Category Archives: Events

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

Dinner and discussion and classes… oh my!

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Program Coordinator

Last Tuesday’s “Taste of TMMBA” was a busy night for prospective students here at the Eastside Executive Center in Kirkland.  With an agenda that mimicked a typical class night, prospective students were able to try their hand as a TMMBA student for an evening. Their “test-drive” of TMMBA included:

Prof. Lance Young

Dinner and Discussion: In the dining hall, both current and prospective students could be found enjoying a dinner conversation that was animated and boisterous. We hope it was also informative- we encourage those thinking about TMMBA to speak with students and alums. Their wealth of expertise and TMMBA experiences is invaluable for those making a decision about the program.

Class 1: Taste of TMMBA attendees were treated to a crash-course in Finance with Professor Lance Young. Using an example involving Google stock, prospective students learned about Valuation, Net Present Value, and more.

Class 2: Perennial faculty favorite Pat Bettin whetted students’ appetites for “Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness.” Speaking about transformational leadership and the correlation between job performance and job satisfaction, Pat presented thought provoking material with many great take-aways.

Prof. Pat Bettin

Opportunity to meet other prospective students: Taste of TMMBA welcomed not only prospective applicants, but also a handful of newly admitted TMMBA students. Handshakes and business cards were exchanged as some students met their classmates for the next 18 months. Especially for those still considering the program, it was a chance to see who they would be interacting with if they became part of next year’s cohort.

If you’re looking to get a similar “taste” of TMMBA, I encourage you to visit a class, where you will be paired with a student host for the night. You still get to enjoy dinner, sit in a class, and interact with current students. Dates are available through August.

Thanks to all who participated in Taste of TMMBA on Tuesday. Current students, prospective students, faculty and staff- you all helped to make it a fun and informative event!

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 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

Is entrepreneurship for you?

Jeff Levy
Jeff Levy at the TMMBA & EMBA spring networking night

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012 Candidate

We recently had a networking night for students and alumni of the TMMBA and Executive MBA programs. Our speaker for the evening was Jeff Levy, an entrepreneur, coach, and mentor who has helped hundreds of individuals open their own franchise or small business. He’s also the co-author of Making the Jump into Small Business Ownernship (read an excerpt in this GeekWire post).

Jeff shared his entrepreneurial journey and views on what it takes to achieve small business ownership. He highlighted his personal challenges and achievements and the who, what, when, where, and why of entrepreneurship.  We followed-up with Jeff after the event with a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?

There have been many times in my career where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment.  These usually came after achieving something that no one thought possible. Probably,  the most significant moment was when my partners and I put together a $35million package to buy the three division from Flow International to form Safeworks, LLC.  No one, including ourselves, during the process, knew how it would exactly come together. We never gave up on our dream and made it happen.

It’s not easy to take a leap from being employed (and the primary earner) to being an entrepreneur.  When is the right time to start my own business?  Is there a strategy that would provide the least impact to my family?

You are very right that it is not easy to leave the comfort of a regular paycheck. However,  workers today function in what is called the “new career economy.” A paycheck is not necessarily a synonym for security. At the executive level it is not uncommon to be in a different job, or in career transition every 3-4 years. What you want to avoid is having to start a business when not working as a result of a layoff. That is a lot of pressure unless you have a good severance and possibly Self Employed Assistance Plan benefits provided by the State of Washington.  I think the best strategy is to work on the planning part of your business while you have the comfort of the regular check.  Give particular thought to the capital side of the business. Do you have enough money set aside to meet your living expenses for up to a year (or more) in addition to the capital requirements for investing in the business. Once funding is secure it still takes the difficult task of balancing your dreams versus your fears. My family has always been supportive of my entrepreneurial pursuits.  They believed that my early career success working for others would be transferable to my own venture. As my wife said. In her wisdom, you have made money for others, it is time that you do it for yourself.

With the dramatic changes in technology and impending talent war, what are the pros and cons of being a full-time employee versus self-employed?

