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


Xin Chào from Vietnam!

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

I’m currently writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where 22 Class 13 students have just kicked off their 10-day International Study Tour experience. Jet lag didn’t hold anyone back as we hit the ground running and began to explore this great city and all it has to offer.

Our first day of the tour acted as a great way for everyone to get our bearings – we started the day with a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and explored the Presidential Palace and some beautiful French colonial buildings including the Notre Dame cathedral and city post office.

For the afternoon, we ventured out to the Mekong Delta and meandered through a maze of waterways. We had a couple stops along the way where we enjoyed local fruits and tea, music, and encountered a python (yes – I said a python). And a few folks were even brave enough to snap a few pictures with it. I was not one of them!

We capped the day with a celebratory welcome dinner to mark the beginning of an exciting tour to come. From a dynamic group of company visits that includes industries as such banking, technology, automotive, logistics, tax and inward investment, and market research and media (Ford, Cisco and Citi Bank to name a few companies) to unforgettable cultural experiences and phenomenal Vietnamese cuisine – the next 10-day will surely be a whirlwind that will not disappoint.

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About the TMMBA International Study Tour:
The International Study Tour experience is an optional tour for TMMBA students that occurs in the second year of study and gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different cultural and business context than the one in which we all typically operate day-to-day.  Students who partake in the tour have the opportunity to visit companies, tour manufacturing facilities, and meet business leaders and government officials. Click here to view blog posts from past Study Tour experiences.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 7

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Hello and welcome back for the last episode of a week in my life as a TMMBA student. I hope you were able to get a feeling of what’s it like to be a part time student here at UW. The courses are great, with really good study cases and great faculty. The program is well thought to help you optimize your time as much as possible so you can still have some free time to enjoy life, after working and studying. As I was saying in Day 1, I just started but I already feel like I’ve learned a whole lot and I had great experiences here, so far.

But let’s get back to our topic, which is how a usual Sunday looks like in my schedule these days. Sunday is your free day. Sure, you still take a few hours to study like most of the days, but in my (new) understanding free means that you have the chance to make your own schedule. No obligations, no places to be at, no fixed schedule for the entire day.

Today I woke up at 10 am – finally, a day to sleep in late! At least Sundays did not betray me like Saturdays did. Sundays are still mine. Got a coffee, studied for a few hours in the morning. Then a miracle happened – sun came out – so in the afternoon I went out to get some air. Spent again most of my day in the yard, doing stuff around the house. In the evening I got some friends over and now – after 10 – I plan to watch a movie.

On a usual Sunday, I’d probably spend a few extra hours to study more in the evening, from 7 to 10 or so. But this time is better, as we’re already done with most classes for the quarter and all we have left is the final exams – which reminds me, the Micro exam was published yesterday and is due on Thursday. I’ll probably have to sacrifice my evenings during next week since I didn’t spend any time on it today. But it was worth it – you don’t see the sun that often these days here in Seattle :)

Anyway, the weekend is almost over. In a few hours, I’ll start the week all over again with Day 1, getting closer and closer to my goal: to finish the MBA. One quarter down, 5 left to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read my stories, I hope they inspired you. Maybe we’ll get the chance to meet in person in a few years, at alumni gatherings. That will be cool.

Cheers and good luck!

TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 6

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Wait, what?! Wake up on a Saturday morning at 7 am when it’s 25F outside and go to school? Really? That’s something I asked myself 6 times in the past 3 months. But not this weekend, this weekend I am off duty. Well, kind off, because I just spent 6 hours on the Stats exam. It wasn’t that bad after all, I think you can do it in far less than that if you’re better prepared.

The good part is that it was the crappy Seattle weather in full effect today, so at least I am not sorry about spending all day indoor. If it continues tomorrow – which I think it will – I’ll take time to do the Micro exam as well and then be free for the rest of next week.

But let me tell you how a school Saturday looks like. As I was saying, wake up at 7:30-ish and jump in the car with no breakfast. They provide breakfast there so you’ll eat with the classmates. We don’t socialize that much because we are all still sleeping at that time so luckily they also provide coffee. Lots of it! I definitely need it for 8 straight hours of school as I haven’t done that since my undergrad, a couple of years ago. After a few breaks and lunch, finally 4 30 comes and we’re out the door. Usually I keep the rest of the Saturday for fun, going out, watching a movie. If it’s sunny outside, go outdoor, have some fun, live a little.

Sometimes it’s challenging, I tell to myself when I think about the commitment I made. However, looking back at the quarter now, I realize that this program is really well thought: it is much easier to get into the right mind set now, in the winter, when you don’t have much to do, compared to all the temptations in the summer. It can be difficult at times, but you know you do this so you can live a little better in 18 months. It’ll happen, you’ll see.


TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 5

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Thank god is Friday! And thank god tomorrow is a no-school Saturday. However that doesn’t mean complete chill-out as I still have stuff to do. The Stats exam is already published, but I haven’t download it yet as we have a time limit of 7 hours until we’ll have to upload our answers. Hence I am saving a full 7 hours window starting tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Meanwhile, I am frying my brains trying to solve a sample exam we got. Trust me, it ain’t pretty, but somehow I’ll make it through. Practice makes perfect, I know, but I ‘m not even close. :)

Today was really sunny – something that we haven’t seen in the past couple of weeks here in Seattle. So I rushed home after work to get a few hours out in the yard. We recently bought a house – first time buyers, hence we’re really excited about the new outdoor opportunities. I spent an hour or so doing yard work and planting a fruit tree and now I am back indoor spending some time on stats. Later tonight, I planned an evening out with my wife as tomorrow is woman’s day (March 8th). Shh, don’t tell her, it needs to be a surprise. She still thinks I need the entire evening to study.

Regarding the rest of the exams, I am pretty confident with Micro but I am still catching up on Accounting. It’s going to be a long weekend, but at least it’s the last “hop” for this quarter. Okay, I am going back to study now, as the clock is ticking and time is flying. See you tomorrow.


TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 4

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Hi and welcome to the 4th day of the week. Hang on in there, we’re making progress. If you reached so far and you’re still reading, it means you’re really interested in this program! :) So stay tuned, you’ll learn a lot from this blog. I’ve read it myself before finally deciding to make the step.

Thursday is the review session day. Every week, from 6 to 8, two teacher assistants will have a one hour session each to go through the last class’ topics. I can’t tell you how useful these are when you’re struggling with the concepts and need some help. You can either join in person, at East Side Executive Center or online. I usually prefer the online session as I have enough of EEC 2.5 times a week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice facility but home is nicer :). The downside of participating online is that you can’t ask questions. But we’re smart, creative people and we find workarounds, like texting or emailing your question to somebody who is there in person.

I need to tell you how amazing some of these classes are and how they make you change you perspective on the things around you. You might think that you’re old or that you graduated in a different era. Well, while that might be true, don’t think that you can’t do it and can’t absorb any more knowledge. This quarter Microeconomics was my favorite class. Even though I already had a micro course in my undergrad, it was no match to this one. The cases and the real-world applications of the concepts were eye-opening for me, I had a great time studying.

In the last two chapters, for example, we did Game Theory and Price Discrimination techniques. Now I understand what’s the deal with price matching or sale price guarantees. I always wondered what’s the incentive for big stores to do it as it seemed to be too nice of them to do that only for the sake of making a customer happy. While that is also a reason, these are actually tricks which facilitate price cooperation between competitors in oligopoly markets.

Ok, enough microeconomics for tonight. One more day and the weekend comes. Should I be happy? Well, it depends whether I have a class on Saturday or not :). Thank you for your attention and have a good night.


TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 3

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Wednesday is usually the team meeting day for our study group. Not today though, as we skipped it due to tomorrow’s deadline for Micro homework. There’s a strategy in choosing this day of the week – we meet at the East Side Executive Center and we can take advantage of the leftovers from Wednesday’s session 😀 No, I’m kidding, that was not the main reason. The main reason is that Wednesday is conveniently placed after self-study day on Tuesdays and so we can all bring knowledge to the table. Moreover, we can also socialize a bit more with the Wednesday section folks, as we only see them every other Saturday.

The study group is a really cool experience and the TMMBA staff is very careful when assigning the teams. They want to make sure each group is diverse and brings a unique set of skills to the table and the program is centered around building strong relationships between individuals. During the Immersion week, back in December, we had the Building Effective Work Teams class in which we learned a whole lot about forming a successful team and being part of one. It’s amazing how much more effective people can be when solving a problem as part of a team, as opposed to doing it on their own. We actually had a test that we took individually and then as a team. It was quite impressive to see that with brainstorming within a team we scored more than the sum of individual scores. Simply amazing.

But coming back to the student schedule, Wednesday mornings are no different than any other day of the week. I wake up at 7, I snooze a bit until it’s too late and I’m already late and then I jump in the car to beat the traffic and reach the office a bit after 8. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t like that before. By all means, I am not a morning person. Usually my UI thread is unresponsive before 9 am so I developed a survival skill to be able to drive, work and even talk to people without moving more then 5 muscles on my face. Then, at about 9, the coffee kicks in (thank god they discovered coffee) and I really wake up and come to life.

