LAUNCH! Magazine Issue Eight

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LAUNCH! Magazine Issue Eight

  1. 1. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 1l a u n c h m a g . c o I S S U E E I G H T L A U N C H M A G . C O INSIDE: Validate Your Business Idea Mastering Digital Innovation iBiblestory.com ModalMinds Larsen Toy Lab WeSearch.org B Revolution Consulting Muddy Shoe Adventures’ Michael Bennett
  2. 2. 2 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPRENEUR NATION By LARRY COX Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship MBA student Neal Bloom co-founded The Portfolium (theportfolium.com), an interactive platform for visually showcasing one’s work, knowledge, projects and experiences. Ideal for students of all ages, it allows career-seekers to go far beyond the limits of the traditional resume to include media, photos, video, .PDF documents and more! Customers may add a custom URL to further market themselves, build their brand and found in Google searches! Social features built into thePortfolium, such as messaging, commenting, liking, bookmarking and sharing encourage connecting and collaborating with others across all fields of study, as well as receive valuable feedback and ideas. Neal is currently targeting University career centers; seeking to get The Portfolium distributed to students and alumni searching for employment opportunities. With all of their work and experience neatly organized in a portfolio, they will be well-prepared and confident to connect with exciting job and internship opportunities. Jennifer Estes (IMBA ’13) successful completed a KickStarter fundraising competitor for her T-shirt line #SELFiE T, inspired by Facebook’s and Instagram’s newest #selfie craze. The shirt has a mirrored logo, indecipherable to other. When you see the #SELFiE in the mirror, you and everyone else can read it. Check out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/330057192/selfie-ts-find-your-selfie?ref=live Recently, “Renny! The Original Bluetooth Home Ringer” was featured in USA Today and The Fuser, headphones that increase your awareness of the natural sounds while listening to music, made its debut on the Home Shopping Network and in the New York Times. Both are products produced by Paul McCloskey III (MBA ’11) and his company Ölens Technology. Along with his THE PERFECT ARTICHOKE, a proprietary cooking time measuring scale, Paul celebrated all three products making it to the next round of Walmart’s annual “Get On The Shelf” Competition. Noelle Nguyen (PKE MBA ‘12) and her online shopping site American Love Affair raised $30,840 in a crowdfunding campaign to spotlight little-known American designers, all of whom manufacture their clothing in the USA at a remarkable value. American Love Affair is currently home to such brands as Cut Loose clothing, Terox footwear, and Rich & Skinny denim. Erik Forbes Paxman (MBA ’07) entered his startup PAX Designs into the Intuit Small Business Big Game Contest. Erik launched started PAX Designs, LLC in 2012 and in short time introduced its first product, University Nail Pax, a line of officially licensed nail wraps at www.shopunp.com. He offers a line of custom designed nail foils for collegiate fans to sport their school pride. Erik has licensed with 34 schools around the United States and he is continuously looking to add new institutions. Darren Popek (MSEN ’12), the Graziadio School’s very first Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program graduate) is launching his new business, Crafted Beverage Company (http://craftedbevco.com/). It offers ready-to-drink fruit juice and bar mixes made from preservative free, all-natural ingredients. Flavors include cherry ginger, lemongrass lemonade, mint elderflower, lychee pear and blackberry tart.
  3. 3. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 3l a u n c h m a g . c o HOW TO VALIDATE YOUR BUSINESS IDEA BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE alex larsEn Larsen Toy Lab Chris rovin WeSearch DIRK SAMPSELLE B Revolution Consulting ENTREPRENEURS Michael Bennett Muddy Shoe Adventures O. MICHAEL BRADSHAW iBiblestory.com Stefan hofmeyer Modalminds LAUNCH! LAUNCH! Magazine celebrates the cre- ativity, dedication to responsible busi- ness practice and entrepreneurial spirit of students and alumni at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. These principles are fundamental to its values-centered mission, which the school and its faculty have embraced and actively advanced for more than 40 years. PUBLISHED BY GRAZIADIO SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT DEAN: LINDA A. LIVINGSTONE, PH.D. ASSOCIATE DEAN: GARY MANGIOFICO, PH.D. ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM: Larry Cox, Ph.D. PUBLISHING EDITOR: Dianne King EDITOR: F. Douglass Gore III CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHY: Leroy Hamilton Shutterstock.com © 2013 PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY CONTENTS 15 6 8 12 4 FEATURES MASTERING DIGITAL INNOVATION 10 16 18
  4. 4. 4 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o How to Validate Your Business Idea Before It’s Too Late By YAEL GRAUER W ith rates of unemployed and underemployed graduates at an all-time high, many MBA grads are putting their skills to the test by attempting to start their own businesses, either full-time or on the side. But before diving into the deep end, validating a business idea can help you determine whether to pursue your solution for a common problem, or replace it with some- thing more viable, before you sink your life savings on launching your new business or startup. An easy and inexpensive way to get started is by providing a service; whether that’s graphic design, consulting/coaching, writing, or something else altogether. Before ramping up advertising and marketing, seek out those around you to see if they are interested. If your friends and acquaintances aren’t willing to pay for your services, it’s far less likely that a stranger will.
