Jenny Palm

Oregon Grads Attend and Compete at the Willamette Angel Conference

As I have said in previous posts, Oregon has a lot of money to spend on venture investments and Thursday held one of those amazing opportunities.  The Willamette Angel Conference is one of multiple angel investor conferences held in Oregon annually.  It attracts companies from all over Oregon, Washington, and California.  Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to be a due diligence intern for the investors.  I was able to experience looking at prospective companies through the eyes of the investors.  It was wonderful to compare what I thought was important to what they thought was important.  Seeing life from the other side of the table was great insight should I ever be in the pitching position someday.  This year, finance turned entrepreneurship second year MBA Tommy Thwing and Warsaw turned finance second year Andrew Green were given the opportunity for due diligence.  They have been working all term to help the angels effectively vet the prospective companies for their investment.

With that, multiple students made the venture to the land of orange and black to watch our friends and alumni present their ideas on the OSU campus.  Below is the summary of the Oregon companies representing:

  • Red Duck Foods: Pitched for growth stage investment (made it to the final five out of 32 applied companies). Red Duck was founded by Jess Hilbert (JD/MBA 2013), Karen Bonner (MBA 2013), and Shannon Oliver (MBA 2013) in 2013.   Red Duck is a food company that began by making ketchup tasty again by maintaining the highest quality of organic ingredients and creative flavors.  They have since expanded into organic cocktail sauce.20150514_112857
  • Cricket Flours: Pitched for concept stage.  Cricket Flours was founded in 2014 by Charles Wilson (JD 2015) and Omar Ellis (MBA 2015).  They are revolutionizing the sustainable nutrition market by introducing milled crickets to our diets.20150514_133453
  • Manage My Co-op: Pitched for concept stage. MMC was founded in 2014 by Nathan Gustafson (BS, Business/Entrepreneurship 2006) and Kimmy Gustafson (BS, Journalism, 2005).  MMC is an online platform and marketplace for buying clubs.  It saves time, money, and effort for coordinators by simplifying the group buying process.20150514_135813

All in all, there was a fun day full of great ideas and inspiration seeing all the hard work and dedication these individuals have shown to make their dreams of changing the world a reality.  The keynote speaker, David Rose, founded Gust and spoke about a mile a second.  While I was in slight shell shock after hearing him (my brain was not running as fast as his mouth), he had some great insights into who can be an entrepreneur.  All entrepreneurs are a little crazy but it is that crazy which makes new things happen.

And now for the information you have read this whole post to learn:  The growth stage winner was Moonshadow Mobile and was awarded at least $400,000 of angel equity investment as well as a complimentary update to the Keiretsu Forum, worth $5000.  There is also the potential of sidecar deals with other pitching companies–details are yet to be worked out.  The concept stage winner was Cricket Flours and was awarded $2500 from Palo Alto Software. There was also a people’s choice winner, Red Duck Foods.  While they did not win any money, they get the bragging rights. The concept stage and people’s choice winners were selected by audience vote which made this a very interactive environment.

Oregon is a very entrepreneurial state.  We have established multiple partnerships to help all ideas grow into profitable business through small investments and large amounts of mentoring.  We want to see the success rate of new companies increase from 1% to the sky is the limit.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Winning the Day @ Global Venture Labs in Austin, TX

The following was announced and written by Nathan Lillegard, Center Director for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship on May 9, 2015:

I am pleased to share news about a successful campaign by our students from the Oregon MBA and Oregon Law School at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly MOOT Corp) this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the first time ever the University of Oregon placed 2 teams in the semifinal round. To put that in perspective, there were 33 teams that started the competition on Thursday, with 10 advancing to the semis. That’s 20% of the top 30% representing the UO – not bad! This is the best showing for our program at this competition in many years. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.

Our teams:

Airfit – Second year MBAs Cynthia Sandall and Ty Manegold have brought a concept to life. The idea, fitness facilities in airports behind TSA, is simple. The execution of the concept and the actual market launch of the concept is quite complicated. I applaud their tenacity of research and the way they’ve leveraged every possible LCB class project to gather amazing customer research and build a great plan. You will see the first location in SFO within a year and JFK shortly thereafter. They’ve made this real and are launching. Bravo!

