2017

Stories related to "Entrepreneurship".

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From Fail to Prevail

When Lotika Pai, ’08, arrived for her first day on the job, she was told to leave. Her role had been eliminated. It wasn’t personal; Pai’s start date was September 15, 2008—the same day that Lehman Brothers, her would-be employer, filed for bankruptcy. After enduring a competitive recruiting process and graduating from business school, Pai looked forward to switching into the fast-paced world of investment banking. The setback was understandably terrifying. “It was the sense of being overwhelmed by something that I had no control over,” she recalled. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” In the next few years, Pai got valuable experience as an investment banker at Barclays (which acquired Lehman Brothers days later), but she never forgot the anxiety she felt during the turmoil. “That situation was pivotal for me, in terms of wanting to change the trajectory of my career,” said Pai. That first setback with Lehman inspired Pai to consider entrepreneurship once she had finance experience under her belt. Last year, she cofounded Powwful, a Chicago-based women’s activewear brand that aims to change the conversation around fitness and empowerment. “Ultimately,” Pai said, “I wanted to be more in control of what happened to my career.”

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A Solution for the Caring Economy

Most nights, Chelsea Sprayregen gets a good six or seven hours of sack time—no small feat for a woman juggling being a student at Booth and the CEO and cofounder of the promising startup Provide. “I don’t do anything else besides work,” Sprayregen said without a hint of regret. But, she said, “I can’t function without sleep.” On May 22, however, nerves would keep her tossing and turning all night. It was the eve of easily her most important professional moment, one that would help turn her dream into a reality: overhauling and simplifying how childcare business owners operate. The next day, along with her fellow Evening MBA students on the Provide team, Sprayregen would present to a room full of business-savvy judges (including several Booth alumni), as well as six other finalist teams competing to win the 2017 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge. <br/>

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The Book of Booth: Tandean Rustandy

With a $20 million gift to Booth in 2017, Tandean Rustandy, ’07 (AXP-6), committed his support to expanded research and programming in social innovation and entrepreneurship. Previously known as the Social Enterprise Initiative, the newly named Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation will serve as Booth’s hub for students, alumni, and faculty tackling complex social and environmental problems. Rustandy founded Jakarta, Indonesia-based PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk, one of the best-performing ceramic tile manufacturing companies in the world. Winner of Booth’s Distinguished Alumni Entrepreneurial Award in 2011, he is a member of the Council on Chicago Booth and Global Advisory Board Asia cabinet. CBM: Why did you make the gift to the Rustandy Center? Rustandy: With the center, we can attract the best and brightest minds—people capable of winning Nobel Prizes—to bring creative and innovative thinking and improve the world.

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Coffee Futures

Back when he worked in finance, Paulo Siqueira, ’04, used to wake up in the middle of the night worried that some market event would spoil his investments. But in 2010, Siqueira and his wife, Juliana Armelin, ’04, left corporate jobs to take the plunge into coffee, starting a farm some 400 miles north of their hometown of São Paulo. “Now, we wake up at night afraid there is going to be a frost in the morning,” Siqueira said.<br/>Despite the occasional weather-related insomnia, the couple has thrived in the coffee business. Two years ago, their farm, Fazenda Terra Alta, won the highest prize for espresso coffee in Brazil. Last year, it won again. Of course, that doesn’t mean the couple’s transition from business to beans has been easy. In growing their farm, they’ve faced a steep learning curve in a business just as volatile as stocks and hedge funds. “If we had known all the risks beforehand,” said Siqueira, “I don’t know if we would have had the guts to start.”

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Med Students without Borders

Like any successful entrepreneur, AMOpportunities cofounder and CEO Kyle Swinsky has developed a business that fills a need in an untapped market. In his case, it’s connecting international medical students to rotations in the United States. Swinsky’s Chicago-based startup is the 2017 winner of the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge. Run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the New Venture Challenge is one of the top accelerator programs in the country, and the competition this year was stiff. But Swinsky’s business model, which presented an original and profitable solution to a unique demand, pushed Evening MBA student Swinsky and AMOpportunities to the front of the competition.