  5. 5. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 5l a u n c h m a g . c o FIND THAT FIRST CUSTOMER Instead of getting caught up in ask- ing people whether your idea is good, get started by finding that very first customer. “The first thing you should do is think about one person you can help today,” said Bridgett Hart, who worked in cor- porate America as an executive before branching out into a coaching business. To validate the idea, she reached out to women in her target market to deter- mine whether they had parts of their life with which they needed some extra guidance. “Then I presented them with the opportunity for an introductory coaching session regarding the areas that interested them.” The sales came in, and she’s now in the process of ramping up her business. BACK UP YOUR IDEA WITH MARKET RESEARCH While using word-of-mouth marketing to find people around you for a ser- vice-based business is an easy, effective and inexpensive way to start, building and developing a technical solution (such as an app) raises the stakes sig- nificantly. Spending a lot of time researching your target market is critical, and this goes beyond collecting survey responses and determining market value, says Brant Cooper, co-author of New York Times bestseller, The Lean Entrepreneur. “Validation is not seeking out market research that backs up your idea, or going out to find evidence in support of your theory. Rather, it’s trying to disprove it; trying to eliminate your experimental bias that we as human beings are endowed with,” says Cooper. Where many entrepreneurs go wrong, he says, is when they buy into the myth of the visionary, assuming that they must have so much conviction in an idea that they can simply skip over this nec- essary step. But spending a lot of time speaking with people in the industry you’d like to target can help you answer some pivotal questions; such as whether or not they even have the problems you think they have in the first place. The key is to spend a lot of time listening, observing behavior, and un- derstanding deeply what a day in the life is like for the people you’d like to introduce an idea to. “In the first interview, never mention your solution,” Cooper recommends, pointing out that many business owners take the wrong approach by developing a solution and then searching for some- one who has the problem. MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT MODEL “Don’t just tell people you have an idea and ask them what they think about it. [Avoiding that] frees you up to learn what pains they have and whether there’s something solvable there,” he says. Your next step would then be to run some experiments to see if people do what they think they do, and whether or not your solution would work for them, ideally by developing a minimum viable product. One widely publicized startup that skipped this step was Color Labs—a $41 million disaster. Despite the very high amount of venture capital funding and a great deal of media buzz, the mobile photo-sharing app received poor reviews in the media and bad ratings in the Apples iTunes store. The company folded at the end of 2012. LISTEN, LEARN, ADJUST In stark contrast are startups that have responded to customer feedback and shifted their models accordingly. Groupon is one such example. It started as ThePoint.com, a site that allowed users to start campaigns to organize donation drives or group activities, which would only take place if enough people signed up and the ‘tipping point’ was reached. Another example is Instagram, which started out as mobile app allowing users to check into locations, plan future check-ins and do a million other things, before focusing primarily on photographs. “For most of the successful companies we know, it’s not that they had this great idea and went out and executed on it. Almost all of them had to learn what the right thing was before they became successful. Almost all successful startups end up as some- thing different than what they started out as,” Cooper said. So the listening doesn’t end after launching a product or starting a ser- vice-based business. “Once you have one person that gives you money, that first customer, you can track what they need, by really listening and hearing what they want and what you can provide,” Hart says. This allows you to improve on a service or product and continue tweaking it, while making some money in the process. n
  6. 6. 6 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPRENEUR Michael Bennett Muddy Shoe Adventures By KATERI WOZNY Pepperdine Full-time MBA alumnus Michael Bennett (MBA ’06) has always been a travel enthusiast at heart. “My first trip was to Costa Rica at age 19. From there, I’ve b een t o Guat em al a, M exi c o, C h in a , Switzerland, Norway and even spent five months of my MBA program in Denmark. Every time I travel, I learn more about myself. It is an inspirational aspect in my life,” he says. Bennett turned his traveling passion into his own business this year by starting Muddy Shoe Adventures, a company whose tours combine travel, physical adventure, cultural interactions, nature, supportive group environments, facilitated group discussions and personal coaching that empower people to reconnect with themselves through self-exploration. “I was reading Deepak Chopra’s book ‘The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success’ and in it he asked: If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you do? I decided I wanted to do two things: travel and help other people reconnect with themselves through travel experiences,” he says. After graduating from the MBA program with a concentration in global business, Bennett worked at the Los Angeles Universal Preschool and then at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School for Dr. Gary Mangiofico for seven years doing corporate training and development. Along the way, he learned that it was the “soft skills” of business that made him want to help people and become an entrepreneur. “Team dynamics, organizational behavior and all of those aspects were more interesting than the hard skills
