Alumni to Know
Maggie Anderson, JD ’98, MBA ’01, spoke about the book she co-wrote, Our Black Year, at Eastern University, said a February 6 article in the Daily Eastern News. Anderson and her husband spent a year attempting to buy goods only from black-owned businesses.
With the departure of some old-guard employees at John Buck Co., some are questioning the state of the company, as John Buck, ’02 (XP-71), is handed more and more of the company reins from his father. But Buck doesnt see a problem. “We havent missed a beat,” Buck said in a March 5 Crains Chicago Business article. “Weve got a bunch of deals were working on. We havent lost any opportunities that Im aware of.” Buck first joined his fathers firm in 1996. He has done leasing and project management there. He currently is working on a couple of hotel developments, the article said.
Jeff Carter, ’07, once asked Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, Do you bet on the horse or the jockey?
He said in start-ups, always bet on the jockey,” because great jockeys can change course, Carter writes in a March 6 Townhall.com article. Carter, an independent speculator, writes about what he thinks makes a great jockey. One crucial characteristic: leadership qualities. An idea person does not necessarily make the best CEO, but “leadership characteristics can be taught,” Carter said.
Another characteristic: clear communication. “The best founders ask their investors to clearly state their expectations. This minimizes conflict,” he said.
In the wake of a cheating scandal, in which several principals and teachers in Atlanta, Georgia falsified their students test scores, Erroll Davis, ’67, was asked by the Georgia governor and the Atlanta mayor to take over as school superintendent. Davis, former CEO of a Wisconsin utility company, answered the call. “When I look back at my life, I dont want my contribution to have been shaving a few eighths off a bond deal to make a million dollars,” he said in a February 20 New York Times article. The article said Davis has been thorough in rooting out corruption and effective in getting to know and praise the remaining honest teachers. When he meets with principals he tells them, “Education is the only industry in this country where failure is blamed on the workers, not the leadership,” the article said.
An impending banking crisis in China may be temporarily softened by the countrys policy of transferring bad loans to government-owned entities, however, that strategy has its own drawbacks to the economy, said Ben Fanger, MBA ’05, JD ’05. “The seeds of a potential crisis started in 2008,” Fanger said in a February 29 Wall Street Journal article. “In an effort to fuel growth, China more than doubled its loan book in the two years following the crisis by increasing loans to both infrastructure and corporations. History tells us that such spikes in lending are almost always followed by a banking crisis, or at least a wave of bad loans that must be cleaned up. It also became clear that much of Chinas lending was being allocated for policy reasons, not creditworthiness. As concerns about inflation mounted, and China slowed credit growth in 2010, banks lent to state-owned enterprises but left private companies and real estate developers starved for cash. Last year analysts estimated that between $1 trillion and $2 trillion of nonperforming loans would eventually surface because of this lending gut.”
Fanger is cofounder of Shoreline Capital Management, which invests in Chinese distressed assets.
Megan McArdle, ’01, recalls in a February 9 Atlantic Monthly article that back in October she had publicized the fact that "the share of national income going to the top 1 percent had fallen dramatically." McArdle had released this disclosure which had come from a discussion with Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. In the magazine article, McArdle debated whether or not income inequality will continue to worsen. "Maybe," she concluded. "I think the answer at the moment is we simply dont know—Im not sure theres empirical reason to prefer one story or the other. I do think we should be wary of confident extrapolations in either direction."
Giving consumers a chance to pick their own electric utility to save money just became easier with a new app launched by Power2Switch in conjunction with the Illinois Chambers of Commerce. "Were thrilled that the Lakeview East Chamber is leading the way and that we are able to share our cost-saving service with even more businesses in Illinois," said Phil Nevels, ’10, Power2Switch cofounder and chief operating officer. "High electricity costs impact all businesses. Our rate comparison widget empowers owners to save a great deal of money on their electricity bills in minutes."
"The US economy is gaining steam," said Jim Oberweis, ’03 (XP-72), in a February 8 article in Forbes. He cited improvements in the gross domestic product, employment, consumer spending, and housing sales. When picking stocks, however, Oberweis recommends innovative small-cap companies that will grow no matter the state of the economy. He listed four specific stocks in the article.
Lukasz Pomorski, PhD ’06, and a colleague from the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management have won the 2012 Canadian Investment Research Award of $10,000 Canadian dollars. The award was presented by the Toronto CFA Society and Hillsdale Investment Management for the research paper “Is Bigger Better? Size and Performance in Pension Plan Management.” One of the papers key findings is that “the majority of superior returns come from expansion into alternative asset classes, such as private equity, real estate, and infrastructure, where size and direct investment capabilities are an advantage,” said a March 1 article in Digital Journal.
