Category Archives: Events

Hooked on Entrepreneurship

When Robert Moehle (Class of 2015) decided to apply to the TMMBA Program, he knew he wanted to attend the nationally ranked Foster School of Business and gain access to a strong alumni network to help him accelerate his career. What Robert didn’t know at that time was that the TMMBA Program would introduce him to a new passion – entrepreneurship – and open up an unexpected and entirely new career path for him.

Robert started the TMMBA Program in January 2014 and decided from the get-go to fully immerse himself in his coursework and opportunities that the Program provided. With a technical role in the aerospace industry, he soon saw an increased confidence in his ability to “speak the language” of the business world as he applied his classroom learnings at work.

“TMMBA provided me with the context for how companies operate and why certain business decisions are made.”

He also found himself drawn to the courses and opportunities that extended beyond his current aerospace role – in particular, those in the realm of entrepreneurship.

Midway through the TMMBA Program, Robert made the decision to leave his corporate job to pursue his new-found passion for entrepreneurship. He directed his efforts to the annual UW Business Plan Competition (BPC) where he became a student representative for the TMMBA Program and an active participant in the planning committee. Through the process, he made invaluable connections with various start-ups and ultimately partnered with Hook – a smart home hub that makes inexpensive remote controlled outlets and bulb sockets “smart” to enable home automation on a budget.

BPC
Team Hook celebrates their 3rd place victory at the 2015 BPC

Hook saw great success at the UW BPC, placing 3rd overall in the 2015 competition (out of 139 teams) and claiming the “Best Consumer Product Idea” prize. They also  won 2nd place at the UW Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge earlier in the year. The BPC acted as a powerful catalyst for the company’s early success.

“The BPC gained us exposure to well-respected members of the entrepreneurship community to tap for advice and to grow our customer base when we launched.”

After the BPC, Hook’s momentum continued as they were accepted  as part of the 2015 cohort to the exclusive Foster+Jones Accelerator Program. The Program provides 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.

Robert has proved to be an integral team member of Hook – both during the BPC and well beyond the competition. He’s leveraged his business skills and knowledge gained in the TMMBA Program to complement the technical skills of his other teammates.

“I negotiated the seed round of investment for our company using the frameworks of Entrepreneurial Finance, managed the company’s accounts using principles from Accounting, and have proper context for our team’s Marketing discussions as a result of my academic knowledge. “

What’s next for Robert? In addition to his continued work with Hook, he recently accepted a business development role at MVP.Aero –  an aerospace company aimed at designing and building the world’s most versatile aircraft.

“I found it remarkable that with my bachelors/masters in aerospace engineering, commercial pilot certification, seaplane rating, and Boeing engineering background, it was the Foster TMMBA that impressed the (MVP.Aero) president the most.”

Undoubtedly, a bright future lies ahead of Robert with new business challenges, entrepreneurial endeavors and opportunities to put his skills and knowledge acquired in the TMMBA Program to the test.

Annual TMMBA Holiday Happy Hour 2015!

Last Tuesday evening, TMMBA students, alumni and staff gathered for the annual TMMBA Holiday Happy Hour at Vino at the Landing, a vibrant wine bar in Renton founded by TMMBA Class 5 alum, Rick McMaster.

Happy Hour 2015-3Happy Hour 2015-1Although students were in between finals, the TMMBA Holiday Happy hour provided a great opportunity for both class 15 and class 16 students to switch gears for an evening. Alums and students really enjoyed the opportunity to get updates from their classmates and connect with new members of the TMMBA network. All attendees also walked out with a new pair of cozy TMMBA socks to keep them warm for the winter months.

The Holiday Happy Hour event is an opportunity to relax, connect, and celebrate their accomplishments with their classmates and alumni.

Tactics to Transform Your Resume

TMMBA students and alumni find many opportunities to network with each other as well as employers and individuals from other Foster MBA programs.  This can naturally lead to career conversations and job opportunities.

As a first step in readying for potential career transitions or advancement, TMMBA Career Management hosted a resume workshop for new TMMBA students in November.  A student said,

“The workshop made me realize that updating my resume was a top priority and motivated me to begin this process almost instantly.  The session provided practical tips, valuable resources and best practices that I can successfully use while updating my resume.  It was a great idea to introduce to participants early in the program.”