Cricket Flours – Charles Wilson (2015 JD) and Omar Ellis (2015 MBA), with help early on from Paul Butler (JD/MBA) successfully pitched their cricket based protein powder business to the judges in a way that focused on their deep understanding of customers, the business model, and their markets while far overcoming anyone’s “You want me to eat what?” objections. Their best customer validation? How about a half dozen or so orders from judges and other competitors over the past 2 days? They have a rapidly growing business that will be a great success story.

I thank the many staff and faculty members who have helped our teams develop into poised and confident entrepreneurs. Specifically, I want to thank Allan Cochrane, my co-instructor for MGMT 625 and the Venture Startup courses. Al has logged many miles and hours helping prepare ‘investor ready’ teams. Additional thanks goes to Michael Crooke and John Hull who have given these teams countless tips and spent a good deal of time coaching them individually and as teams. I should also recognize the contributions of Randy Swangard, who was in attendance as the head of the GVLIC rules committee and without whom the program to do all of this wouldn’t exist. Every faculty member who has taught any class to these fine students should give themselves a pat on the back, as the overall education of our students is outstanding and it shows when we’re up against some of the brightest minds in the world and come out successful.

Although their journey ended in the semi-finals (the competition is tough and only 4 of 10 teams advanced) I am 100% confident that we’ll soon have two more inspiring stories of Oregon MBA led student startups. Success at these competitions shows the depth of research they’ve done and their commitment to making their ideas real. At the end of the day, that’s why we (faculty and staff) do what we do – to inspire students to be the best they can be and reach higher than they might think they can. That is Winning the Day, that is what we do.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

UO Dominates Pitch Stream

The first Saturday in May was a busy day! Not only was it the Kentucky Derby but it was also the Spring Scrimmage game for our football team (Oregon won). However, the most important event was the second annual Pitch Stream hosted by the Fertilab Thinkubator, a local resource network for the Eugene entrepreneurial community. Pitch Stream was held at the Wildish Theater in Springfield and awarded over $5000 in cash and prizes for the winners. 16 companies were selected to present a 7 minute pitch (3 minutes for Q & A) about the awesomeness of their value propositions. Kimmy Gustafson, last year’s winner, Fertilab community manager, and start up CEO, kept the event running smoothly and on time.  Not a small task for entrepreneurs.  Kimmy and her husband Nathan (both UO alms) started Manage My Co-Op, a software platform to ease the coordination of orders for buying clubs.  We were lucky enough to have our two MBA Venture Track teams complete: Cricket Flours and AirFit. I am not sure if it was the luck of the draw or a deliberate arrangement, but Charles B. Wilson started the contest off with a fantastic presentation promoting the health benefits of adding milled crickets to your diet and Cynthia Sandall ended the competition by introducing gyms in airports post security to increase your healthy options during layovers.  Capitalizing on primacy and recency effects, Cynthia took home the People’s Choice award and Charles Wilson took home the grand prize of $2500 in cash. Way to represent Oregon Entrepreneurship, teams!!

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Oregon is quite an outdoorsy and health conscious state. But, who says that work and travel need to get in the way of that?  Oregon MBAs and JDs see the potential for everyone to live healthy lives amongst the ever increasing busyness of our daily schedules.  Having the opportunity to exercise over layovers will disrupt the traditional use of time at major airports and help you not miss your daily workout.  And, using crickets as a source of protein in your everyday diet is not only more environmentally sustainable than traditional sources, but provides the opportunity for people to increase the protein and nutrient density in everyday foods.  (Don’t worry, the crickets are milled so fine you can’t even tell they are there.  Once you try it you will get over any ick factor you may have.  Trust me!)

The Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Oregon produces companies in all shapes and sizes. With help from the community, I know these teams will make it far! What is up next for these amazing ventures is the University of Texas at Austin Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held May 7-9, 2015.  Cricket Flours and AirFit will go up against the best graduate venture teams in the country. However, the academic framework, extensive faculty support of Nathan Lillegard and Al Cochrane, and individual drive will no doubt give our teams a fighting chance. If you are in Austin, swing on by the competition and introduce yourself. Who knows, you may be the next great Oregon Entrepreneur!