  7. 7. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 7l a u n c h m a g . c o “You may not walk away with perfect clarity, but our trips are a start of this process of reflection by helping you create the life that you truly want.” (i.e. marketing, financing). I discovered that I liked helping individual people grow professionally and personally,” Bennett says. With Muddy Shoe Adventures taking off this fall with four trips, Bennett is constantly attending seminars, we- binars and adventure travel events to help him identify the current travel trends. “It’s all about marketing and creating brand awareness,” he says. “The travel industry is also unique in the fact that most companies do not spend money on traditional advertising. We have had many of our referrals through word of mouth.” Muddy Shoe Adventure’s programs focus on four areas: • Who participants are as individuals (values,strengths, passions and purpose) • Where these people are right now in their lives • Creating a vision for where they want to be in the future • Developing a plan to reach these goals Bennett’s research suggests that 65 to 75 percent of Muddy Shoe Adventure’s clients will be women, likely in their late 30s to early 40s, who want to try adventure travel. He currently has a handful of customers who want to embark on a self-examination journey. “The programs force people to get out of their comfort zones, let their guard down and be who they are. They’re on a journey of physical and mental exploration,” he says. “You may not walk away with perfect clarity, but our trips are a start of this process of reflection by helping you create the life that you truly want.” On average, the tours cost $2,500 for a five-day program and $4,000 to $6,000 for an eight-day program. Once the trip is complete, customers have the option to stay in touch with Muddy Shoe Adventures. “Post-program, we hope participants will stay engaged with us on our Facebook page. We also have opportunities for clients to continue their journey of self-exploration with their program leader through follow-up coaching,” Bennett says. As for the future of Muddy Shoe Adventures, Bennett sees great growth. “We’re going to leverage strategic partnerships to help build awareness of our company. It’s critical to get our name out there as quickly and effectively as possible, and working with other adventure operators is the best way for us to do that,” he says. “We also plan on engaging corporate clients and working with individual travelers and their friends and families on customized programs. The possibilities are endless.” Bennett credits Pepperdine’s MBA courses for helping him become a successful entrepreneur. “The MBA classes at Pepperdine taught me how to play nicely with others, how to work in groups and self-management skills to control the wave of emotions that are an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial process,” he says. Bennett says for Pepperdine students wishing to become entrepreneurs, it’s best to figure out which direction to take at the beginning of the program. “If you don’t know, talk to someone in the career depart- ment or with one of the professors. Do your best to make sure all of your courses are geared towards building the business. The sooner you can figure out what you want to do, the sooner you can use that as an incubator for your company,” he says. n
  8. 8. 8 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPENEUR O. Michael Bradshaw iBiblestory.com By ALAN KRAWITZ S ome might call Orange County resident Michael Bradshaw’s business venture, iBiblestory.com, a wholesome collection of more than 200 Bible-themed stories and topics available as an app for Android and Apple iPhones, divine intervention. But, to Bradshaw, Master of Science in Technology Management ’93, the venture was something he put together in his spare time when not working on technol- ogy management projects for a variety of aerospace and defense industry contractors, including Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. “The initial idea for iBiblestory sprang from my interest in educating people on difficult subjects, such as math and science,” Bradshaw said, noting that the actual business started more than a decade ago. “I always had an interest in Bible stories,” he explained. “I talked to people in various user communities and they said there would be a need for such a product as iBiblestory.com.” Bradshaw, the sole proprietor of iBiblestory.com, explained that hismaster’s thesis was about general learning systems and had nothing to do with iBiblestory.com specifically. But, Bradshaw’s abiding interest in Christianity would eventually give way to an entrepreneurial idea. One day, while flying for business, he had an epiphany that his time in the air could be used more productively by learning about the Bible. So, Bradshaw set out to try and make it possible for people to learn about the Bible in just 40 hours, or in one week with the use of interac- tive apps as well as feature-length movies. “The idea really grew out of my own lack of time to learn enough about the Bible,” he said, noting that he found the prospect of employing free apps to be very intriguing. Raised in Chicago by parents of European and Afro-Caribbean heritage, Bradshaw said he was always involved in volunteer teaching of Christian education, multimedia music projects and worship services. He added that while he always had an interest in religion and prayer, it was “never his trade.” Further, Bradshaw explained that his family was instrumental in guiding him to the iBiblestory.com venture. “My main influence in religion was family-based,” he said. Among some of Bradshaw’s early challenges included the fact that at the time the site was launched around 2001, apps were not yet widely available as they are now through channels such as iTunes and Google Play. Bradshaw’s somewhat enviable position was that he was ahead of the technology curve. “I was basically waiting for mobile technology to advance to the point where we are now—with smartphones, iPads and other tablets—to allow iBiblestory’s free apps to be readily downloaded and used on-the-go,” he said. While Bradshaw explained that the site’s apps are free for download for both Android and iPhone systems, he added that the site’s movies are competitively priced. The apps are available through both iTunes and Google Play. Some of the site’s Bible-based stories include Journey to the Promised Land, Jonah the Whale and Seven Sayings. While unsure of exactly how many downloads the site has, Bradshaw estimates they are upwards of 10,000 at this point. Moreover, he said that growth of the mobile market and the Internet helped to reshape his business.
  9. 9. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 9l a u n c h m a g . c o Other challenges, Bradshaw said, included “developing the right relationships” and staying “faithful to your vision.” Asked about how Pepperdine helped with his entre- preneurial vision, Bradshaw said the school helped him answer some key questions. “Pepperdine was amazing for me because my initial in- terest at that time was finding out how managers make decisions that eventually flow down into the workforce,” he explained. He also said the school helped him form very “diverse relationships.” “Pepperdine entrepreneurs are highly focused and do have goodwill,” Bradshaw continued. When asked about advice for future and budding entrepreneurs, Bradshaw suggested being modest and learning from others’ successes. “Everyone has the ability to have great impact on the world,” he said, advising that entrepreneurs keep their egos in check and instead concentrate on how they can make positive impacts on the world. Bradshaw also gave some pointed advice. “Take some people you can study,” he advised. He also said that simply asking people about the personal goals that led to their success is very beneficial. “Potential entrepreneurs need to hear stories of success and see how people made their own paths in order to succeed.” n “I was basically waiting for mobile tech- nology to advance to the point where we are now—with smartphones, iPads and other tablets—to allow iBiblestory’s free apps to be readily downloaded and used on-the-go.”