Elaine Newtson, MBA Career Coach, shared these tactics and expectations to give an MBA resume a distinctive advantage and resonate with recruiters, interviewers, and decision makers:

  • Add a specific and targeted Summary under your heading.  This should highlight key skills and abilities that are relevant to the kind of work you’re seeking.  It tells the reader what you want to do, creates a personal brand, and is your best argument as to why they should hire you.  Know your audience.  Use relevant keywords that show your leadership experience, broad technical skills, and business competencies.  Eliminate an objective that describes the type of position desired.
  • Include a few results-oriented accomplishment bullets (1-2 sentences each) for every position.  Clearly describe how your actions contributed to the team, department, or long-term impact of the company.  Include quantitative metrics and numerical support (#, $, %).
  • Make your resume easy to read quickly.  Eliminate groups of words that can be said in a single word.  Avoid large paragraphs jammed with text.  Remove “References Available upon Request” at the bottom of your resume.  Trends: hyperlinked testimonials, call-out boxes and breakaway text.  More 2015 trends: http://www.careerealism.com/top-resume-trends-2015/.
  • Optimize for Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).  Use keywords from industry-specific competencies, job postings, and company websites.  (Two resources: https://www.vmock.com/ and https://www.jobscan.co/.)  Use different document formats for system compatibility, a PDF resume when possible and a txt version when inputting data into specific application fields.

Minimum expectations for an MBA resume:

  • Refined and polished
  • Strategic and accomplishment-based
  • Clearly showcases long-term business impact that you made
  • Appropriate density and smooth contemporary formatting

Welcome TMMBA Class 16!

Class 16 students showing their UW pride
Class 16 students showing their UW pride

Last Thursday evening marked TMMBA Class 16’s first official gathering as a cohort for the Welcome Reception at the UW Burke Museum.  Excitement was in the air as students mixed, mingled and met TMMBA faculty and staff who they’ll be working with over the course of their 18-month journey. The “grand reveal” of the TMMBA study groups was a major highlight of the evening – students learned which five other students they’ll partner with for the first three quarters of studies for projects, case discussions and countless hours of studying. A powerful bonding experience to say the least!

The students also heard words of encouragement from TMMBA Program Director, Tracy Gojdics, and TMMBA Professor of Management, Bruce Avolio, as well as some sage advice from current student, Brian Ames, a Senior Manager at the Boeing Company. One year ago (nearly to the date) Brian stood in the same spot as the new students found themselves in – ready to embark on an educational experience of a lifetime. He’s now just over two quarters away from graduation. He broke his advice down into 12 important (yet simple!) takeaways for students to tuck in their back pocket to help them navigate the TMMBA Program:

School:

  1. Get to know your study group on a personal level – invest heavily in this early as you will be spending a lot of time together
  2. Go to all of the social events – take any opportunity you can to get to know the people outside of your study groups and section
  3. Go on the tours career services lines up – you don’t get these opportunities in normal life
  4. Take advantage of all the University has to offer – free bus, cheap football tickets, driving range

Class:

  1. Pay attention in class – sometimes it’s hard after a long day of work but the professors are excellent and then you will have less to do outside of class
  2. Stay organized – exams are typically open-book, open-note and that format rewards those who are organized so create your system early
  3. Do as much as you can and play your own game – don’t feel bad if you have different study habits than your classmates, do what works for you
  4. Take a day off of work every once in a while to get ahead – set that expectation early with your manager and co-workers and don’t feel bad about it!

Personal Life:

  1.  Cut a hobby that takes a significant amount of time – like golfing, pick it back up after you graduate
  2. Take at least one night off of school work per week – try consolidating your work into a few evenings so you have time to spend with your family and friends
  3. Find a good daily stress reliever – exercise and clear your mind
  4. Take advantage of your time off – take time off of work during school breaks and take a vacation

So, who are the students that make up Class 16? We have a diverse and experienced group of professionals that we’re excited to introduce to the TMMBA community …

Looking sharp!

