Nathan Lillegard

Team 'Ale Mail' in Winnipeg

Why we compete

As we wrap up our Winter term at the Oregon MBA, I’m proud to reflect back on the efforts of our teams that took their ideas ‘on the road’ and across borders to socialize their ideas and gather valuable feedback from judges and peers. If no business plan survives first contact with customers, then you cannot overstate the value of getting out the building to share your idea with the world.

Many will say that the ‘business plan’ is dead and that business plan competitions are a lost cause. We at the Lundquist College of Business respectfully disagree. Writing a business plan and putting together an investor pitch is not a waste of valuable MBA time. Rather, those activities are a forcing function for students to integrate the business model they’ve designed, the customer development they’ve done, and the core MBA functions of finance and strategy together in a well-communicated package.

Team ‘CINCH’ in Bangkok

We send Oregon MBAs to these competitions to expand student perspectives and share in the joy of competition. When our teams compete, they get the type of hands-on learning that builds human capital for the future. No amount of classwork can prepare you for the challenges that come from unknown judges and competition from other well-developed ideas. Students learn from one another, sharing the experiences of the tough judges, travel, and experiences of a student entrepreneur. Whether it’s in Bangkok Thailand, Louisville, Winnipeg, or Portland, the outcome of these competitions is the same – experiences that shape ideas and outcomes for a students’ career.

Feature image: Team ‘Ale Mail’ in Winnipeg

 

Written by Nathan Lillegard

I manage the programs and activities of the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. In this role, I work to build relationships between the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Oregon (and beyond) and our students. As an entrepreneur (in recovery) myself, I help others learn about and navigate the challenges of starting and building great companies.

Success at NVC and beyond

As many of you may have already heard, our very own TougHER (Stacey Edwards, Brawnson Adams, and Justin LaTempa) took second place at our New Venture Championship this past weekend. In addition to the $10k prize, I know the team gathered great feedback and ideas from the judges and found inspiration in the response to their opportunity.

Kate Blazar, leader of team Animosa helped us make the event great for our guests in her role as LCE GTF, helping all weekend and spearheading our annual team social/bowling event. Both TougHER and Animosa are continuing forward towards making their dreams real through our Venture Startup class and other Oregon MBA courses.

It takes a whole program to help these ideas launch and the Lundquist College of Business is proving to be a great place for MBAs to incubate their ideas. That shows with the success of our graduates. Here are some of our highlights-Red Duck Ketchup

  • Red Duck Foods has launched a line of BBQ sauces and is expanding in the Northeast US soon. They are adding stores, raising money, and having fun. Co-founder Shannon Oliver was on our panel at NVC and it was amazing to see how mature and wise the team has gotten as they’ve built a great company.
  • Cowbucker continues to share the ‘Bucker’ with more of the world! That team is adding schools for licensed products and launching new designs to keep their business growing. Stop by 222 E 11th and visit their local storefront to see what’s new.
  • AirFit is now Roam Fitness – With a prototype gym in Bend, and the first location at JFK moving forward, Ty and Cynthia are making great progress towards making us all happier and healthier travelers.

Picky Bars on the shelves of Trader JoesAnd in other news… Oregon MBA Alum extraordinaire Jesse Thomas has recently made a big announcement about his company Picky Bars. Spoiler: Look for them in your local Trader Joe’s!!!

So what’s the theme here? I’d say that the Oregon MBA attracts and encourages independent thinkers with the passion and commitment to make their dreams reality. Our programs and classes, in all subjects, push students to think bigger and be disciplined in applying what they’ve learned in class. Our community of alumni, mentors, and others provides the foundation for testing business models, building connections to industries, and growing a supportive network that helps in unexpected ways.

It’s an honor to watch ideas become reality. The same set of immense challenges face all entrepreneurs. The knowledge, skills, and learning environment that we provide here helps our students gain an advantage and go forth to build great companies. We should all be proud of our startup Ducks!

Written by Nathan Lillegard

I manage the programs and activities of the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. In this role, I work to build relationships between the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Oregon (and beyond) and our students. As an entrepreneur (in recovery) myself, I help others learn about and navigate the challenges of starting and building great companies.

Duck feet all over the WAC

Oregonians are generally averse to self-promotion. We’re a humble lot (mostly) that figure it’s better to let our achievements speak for themselves than spend time and energy seeking recognition. It’s something we do and part of the culture. But I’m going to step out of that mold for now and praise some of our students and community friends after witnessing the Willamette Angel Conference today.

First, I want to thank everyone who has helped bring the Matthew Knight Arena and Ford Alumni Center together. The WAC was hosted in the Guistina Ballroom at the Ford Alumni Center this year. Finally, the UO has a world-class facility to have formal events! Don’t get me wrong, the old EMU Ballroom and a couple of other facilities on campus are great. However, the modern and uniquely Oregon design of the FAC really stands out for people coming into town. Having Matt Arena right next door gives the East campus area a center of gravity that the whole university needed.

Second, let’s recognize all of the University of Oregon students and alumni involved in the Willamette Angel Conference. The list is long, so let’s bullet point for brevity:

  • The Concept Stage winner was Orchid Health – A local Eugene company creating direct primary care clinics in medically under-served communities. Started by a one-year-ago grad and a soon-to-be graduate. That’s right, early twenty-somethings starting a health care company. Cool.
  • Other Concept Stage companies representing UO ties:
    • Dyscover.me: a start-up company targeting ERP of Human Resources co-founded by an Oregon MBA alumnus
    • Manage my co-op: a husband/wife team of OMB (Marching Band) alumni building tools to enable group buying clubs for everything
  • Blue Dog Mead, a well-established beverage company, was represented at the event by CEO and co-founder Simon Blatz. Keeping the dream alive and mead flowing.
  • The Oregon MBA and other Lundquist College of Business students helped with the due diligence process and as volunteers for the event.

Dune Sciences, one of the five finalist companies has strong ties to the UO. The company was founded by John Miller and Jim Hutchison based on research from their lab in the Materials Science Institute at the University of Oregon. I know that this team has been working at this for a long time to bring their technology to market. Making it to the WAC Finals was a big accomplishment for them. I know that Dune Sciences is going to continue to grow and be a big UO and Eugene success story.

Finally, let’s talk about RAIN. The Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network is finally up and running in Eugene. Joe Maruschak, a UO art major and game development entrepreneur, is taking the reins of the local node of this program. Joe is a community builder who understands the role an accelerator and incubator can play in developing an ecosystem for startups. Good things are on the horizon. The support that the Office for Research Innovation and Graduate Education has provided getting RAIN going has been invaluable. Associate Vice President for Research & Innovation Patrick Jones has brought his experiences building a similar community in Tucson, Arizona, and at the U. of Arizona to bear to help make this a reality. Without this kind of fundamental support in place, building a thriving entrepreneurial community is harder. With this high-level support, we’re all pulling together to improve the community and build a place where students can stay after they graduate.

So be on the lookout for more great things happening here in Eugene. You may need to ask to hear about it. We’ll be busy letting our successes speak for themselves.

Written by Nathan Lillegard

I manage the programs and activities of the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. In this role, I work to build relationships between the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Oregon (and beyond) and our students. As an entrepreneur (in recovery) myself, I help others learn about and navigate the challenges of starting and building great companies.