Softway CEO Meets With Rice MBA Candidates
Last month Rice University so graciously invited me to participate as a mentor in an MBA workshop class held the evening of April 2 covering Social Entrepreneurship in the Digital Sector.
I would like to take the time to reflect on what I learned from such an eye-opening experience by sharing with you some of the fulfillment and inspiration I took away in just one evening of interacting with these extremely smart, up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
The workshop was set up with the class separated into five groups, with a mentor assigned to each group. One of the mentors wasn’t able to attend so not only did I have the honor of being invited to mentor one group but I was asked to mentor a second group as well.
The purpose of this MBA class was to have each group come up with a real-world social entrepreneur business concept and construct a business plan. At the end of the semester, each group is to present their concepts to a panel of judges and investors.
My role in this was to mentor the two groups and help them strategize how to take their business concept from theory to real-world practicality. I was to use my expertise as a successful entrepreneur and my breadth of knowledge in the digital sector to help the groups bridge the gap between the classroom and the business world. I helped them to think of scenarios that may and probably will come up and ways to successfully solve them.
Because these are social entrepreneurs that don’t have endless marketing budgets, I also helped them to expound on their marketing strategies and include digital tactics. I was really there to help them think beyond grassroots marketing and consider the many different ways the internet can be effectively used as a marketing tool.
Both of the groups I mentored had great business concepts and I was able to offer them ways to really complete their whole strategy. The caliber of their business concepts were very much indicative of Rice’s exceptional business education (and this is coming from a U of H Cougar). I was able to converse and challenge some of the brightest up-coming social entrepreneurs to delve deeper into the digital sector and be able to anticipate where their concepts could potentially stumble from a logistical standpoint.
As the evening went on, the dialog of Q&A between the students and myself gave me a feeling of satisfaction I have never experienced before. For the first time, I was able to realize just how irreplaceable real-life experience can be. The skill set and knowledge I have been able to acquire through the past ten years of enduring the trials from sustaining a business within the digital sector has placed myself and Softway in a particularly advantageous position. As I consulted these MBAs, I found myself thinking back to how we consult our clients at Softway in a similar manner. The discussions encouraged me that there is not only a bright future for social entrepreneurship, but a real opportunity and value for the expertise and services we have compiled here at Softway.
While I often times hear entrepreneurs being compared to the’ sky-divers’ of the business community: brave, bold and willing to risk it all. Even the most fearless of business minds sometimes wonder if what they are doing is truly the most valuable direction to be taking their companies. After spending the day at Rice, I am comforted to know there is great potential and opportunity to be had with the up-coming business class and Softway teaming up.
It was truly inspiring to see such fervor and ambition from each of these students. The receptivity and attentiveness for each student made me feel respected and as a valued expert within my field. And I have no doubt, as each of these students begin to gain real-life experience with their own entrepreneurial ventures, we will find some of them on the cover of Forbes and Fast Company.
Finally I would like to thank Professor Reid Whitaker, Founder and Director, STEMscopes –Rice University and Andrew Ginakis, Managing Director of STEMscopes – Rice University for extending the invitation for me to partake in this workshop. STEMscopes is an education initiative funded by Rice, for which Softway has been creating 2D/3D animations for the past few months. I am truly grateful to have such wonderful clients and am honored to have been in attendance for this workshop.