  10. 10. 10 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPRENEUR Stefan Hofmeyer ModalMinds By ALAN KRAWITZ B y his own admission, Alameda, CA resident Stefan Hofmeyer (Executive MBA’12) already had the good life with a family he adored, a stable senior management job, a house in a good neighbor- hood, and a sailboat to spend weekends on in the San Francisco Bay. But, his decision to pursue an MBA at Pepperdine was not so much a function of his desire to fulfill the American dream, but rather to broaden his horizons and keep his career as well as his life moving forward. “To me, life is not so much about the person with the most toys wins but the person with the most experiences,” said Hofmeyer, who grew-up in Iowa and has always been involved in information technology and business process improvement. He added that he really wants to enjoy what he does for work and not just “slog away” day after day. So, when the opportunity to ramp up an entrepreneurial company such as ModalMinds presented itself in 2010, Hofmeyer, who has studied at both Stanford and Harvard business schools, jumped at the chance. “I had known my business partner, Adam Signaigo, for quite some time doing projects with him and also by connecting and staying connected through social media,” Hofmeyer said, explaining how he established himself as the company’s president and helped to re-launch it in 2011. Signaigo originally founded ModalMinds in 2007. ModalMinds provides temporary executive management, operations management, technology integration and strategic advisory services to a variety of companies. Hofmeyer says the company has an important focus on helping firms plan and complete Mergers and Acquisitions. “The challenge for us,” said Hofmeyer, “was determining how to define and then market our somewhat abstract services and find a niche.” Hofmeyer explained that what his company basically does is to go in and make sure various systems and processes, especially technology management systems, match-up and make sense for each company. In addition, they also make certain that companies aren’t duplicating vital services and processes from key account- ing practices to complex technical systems.
  11. 11. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 11l a u n c h m a g . c o When asked about how Pepperdine’s MBA program helped prepare him to launch into his work at ModalMinds, Hofmeyer had nothing but praise for the school and its professional approach to business education. “Pepperdine was a high-quality program targeted at executives,” said Hofmeyer, who definitely fits the executive bill with nearly 20 years of experience at companies such as Accenture, Wells Fargo Bank, and growth oriented consulting firms. Calling the school’s program “very high-end,” Hofmeyer described how the school would actually fly-in certain professors for various classes. “Pepperdine brought the professors to us,” he said, also recalling that class sizes were small, in the 10-25 student range and that there was “excellent engagement” with professors. Hofmeyer added that he still keeps in touch with many of his professors even now. Further, he also noted that learning to effectively use connections is a key part of the Pepperdine educational experience. “The network I developed and continue to use is extremely valuable,” he said. Hofmeyer also credits Pepperdine’s program with helping him realize what’s important. “I realized there is much more to life than what I was doing in my management consulting role,” he said. “The program teaches overall balance in community, with your family and overall well-being.” Asked about key challenges that ModalMinds has faced, Hofmeyer said that being able to continue to have long-term vision while not losing sight of day-to-day is most important. Hofmeyer’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs was basically a message of total commitment to your vision. “You can’t do this [be an entrepreneur] half-way,” he warned. “You must be ‘all-in,’ it would be really tough to work a day-job and start a company in your part-time.” He also advised new business start-ups to be aggressive about going after contracts and to not underestimate the time and effort it takes to get things done. “Maintain control of your time and achieve some type of balance between work and personal life. If you really love your work and related experiences, then your career is destined to be great.” n ENTREPRENEUR “To me, life is not so much about the person with the most toys wins, but the person with the most experiences.” Stefan Hofmeyer (center), President, ModalMinds and a graduate of EMBA86N, with Jonathan Bunce (Executive MBA ‘97), Principal, ModalMinds, M&A Services; and Adam Signaigo, Founder and Principal.
  12. 12. 12 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o Alex LarsenLarsen Toy Lab By KATERI WOZNY Siblings, co-founders Courtney and Alex
  13. 13. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 13l a u n c h m a g . c o Growing up, Alex Larsen loved to play with building blocks. “My dad always wanted to turn his lifetime hobby of carpentry into a business and he had all the tools necessary to create the blocks,” says Larsen (MBA ’11). “When I was a toddler, I loved stacking them as high as possible and watching them crash to the ground. When I got older I became interested in creating more intricate structures that were built to last for days or weeks.” With the seed being planted at a young age, Larsen launched Larsen Toy Lab in 2012. Based in Westport, Connecticut, the business aims to provide high-quality blocks and a fun, educational experience for children. The blocks, made out of maple and cherry wood from Pennsylva- nia and Vermont, come in 15 different shapes. The original idea was to have each set come with one of two different children’s books that are part of a series with recurring characters. The main character, Leif, a poor Viking boy, is able to overcome challenges in his life by tapping into his powerful imagination. Since then, Larsen has expanded the concept by creating a block-based game and puzzle. “Our mantra has always been to make better blocks and make better experiences. The blocks are better quality, hand-sanded and have natural finishes,” he says. “Blocks, building and creativity are central themes of the books and they aim to challenge kids to think about what they can create with their own blocks. I am the author of the books and my mom (an artist and art teacher) is the illustrator.” According to Larsen, few high quality American toys are on the market these days. “We hadn’t seen anything like it so we knew the opportu- nity was there. The name Larsen Toy Lab just felt right since there was such a strong connection to our personal skills and values,” he says. Larsen used Kickstarter during the 2012 holidays to help fund Larsen Toy Lab, with 150 people donating nearly $16,000. To date, Larsen has sold between 350 to 400 block sets. “The next step is definitely securing a bigger investment that will give us the space to grow,” he says. The biggest challenge Larsen has faced while building his business has been marketing and sales. “My background was focused on the product and design. I didn’t have experience in online marketing but I have been learning and making lead way,” he says. Larsen always wanted to start his own company but never had the confidence until he looked into the MBA program at Pepperdine. “I wanted an MBA because I wanted to learn how to start a business and be around people that were starting a business,” he says. With a concentration in entrepreneurship and a Certificate in Socially, Environmentally and Ethically Responsible (SEER) Business Strategy, Larsen credits Professors Michael Crooke and Larry Cox for having the biggest impact during his course work at Pepperdine. “Michael is a genius with the big picture and is living evidence that value-based leadership works. Larry’s classes were refreshingly creative and inspiring,” he says. Larsen loves being an entrepreneur because of the freedom to work in all areas of business. “I worked as a design engineer in new product development before business school and I never got to hear what the end users were saying about the products we designed. Having my hands in all areas of the business gives me a complete and non-distorted view of the company,” he says. In the future, Larsen wants to expand the business by add- ing a warehouse and introducing new concepts, such as a three-in-one block game set with a variety of shapes. He
