April 27, 2009

Entrepreneurship in Recession

The alarm rang at 6:58 AM on April 1st, ’09 and I quickly woke up to boot my laptop. I was trying to register for the courses offered in Fall 2009. The class for “Starting New Ventures“ got filled in less than 5 minutes. Peter Russo, who teaches this class, is an Executive-in-Residence who teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Boston University School of Management. He is the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs for the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization (ITEC).

The Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) provides a platform for entrepreneurship education and training to the students of Boston University. The annual ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition provides BU students and recent alumni with the opportunity to develop their business idea into a successful business plan. So young entrepreneurs receive mentoring and advice from start up veterans, as well as the opportunity to expand their network and connect with potential sources of funding. This helps the teams to connect with Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

The 2009 Finalists of the Business Plan Competition were the following teams: BikeNow, Novophage, Click Chemicals, and AirGO. BikeNow is a bike-sharing program which can be thought as a bicycle version of Zipcar. The students from SMG have a vision to change the way we commute in Boston. Their proposed company, BikeNow, would offer bikes (with helmets) that could be rented with a swipe card, then returned to any of 100 or more drop-off stations.

Novophage is a company that will market genetically engineered bacteriophage therapy for clinical care. Doctors have used bacteriophages since the early 20th century, but their use declined after the introduction of powerful antibiotics. Now Novophage has genetically modified a bacteriophage so that it zeroes in on a bacteria’s natural DNA repair mechanism, increasing the killing power of antibiotics and hindering the development of superbugs. The Novophage team won the 2009 ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition.

The US Government needs to understand that jobs will not be created by giving billions of dollars to General Motors or AIG but by funding entrepreneurship incubators like ITEC. Many great companies have started during recessions and this seems to be a great time to bring in some disruptive technologies to the market.
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April 14, 2009

Renting an Apartment in Boston

Finding housing in Boston can be tough especially if you are moving from a different state. When I began looking for housing last summer I had no idea what the market was like, how brokers operated, and what questions I should ask, so for those of you who will be moving to Boston from another part of the country here is a list of tips I've learned over the last year. Some of it may be obvious already, but here it is:

-Almost all leases start Septmeber 1st and run for a year. However, you can negotiate with your landloard to have someone else take over the apartment in May or June when the school year runs out. This may be important if you have an internship or job in another area. Subletting does happen but in my experience landloards are getting tougher about it.

-If you are a full time single student you will probably need a cosigner. Yes, it seemed weird to me too since I have rented apartments for the last six years without one, but Boston is different.

-Getting an apartment without paying a brokers fee in September is tough but it can be done. Check craig's list under the "no fee" section, but be carefull a lot of sneaky brokers put apartments in there that are "half" fee.

-It is helpful to ask who the other tenants are the in building, (i.e. undergraduate students, grad students, young professions etc).

-Check out the property management company online, there are reviews on yelp that can be helpful. My management company was good for the first few months and then they started to get really shaddy. I looked them up on yelp and saw that other people have had similar issues with them.

-Finally, this BU medical campus office can be helpful. Their website gives good descriptions of different areas and neighborhoods and what you can expect to pay.

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April 10, 2009

Networking at SAKS Fifth Avenue

[Post by Julien Lee, MBA Class of 2009]

One of the two major events that the Women's MBA Association hosts each year is the Alumni Networking Night in the spring semester. (The other event is the fall EMPOWER conference that brings women business leaders from different industries to campus to share advice and insights with participants.) This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to host this event at SAKS Fifth Avenue in the Boston Prudential Center.

The night was a huge success! We had over 60 attendees with about 40% alumni who graduated as recently as two years ago to alumni that graduated in the 1980s! It is wonderful to see that conversations and connections were occurring as freely as the champagne was flowing! Many of the women also got to do some shopping as all participants were given a 15% shopping discount at SAKS that night. The food was definitely a highlight as most people couldn't stop talking about the prosciutto wrapped asparagus, california rolls and chocolate dipped strawberries!

My time as President of the Women's MBA Association is quickly coming to a close and I will need to hand over the reins to my successor. The transition will be bittersweet as I will miss the opportunities this position has made available to me, but I will be glad to have one less thing on my list of responsibilities. As an alumnus, I will be sure to keep my eyes open for any WMBA invitations and will look forward to attending next year's alumni networking night!

Until next time,

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