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Distinguished Alumni Awards 2017

Since 1971, we have celebrated innovative leaders across all industries, from finance to the arts, manufacturing to public service, and beyond. The Distinguished Alumni Awards honor individuals who continue to challenge and change the world we live in, exemplifying the resounding impact of Chicago Booth. This year’s winners—three from the Booth class of 1980—have blazed singular paths to the leading edges of four very different industries: oil, pharmaceutical research, cable television, and food processing. Yet they all have proven their passion for digging deeper and discovering more at every stage of their illustrious careers.

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Entrepreneurs without Borders

In June 2014, after five years in the marketing department at Coca-Cola, Jonas De Cooman, ’16 (EXP-21), felt stalled intellectually. He was ready to push his boundaries. He planned to pursue his MBA while continuing at Coca-Cola. Then unexpected policy changes at work eliminated continuing education support for De Cooman, and it looked like his plans were crumbling. So he sold his apartment. With two small children, De Cooman and his wife carefully weighed their options and the risks involved. Selling their apartment in Belgium provided the only way to afford his MBA. “I decided to pursue an MBA to kickstart my personal learning curve,” he said. De Cooman realized that he wanted to gain more control over his career and make his own mark in the global marketplace as an entrepreneur. With an extensive consumer marketing background, a global perspective, and a promising business idea, he also saw knowledge gaps he needed to fill in order to launch and operate a scalable new business. “I am driven by personal growth and I felt that I was not learning at the same pace that I used to be learning at the start of my career,” he said. “I chose to study again because I didn’t feel equipped enough to be an entrepreneur.”<br/>

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Six Days to Pitch

The History: The Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) is the Executive MBA track in the New Venture Challenge process, which began 21 years ago. We kick off the GNVC in August when all of the Executive MBA students are in Chicago for their electives. The entrepreneurs put together a feasibility study about their businesses, encourage others to join their teams, and submit an application in October. We choose about six teams from each cohort—Chicago, Hong Kong, and London—to participate in the class. The Preparation: Because the course is so short, it actually starts as soon as we choose the teams. I have a kick-off WebEx call in the fall with the teams, who are located all over the world, to start working on their business models. I then host webinars for all of the teams on business plans and presentations. Finally, I have a second, one-on-one call with each team in the winter. Business plans are due a week before class starts, because I want the teams to have written their story and really gotten it down. The Curriculum: The weeklong class is stressful. It’s intensive, and it doesn’t look like a normal class. On the first day, students present to a group of coaches, judges, and outside mentors, and they get a lot of feedback. We handpick mentors for each team based on industry, business model, and startup experience to get them started working with outside people on their model and story. <br/>

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CAN Do Attitude

Let’s say that you are a smart, driven entrepreneur with a groundbreaking idea to revolutionize food packaging and eliminate all those Styrofoam containers littering the landfill. You’ve got a patent. You’ve got passion. What you don’t have is money. Plus you are in Europe, where early-stage investing tends toward the risk averse. What to do? If you are startup ValueForm and your CFO is Mandar Kulkarni, ’10 (EXP-15), you put your pitch together and take it to CAN, the Chicago Angels Network in London. Founded in 2012 by Shehreyar Hameed, ’05; Jonathan Weiss, ’00, MD ’01; and Rama Veeraragoo, ’12 (EXP-17), the global network of domain experts, mentors, and angel investors gives Booth graduates a chance at early-stage investment opportunities with entrepreneurial startups and extends the school’s commitment to innovation. In early 2012, Hameed had started investing in startups, and developed the idea of CAN to provide access to compelling investment opportunities to the Booth alumni network in London, elsewhere in Europe, and globally. “I wanted to invest and help entrepreneurs harness our strong, global, and diverse network of deep domain expertise to build successful businesses,” said Hameed, a senior financial professional based in London. “Hence the motto, ‘Engage! Mentor! Invest!’ It’s about setting young companies on the right path and opening doors for them. That’s where the real value comes from.”<br/>