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

MBAs and the First WSBC Action Sports Summit

The First Annual Warsaw Sports Business Club Action Sports Summit took place on Friday, March 6, 2015 up at Mt. Hood Meadows. The undergraduate club assisted by faculty member Whitney Wagoner decided that the idea of sports marketing is expanding far beyond the traditional team and ball sports, which has been the main focus. The club organized an event-filled day which included a keynote speaker, Adam Cozens of The Enthusiast Network to discuss the state of the space, a panel discussion, and an interactive team challenge where groups of students paired with a panel member to tackle a real problem he/she is facing. Finally, the day ended with play time. What is having an action sports summit without participating in some action sports? Students could choose from getting a lift ticket, snowshoeing or yoga. Overall, this inaugural event was very successful and I hope it continues for many years to come.

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The bus left at 5 AM and was primarily filled with undergraduate students, but 5 brave MBA students ventured forth to participate in the first Action Sports Summit. Four were from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and there was one lone Entrepreneurship student. But that is okay, since this is right up my alley with my passion for the outdoor industry. Whitney and the WSBC did a great job organizing this event with the panelist representing DaKine, Mahfia.tv, Evo and Mt. Hood Meadows. All brought a different perspective and presented new sets of challenges facing this industry. I found the speaker from Mahfia, Kim Woozy, particularly engaging. She is not only a woman entrepreneur (male dominated field) but also does women action sports (which is often overshadowed by the men). Its hashtag and overarching theme is “killinitsoftly,” which as Kim put it “embodies the female persona. It is usually the woman who stands the side but gets stuff done and makes it happen and pushes the norm without standing up to take the attention.”

My biggest take aways from this experience are 1) this industry is quite sexy and cool, but you still have to work your butt off to prove yourself in whatever role you choose to do; 2) passion and expertise are key. If you lack passion you won’t get very far. If you lack expertise, be willing to learn and take the initiative to get that expertise. Be knowledgeable enough to have an intelligent conversation with someone smarter than you! 3) Embrace who you are and always be authentic. Authenticity is key to any successful brand and that includes the individual. While the snow was a little depressing (everyone do your snow dance now!) the environment and discussions were absolutely amazing and I am glad I survived the hairpin turns on the back roads avoiding the accident on 36 to make it up there.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Start-up Financing 101: Cash is King and Always Extend Your Runway

With Valentine’s Day coming up I felt I would try to spread the love and passion of business a little. The idea of starting your own business is such a romantic notion. Snuffing the system, being your own boss, working your behind off for what you’re passionate about, and creating something amazing and (hopefully) disruptive enough to make the world a better place! But then reality comes crashing down when you realize that in order to accomplish this you need money. Potentially a lot of money. Not many of us have the luxury of having a wealthy (and highly understanding) partner who can support us during our entrepreneurial endeavor or a nest egg that is able to be invested (or risked depending on your perspective). As much as I hate to admit it: Money makes the world go ‘round and it is even more imperative for start-ups.

As someone who would love to work for a start-up (or small yet rapidly growing company) and who is immersed in this world as an entrepreneurship MBA (trust me: it’s not an oxymoron) thinking about financing for such ventures is daunting. Luckily, I’m in Oregon which provides multiple opportunities to fight the ever shrinking runway of start-up finance. We have an extensive network of traditional funding paths. Oregon hosts many angel investment opportunities including the Bend Venture Conference, the Oregon Angel Fund, Angel Oregon, and the Willamette Angel Conference. We also have opportunities for seed stage investments with the Portland Seed Fund and the newly established UO Foundation Seed Fund. But there is a rapidly growing form of funding taking root and thriving in the Pacific Northwest!

Crowdfunding: the wave of...now?