  14. 14. 14 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o also wants to introduce a monthly subscription called Block Club. “We really want to expand on our basic idea with a subscription model of where to send monthly toy deliveries and add a few more blocks and games. The idea here being that kids are always excited to get stuff in the mail every month and now they will have a set of blocks that keeps growing,” he says. Larsen also wants to go beyond basic technology to get children interested in toys. “We want to have our toys in every single classroom in America and have kids become interested in them instead of competing with technology. Right now we have been using classrooms for market research purposes only. There should be a balance by bonding with natural and physical toys,” he says. Larsen also believes in giving back to the community and gives part of the profits to local children’s hospitals and Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization that empowers rural groups to restore tree cover to their lands. “The message to our customers is that for every set of blocks sold we will plant a tree through Trees for the Future and we encourage our customers to learn more about this phenomenal organization,” he says. Larsen says future MBA Pepperdine students should be constant learners and learn new tools while developing their business, such as Kickstarter, Adobe Creative Suite, Word- Press, social media, MailChimp, ShortStack and Google. “There are some incredible tools out that have gone a long way to level the playing field. I think most people would be surprised to learn how easy some of these are to learn,” he says. n Alex Larsen was honored by Natural Child World with its 2013 Eco-Excellence Award in the category of Eco-Toys.
  15. 15. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 15l a u n c h m a g . c o By SEAN CHAFFIN Pepperdine’s John Mooney Explains the New MBA Concnentration I n an increasingly complex technological world, Pepperdine University MBA students will soon have a new concentration to better prepare them for a digital world. The Graziadio School of Business and Management will be adding a concentration in Digital Innovation and Information Systems (DIIS) this fall that will be available to full-time and part-time MBA students. AN EMERGING FIELD Department chair John Mooney says the school’s market research identified a concentration in information systems to be among the top three opportunities for expanding the portfolio of concentrations offered in the MBA program (and also includes finance, business administration and accounting). Continued page 20 MASTERING digital innovation For entrepreneurs, about 50 percent of the ideas for new ventures emerging from Pepperdine students are online businesses and apps or involve product, service or process innovations that are substantially enabled by digital technologies.
  16. 16. 16 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPRENEUR Chris RovinWeSearch.org By LINDSAY LAVINE Chris Rovin has a full plate, but he’s not complaining. In addition to being a second-year MBA candidate, he’s the incoming president of the Malibu Graduate Business Society (MGBS), and the co-founder and executive director of WeSearch.org, a business he describes as the “Kickstarter for medical research.” After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in history in 2010, Rovin worked in a research lab. He soon noticed that the lab couldn’t compete for funding with larger labs and universities. Around the same time, a family friend was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. He wanted to donate to an organization that supported research for the disease, but was unable to find information online. In fact, he discovered that unless you had very specific knowledge about the disease, it was very hard to connect with labs that do that kind of research. “I realized there was an opportunity for these [smaller] labs to raise money from other groups,” Rovin says.
  17. 17. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 17l a u n c h m a g . c o The need to connect potential donors with labs doing research for specific diseases was obvious, he says, and there was a need for a new source of funding. The smaller labs are more agile and flexible than their larger counterparts, Rovin says, and therefore a crowdsourcing model could work well. When someone gets diagnosed with an incurable disease, patients, families, friends and supporters rally around the patient and are more likely to contribute or raise funds for the illness, Rovin says. (His friend’s cancer is in remission, and he now serves on the board of directors for WeSearch.org.) The idea behind WeSearch.org came in late 2010, and by the summer of 2011, the site was launched. So far, WeSearch. org has raised nearly $15,000 to fund research for various diseases. Rovin and his co-founder faced many challenges in the early days of their business. For starters, he had a bachelor’s in history and limited business experience. Rovin says he spent many hours online figuring out how to start a business, create a website and file the appropriate legal documents. He also asked friends and family members for help. In addition to the start-up challenges, Rovin notes there’s also a risk-taking component involved in a new venture. “It’s scary putting your time and effort into something that may not succeed,” he says. Pepperdine’s MBA program gave Rovin and WeSearch.org a strong business foundation on which to build. In fact, Rovin has already incorporated accounting and financial best practices into his business. He credits a strong network of classmates and professors that has been so willing to help by offering advice and support. Rovin looks forward to taking elective classes as a second-year student, when he’ll focus on entrepreneurial skills and strategies. These tools will help Rovin decide where to take the business next, as well as make any needed adjustments to the burgeoning business. Rovin recommends finding and connecting with a network of people on campus who are willing to offer advice or help. He also advises entrepreneurial-minded students not to be afraid of asking lots of questions of fellow students and professors. “You never know where a thought or question might lead you,” he says. n
  18. 18. 18 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o ENTREPRENEUR Dirk Sampselle B Revolution Consulting By ESHA CHHABRA Dirk Sampselle, just a few months out of grad school, is already a thriving entrepreneur. He’s not just running one company, but three.
