IBD 2016 Crowns Conference Winners!  Team Apsara Takes Home Best Presentation.

Every year at the Berkeley-Haas IBD Conference, the IBD faculty announces student team winners in a variety of categories to celebrate another successful year of IBD spring and summer courses.  This year’s IBD team winners were:

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After reviewing six IBD team presentations delivered during the Conference, the award of Best IBD Presentation was unanimously awarded to Team Apsara.  Team Apsara traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust).  The ACT program was directed to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change in a country that faces challenging economic and political conditions.  This was the fourth IBD team to work with Apsara, and the team’s main project objective was to develop curriculum for an online and in-person course for ACT’s Intensive Entrepreneurship Program.   During two weeks of teaching, Team Apsara worked with 21 students daily on design thinking, prototyping, brainstorming, constructing empathy maps, and developing interviewing skills.  At the end of their in-country experience, the IBD team delivered more than course materials. They also recommended how to create an ACT Ecosystem whereby students could share and help each other with entrepreneurial ideas.  In addition, the IBD team suggested possible revenue streams to help ACT become more sustainable.  IBD team member Julian Garzon shared this conclusion from his project experience: “We were impressed to find great people with great ideas everywhere, but the resources are not for them all the time.  It makes us think how privileged we are, and how we should be committed to give back and contribute to the community because these great people should have a shot to flourish with their business ideas. Finally, we can’t underestimate the power of bringing people together who are motivated and driven to work hard and achieve their dreams”.

To read Team Apsara’s blog click here.

Students Shine at 2016 IBD Conference

We officially wrapped up another amazing year of the Berkeley-Haas International Business Development (IBD) program with our final event, the 2016 IBD Conference on September 16th. The Conference started with an interactive poster session during which 22 IBD teams presented their projects, answered questions and showcased their unique experiences and wearables.  Some of the IBD students who went all out were Team Nando, who wore custom designed clothing produced by their client; Team Ashesi, who had matching pockets sewn onto their shirts; Team Inka Moss, who sported Peruvian sweaters and caps; and Team PAG, whose student team lead, Zarrah Birdie, donned a panda hoodie in honor of her team’s experience working in China. 

“All of the students were excited not only to share their adventures and the consulting work they did with their clients around the world, but also to see the huge variety of other projects and cultures that their classmates completed and experienced. Curiosity and enthusiasm were extremely high, and the noise level even higher.” Mark Coopersmith, IBD Faculty Mentor.

The energy was high for everyone at the Conference, including Haas’s CFO, Suresh Bhat, who came by the poster session to engage with IBD students and spend time learning about their projects.

“Attending the IBD conference is always a fabulous experience and seeing the enthusiasm from both FTMBA and EWMBA students as they present their findings, brings their project to life.  The students favorably commented on the experiential learning process. In addition, having to face and overcome language and cultural barriers is a mirror of what many of them will have to face as they take on new career opportunities post their MBA.” Suresh Bhat.

shot-of-the-group-in-the-great-hall

Following the poster session, students and guests were treated to a lunch program that consisted of a panel presentation of IBD student team leads, overall comments from Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons, TED Talk style presentations by six IBD teams, and an acceptance speech from the 2016 IBD Alumnus of the Year, Rajiv Ball.

Rajiv, a Partner at THNK, Berkeley-Haas lecturer and host of the Design Thinking Course held recently in Amsterdam over spring break, worked previously with IBD as a project sponsor.  In his acceptance video he talked about the amazing experience that IBD provides for students:  “The notion of broadening your international horizons… and the ability to really step outside the US, and explore how business gets done there, that is a true gift that the program brings its participants.”

While there are many highlights from the IBD Conference, it was ultimately about hearing from the students their impressions of their projects and their reflections on the IBD experience.  New to the IBD Conference this year was a panel discussion with IBD student team leads.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube interviewed five student team leads and asked them to share their insights on serving in a team lead capacity. One student team lead, Vanessa Pau, said, “It is a rare opportunity to lead a team of peers, many of whom are much smarter than I am, and to actually work with them, learn from them and motivate them throughout times in the project.”  