That would be me in the mornings. Image courtesy of

But I had to shift my schedule. This way I get some decent two hours of silence in the morning to be able to get stuff done until 10 when everybody comes in and all hell breaks loose. Thing is, this schedule allows me to leave the office earlier and beat the traffic (again) so I can maximize my study time at home, in the evenings.

Back to today, I’m now getting ready to finish the last Micro chapter and I am already done with my homework. Can’t believe I finally finished it – the last homework of the quarter! Three more exams and I’ll be done! That being said, wish me luck for those exams next week, I have a feeling I’ll need it.


TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 2

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Hello and welcome back

Traffic Tuesdays. Does anyone know why traffic is worse on Tuesdays? What makes people wake up in sync and hit the road all at the same time, only on Tuesdays?! Never mind, I don’t think I want to find that out anyway.

8:30, finally got to work. During the day I had a Skype call with the Professional Communication teacher for a personal coaching session on my presentation skills. She watched the recording of my 3 minute presentation in front of the class and she provided very good and constructive feedback. If you think that having a one hour presentation can be challenging, you should try a 3 minute one in which you have to talk about yourself and your work experience, in a manner that engages the audience and captivates their attention. And you have to do that in only 3 minutes, with no slides.

MBA Rap jokes :)
MBA Rap jokes, on student whiteboard :)

There’s one great thing about Tuesdays – it’s one of the few days in the week in which I don’t have a to be somewhere to do something after work (like classes, review sessions, study group meetings). Sure, I have to study, no doubt about that. But at least I can go straight home after work and focus on it. It’s 5:00 pm already, so I am getting ready to head out. My manager already knows I’m doing this so she understands when I hit the door at 5:15.

At 6 o’clock I am already at home so I grab dinner and rest for about 30 minutes. That’s all I have until I’ll have to start writing this blog post and then focus on studying. I’m going to be honest with you, the week I chose for this exercise is by far not one of the easier ones. In the weekend we had a deadline for two assignments (Statistics and Microeconomics) and now I have another one at Micro due for Thursday. On Friday we’ll have our final Stat exam published and due on Sunday when the Micro exam will be published. What a week! Sometimes I wonder what I have gotten myself into? :)

Well, if it sounds like a lot, I should tell you that it’s not that bad. Once you’ve already started, it’s easier than it seems, because when you’re outside, analyzing it, you feel like you’re already fully booked. Well, my friends, here’s a piece of advice: time can stretch. You’ll never know how much you can accommodate in your schedule until you actually have to do it. If you feel like there’s no room for anything else, you’re wrong. Something can still be squeezed in. If you sit and do the math, the number of hours you have to invest in the program is decent. However, it is very hard to catch-up in case you fall behind on readings, so don’t procrastinate!

Ok, enough for today. With the awful Seattle weather fully present tonight, I am going to light up the fire in the fireplace, grab the micro book and a cup of tea and spend the evening trying to figure out the Pricing Techniques chapter. I know that after I’ll be done with the MBA, I’ll miss evenings like this.


TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 1

 Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

That's me. Hello
That’s me. Hello

Hello everyone

My name is Radu and I am a TMMBA student here at Foster School of Business. For the next 7 posts I’ll be your host, trying to bring insights into a week of a TMMBA student. Hopefully this will answer at least some of your questions about what it really means to be a part time MBA student, while dealing with a full time job. I am in class 14, with an expected graduation date of June ’15., which means that I basically just started. To be precise, I started exactly two months ago, so you’ll get a pretty fresh perspective on the topic. Sure, there was Immersion Week in December but that was so fun that it doesn’t count as studying.

However, let’s not diverge too much and get back to our topic. So how does a week in the life of a TMMBA student go? Let me tell you. Today is Monday, I love Mondays. Actually, I used to love Mondays, now I am not that sure anymore. Monday is my school day, so I wake up at 8 am and go to work. I work fast, as I can’t really afford the luxury of doing overtime – yes, in case you didn’t know, working overtime can become a luxury when time is your most important asset. I figured these things out in the first couple of weeks in the program.

Image courtesy or

Don’t get me wrong. The time management and workload is all according to expectations. When you make a decision to do this kind of thing, you do your due diligence and chat with as many people as you can, in order to get an insight into what’s it going to be like – read blog posts, talk to alumni, visit a class, ask questions to staff members and so forth. If it doesn’t surprise you, it’s quite manageable. What you need to do is to get some time management best practices in place to help you optimize your schedule.