61 Students

  • 70% Male, 30 % Female
  • 35 Companies Represented (Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Ericsson and many more!)
  • 6 Countries Represented (US, India, China, Thailand, Ukraine, Turkey)
  • Average GMAT Score = 590
  • 21% with advanced degrees (masters, doctoral)

These 61 students are now one milestone down. The next milestone awaits just after the Thanksgiving holiday – the TMMBA Program Immersion. The Immersion is a 7-day orientation/immersive experience that will surely help the cohort get back into the student groove. More to come!

Team Hook On A Roll

Following Entrepreneurship courses in the Winter quarter, Class 14 was abuzz with new business ideas. This was evident by the TMMBA program having the strongest turnout in its history for the 2015 UW Business Plan Competition (BPC).

One new venture with close ties to the TMMBA program is Hook, led by Class 14 student Robert Moehle. Hook won 2nd place at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, and is currently in the Sweet 16 of the BPC.

The team, whose members met through an event hosted by the Buerk Center, has set out to make smart home technology accessible to everyone by offering “home automation on a budget.” One Hook device in the home offers control of anything electric from the user’s smartphone. This allows for energy savings, improved home safety, and convenience.

Hook is currently taking pre-orders on Kickstarter, with a little under two weeks left to reach their funding goal of $25,000 for an initial production run.

“I’ve been able to apply the concepts learned from my TMMBA classes directly and almost instantly,” remarked Moehle. “I am thankful for the program and opportunities offered by Foster, which have given me the chance to pursue my entrepreneurial desires. The TMMBA faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive in every way.”

Please support Hook on Kickstarter, and share their project with your friends and followers!

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What would I do differently?

Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014
Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014

I always knew someone would ask me this question.   I’d supposed it would happen sometime after I graduated.   Or maybe the question would come from my children someday when I was old and gray– I certainly didn’t expect it in the last quarter of the program, but there it was.   The TMMBA Program Director, Tracy, asked the question;  “If you could do this whole MBA thing over again, what would you do differently?”

OK, so maybe she didn’t ask the question exactly like that.  She may have actually said something closer to “How’s it going?” or maybe just “Hi”.   Regardless of what had prompted Tracy’s inquiry that day in the hall, she deserved to know the answer that had plagued me for a solid month.

Here’s the background.  About a month earlier my team and I had set up a meeting with the executive director of a local non-profit to talk about a social media project.  We booked the meeting to occur a couple of hours ahead our Wednesday class session– and miraculously it finished up a bit early!   After treating myself to a second helping of taco buffet, I had found myself in the rare-yet-luxurious state of not having any plans.   I recall mingling in the buffet area for a while and then ambling into the Tech @ the Top room after hearing some mention of cheeseburgers in there.

Shortly after I found a seat, Tracy shut the door and introduced Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network.   Then it all clicked for me.   Five minutes earlier I had been joking with this guy at the taco buffet, wondering if he was going to take the last chalupa, and now I find out he is a legendary entrepreneur?!  The next hour flew by like it was fifteen minutes.   I learned about how Ben had quit a perfectly good job to see if he could parlay a funny cat picture into an multimillion dollar internet humor juggernaut (spoiler alert:  he did it).   Ben gave a fast-paced presentation followed by a wide-open Q&A session.  I got an incredible view into the mind of a truly creative entrepreneur with a street MBA and a truckload of wisdom.  More importantly, I got to ask Ben as many questions as I wanted about being an entrepreneur and scaling a company, which is a topic that interests me greatly.

from icanhascheezburger.com

A few weeks went by and I still found myself reflecting on Ben’s presentation and several impactful things he had shared.  I figured this must have been an anomaly– of course they couldn’t all be that good, right?  I secretly hoped so, because I’d been ignoring Tech @ the Top emails for over a year.  With small kids at home, a demanding job, a couple side ventures and an MBA-in-progress, I felt like I couldn’t afford to take on anything else.   Nonetheless, when the next Tech @ the Top Speaker Series event came along there I was, privately hoping that Jens Molbak, founder of Coinstar, would flop and confirm my anomaly theory.

Of course Jens didn’t flop, he was brilliant.  I still don’t know how he crammed it all into one hour, but we learned how he started Coinstar as a secret project during his MBA.  Jens told us about how he had interviewed 1500 people in front of grocery stores to refine his idea.  We sensed Jen’s pain from the continuous rejection by VCs.   Then we learned about the eventual revelation that enabled him to not only get seed funding, but ultimately raise $200m in VC investment (hint: it wasn’t about selling his idea better).   In less than 10 years, Jens succeeded in taking Coinstar public, caused the Mint to stop making coins, and enabled the donation of millions of dollars to a litany of charitable organizations.    As with my prior Tech @ the Top experience, I was blown away by the openness and accessibility of this inspiring entrepreneur.