In addition to the panel discussion, six IBD teams were chosen by a combination of student and faculty voting to present their projects to the Conference audience.  Videos of the lucky winners and presenting teams can be seen here.

Many IBD teams shared how their journeys changed once they were in country, including shifts in their perspectives, relationships, and overall project recommendations.  The student team lead for Team groupelephant.com, Theo Grzegorczk, said of his team’s time in South Africa, “It gave us a real reason to care, and we made this transition by actually getting involved with their company…we learned by really getting into their business.  We went through this process of understanding how they work…and by living the way they do business…we came to understand a little bit more of their company and that is the first step in the design thinking process.”

Team Samai’s Bruno Vargas said, “We had all kinds of backgrounds, not just nationally, but professional backgrounds…We were hands on, we were rolling (up) our sleeves, working hand in hand with them…We were actually giving them to tools to manage their business and in the end, we built strong relationships.”

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier summed it up best when she shared the following comment: “The students were really energized and proud of their work and the relationships they built with their clients.  A few told me it was the best experience they had at Haas, and specifically the best team experience.  Exciting to see we are having such an impact!”

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Billion-Dollar Startups, Splunk Founder Michael Baum, and One-Minute Pitches at Annual Haas Celebration

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What’s one secret to launching a billion-dollar startup? Continually innovating your business model, not just your product or service, says Michael Baum, founder and former CEO of Splunk, which creates software that helps companies glean insights from machine data and was one of the most successful IPOs of 2012.

Baum was the featured speaker at the 12th annual Haas Celebration at Gap Inc. headquarters in San Francisco on March 18. Nearly 400 alumni, students, and friends of Haas attended the event, which this year highlighted the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition for teams of alumni and students.

In a conversation with Lester Center Executive Director Andre Marquis, MBA 96, Baum spoke about how he built Splunk and the changing landscape of entrepreneurship education. Baum’s 25-year entrepreneurial career has included six startups and five acquisitions that have created more than 3,000 jobs, more than 150 millionaires, and more than $10 billion in shareholder value.

One way Splunk innovated its business model in the early days, when it was competing with companies like IBM, was to buy Google AdWords on troubleshooting topics users might have with a competitor’s software. For anyone seeking help with a problem, Splunk repeatedly appeared as the solution.

Baum also stressed that success is about execution, not ideas. That’s why Splunk cofounders weren’t concerned with competitors seeing the product roadmap they posted online for two years to crowdsource feedback from potential customers. They knew they could deliver the software faster and better than anyone else.

Baum’s current startup is FOUNDER.org, which works with colleges, universities (including Cal), and research institutes to help students become successful entrepreneurs. Its initiatives provide students funding, education, and mentoring to prepare them for long-term success. Baum’s goal for FOUNDER.org is longevity (he’s aiming for a hundred years), so he made it a nonprofit. He says it may be one of the first nonprofit venture capital projects.

The evening also included a one-minute pitch competition among Haas and Cal student and alumni representatives from 10 startups. Audience members could learn about each startup during the cocktail hour and voted via text message. Teams pitching their ideas represented Brandizi, Twindom, Eko Devices, Magoosh, Modify Industries, OCHO Candy, PlushCare, POWr, Xcell Biosciences, and YadaZing.

The winner of Cal swag and bragging rights was Eko Devices (coincidentally affiliated with FOUNDER.org), which helps clinicians amplify, digitize, and analyze patient heart sounds through a smart device that attaches to a stethoscope. Traditional stethoscopes can’t diagnose most heart conditions but an Eko Device can. “We want to put a cardiologist in every doctor’s pocket,” said Eko cofounder and CEO Connor Landgraf, BS 13 (Bioengineering), during his pitch.

Guests at the event also enjoyed access to the renowned modern art of Gap founders Doris Fisher and her late husband, Don Fisher, BS 51, whose collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Cy Twombly, Sol LeWitt, and many others.

Cooking Up a Cultural Culinary Exchange in Asia

Trav spoon steph and aashi

Traveling Spoon’s Stephanie Lawrence and Aashi Vel, both MBA 13

Steph Lawrence gave her first dinner party when she was 12, serving 40 people. Aashi Vel grew up connecting to her culture through the scrumptious south and north indian food made by her mother in Madras, India.

