here what I learned from this game:

  • There’s a lot more to the game than throwing a frisbee, and it’s a killer workout!
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep your ears open – teammates on and off the field have a different view and can help coach you along the way.
  • Ultimate is guided by the  “spirit of the game” – fair play, good sportsmanship, respect of others, and the joy of the game.

Game 2: We had a 15-10 win against the Tableau Tuple Tossers.  We started off pre-game with a whiteboard and end zone drill.  Although a simple exercise, I felt much more confident going into the game after seeing the objective drawn out and a few small successes during the drill.  This game we had a pretty good mix of skill level in both genders and did well in both defense and offense. Afterwards, the team headed out for post-game food and drinks. A few takeaways:

  • Have fun – it’s just a game! Our closing cheer to the Tableau team was a great reminder of this and the spirit of the game: “Tableau, Tablooo, Yahoo, We Loved [Playing] You!”
  • Watch the other team’s players so you can assess their skill and match appropriately on defense.
  • A little organization goes a long way. We had a clear strategy for the game and it helped everyone perform their best, no matter their experience level.

Game 3: Our first loss was to Blue Screen, the Microsoft team (5-15). Last year they were the season champions, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.  They played a strong game and used a different defensive strategy than previous teams. We had to adapt our offensive approach and many of us were learning on our feet. We had less players attend than previous games, so everyone had to play more. The women only had 1 substitute player! My thoughts post-game:

  • Relax and take your time on offense. It’s easy to feel rushed to throw the frisbee when you’re holding it, but you have ten seconds. That’s actually a lot of time to let your teammates get into place and help you out!
  • The post-game and sideline socializing with teammates makes a difference! It really started to feel like a team during this game. We were supportive, talked to each other on the field, had great sideline coaching, and recognized when teammates needed assistance. I attribute some of this to the off-field bonding.
  • I can do this! I walked away feeling like I did okay. And considering the skill level of the opponent, I feel much more confident that I do bring value to the team even though I’m a beginner.  I even had a few good laughs on the field during the game!

We have several more games to go this summer and I look forward to seeing my own personal progress and the progress of our team as we continue to work together. Go TMMBA!

Here are a few photos that I took during down-time in Game 2:

       

TMMBA welcomes 6 new faculty

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012

In the past year we have seen the addition of six faculty to the TMMBA teaching team.  Many of them have been repeat recipients of teaching awards and have published well-renowned research in their fields.  We’re very excited to have them as part of the TMMBA experience!  Here’s a little bit on each of our new faculty members and the courses they teach.

Jeff Barden, Assistant Professor of Management

Jeff BardenWhy do some organizations succeed while others fail?  One fundamental answer is strategy.  Students address this question during their second quarter in Competitive Strategy. Starting this year the course is taught by Jeff Barden, who has been at the Foster School since 2005.  Barden leads students through an examination of how managerial action can reinvent competition within existing industries and how the creation and implementation of strategy drives the success of business.  Check out this article for highlights from his paper on the impact of corporate acquisitions on technology adoption.

Edward Rice, Associate Professor of Finance & Business EconomicsEd Rice

Students dive into microeconomic issues their first quarter in TMMBA. Ed Rice began teaching the TMMBA Microeconomics course last quarter. He sees the course as dual purpose. First, it explains the fundamental principles of microeconomics, a theory of how agents interact in individual markets. Second, it shows students how these principles are applied to managerial decisions and firm optimization. Rice has won numerous teaching awards from his students at Foster.

Lance Young, Assistant Professor

Lance YoungLance Young takes students into the world of finance in the TMMBA Corporate Financial Strategy course. Finance deals with how individuals make consumption and saving decisions and how firms make investment and financing decisions. Through his course, Young shares interesting and useful frameworks and techniques that help students develop a competitive advantage over their peers as they progress in their careers. In 2011, Young won the PACCAR Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Debra Glassman, Senior Lecturer in Business Economics

Debra GlassmanDebra Glassman helps students understand the complex global macroeconomic environment in her TMMBA course, Domestic and International Economic Conditions.  Students discuss economic growth, inflation, unemployment, business cycles, fiscal policy and monetary policy. They also get a global perspective through exploration of national business systems, trade policy, the political economy of trade, and regional economic integration.  After just one quarter teaching in TMMBA, Glassman was recognized by students with the Faculty of the Quarter award.