Coming back to our topic, it’s 4:30 pm already, so I am getting ready to head out. Today I’ll head down there earlier than usual as we have a great talk scheduled from 5 to 6. It’s the Tech @ The Top series, and today we’ll have Mr. Michael Schutzler, Chief Executive Officer at the Washington Technology Industry Association to share his stories as an Internet entrepreneur and angel investor – I wouldn’t want to miss that!

Six o’clock comes, so we all get ready for a new class. Today we have Accounting, or Financial Reporting and Analysis on its fancy name. But before that, we got some student presentations going on for about 15 minutes, for the Professional Communication class. It’s a good opportunity to improve your communication and presentation skills as you get peer feedback and a personal coaching session with the teacher, so we all pay close attention to tonight’s speakers. 6 15, class starts. I am already feeling a bit tired but luckily, in anticipation of tonight’s class, I already had a second coffee at about 4 so I’m hanging in pretty good. The Accounting teacher is great but my mind starts slipping towards the free ice cream that I’ll get at break time. Ok, back to the slides, how are we doing those T-accounts again?

Finally 7 45, break time. Ice cream, more chit chat. We laugh, we laugh good. There’s a general feeling of sympathy for the folks who struggle next to you. We make fun of our energy… or lack of it. 15 minutes later, back to class with fresh energy for the next 90 minutes. At 9 30 we’re done and I reach home at about 10. What’s left of the evening is my night off. Tonight I won’t study, won’t worry and won’t stress. Tonight I accomplished my duties and is now time to relax. I grab my wife and watch a movie. Tonight is all good. More, tomorrow.


The TMMBA ROI Series: Part 3

Ally Wewers, TMMBA Recruiting and Admissions Coordinator

In Posts 1 and 2, there’s already been ample discussion about the ways that TMMBA students and alums calculate their return on their investment. While we conclude today with three final categories to the TMMBA ROI, it’s safe to say there are still many components to add to this conversation:

Powerful Network

The TMMBA alumni network is truly one of the greatest assets of the program. With close to 800 TMMBA graduates, it is a diverse community that represents a variety of industries, functions, and companies. Additionally, the larger Foster School network connects more than 50,000 business professionals – creating a huge presence in the Puget Sound region and beyond.

 So how do TMMBA alums relate network to ROI? For many, the value comes from the exposure and access to new contacts, companies, and most importantly – opportunities. As alumnus Kevin Croy (TMMBA ’12) can attest, “The caliber of people on your team and the network you’re exposed to directly impacts your career.” Through an introduction from one of his TMMBA teammates, Kevin met his current business partner, leading to the development of 9MileLabs, a Seattle based high-tech accelerator.

 Another value of the TMMBA network is that it never stops growing. With each new cohort, the TMMBA community expands and provides access to more support, resources, and connections. “My network has exploded almost exponentially” remarks student Chris Zilich. “The connections I’ve made via my team and other classmates have been invaluable.”

 Personal Growth

Can you put a price on confidence? How about personal development and leadership skills? TMMBA alumnus Ameya Bhatawdekar (TMMBA ’10) explains that “it’s hard to put a dollar value on the measurement of ROI. But my most important indicator is knowing that I’m a different person today for having completed the program.”

 While the TMMBA program offers a comprehensive business curriculum, the learning in the program goes beyond business concepts, calculations, and frameworks. Emphasis on strategic decision making, effective leadership, and innovation challenge the individual and change their ways of thinking. 100% of recently surveyed TMMBA alumni cited an increase in confidence as a result of the program. Coupled with increased self-awareness, time management skills, and a sense of accomplishment, the return for the individual is unparalleled.


While it’s not a typical return, the convenience, support and services that the TMMBA program provides helps some students substantiate part of their investment decision. Many alums point to the convenient Eastside location- there’s less time and money spent commuting to class (especially in comparison to other non-local MBA programs). The 18-month program and work-compatible schedule also allow students to continue their current careers – without having to forfeit years of income and career experience to pursue their degree.

By providing textbooks, electronic course materials, registration services and more, students can focus on homework or family time, not worrying about the logistics of classes. Similarly, catered meals on class days allow students to come  from work and network with classmates over dinner – or finish up on last minute homework. As alums have noted– everything about the program is designed to make students as successful as possible.


With the variety of topics that we’ve covered in these last few posts, it’s obvious that the ROI for TMMBA students is multifaceted. From network to rankings, salary increases to personal growth, every TMMBA student and alum calculates their return in their own way.  We’ve started the discussion – now how will you calculate the ROI for your own MBA?

Missed a post? Catch up!  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

– Students, staff and a few alumni blog about the experience of earning an MBA via the University of Washington Foster School of Business Technology Management MBA Program, covering events, learning-in-action, life after graduation, networking opportunities, and so much more.