  19. 19. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 19l a u n c h m a g . c o Founder of B Revolution Consulting, B Revolution Capital and ezBcorp, Sampselle (JD/MBA ’13) wants businesses to integrate the triple bottom line into their legal structure. He’s converting businesses from traditional S and C corpora- tions to benefit corporations and certified B Corporations. The difference, he says, is, “The B Corporation certification is the seal of approval that a company has survived a rigorous third-party social and environmental impact assessment, making them verifiably an ethical company that consumers, investors and employees can trust. The benefit corporation legal entity then locks those claims into place, making the business legally accountable to doing good as well as pursuing profit.” Already, many businesses have adopted the new legal structure and certification. Famous examples of B Corporations include Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. His passion for social enterprise started a decade ago when Sampselle abandoned his career as a commodity broker to start a 501(c)(3) that helped the homeless in Gainesville, Florida. Leveraging the undergraduate pool at his alma mater, the University of Florida, Sampselle created a student volunteer organization with over 300 members, Citizens for Social Justice, that ran a transitional housing and education- al rehabilitation program for homeless individuals. While the organization still exists, ultimately the challenges facing the homeless inspired Sampselle to attend law school at Pepperdine. “I wanted to attend a school that would help me leverage my skill set to change the world for the better and I’m grateful that my experiences at Pepperdine did exactly that,” Sampselle says. Sampselle is a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship, which he won in part because of his “service mentality” along with his top grades and LSAT scores. He spent his first summer during law school working at Public Counsel, the world’s largest public interest law firm, on issues facing homeless youths in Hollywood. “I absolutely loved it—and I gained an incredible mentor at Public Counsel because of my work there,” he says. He continued this work by becoming president of Advocates for Public Interest Law, a Pepperdine Law School student organization dedicated to helping law students explore public interest law volunteer opportunities. Sampselle was on his way to a career in impact litigation when Professor Janet Kerr, director of the Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and Law at Pepperdine, suggested that he look into B Lab as a way to blend his entrepreneurial instincts with his socially-conscious mindset. “It changed everything. From the moment I saw their homepage, I knew they were going to disrupt the way organizations like my former charity created change,” Sampselle says. B Lab is the organization that certifies B Corporations and advocates for the benefit corporation legal entity, and through a fellowship at the Palmer Center, Sampselle secured an internship at B Lab, where he authored their Benefit Corporation White Paper, the legislative memorandum that is used to advocate for the legal entity. After serving with B Lab, Sampselle knew it was time to build a support structure for the legal and certification work he had helped establish at B Lab. When he authored the white paper, the entity had only been passed in one state, and he knew that if more states were going to adopt it, those companies would need help navigating the certification and legal status. “Through B Lab, I found my new vocation, which is to advocate for integrating purpose and values into the way we do business, so that we prevent the problems charities solve before they happen. If we have more conscientious commercial exchange, the realm of charity and the realm of business start to blur, and we have just one mode of conscious, compassionate exchange,” Sampselle says. He launched B Revolution while in grad school, formulating the idea, developing the business plan and gathering funds while adding an MBA to his law degree coursework. The biggest challenge? “Effective time management quickly became much more necessary,” Sampselle jokes. While he argues that nothing can take the place of hands-on learning and going through the exhausting task of launching a company, an MBA helped him navigate the tasks ahead of him. “I learned the language, frameworks, and models – material that was very new for me since I hadn’t been a business major in undergrad and all of my business experience was in the real world,” he says. Today, Sampselle runs a conglomerate of companies that provide certification consulting to companies, low-cost legal services to startups, and access to mission-aligned capital for B Corporations and benefit corporations. As a member of the growing contingent of students and alumni who see the potential of becoming entrepreneurs, Sampselle advises that current students aspiring to start companies do what he did. “Don’t wait to start your company. Vet the idea, test your hypothesis, iterate, make it happen. There will never be a better time to start making your idea a reality. Life is too short to wait.” n
  20. 20. 20 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o “This conclusion aligned with the observations by our Information Systems and Technology Management faculty that the Graziadio School was very strongly positioned within the broader L.A.region to offer a comprehensive, rigorous and practice-oriented graduate curriculum to those seeking career opportunities at the interaction of business and digital technologies,” he says. Mooney is an associate professor of information systems, and technology management and has conducted considerable research in Information Technology and information management. Feedback from business has shown there is a need for business professionals and managers who can lead, manage and envision business-IT initiatives. “The extent of use of digital technol- ogies across most business processes and many products and services is giving rise to a critical need for professionals and managers who bring deep understanding of the opportu- nities for business innovation that are enabled