Rebecca Lovell

Rebecca LovellLovell is a Foster alum, Chief Business Officer at GeekWire, and also teaches TMMBA’s new Venture Capital Investment Practicum. This two-day course synthesizes the TMMBA curricula with a refresher of marketing, finance, and management through the lens of venture capital investing.  The output is an all-day competition where teams analyze two businesses and present their analysis and investment decision to a panel of entrepreneur judges.

Andy Boyer

Andy BoyerAndy Boyer is also a Foster alum and co-founder of Social3i, a social media and online marketing consulting firm.  This quarter he taught a new Social Media for Managers course in TMMBA. The course familiarized students with successful social media programs and took a broad look at social media – from tactics and tools to how to use social in their business strategy.  Boyer had students contribute to a blog to share what they were learning and the progress of their class projects.

China misunderstood

Guest post by Glen Jensen, Class of 2012

Before visiting China I generally believed what I’d been told by the US media. I was led to believe China was the great colossus untapped mega-market of 1.5 billion people. I was also led to believe the Chinese are generally unhappy and repressed by an oppressive government who wants to control their every move on the web.

We visited Motorola and this visit put the Chinese market into perspective. Using the cell phone market as a general indicator of the overall market size and strength. The total Chinese market is 1.5 billion the effective market is only 180 million as compared to the 200 million US market. This made the potential market for goods and services not seems so colossal.

What I found was the charter of the Chinese government is one of harmony, inclusiveness and stability. The safeguards put on the free speech and the internet are towards this aim. Although this is repressive to our sensibilities the motivation is not so “evil”. Because of this repression I have been led to believe that if the “Great Firewall of China” were knocked down the Chinese people would come knocking down the doors of Facebook, Twitter, Google and the like. However, from experience I found the great-firewall is more of a nuisance than a true blockade and any site can be viewed with only minor inconvenience. What was interesting is that nobody in the west mentions the following of Baidu and Sina-Weibo the Google/Twitter equivalents in the Chinese market. The Chinese people choose the product which is tailored to the local market and even when given the choice to adopt a US web-product they often prefer the local product.

If you are going to enter the Chinese market make sure understand the market and come with an compelling product tailored to the local tastes. If you come to the Chinese market with an incompatible product, don’t blame the Chinese government for your failure. I believe this is cause for the lack of adoption for Amazon.cn and the out and out failure Google in the Chinese market.

International Study Tour – The Great Wall, Jade Shop and Farewell Dinner

Guest post by Ananth Raghavan, Class of 2012

TMMBA Study Trip Excursion - The Great WallThe first of our cultural activities in Beijing was a trip to the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall was a fair bit of distance from the Novotel Hotel, which gave ample time for our guide Jack to tell us about the history of the Great Wall. The Great Wall, as we learnt, was actually built in several sections by several dynasties of Chinese emperors with a similar purpose of offering security against the tribes and warlords from the North West. The section of the wall, we were visiting, was the Mutianyu Great Wall.

After a sumptuous lunch, we arrived at the Great Wall. Jack had warned us that the vendors selling their wares at the foot of the Great Wall might try to outsmart us and hence we decided to interact with them in small groups instead of doing so one on one. As it was a lot colder than we had anticipated, many of us ended up buying hats and gloves.

After a short but steep hike to the start of the wall, we took a cable car up to one of the higher sections of the wall. Unfortunately, there was a very thick fog that day that limited visibility to no more than a few yards. This was indeed disappointing as we had all hoped to see miles and miles of the Great Wall and instead had to be content with a few feet. Still, we could feel the presence and the grandeur of the magnificent structure around us and it was quite inspiring.