I think that there will be a talent war. It actually exists today for certain software engineers and programmers.  I do believe the jobs of the future will be “newer and fewer”. No matter what the demand may be for talent in a salaried environment, I don’t think it competes with the benefits of being your own boss.  Clearly, I have a bias in this regard. Workers tend to get comfortable living at the level of their W-2 income and don’t do enough to create real wealth or to control the most valuable thing they have, their time.  I also believe that technology will create many more opportunities for self-employment.

What is the number one personality trait you see in successful entrepreneurs?

I think the # one personality trait is optimism. The ability to look for the opportunity no matter what the difficulty or the challenge may be.  There are certainly other very important traits but you asked for one. If you are a pessimist trying to go into business, game over!

What is the single biggest obstacle encountered by aspiring entrepreneurs?

Here I need the latitude to give a few obstacles.  You might think it is the lack of capital, but I don’t believe that is what holds entrepreneurs back although it might delay entry or slow down the ramping up of the business. My story is a good example of working the plan until you make it happen.  Raising $35m looked like climbing Mt. Everest. The two biggest obstacles are being close minded and not having developed mastery of basic business management skills.

3…2…1…Take Off!

Sara Jones, TMMBA Class of 2012 & Assistant Director

I’m sitting in a lounge at SeaTac airport and can’t believe it’s finally here – the TMMBA International Study Tour!  The past week has been a crazy whirlwind of final exams and a business plan project.  I haven’t slept much lately and am actually looking forward to the long flight to catch up.

I signed up for the trip last October. That feels like such a long time ago! We’re heading to Singapore and Beijing where we’ll spend several days meeting with executives during company visits and also get some free time along the way. This is my first trip to Asia and I’m really excited to explore. I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare, but luckily TMMBA gave us a few small travel guides so I can read up on the plane and hit the ground running.

I’ll be writing along the way, but here’s a quick run-down of the itinerary:

Day 1: Singapore tour & group dinner in Clark Quay

Day 2: Visits to Johnson & Johnson and Singapore Airlines

Day 3: Visits to Exploit Technologies (A*Star) and GE Singapore Water Technology Center

Day 4: Some cultural outings and free time

Day 5: Fly to Beijing & free time

Day 6: Visits to US China Business Council and Amazon Fulfillment Center

Day 7: It’s the weekend! Visit the Great Wall and Gaoliying Market

Day 8: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and free time

Day 9: Bullet train to Tianjin. Visits to Damco, TEDA, Port of Tianjin & DP World Terminal Operators

Day 10: Visit to Motorola and fly home just in time to start prepping for spring quarter.

 

Whew!  It’s going to be jam packed, but I can’t wait to get there and take it all in.

 

Highlights from 2011

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director and Class of 2012

2011 was a busy and exciting year for TMMBA. As we embark on a new year and welcome the Class of 2013, I wanted to take a moment and share a few highlights, happenings and milestones from 2011:

  • We celebrated our 10th anniversary!  It’s hard to believe how much has changed over the past 10 years.  From curriculum improvements to increased networking opportunities and enhanced alumni continuing education and support, the TMMBA team is always focused on how to make this the best program possible and provide a great experience for our students and alumni.
  • TMMBA expanded the career resources available.  We added new and fresh content to the career resources that we provide to better help our students navigate the career development process. This includes new written materials, workshops on topics such as crafting an effective resume and LinkedIn, and content customized to the unique needs of the various career paths that students are pursuing. Here’s a LinkedIn tip sheet with a few takeaways.  In 2012 we will continue to offer new career workshops topics and individual coaching sessions for our students.
  • Students traveled to Munich & Istanbul on the International Study Tour.  There was record student participation in the 2011 International Study Tour.  Students spent 10 days in Munich and Instanbul  learning about international business through company visits and the exploring the rich culture in these two cities. You can read a brief summary of the study tour here and information about the various companies that were visited here.
  • One of our beloved professors joined the Libyan revolutionary government as Minister of Finance and Oil.  Ali Tarhouni had taught in the TMMBA Program for several years. His class was fun, engaging, and a favorite of many students. This past spring, he took leave from the Foster School to join the Libyan revolution. Students have continued to follow and discuss his journey through news stories of the revolution. One student shares his account of Professor Tarhouni’s last class session here.  He has now taken a role as special envoy to the US and returned briefly this month to spend time with him family and thank the US government for its support of the revolution. You can watch a video of his recent press conference and Q&A session held at UW this week and read about his experience as Finance Minister in this Seattle Times article.
  • TMMBA launched a Professional Communications course. Presentation and communication skills are essential for business leaders today. TMMBA recognizes this and has created a Professional Communications course to address this need. The class runs the entire duration of the TMMBA program with a different topic of focus each quarter. The course series kicks off during Orientation with an Etiquette Dinner and a class on the Elevator Pitch. Instructor Lorraine Howell shares her perspective on the importance of communication skills in this post.
  • Study teams switched it up at the half way point.  TMMBA modified the team structure so that groups changed after the 3rd quarter. Students get to practice their teaming skills with a new group, expand their perspectives, and make closer connections with more of their classmates. Learn more and meet a few teams.
  • Alumni tossed a disc on our first Ultimate Frisbee team. TMMBA expanded our athletic adventures beyond golf and created an Alumni Ultimate Frisbee Team last summer to compete in a local corporate league.  It was a great way for our alums to show their school spirit, make friends, and stay fit! I hope we continue to find new and exciting ways for our alums to stay connected and have fun in 2012.

These are just a few of my memories at TMMBA from 2011.  I’m looking forward to the year ahead – onward and upward!

The Power of the TMMBA Alumni Network

Photo of Tim CookeTim Cooke, TMMBA Class of 2005

What are the top reasons professionals return to school to earn an MBA?  I’ll speculate that the top two reasons are to help foster a career change and for acquisition of knowledge.  Whether you’re considering an MBA or have already graduated from the TMMBA program, I propose that you add a third reason for attaining your MBA: access to a powerful and growing network of networked professionals.

Rather than give you the top five reasons for considering your alumni network as a powerful resource, allow me to appeal to you through a simple story.

The TMMBA program sponsors many opportunities for graduates to connect including an event called Technology at the Top which features a technology executive from a local company sharing their perspective on a current topic or sharing insights and lessons learned from their own professional journey.

Like many of you, I mark evening events on my calendar weeks in advance with great intentions of attending, but as the evening draws close, many competing interest seem to rear their needy heads. Technology at the Top was no exception. I had both business and personal interests competing for that small 60 minute investment I intended to make. I did have a loose personal connection to that evening’s speaker, so rather than miss the opportunity to make add a network connection, I dragged myself to the meeting at the Eastside Executive Center.

Being in business development for twenty years has taught me that passive participation in events will not yield the return necessary to keep you coming back, so I listened intently to that evening’s guest, ready to pounce on any opportunity to engage. Forty minutes into the session, that opportunity came in the form a statistical presentation of where the company’s leads come from. My hand shot up and I let fly my sortie in the form of a deep probing question into how the company is tapping into their knowledge that peer influence is the number one entry point into their sales cycle. My reward was that familiar wrinkling of the brow and cock of the head to the side as the speaker thought for a moment and said, that’s a great question and a challenge we’re actively engaged with. Target acquired.

While the hook was set, the fish was not yet in the boat. At the end of the session I sprang to the occasion and stood in line for my turn to thank our guest. I mentioned the one common friend we both had that would forever bond us, then I started to reel by reminding him of the question I asked and letting him know more about R2integrated’s Influencer and Communities of Interest practice that seeks to identify top influencers and communities and then activate them. Whether he was genuinely interested or just wanted to get rid of me I’ll never know, but he immediately offered to introduce me to their Chief Marketing Officer.

By morning, the fish was in the boat in the form of a flattering email introduction to the CMO. I’ll cut the story short here to conclude with a few facts. We kicked off our first project with this client exactly one month after the email introduction. I don’t know about your industry, but for mine, that’s an incredibly short sales cycle. The first project has opened up the desire for a second phase and a project unrelated to the first. The initial value of the engagement was modest in the tens of thousands, but brought us a new local client whose CLV should reach into the millions as we help them to grow.