According to a study done by the Crowd Data Center, Oregon ranked 4th in the best states for crowdfunding. Portland ranked 3rd for the top city while Seattle ranked 7th and San Francisco ranked 1st! I know San Francisco isn’t technically in the Pacific Northwest, but it is just a hop, skip, and jump away and is almost like an older, more experienced sibling when it comes to start-up financing. (Sand Hill Road, anyone?) Now I know what you are thinking…crowdfunding?!?! Yes. Crowdfunding. Changes to SEC regulations have allowed platforms such as Kickstarter, Kiva, Crowdfunder, and multiple others to tap into the pockets of the masses to help finance fledgling companies and products get off the ground. (Check out this Forbes article for more.) No longer do you have to be an accredited investor or give up thousands (potentially millions) of dollars to play a major part in the economic development of your community. After all, small businesses are a powerful driver in job creation. And if one is going to have a job, why not do something that speaks directly to and of you? Not everyone is an entrepreneur. But thanks to the great support shown through the success of crowdfunding, almost anyone can help an entrepreneur be that much closer to success.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Sunny in Seattle? Only when we arrive!

The past week (week 3 of our 10 week terms) allowed the first year students from the Finance, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship Centers to travel to Seattle, WA. This was a first time to the city for many individuals but for me it was a pleasant return to familiarity. I lived in Seattle for 4 years right after undergraduate and it was amazing to see how the city has changed since I left in 2010. Our faculty set up some great meetings with companies throughout the area covering addressing all of our various interests. It was great to join the first years on this trip because I could compare it to my trip last year. While some visitations were the same, many were not.

While the focus of these trips is experiential learning and getting out of the classroom, that does not mean we are all work! Our first night in Seattle was a party to great times at the Rhein Haus. German food, beer, and some very competitive games of bocce ball helped the cohort further strengthen the bonds of camaraderie. I think that spending this time with your classmates is just as important as visiting companies.

Our first day of company visits started with an extended time spent up at Microsoft. Since it is such a large and leading company, we were able to cover multiple areas of the business including finance, Microsoft ventures and support of the start-up world, their internal and external sustainability efforts, and marketing. The final marketing panel was different from my previous visit and it was unique in that it allowed us to ask people what it was really like to work at Microsoft. Seeing how people from various (i.e. non-computer science) backgrounds have found their place in a tech/computer company is definitely an eye opener for many students.   We then continued down to T-Mobile (for the LCE and CSBP) and Wells Fargo (FSAC). For a company going through a serious re-brand, T-Mobile provided some interesting perspective into a very competitive and complex telecommunications industry. We wrapped up the day at the Woodland Park Zoo. While we didn’t have a chance to wander around the zoo and see the animals (who doesn’t like zoo animals after all?), we did get to see a business area that is in need of highly skilled MBA graduates and who face many of the same challenges as traditional business: non-profits. In many cases, non-profits have greater challenges to overcome n order to generate the same type of revenue as other companies.

Our second day was just a filled as the first with visits to McKinstry, Amazon, UBS (FSAC), We Work, and the Bullitt Center. The day began, however, with a breakfast meeting with Threshold and the newly created Canopy group. It was one of the few meetings where finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability all interconnected in one company. Rather than talk to each focus individually, the Canopy Group had a hard time separating the three strands. It was a great spin on a growing field. After a great breakfast we toured McKinstry. The group then split with Finance doing financial things and the rest doing sustainable and entrepreneurial things. Our visits to Amazon and We Work in South Lake Union were amazing! I used to live in that area, so seeing how the neighborhood has transformed since 2010 was mind blowing to me. Our day then ended at the Bullitt Center—a definite highlight from previous years.

Our last day was mostly travel but we were able to allow students time to organize their own meetings. While this can be challenging, if Seattle is a place you want to work, meeting people where they are can be a great benefit for future connections. I spent the time reconnecting with individuals and making sure everyone was where they needed to be. On the way home we made a slight detour to REI headquarters in Kent and had a great discussion with finance and marketing individuals. Since REI embraces many of the unique aspects of the programs at the Oregon MBA, there could be no better company to end our whirlwind tour.

I love Seattle and I really enjoyed being able to spend time with the first year students. Being able to travel and meet with companies beyond the canned student presentation is one thing that makes the Oregon MBA a great place to study.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Ventures Abound in Bend

For the sixth consecutive year, the entrepreneurship MBAs ventured over the Cascades to attend the 11th annual Bend Venture Conference.  This is becoming one of the largest angel conferences in the region with about $940,000 awarded in cash and prizes.  That is no small chunk of change.