While we had the option of taking the cable car down to the start of the Great Wall, a few of us decided to climb down the steps of the Great Wall. The steps were pretty rough and jagged with some steps being extremely narrow and others being comfortably wide. However, we all reached down safely. Once, we got down, a few of us purchased souvenirs like magnets and mats from the vendors where we got a chance to exercise our bargaining skills.

Our next stop was a Jade Shop where we had one of the shop managers tell us about the different varieties of Jade and Jadeite. She also showed us how to distinguish between real and fake jade. Real jade is cooler, does not scratch unlike glass and has more richness when held against a light source. After the quick tour, we browsed their selections and purchased some jade jewelry for friends and family back home.

Two days later, we had our farewell dinner. Although we still had one more company to visit the next day, with most of us leaving back to the US the next day, this was our last dinner together as a team After a busy day in Tianjin, we returned to Beijing for sampling the world famous Peking Duck. Being a vegetarian, I did not partake in this. However, the other students and staff, who did, thoroughly enjoyed it. Personally, I was quite disappointed as a number of supposedly vegetarian dishes had meat in it and the waiters just did not seem to understand what “no meat” meant.

At the farewell dinner, Dan thanked our guide Jack for keeping us safe, helping us get to all of our appointments as well as entertaining and informing us about Beijing and China in general. Mikaela had earlier collected gratuity for Jack, which Dan then gave him along with a box of candy from the US to thank him for his efforts. This brought about an apt end to proceedings.

TMMBA a force to reckon with at Business Plan Competition

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012

TMMBA students at the 2012 UW Foster Business Plan Competition5 TMMBA teams of over 20 students from the Class of 2012 participated in yesterday’s Investment Round at the UW Foster School’s annual Business Plan Competition. We even had a 2010 alum in the competition!

In total there were 101 entries into the competition and 36 teams were selected for the Investment Round. The ideas were more diverse than I remember in the past – from food and technology products to healthcare solutions, products for social good, and an innovative pocketed bra. There was something for everyone!

During the Investment Round, teams had 4 hours to pitch their ideas to judges from the Seattle entrepreneurial community.  At the end of the day the judges invested $1000 CIE dollars in the teams that they found the most intriguing.  The 16 teams with the highest investments were selected to advance to the Sweet 16 Round. I’m proud to say that 3 TMMBA teams made it through – GroBox, Xylemed, and Highlight Hunters.

Teams now have one crazy month ahead to refine their pitches and improve their business plans before the Sweet 16 Round. All of the TMMBA teams in the competition worked hard and did a great job. Way to go!

The TMMBA Teams:

GroBox - @Grospaces | http://grospaces.com/
Aims to make it super easy to grow your own fruits and vegetables in a small amount of space.

Highlight Hunters@highlighthunter | http://www.highlighthunter.com/
Highlight Hunter’s software saves camera owners time by finding the highlights in their videos. It works with any digital camera and can be downloaded free on Mac and PC.

Mynu - @mynu2go | http://mynu2go.wordpress.com/
A mobile app where customers can pre-order menu items from food trucks, save their favorites, and share via their other social media outlets.

Splitpen@splitpeninc | http://splitpen.com/
A creative online outlet for everyday people of all abilities to come together and co-write stories with multiple plot lines, sub-plots and endings.

Viva Aguas Frescas – (TMMBA alum) @vivaaugasfrescas
A non-carbonated beverage company committed to producing Aguas Frescas beverages that embody the always fresh, all natural and HEALTHY Aguas Frescas.

Xylemedhttp://xylemed.com/
Xylemed Ember is a cloud-based electronic patient tracking and operations management system that leverages existing information systems to manage hospital workflows—improving communication and safety, while reducing expenses.

GroBox  SplitBen  Team Xylemed  Highlight HuntersTeam Mynu