by digital technologies and the sophisticated managerial competencies necessary for effective planning and implementation to execute these opportunities,” he says. “Such individuals will be best positioned for career success by acquiring a comprehensive mix of business, technology, and managerial knowledge and competencies.” As technologies merge and change, Mooney believes the emergence of social media, smart phones and other web-connected mobile devices, and the proliferation of apps are combining to create a much broader, powerful and more pervasive range of digital technologies. As the world enters a realm of “total digitization,” he says, the most exciting opportuni- ties for innovating products, services, processes, and social interactions are those enabled by digital technologies, and the largest portion of economic activity will occur within the “digital economy.” Digital innovation is a term used to describe the innovation of business strategy, business models, products, services and processes that are enabled by new and emerging technologies. The new concentration differs from the traditional study of Information Technology in that IT usually refers to technologies that capture, store and process data. DIIS will cover a larger scope along with the business aspects related to the digital economy. “There are a number of research stud- ies that point to the need for business professionals and managers who are competent and comfortable at the intersection of business and digital technologies,” Mooney says. With the new concentration, the Graziadio School is hoping to meet that need. SERVING THE STUDENT For students seeking a concentration in DIIS, the hope is this addition will offer a wide range of career opportunities for graduates. For part-time MBA students, the department anticipates business or IT professionals will be interested in the DIIS concentration to seek professional and managerial positions in areas that bridge business and IT. These include business/systems analysis, business intelligence/analytics, process/work- flow analysis and design, project management, supply chain manage- ment, and consulting and IT-based entrepreneurial ventures. For full-time MBA students, DIIS may be of interest to those with technolo- gy, business or related undergraduate degrees who wish to pursue professional and managerial career opportunities with a technological focus. These areas might include business analytics, project manage- ment, business process/workflow analysis and design, business innovation, supply-chain management, consulting and technol- ogy-based entrepreneurial ventures. MASTERING DIGITAL INNOVATION Continued
  21. 21. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 21l a u n c h m a g . c o “Feedback from our own alumni and industry connections has verified a critical need for business professionals and managers who possess the knowledge and competencies to envision, manage, and lead initiatives that span the realms of business, IT and innovation,” Mooney notes. “More broadly at a national level, there are critical shortages of business and management professionals with competencies and capabilities to lead the development of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) sectors, for which graduates of the DIIS concentration will be well-positioned to contribute.” All this is a definite plus for students. In the classroom (or digital classroom), students will be offered coursework ranging from business analytics and digital innovation to enterprise architecture and infrastructure management. Graduates will be uniquely qualified for a world in which every industry will be affected by digital technologies, Mooney says, including the greater Los Angeles area. “Some industries are being impacted more than others. Within the L.A. area, media and entertainment are being totally transformed by digital technologies,” he says. “Financial services and retail have already undergone significant transformations, but new emerging technolo- gies will continue to enable additional innovation opportunities. Healthcare is at the very early stages of its transformation. The continued emergence of internet-connected, mobile, smart monitoring devices will enable remarkable innovations in pro-active patient health management and incident prevention.” For entrepreneurs, about 50 percent of the ideas for new ventures emerging from Pepperdine students are online businesses and apps or involve product, service or process innovations that are substantially enabled by digital technologies. Mooney says Pepperdine is uniquely situated to offer DIIS because the school has one of the largest departments of tenured faculty in Southern California whose teaching, research and professional interests involve the courses included in the DIIS concentration. “We are actively involved in relevant applied research projects, business activities and professional organizations that inform our course design and teaching approaches,” he says. As part of the concentration, the professor is planning a study tour of Dublin, Ireland in December that will examine the globalization of the digital economy and includes visits to the Dublin headquarters of Accenture, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Microsoft. What has been the reaction to the new DIIS offerings so far? “Very positive,” Mooney says of the faculty response. “Student reaction has been very positive also, in particular the possibility for students to qualify for a double concentration in DIIS and another area such as marketing, entrepreneurship, leadership and organization change, or finance.” In a changing digital world, DIIS will prepare business professionals to become technological titans. n