Since I attended the conference last year, I had the benefit of having some frame of reference and a comparison.  Overall, I enjoyed this year’s conference more than last year.  The variety of companies presenting were closer to my interests and I could understand the concepts a lot better.  Let’s just say that understanding many software startups is not my forte.  Anyway, the companies that won are very deserving and it will be exciting to watch them over the next few years.

In addition to the conference, the MBA students took this opportunity to visit some local Bend companies.  This was the first year in a while that we added the company visits and I felt it was very successful.  Oregon is such an entrepreneurial state but it is not very visible until you are introduced to that culture.  We managed to schedule meetings with Hydroflask, Kialoa Paddles, and Deschutes Brewery.  While each company produced a tangible thing, they were all at different stages in their development.  Kialoa is still very small and regional and was working on growing sales.  Hydroflask is #244 on the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies with over 1800% growth over the past three years.  The challenges it faces are more scaling, marketing, and human capital expansion.  Finally, Deschutes Brewery was the wrap up and they are the 6th largest independent brewery in North America.  The challenges they face include navigating intense competition and maintaining both consistency and culture amongst its large distribution.  Rather than expand its reach, Deschutes is looking to reclaim some of the lost market share where they are already present.  This is different from both Kialoa and Hydroflask which are looking to extend influence.

No trip is complete, however, without engaging with our wonderful alumni.  Before our company visits, John and Bonnie Rosen were very generous in hosting us for pastries in their custom log home in La Pine.  The attention to detail and the balance between glitz and functionality clearly demonstrate how they were able to be so successful.  It was great for the first year students to hear their story and absorb John’s words of wisdom.  In a nutshell: it is okay to fail as long as you learn from it.  If you beat your head against a wall and it doesn’t move, find a new way around the wall. Small steps can be more beneficial than giant leaps.  Follow your passions.  These last words are ones I personally take to heart.  What is life without passion?

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Engaging Asia Part IV: Hong Kong

Just to recap, thus far on the trip we have experienced the organized chaos of Mumbai, the sparkly newness of Shanghai and the communistic tradition of Beijing.  Traveling to Hong Kong, in hindsight, is the culmination of all of these places.  The streets are packed and busy with people from all over the world intermingling and hustling from one place to another and exuded an attitude of capitalism and democracy.  Some buildings and attitudes were fresh and new. Finally, it was very much Chinese in appearance and language (I know they speak Cantonese over Mandarin, but the foreign feeling is the same).  If Shanghai is where the west meets China and Beijing is where the western attitudes conflict with China, then Hong Kong is where the west first engages with China.  There are strong sentiments reflecting British imperialism and they are joined with those of Chinese central planning.  It brought two worlds together wonderfully and was a great conclusion to the expedition.

In HK, I felt a stronger emphasis on the entrepreneurial ideas being applied in sustainable ways.   Our other visits ran the gambit in terms of size and focus.  From such conglomerates as J. Swire, which started out as a shipping company but has grown to an international conglomerate, absorbing multiple aspects of its individual supply chains and having a net zero impact strategy, to individuals like Edwin Keh and Lizette Smook who provided a wealth of knowledge over all aspects of business.  (On an aside, the places where we met these two individuals, the China Club and the Foreign Correspondents Club, were so historically important and prestigious that just being able to go in, let alone have a meeting with a member, was quite an event.)

The entrepreneurial community itself even had a large spectrum of opportunities.  We visited Cyberport which is a huge facility used to foster and create the next successful technology companies.  The great thing is that the technology was not limited to computers but digital art/media, telecommunications, and general digital tech as well. It was an accelerator and incubator and college campus all rolled into one and then put on steroids.  What made this even more interesting, was that it was a private company but the government owned a majority share.  Think on that one.  It had to delicately balance the needs of its shareholders with the needs of the government, which I am not sure always aligned.  It will be interesting to see what comes out of that facility in the future.  In addition to Cyberport, we also visited a smaller entrepreneurial incubator located near Central, Paperclip.  This had the more traditional focus and feel of incubators found in the US which highlighted the universal feeling of entrepreneurship.