Tech @ the Top Speaker Series - Jens Molbak

So there it is.  Not the answer I’d expected it would be, but true nonetheless.  If I could do it over again, I would go to every single Tech @ the Top speaker.  The absurdity is that I was already there on Wednesdays anyway– how hard would it have been to forgo that extra trip to the buffet and open my mind to meeting a new entrepreneur or business leader?  I’ll never know, but what I do know is that I missed the opportunity to get direct learnings and close interaction with senior executives from Costco, Docusign, Concur, Outerwall, PCC, and many others.    Here’s my advice to future Foster MBA students:  skip that extra chalupa and go to Tech @ the Top!

Success @ the Buerk Center Biz Plan Competition

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Congrats to TMMBA students who showed off their entrepreneurial skills at yesterday’s  Buerk Center Business Plan Competition (BPC) “Sweet 16” Round – TMMBA had representation on two of the 16 teams:

IonoMetal Technologies (TMMBA Student: Pritam Das)
With its revolutionary patented technology and demonstrated tool, Ionometals will not only make the earth a better place to live by reducing landfill of semiconductor waste, but also help save approximately $0.5MM for every semiconductor testing company.

Spectral DNA (TMMBA Students: Michael Franklin, Bryan Kessler, MJ Pattanshetti and Tyler Sims)
Spectral DNA’s goal is to deliver a conformable solar fabric that can be fully integrated into a multi-use model for ubiquitous power generation. We aim to micro-design these 3D conformable fabrics into clothing, and other needed uses and applications for ubiquitous power. This can be used as a mobile power generation house without connecting to wires.

Both teams represented TMMBA well with their polished presentations and innovative business ideas. Furthermore, the IonoMetal Technologies team took home the “Best Clean Tech Idea” and $2500 prize.

Yesterday’s round  was the culmination of months of hard work and dedication for the teams. The competition formally began in early April with over 92 submissions and over time whittled down to the best of the best at yesterday’s Sweet 16 – all vying for the ultimate grand prize of $25,000.

Year after year, the Buerk Center BPC is a focal event for many of our TMMBA students. The competition allows them the great opportunity to put the skills they’ve gained in the classroom to the test – from developing business plans to honing their pitching and presentation skills. The competition also grants teams unique access to the thriving Seattle start-up community (VCs, angel investors, and more!).

Way to go teams IonoMetal Technologies and Spectral DNA! Also, a special call-out to team Zetection (with TMMBA student Anna Gall) who advanced to the earlier Investment Round of the competition.

Check out a few photos from the competition (Investment Round on April 29):

 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????     Spectral DNA @ the Investment Round

Interested in learning more?
Read about past TMMBA successes at the BPC
Click here for full results of the 2014 BPC

 

TMMBA Student Prevails at Science & Technology Showcase

Congrats to TMMBA Class 13 student, Pritam Das, for excelling at the Science and Technology Showcase in early February. The annual showcase (co-hosted by the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and SEBA) is a tradeshow type event where student pitch their ideas and innovations to a panel judges consisting of Seattle area entrepreneurs and investors.

“During the showcase, we were challenged by the judges that ranged from local venture capitalists to scientists from NASA, from every angle of a robust business model. We used the experts’ challenges as an invaluable tool to hone our business models for future commercialization of our product,” shared Pritam.  

IMG_4188_updated

Pritam and his teammates from the Chemical Engineering Department at UW placed 2nd overall and were also awarded Best Marketing Strategy. Their idea, Electrometal Solutions, is a unique approach of putting metals onto surfaces using advanced electrochemical techniques.  The applications of this advanced technology can range from security applications to the decorative market. Currently, their application is targeted towards the semiconductor industry.

We’re excited to see what’s in store for Pritam and his team.
Next stop – the Buerk Center Environmental Innovation Challenge. Best of luck!