  22. 22. 22 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o American Love Affair Noelle Nguyen, PKE MBA ’12 AnaTango Michael S. Saddik, PKE MBA ‘08 Anedot Paul Dietzel, MBA/MPP ’11 B Revolution Dirk Sampselle, JD/MBA ‘13 Aquatics Now Nicholas Stankevich, mba ‘13 Artful Gentleman Nathan Johnson, MBA ‘10 and Jake Wall, MBA ‘08 Bea Liz (Liz B. Latif) Bardelas, MBA ‘12 Beach House Winery Kimberly A. Murray, MBA ‘07 Behind the Brand Bryan Elliott, MBA ‘99 Beyond the Olive Crystal and Chip Reibel, MBA ‘09 BIOethics Petfood Susan Hua (MBA ’10) Bizible Aaron Bird, MBA Blindbid Michael O’Hare, MBA ‘09 BlogcastFM.com Srinivas Rao, MBA 09 BodaBid.com Margan Patee, MBA ‘10 Business Simply Put Lori Williams, MBA ‘05 Candlessentials Tashah Johnson, MBA ’11 Capchure LLC Aaron Moskowitz, MBA ‘07 CE Made Simple LLC Matthew S. Lemert, MBA ‘12 CFS Acceptance Armin Rafiee, MBA ’10 Circuit One Jon Hoenig, MBA ’10 CrowdBrewed.com Travis Benoit, JD/MBA ‘10 EndPlay Christos M. Cotsakos, MBA ‘83 DeJant Group Corp. Omid Semino, MBA Derivatas Dat Do, MBA ’11 and Geoffroy Dubuisson, MBA ’11 DermaShoppe Jimmy Nguyen, MBA ‘09 and Patrick Leroy, MBA ‘09 Destino Vero Designs and Apparel LLC Derek Skorupski, MBA ‘10 DevDugal.com Dev Dugal, MBA ‘04 Docstoc.com Jason Nazar, M.B.A ’05, J.D. ‘06 Duxter Adam Lieb, JD/MBA ‘12 FCearth www.fcearth.com Jeff Rozic, MBA ‘06 Geek Contraband Sarah Scherff, MBA ’10 GenZum Life Sciences Chris Achar, MBA ’11 GetMeThereNow Max Kipnis, MBA ‘12 Giftioni David Price, MBA ’11 Global4PL Sergio Retamal, MS ‘04 Global Wave Zubin P. Mehta, MBA ‘06 iBibleStory/MaxMedia O. Mike Bradshaw, MSTM ‘93 Incompli, Inc. Jason Locklin, BSM/MBA ‘12 identifiDesign Nick Norris, MBA ‘09 Jobonomics.com Sameer Gupta, MBA ‘09 JockTalk Brendon Kensel, MBA ‘00 Jungo LLC Michael Cheshire, MBA ‘11 Kameelperd Jon Hoenig, MBA ’10 Kensel & Co Brendon Kensel, MBA ‘00 Krav Maga Worldwide Matt Romond, MBA ‘12 Larsen Toy Lab Alex Larsen, MBA ‘11 Layla Darlene Kiloglu, MBA ‘11 LearnItByEar.com Brett Fisher, MBA ‘11 and Stephen Yeoh, MBA ‘11 Linked Orange County Bryan Elliott, MBA ‘99 Locaxion Pratish Shah, EMBA ‘10 ENTREPRENEUR NATION Elizabeth Schmidt (MBA ’96) has developed an idea that is similar to Groupon, but provides small independent businesses control over their marketing and advertising It is not top heavy and runs itself over the Internet. She is completing its development, but is offering this project to individuals in the Pepperdine Entrepreneur Nation. If you are interested in this concept and want to learn more about what Elizabeth has already accomplished, contact her at lizschmidt007@gmail.com. Student Steven Lee presented his concept Tiger Bowls for converting the traditional Korean BBQ restaurant into a fast food restaurant to the panel in his ENTR 667 class. To his surprised he earned a term sheet from one of the panelists the next day. RHODES SCHOLARS INTERSECTION OF FAMILY AND BUSINESS Master of Science in Organization Development faculty member Kent Rhodes at Pepperdine University recently released a new book, with consultant David Lansky, “Managing Conflict in the Family Business: Understanding Challenges at the Intersection of Family and Business” (Palgrave Macmillan). The authors identify family business conflict archetypes (patterns), frames, roles, and tactics with a view toward educating readers about the common conflict cycles that families running a business can encounter. They address twelve conflicts that are common in family-owned businesses, how families can spot them, and then plan for their successful and effective management in ways that simultaneously uphold the family and the business.
  23. 23. FALL 2013 | ISSUE NO. 8 | LAUNCH! MAGAZINE | 23l a u n c h m a g . c o Lolay, Inc. Bardia Dejban, MBA ‘10 LSR Lifestyle Jordan Rockwell, MBA ‘10 Maine Forest Yurts David Crowley, MBA ’12 Markex Global Kasra Ferasat, MBA ‘10 MindFire Inc. David Rosendahl, BSM, ’05 ModalMinds Stefan Hofmeyer, EMBA ‘12 Muddy Shoe Adventures Michael Bennett, MBA ’06 and Sam Blake, MBA ’08 Neo Pro Guard Andrew Lowenstein, MBA ’12 Ölens Technology Paul McCloskey, MBA ‘15 Personal Care Physicians Troy Medley, MBA ‘03 Pet Time Steve Swift, MBA ‘13 and Kathy Regan, MBA ‘12 Pixtant Lee Rankinen, MBA ‘10 and Justin Malik, MBA ‘10 Political Matchmakers, LLC Alexander Fondrier, MPP/ MBA ‘14 PrivateEquityFirms.com Sam Nelson, MBA ‘05 Quantumsphere Kevin Maloney, MBA ‘02 SG Biofuels, Inc. www.sgbiofuel.com Kirk Haney, MBA ‘95 Shadys Jaime E. Parker, MBA ’99 Shark Bite Scuba Kimberly Isaac, MBA ‘10 SkoolofLife.com Srinivas Rao, MBA 09 Smile Brands Inc. Steve Bilt, PKE MBA ’01 Sohve Nick Mitchell, EMBA ‘07 Stag Labs Frankie Warren, MBA ‘10 Superhero Enterprises Davien L. Watkins, BSM ‘08 SwitchStream, LLC Kyle C. Murphy, MBA ‘05 The Portfolium Neal Bloom, MBA ‘18 TrustyMax www.go2socket.com Tim Kim, MBA ‘10 Urban Oyster David Naczycz, MSOD ‘07 Vedanic Varun Khanna, MBA ’12 Webventurous.com Dhaval Doshi, MBA ‘09 we-search.org Chris Rovin, MBA ‘14 ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEURSHIP REMEDY FOR ECONOMIC ILLS According to the recently released Global Entrepreneurship Snapshot, a report compile by Spark Global Business in the U.K., nearly every area of the United States is investing resources in promoting entrepreneurship. Professor Kyle C. Murphy, a serial entrepreneur and lecturer of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at Pepperdine, is quoted saying that, “enterprise innovation hubs like Silicon Valley have long been the envy of other regions, and while some larger U.S. cities such as New York, Boston, Austin, and Los Angeles as well as smaller cities like New Orleans and Pittsburg have burgeoning startup ecosystems, other cities like Atlanta and Dallas are far behind.” Murphy feels that, unfortunately, too many communities are trying to create an innovation hub by throwing everything in the garden and hoping something blossoms. http://bschool.pepperdine.edu/newsroom/wp-content/up- loads/2013/07/Spark-Entrepreneurship-Snapshot-2013.pdf NEXT ISSUE: INVENTING NEW PRODUCTS ANDREW LOWENSTEin, mba ‘12 Co-founder, Neo Pro Guard
  24. 24. 24 |LAUNCH! MAGAZINE| ISSUE NO. 8 | FALL 2013 l a u n c h m a g . c o 6100 Center Drvie | Suite 300 | Los Angeles, CA 90045 © PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY. All Rights Reserved. GSBM.DG.100113 bschool.pepperdine.edu We prepare students to launch and sustain a successful venture or become an innovative leader in a corporate setting. MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION with a concentration in Entrepreneurship MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP CERTIFICATE IN SOCIALLY ENVIRONMENTALLY AND ETHICALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS STRATEGY

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