Would I have been able to close this customer without TMMBA? We’ll never know, but I do know that with the connections TMMBA affords me as an alum, my access to resources is much greater than without. 

So what is it for you? Are you looking for that next great career move? Are you looking for a business partner to join you on the exciting journey of a startup? Just looking for some new friends to discuss current business issues? Whatever your desire, I encourage you to resist the temptation to skip that next networking meeting. Jump in. You’ll never know the outcome if you don’t participate!

Takeaways from Pitch, Don’t Spin: How to Create Buzz Around your Start-up

Rae Wang, TMMBA Class of 2003

TMMBA sponsored an MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest entrepreneur meet up last night, the topic was Pitch Don’t Spin.  I was very excited that the TMMBA program reached out to the community to connect with other tech enthusiasts, meanwhile making such events available us, the alums, to attend.  I have a two years old startup and customer acquisition through new media is always on my marketing agenda, so this topic caught my interest right away.

The panel consisted of the co-founder of GeekWire, Founder of Newsvine, editor of Seattle Business Magazine, Seattle Times Technology Columnist, and the senior editor of Xconomy.  They gave us a wide range of opinions on how to approach media in this new media age. General challenges in the tech media today are:

  • Too much information is flowing around
  • A lot of people are writing
  • New media and old media provide a lot of choices for entrepreneurs, it can get overwhelming

The panel presented very interesting points and suggestions on how tech entrepreneurs can effectively tackle these challenges:

  • Be authentic, be honest, and be yourself
  • Sell your true story not your credentials
  • Have a story: just because you have an app, it does not mean you have an interesting story
  • Explain your technology in layman terms
  • Get the reporters interested in you
  • Know your audience and use the correct channel to pitch: no need to do Twitter etc if nobody reads it
  • Get your interesting nuggets of news prepared ahead of time before meeting the press
  • Rethink press release and don’t be afraid to use new media, such as emails

If you would like to learn more about this event, my fellow note taker over at fireundereverybutt.com posted a visual note from the event. Check it out at http://fireundereverybutt.com/visual-note-taking/.

TMMBA Class 11 Orientation – Ready, Set, Go!

Adarsh Khare, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

It was the middle of November 2010 in a Woodinville winery, where my Foster School experience started with meeting a group of wonderful people in a reception event of TMMBA Class 11. Four people (Kundan, Bruce, Glen, and Keka) from that group were definitely special to me. These four folks were my study group – Blue Team – in this course. It was a great combination, with people having experience from accounting, customer management, quality assurance, and IT administration with my own experience in software development. At the end of the event, Tracy reminded all of us to pick a heavy binder at the exit, which contained reading material for our first classroom sessions for the December Orientation Program.

Until a week before Orientation, I couldn’t get a chance to open my binder. Then suddenly I realized that I had to read more than 100 pages of HBR articles and cases with a little book on elevator speech in less than 7 days. We would be learning about professional communications, ethical leadership, and team building. I was wondering how someone could teach leadership and team building in a classroom environment. But in the classroom when Scott started unveiling all the tools required digging deep into analyzing ethical issues and making right choices, I felt empowered. I felt that it was more than a simple classroom setting. It was a dynamic environment, where we were looking into issues from various angles and the whole class was participating in the decision‐making process. Next was team building from Greg; he arranged a good set of exercises in breakout rooms at PACCAR Hall. These exercises were real hands‐on experience in teams. Team is not about putting star performers in a group or making a unanimous decision all the time. It is about putting together a right combination of skills and applying those skills together in marching towards a common goal. The last exercise for building a team contract for a study group was a good learning exercise, where we can observe our results during the course too.

I heard several times in my professional experience, when people say “Let’s talk about it over a dinner?” After going through Arden’s presentation about dinner etiquette in middle of Orientation in a formal dinner setting, now I guess I am better in continuing conversation without worrying too much about my dinner plate and drink.

Overall those three days were jam packed with a nice warm up for the upcoming six quarters. I would definitely continue sharing my learning experiences here and also on my regular blog.