HeyMath, a Chennai, India–based online mathematics platform, is set to launch a Facebook-like social networking site for mathematics this year, said a February 3 article in the Economic Times of India. Sitting on HeyMaths board are Jerry Rao, ’81, and former IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan, Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, the article said. The story was repeated in a roundup of Indian news in the Wall Street Journal and in a Dow Jones International News story on February 2.
StrongMail is offering a free whitepaper with recommendations on email marketing. The resource, called “The Ultimate Email Lifecycle Marketing Guide: Post-Purchase Programs,” drew recent press attention from PRWeb, Business Wire, and Reuters.
Business Wire and PRWeb also ran a February 22 article about how Joss & Main, an invitation-only retailer, ratcheted up sales after using StrongMail to standardize its email program.
A team of Booth students, finalists in the 2003 New Venture Challenge, have been credited in the past with developing the business plan that enabled StrongMail to attract financing. One of them, Rita Ravindra, ’04, is the former director of finance at StrongMail Systems.
Shoprunner, an online shopping site that offers free two-day shipping, recently bought Shopsanity, an online shopping organizer, a deal that drew the attention of PandoDaily.com on February 7. Shopsanity cofounder John Rodkin, ’05, offered an explanation in a blog on the Shopsanity website following press coverage of the transaction. Rodkin said that the number of transactions recorded by his company was growing “exponentially,” after just nine months of existence. “Im proud of how hard the team cranked, and Im extremely proud that what we built scaled like mad and grew quickly on a lifetime total of $7K of marketing spend and no PR.” He said that the two online businesses are a “great strategic fit.”
While business school grads arent flocking overseas for jobs in record numbers, they are more open to geographic flexibility, said a February 8 Bloomberg Business Week article. For example, Ronald Rolph, ’11, had a chance to work in the United States or take a position with the same company overseas that offered multiple attractions of engineering, construction, and project management work in the mining and metals industry in Santiago, Chile. Rolph took the job in Chile. “Just because you go overseas initially does not mean youre relegating yourself to working overseas for the rest of your career,” Rolph said.
Jay Schmelter, ’92, is founder and managing director of RiverVest Venture Partners. The St. Louis, Missouri–based firm recently sold four life science companies for more than $1 billion, according to a February 6 press release. One of the four companies, Salient Surgical Technologies, Inc., was founded by Schmelter. “At RiverVest we strive to build early-stage life science companies to sell within three to five years, including companies we found,” Schmelter said. “Our strategy is to focus on a few high potential investments, take an active role, sometimes as interim management, and leverage our research, clinical, operational, and investment expertise to make them attractive for strategic buyers.”
A new talk radio show, “Other Peoples Money,” is being hosted by Jeffrey Sexton, ’07. The one-hour Sunday evening show is being broadcast to the Louisville area and southern Indiana on WKJK in Louisville. “I am not an armchair quarterback,” Sexton, portfolio manager for the Deluxe All Cap stock fund, said in a press release. “I walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to investing,” he said. “The results of my research instilled convictions and taught me the consequences of managing ‘other peoples money.”
To improve development of players in youth soccer, U.S. Soccer is pairing with EXACT Sports, a company that offers behavioral assessments and sports psychology tools. “There are many elements within soccer that are mental, such as managing adversity during a corner kick, being confident in goal, showing leadership on the field, and interacting with coaches and teammates,” said Barry Tarter, ’03, EXACT Sports executive director, in a February 21 news item at USSoccer.com. EXACT Sports is monitoring and training more than 4,000 players and coaches in Development Academy clubs. To do so, the company is using a new behavioral assessment tool called the Mental Achievement Program.
“There is no perfect time to launch a company,” said Vikram Vuppala, ’07. Vuppala, a medical doctor, cofounded NephroPlus, which runs kidney care clinics in India, in 2010 in the midst of a global recession. “Considering the economic climate, we decided not to go for venture funding,” Vuppala said in a February 19 article in the Economic Times of India. “We wanted to prove the concept first.” The company focused on patients and caregivers, holding events for them. “The first five patients are important. They will carry the word around,” Vuppala said. Today the company runs five centers.
The business is a dream come true for Vuppala. “I always dreamt of establishing my own business,” he told Post Noon in a March 3 article. “After I completed my high school, I decided to set up a business. I graduated in engineering from IIT Kharagpur and did my MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business to realize my dream,” said Vuppala, who invested his life savings to start NephroPlus.
Vuppala had been working as senior associate at McKinsey & Company when he returned to India in 2009 to become an entrepreneur, said a February 23 article in the Economic Times.