21 Sep 2018
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HBS Association of Southern California Boosts Support for Startups

by Margie Kelley

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Clubs News

Clubs News

In an effort to bolster entrepreneurial activity and increase participation in the HBS New Venture Competition (NVC) among alumni in the region, the HBS Association of Southern California has launched a series of workshops to help new startups refine their pitches, connect with mentors and identify potential investors.

The Entrepreneurial Series: Idea and Pitch workshops kicked off on September 13, with three alumni-led companies in various stages pitching before four fellow alumni mentors. The workshop was hosted by Christina Mendez (MBA 2015), at the offices of Bliss Point Media in Santa Monica.

“It was a fantastic dynamic,” says Alexa McCulloch (MBA 1999), the workshop organizer and president of the club. “We assured each presenter that this was a confidential opportunity to open up and ask questions, and everyone did. It was an incredibly thoughtful and productive workshop.”

Creighton Taylor (MBA 2014) pitched his pilot-stage company, Compass, to get guidance on investors, while Noemie Delfassy (MBA 2010) was there to refine her pitch to investors for her food company, Frecious. Sam Stewart (MBA 2015) presented the early stages of her idea for a company in the service sector.

A primary goal of the workshop series, according to McCulloch, is to boost the southwest region’s NVC participation.

“We’re doing these workshops to encourage our local alumni entrepreneurs. We want them to know we’re all in this together to help our HBS community to succeed,” says McCulloch.

That effort, says McCulloch, extends to alumni mentors as well. Some, like Joseph Grimes (MBA 1988), are new to the entrepreneurial space, but are able to provide significant feedback just the same.

"I greatly enjoyed the session, the people, and the purpose,” says Grimes, who was able to challenge the presenters with his corporate perspective as vice president at Fannie Mae.

The second Idea and Pitch Workshop is already scheduled for September 27 and another is in the works for October. McCulloch says alumni entrepreneurs can return as often as needed while refining their concepts and pitches, until the next round of NVC starts.

“That’s when we’ll be right there to help them apply,” she says. “HBS puts a lot of focus and energy into supporting the entrepreneurial spirit. We want to keep that momentum going.”

Note from McCulloch: If you are an HBS alum and would like to be selected for one of the five pitches, please email amcculloch@mba1999.hbs.edu with a quick summary of your idea, industry, amount raised (if any) and anything else you would like us to know. Please note: priority will be given to ideas/companies who have raised between $0 - $500K, with revenue less than $1 million.

HBS Club of Charlotte/ Monthly Networking Lunches

Sometimes doing nothing together is the best way to get to know each other.

That’s what the HBS Club of Charlotte has discovered with its monthly Networking Lunches.

“There’s no programming, no agenda. It’s just a chance to hang out, meet other HBS alumni and have a nice lunch,” says Chris Kete (MBA 2001), who organizes and hosts the lunches in different locations across greater Charlotte each month. “We can just chill.”

That “chill” factor, says Kete, is what seems to make the lunches so effective for the Charlotte alumni club. It allows attendees to have good conversations and really get to know each other, he says. “It’s just a low-pressure way to connect.”

That connection helps, especially when there are close to 600 HBS alumni in and around Charlotte, and many, like Kete, are recent transplants from other places. Kete moved to Charlotte from Cleveland three years ago to take the post of president at Nascent Technology.

Another benefit of the lunches, he says, is the opportunity for alumni to see and explore parts of Charlotte they might not typically visit. “And we try to move around to draw in alumni who can’t easily fit in a trek across town for lunch.”

On the days when only a few alumni can make it, Kete says the conversations are that much richer. “That’s when you really get to know folks.”

Lunches are set for the second Friday of every month, and the remaining 2018-2019 schedule can be found here.

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2015, Section I
Class of MBA 1999, Section B
follow @AlexaMcCulloch
Class of MBA 2014, Section A
follow @CreighTay
Class of MBA 2010, Section A
follow @noedelfa
Class of MBA 2015, Section D
Class of MBA 1988, Section B
Class of MBA 2001, Section J

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