Traveling Spoon curry croppedBoth women, MBA 13s, considered a future in food entrepreneurship but weren’t necessarily aiming for that straight out of b-school. Then, they met.

At a consumption function in their first week at Haas they immediately bonded over common interests such as, well, food. What followed has been a whirlwind of activity aimed at launching The Traveling Spoon, an online service helping travelers explore culture through the local cuisine. The tagline: Travel off the Eaten Path.

Lawrence, long an avid food blogger and a cook going back to her Easy Bake Oven days, had been thinking for a while about a Traveling Spoon dumplingphotoventure combining food and travel. While living and working in China in 2009, she made learning how to make dumplings from “a Chinese grandma” a priority. Checking this item off her bucket list made her want to share authentic local food experiences with shorter-term visitors to a region. That same year, she registered the Traveling Spoon URL, with the idea that in a few years she’d go to b-school and think about this some more.

Vel came to Haas with a finely honed palate and experience in industrial design for medical devices and consumer products. “I always want to be doing something creative,” she says of her move from design to cuisine. Prior to meeting Lawrence, she traveled in Tulum, Mexico where she too craved an authentic food experience. “On my way to restaurants, I’d smell the aromas coming from home kitchens and wish I were eating fresh tortillas made by a local Mexican woman instead,” says Vel.

Traveling Spoon Cochlin India 3

Amara Aigbedion, MBA 13, prepares to enjoy a home-cooked meal in Cochin

“Meeting Aashi is what turned Traveling Spoon from something I auto-renewed on Go Daddy each year into something real,” says Lawrence. Last winter they offered a Traveling Spoon experience to fellow students on a winter break trek through Southeast Asia, bringing 8 classmates together for a home dinner in Cochin, India. “This was the highlight of our trip,” says Jane Wong, MBA 13, of the feast of homemade appams, syrian beef fry, and fish curry. “I would jump at the chance to do another.”

Trav Spoon Steph with host

Steph Lawrence learning to make a traditional minced catfish dish in northern Thailand with a Traveling Spoon host

Berkeley-Haas coursework has followed the launch curve for Lawrence and Vel, who together took Entrepreneurship last spring to hone their business model. This year, they moved on to New Venture Finance to work on funding, Lean LaunchPad for deeper customer insights, and Women in Business to learn how to empower their partnering hosts (95% of whom are women).

While their aim is to be global, they are concentrating on Asia for now. Vel spent summer 2012 lining up hosts in India and the pair spent this past winter break in Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh signing up additional hosts—a mix of established chefs and teachers along with home cooks. “An important goal for Traveling Spoon is empowering women in emerging markets,” says Vel.

Days that stretch to 3:00 a.m. are not unusual, but Vel says, “It never feels like work.” That’s due, in part,  to the fact that Lawrence and Vel are now close friends as well as business partners. Both say meeting each other is the best thing that has happened to them at Haas, making it clear that, wherever they travel off the eaten path, it will be together.

Trav spoon steph and aashi2

Haas Alum Carlos Orellana Named a 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year in Mexico

Mexico’s Entrepreneurs of the Year include Carlos Orellana, MBA 10 (l.)

Haas alum Carlos Orellana, co-founder of a network of low-cost, high quality eye-care clinics in Mexico, was named an Entrepreneur of the Year by CNN Expansión–and made its cover (see right).

Orellana, MBA/MPH 10, and co-founder Javier Okhuysen are co-CEOs of salaUno, which delivers eye care, such as cataract surgery, to patients on the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. The duo aims to make salaUno (which has also been an IBD client for two years) the leading health-care provider for Latin America.

CNN Expansión, a magazine covering business and entrepreneurship in Mexico and Latin America, awarded two companies with the Entrepreneur of the Year honor, selecting salaUno in the High Potential category for its rapid growth and social impact.

While at Haas, Orellana co-founded the Latin American and Hispanic Business Conference with classmate Pedro Kudrnac, MBA 10. Though he and Okhuysen had the idea for salaUno before earning his MBA, Orellana says, “It was during my time at Haas that the project really took shape.”