Since Hong Kong has long been considered the financial hub of China, our trip was not complete without visiting a financial institution of some sort.  For our last meeting we visited Reorient, a startup investment bank formed by American and German expats.  This company is only three years old yet already listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. That is not a common occurrence.  While this was our last meeting and all of us were spent-emotionally, physically, and mentally-it was a fantastic finale in that it, for me at least, restored some lost trust in investment banks.  They emphasized the personal aspect of banking, which has been lost in recent years.  The bankers we talked to (including the CEO) were very open about personal and professional life in Hong Kong and were genuinely passionate about what they were doing.  They wanted to be successful, but not at the expense of carefully established relationships.  They had a deep understanding of not only where they got their money but also how.  Not to mention, the CEO had the best outfit of the trip.  Not many people can pull off pastel pink pants with royal blue and bedazzled house slippers.  It was awesome!

Final remarks: the Engaging Asia study tour will be an aspect of my MBA that I will never forget.  John Hull, director of our Business Innovation Institute, has said many times that one objective of the trip is to get students comfortable traveling overseas so when they have a professional job and the opportunity to go to Asia is presented, we can volunteer with confidence.  While it sounded really hokey before the trip, he was right.  Should I find an amazing company and have the opportunity to do work in Asia, I have complete confidence that I can go over there, not feel overwhelmed and jump right into my job.  I don’t necessarily have the desire to live over there for long periods of time, but a short assignment (6 months or less) would suit me just fine!

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Engaging Asia Part III: Beijing

After drinking the China kool-aid in Shanghai we headed to explore our second Chinese destination: Beijing.  So far on this trip we have traveled by plane and automobile, why not add a train?  The coolest thing about this train is it is part of the high speed rail system and travels at 300km/hr (about 186 mph).  Therefore the 819 mile trip took just under 5 hours.  Makes we wish we had something like that in the States.  Once we completed our entertaining train ride, we finally arrived in Beijing and could feel the difference from Shanghai immediately.  First of all, the air quality wasn’t the greatest but it wasn’t the worse it had seen, there was a welcome lack of heat and humidity, and there was a different attitude detected (more to be explained later).  Since we arrived in the early afternoon, we had the rest of the day to check in to the hotel and begin exploring our surroundings.  One really cool thing about Beijing is its hutongs.  These are small pockets of traditional Chinese buildings and neighborhoods that often do not have electricity.  Going in these is like stepping back in time.  Our wonderful fellow student and Beijing native, Dupree, showed us a great authentic Chinese restaurant in a hutong close to our hotel.  He probably went there at least three time to help different groups order.  The food here was absolutely amazing.  Served family style, we tried beef, chicken, pork, and tofu dishes that definitely set the bar for the rest of the trip.

The next day we were the ultimate tourists with visits to the Great Wall and Forbidden City.  The wall was, well, a big wall with amazing scenery.  Since the wall was built along the ridgeline of the mountains, you could either walk up the hill or take a two person chairlift.  All of us elected the lift.  We were able to walk for a few hours along the wall.  The weather was great and it wasn’t too busy.  To get down, we got to ride an alpine slide.  The only problem with the slide is the fact that the Americans (or at least the MBA students) wanted to go fast and there were lots of other people who didn’t share our same enthusiasm or who got too distracted taking selfies. This led to a few collisions between ourselves.  Thankfully we avoided hitting other people!  After all, we don’t want to be “those people.”  We made it down from the wall and headed to the Forbidden City. We passed Tiananmen Square, where the “so called incident” happened and entered the multiple courtyards of the city.  It was much bigger than I expected.  Since it was a main tourist draw, there was an increased presence of police and military personnel, not seen in Shanghai.  One could definitely feel big brother watching, especially when it came to internet usage.  Even using the VPN, accessing many of our regularly used sites was a challenge.  Anyway, after making it through the city and hiking to the Buddha statue in the adjoining park, Kate and I decided that we wanted to go shopping.  And, if you hadn’t guessed, that meant taking the subway to a big market where you could test out your negotiation skills.  Even though we went to a tourist market, I felt Kate and I got some good deals on our souvenirs.  This was the one time where my indecisiveness in purchasing was an asset!  Beijing, while definitely having a more organic and historical aura, felt just as safe as Shanghai.  This was good when Kate and I misplaced ourselves.  Now, I know what you are thinking…”isn’t being misplaced the same as getting lost?”  No!  We knew exactly where we were but not quite where that was in relation to where we wanted to be aka the hotel.  But after walking an additional 4 kilometers more then we should have, we arrived back to the hotel and promptly rewarded ourselves at the bar.