Above & Beyond: TMMBA Students Participate in Recording-Breaking Holiday Drive for Food Lifeline

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Earlier this month, TMMBA Class 13 & 14 joined forces during the annual holiday drive for Food Lifeline to raise a combined (unofficial) total of 1370 lbs of food donations! We’re pleased to share that this impressive contribution marks an unparalleled effort to that of any past TMMBA holiday food drive and certainly sets the bar high for future holiday drives to come. What’s even more notable is that the food drive took place during an extremely busy period for both cohorts, and yet the students still made this holiday food drive a shining success. A true testament to the strength of the TMMBA community!

In addition to our annual holiday drive, each year TMMBA also partners with Food Lifeline for a volunteer day at their Shoreline Distribution Center.  Our TMMBA group spent last Saturday afternoon repacking over 2800 lbs of wheat flour. Over the years, TMMBA students, alums, faculty, staff and family members have volunteered to repack over 12,000 lbs of food that has contributed to countless meals over the greater Western Washington region. The volunteer day serves as a great opportunity for the TMMBA community to connect with each other and support the tremendous need to end hunger in Western Washington. In 2012, Food Lifeline distributed more than 36 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 30 million meals, to feed hungry people throughout Western Washington.

A look @ the numbers:

  • 30 million: number of meals provided by Food Lifeline in 2012.
  • Over 12,000 lbs: total amount of food repacked by TMMBA volunteers @ Food Lifeline over the years.
    View past event photos
  • 1370 lbs: 2013 unofficial holiday food drive total.
  • 21: number of TMMBA volunteers @ 2013 volunteer event.

A look @ TMMBA in action:

photo 4

guys putting on aprons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone at TMMBA who has volunteered or contributed to Food Lifeline over the years – we greatly appreciate your efforts and generosity!

Don’t be a Paper MBA

By David Lam, TMMBA Alumnus, Class of 2013

Don’t be a Paper MBA: Attend a Tech @The Top, career networking, or professional development event

Do you want to be a stronger business leader or is your choice to be a Paper MBA?  The TMMBA program has nearly monthly events that can help you stay relevant and are often invaluable opportunities to get connected to recognized business leaders.

Get Connected

Whether you are still in the classroom or have since graduated, opportunities to connect to recognized successful business leaders are invaluable. Interested in an insider’s account of established internationally recognized companies or perhaps prefer hearing about the local startup scene? The TMMBA program has an excellent variety across that spectrum from Walt Disney and Yahoo to WetPaint and LiquidPlanner. Thinking about partnering or career opportunities with a local company or subsidiary? Attending these events can really boost your network beyond what would normally be available to you. Cold-calling the CEO is very different to following up an earlier exchange at a recent TMMBA event.

Stay Relevant

I worked in Japan for a decade and had to be especially wary of ‘paper drivers’, particularly as a motorcycle was my primary way of commuting. This is a well-known phenomenon in Japan and refers to those who have received a license to drive but, since becoming certified, either had not or have very rarely actually gotten behind the wheel. My personal experience of passing the practical driving test in Japan was specific to a motorcycle license but it was an extremely grueling not to mention expensive process. Despite passing this very difficult practical driving test however, those who did not practice their new-found skills were really certified drivers on paper only. On the rare occasion when they do drive (and often long after passing the practical exams), these paper drivers were a danger to both themselves and others around them.

MBA graduates (and current students) have a similar risk.  Granted, the risk to life and limb for MBA graduates who do not continue to develop themselves is less than that of a paper driver, but the hard-won skills learnt in the classroom can also quickly deteriorate.  Graduating with an MBA is a grueling process that begins even before entering the classroom. From the GMAT and overall application process thru to the many, many months of countdown towards that blessed graduation date. It is clearly a significant investment in time and money. In choosing to undertake an MBA, is your goal to become certified on paper only and go no further to develop as a stronger business leader?

Attending the TMMBA events or workshops are an opportunity to learn from current and real-world applicable lessons. Often the talks are surprisingly open with many insights that can be gained, and are never dry case studies.

Avoid the risk of becoming a Paper MBA; continue to develop your business skills, stay relevant and get connected. Subscribe to the calendar at: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/Pages/Tech-at-the-Top.aspx.

Other relevant events at: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/pages/cal.aspx

Hope to see you at the next Tech @the Top or career networking night!