Note: Read about the experiences of IBD teams working with salaUno this summer in these Haas in the World posts.

As part of a summer 2012 IBD project, Sarah Fisher, MBA 13, helps out at a salaUno outreach eye camp in a remote area outside of Mexico City

Haas Alumnus, Food Entrepreneur Alejandro Velez, BS 09, to Compete on The Bachelorette

Alejandro Velez

Alejandro Velez/Photo by ABC

Alejandro Velez, BS 09, co-founder of Back to the Roots, a company that sells kits to grow gourmet mushrooms from coffee grounds, will show off his romantic side in the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which premieres Monday, May 14.

Velez will be one of 25 bachelors vying to win the heart of Emily Maynard, a young full-time mom who appeared on the 15th season of The Bachelor and whose fiancé died in a plane crash in 2004. An Inside Scoop SF blog post on Velez points to his appearance on the show as proof that urban farming has reached “its inevitable culture apex.”

Velez, originally from Medellin, Colombia, and co-founder Nikhil Arora came up with the idea for Back to the Roots while still at Haas, after hearing Lecturer Alan Ross speak on the potential to grow gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds.

By the end of last year, the company had used 1 million pounds of coffee grounds, primarily from Peet’s, for its $19.95 home mushroomgrowing kits, which have been featured in Sunset Magazine, Oprah, and the New York Times.

Velez’s competition on The Bachelorette includes a biology teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada; a race car driver from the Netherlands; and a fitness model from Chicago.

Read more about Velez on The Bachelorette website.

Read more about Back to the Roots in the latest Berkeley-Haas magazine.

Angel Investors, From Berkeley??!!

Angel investors are often part of angel investor groups, in which entrepreneurs pitch to a number of angel investors at the same time and location.  In addition to angel investor groups focusing on a particular topic (e.g., life sciences) or a region (Silicon Valley, Austin or Paris), there are around 40 or more angel investor groups in the United States associated with particular universities or alumni connections (perhaps you have heard of the HBS (Harvard) Angels or the Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs). 

Happy Toy Machine (with toys) pitching at Berkeley Angel Network, January 31, 2012.

Now there is an angel investor group comprised of UC Berkeley alumni, the Berkeley Angel Network.  This should come as no surprise given UC Berkeley’s reputation as a top educator of entrepreneurs (see the the LinkedIn study “Sequencing the Startup DNA on LinkedIn” based on a dataset of 120 million user profiles), and given that even prior to the launch of the Berkeley Angel Network, UC Berkeley alumni have been among the leaders in angel investing.

The Berkeley Angel Network had its first meeting November 2011 and its inaugural company pitch in January 2012.  The next company pitch is April 17th in Palo Alto.

At [Word]press time, two investor spaces remain open for the April 17th event.  Note that the audience at the Berkeley Angel Network meeting is limited to Cal alumni and faculty who are also accredited investors.  If you are an investor interested in learning more, please contact berkeleyangelnetwork@berkeleyangelnetwork.com or visit their LinkedIn group

Selection for companies presenting at the next pitch meeting (fall 2012) is targeted to begin this summer.

Lester Center’s Andre Marquis Addresses Berkeleyside Forum

Andre Marquis, executive director of the Haas School’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, served on a March 5 panel on entrepreneurship in the city of Berkeley. The event was hosted by Berkeleyside, a news website for the city.

Marquis, who has experience launching startups in Berkeley, was part of a panel with Judith Iglehart, chief of staff for the Mayor of Berkeley, and Randy Butler, the senior VP of retail banking for Mechanics Bank. Each brought different perspective, but all addressed the conditions that need to be present in order for entrepreneurship to thrive.

Marquis emphasized the importance of building a sense of community and talked about how the university’s new Skydeck, a startup incubator-accelerator based in downtown Berkeley, is fostering just such community for students and recent alumni in search of cross-disciplinary insights. Marquis said a local component to community matters a tremendous amount. “A startup is by nature high-bandwidth and hard to do at a distance. I know that when I work with even one other person, my productivity goes up ten times from being able to bounce ideas back and forth.”

Read more about the Startup Berkeley Forum in this post on Berkeleyside.