Beijing was not all tourism, we also had some very interesting meetings as well.  Our academic schedule started with a meeting from the US Embassy with representatives from the Department of Energy and the Department of State.  While the meeting started off a little slow, it picked up once our speakers got excited about our questions.  Seeing China from a US government perspective was one we hadn’t had yet so it was great to add another layer.  The biggest take away for me was optimism will get you through working in China but balance it with a healthy dose of cynicism.  There are also a lot of joint ventures between the US and China which give me hope for environmental issues.  We also met with AECOM, an architecture and engineering firm, Deutsche Bank, and the Bank of Tokyo.  DB was interesting as we met with a German expat working in a German based company.  He was able to provide yet a new perspective about how to do business in China.  He highlighted differences even between doing business in Shanghai and Beijing.  Since Beijing is the seat of the Central Government, its presence is more prominently felt.  Our visit to the Bank of Tokyo was our last one before we split from the Warsaw group.  They headed to Singapore for the last leg of the trip while, the rest of us went to Hong Kong.  This trip had been amazing up to this point, and knowing we were headed to our last stop was both sad and welcome.  But, thanks to a three hour delay in the Beijing airport, we were able to stay on the mainland a little longer and fully soak up the feeling that is China.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Engaging Asia Part II: Shanghai

Whoever said that China is a developing country must use Shanghai to argue the opposite.  Coming from Mumbai, where extreme wealth is adjacent to extreme poverty and being the largest democracy in the world is a point of pride, Shanghai seemed to have the upper hand in the amount of development.  Perhaps it was where we were staying (Le Meridien on Nanjing Road).  (In case you were wondering this is the main road of all authentic high end shopping in the city.  Not quite my scene, but I divest.) Or the fact that with all the clean streets and flashing lights, I realized I was looking at the shiny new toy of a communist country.  The “hey look at this…and this…and this.  China rocks and is one of the cool kids now.  Yay!”  Now don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Shanghai.  It was clean, I felt safe walking around alone at night, and from an architecture perspective the buildings were really cool.  There are not many skyscrapers in the US that look like a bottle opener or will have a neat spiral for over a hundred floors and only has 65% (or less) space efficiency.  But having many of my courses refer to India and China as both “developing nations,” the differences between Mumbai and Shanghai illustrated how large that developing spectrum actually is.

Like in Mumbai, we had some time to explore the city and play tourist.  Our red eye flight led to a tired first day in China.  I can honestly say that my whole concept of space is vary skewed.  With time and plane changes it took almost 12 hours to travel from Mumbai to Shanghai!  (It always looked so close on the map.)  However, unlike Mumbai, our tourist time was spread out through the time we were there.  We would have afternoons off or given more freedom in the evenings to explore the city.  The subway system was super easy to navigate which made exploring that much more fun.  I will say taking the faculty to a pearl market they have never been to where you had to negotiate your prices for the first time was quite satisfying.

Tourism and bargaining for treasures was not the only highlight of the trip, we did have some pretty cool meetings as well.  There was definitely a financial emphasis with this city with visits to Mapletree Investments, Qiming Ventures, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.  There is a move to make Shanghai the financial hub of China rather then Hong Kong.  However, from a personal point of view, the best visitations were to the Weiden and Kennedy office (a creative marketing powerhouse originating from Portland, OR) and our lunch discussion with Rob Schmitz, the China correspondent for NPR (National Public Radio).  Rob was able to provide a perspective that both positive and critical of China as well as US business attitudes.  We could have chatted with him longer than the 3 hours we took up discussing topics ranging from pollution to government regulation to commonly witnessed business mistakes to how he arrived in China.  Having that journalistic perspective definitely made Shanghai seem more real and placed it in the view of China as a whole.

To sum up Shanghai, Rob Schmitz said it best, “it is where China meets the rest of the world.”  And when you meet someone new, you always want to put your best face forward.  Shanghai was just that!

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.