A showcase of products and services offered from new businesses recently launched by alumni and current students of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
After working in large e-commerce companies for a decade, ReShon Anderson, MBA ’01, figured it was time to go out on her own. She never was “a big handbag person,” she says, but selling handbags by promising young designers offered her a niche market. In 2009, Anderson won a $25,000 MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs grant, which helped fund her inventory. Her Virginia-based handbag company sells across North America and Europe and in Japan and Australia.
Hear Anderson talk about the difficulties of navigating the recession with a retail business.
Silicon Valley-based Counsyl has developed a relatively inexpensive saliva test to identify individuals who carry genes for an array of genetic diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, and sickle cell. The test is available from doctors and more than 100 fertility clinics across the country. The company, cofounded by Ramji Srinivasan, MBA Class of 2008, was a winner in the biosciences division at TiEcon 2010, which billed itself as the world’s largest conference for entrepreneurs.
Foursquare is a mobile phone app that encourages users to check in at restaurants, shops, and other public places to inform friends of their whereabouts and also to earn discounts and other prizes. Foursquare’s director of business development, Tristan Walker, MBA ’10, signed on with the fledgling social media company in 2009, when it had only three employees, including its two cofounders. By Walker’s business school graduation in June, the company had 1.6 million users worldwide, and Walker’s office had a backlog of retailers begging for a piece of the action.
Listen to Walker tell how his tenacity landed him a job in business development at Foursquare.
Founded by Faiza Seth, MBA ’06, Casa Forma is an upscale interior design firm that also specializes in property development, property search, and custom-made furniture. Seth is expanding her business from the Kensington district of London to New Delhi, where, she says, Indians are no longer satisfied with traditional homes and are looking for a more international style.
Joe DiPasquale, MBA ’06, is founder and CEO of Regroup, a social platform that allows schools and other organizations to coordinate the communications of their constituents. Regroup was founded and tested at Stanford in 2006.
Hear DiPasquale talk about how his experience at the Stanford GSB helped him form Regroup.
This educational website that teaches little kids Spanish grew out of a grad school project by GoGo Lingo’s cofounder and CEO, Afsoun Yazdian, MBA/MA Education ’07. At the education school, Yazdian concentrated on the use of interactive technology for teaching languages. Across the street at the business school, she learned that the language-study method GoGo calls Playful Immersion had market potential. GoGo Lingo went public in 2009.
Hear Yazdian talk about the inspiration behind GoGo Lingo.
Nazila Alasti, MBA ’88, founded Jooners to help busy parents like her organize and coordinate their family and volunteer activities. The online site supplies templates for many group events, among them, food drives, phone banks, parent-teacher conferences, and family reunions. Subscribers pay an annual fee.
Worker Express, a project developed at the d.school by Pablo Fuentes, MBA ’10, and Joe Mellin, a d.school grad, started its own work in the spring. The company interviews construction workers, gardeners, and other laborers, then displays on its online site the names, photos, required hourly wage, work skills, and language skills of those who pass muster. Once workers are chosen by employers, Worker Express takes care of scheduling, pays workers’ comp and employment tax, and handles payroll.
Listen to Fuentes tell how Worker Express hopes to provide support for laborers.
Founded by former Google-in-China chief strategy guy Alan Guo, MBA ’05, the online shopping site Lightinthebox offers made-in-China products, ranging from wedding dresses and beauty products to security systems and cell phones, all at wholesale prices. The company has customers in 50 countries.
Less than 20% of Nigerians have access to banking services, yet 40% have mobile phones. Tayo Oviosu, MBA ’05, and Jay Alabraba, MBA ’07, took note of those figures and founded Pagatech to make it possible for Nigerians to pay bills or send money to an individual by cell phone. The recipient takes the message to a local agent, often a mom-and-pop store, to be reimbursed. “Our vision is to enable a cashless society and bank the unbanked,” Oviosu said.
Listen to Oviosu and co-founder Aisha Bashir discuss the importance of cell phones in Nigeria.
If you’ve ever just had to have a pair of Louboutin peep-toe pumps, you’ll love Ooh I Love, co-founded by Christopher Couhault, MBA ’09. Each bid at this auction site costs $1, but final prices are rock bottom. When we last looked, a $50 gift card for Nordstrom sold for $1.36, plus bids, and a Bottega Veneta leather clutch, worth around $595, brought $4.26. Ooh, and somebody tippy-toed away in that $800 pair of Louboutin pumps for only $33.12.
The son of Mexican immigrants, James Gutierrez, MBA ’05, founded Progreso Financiero to make small loans to working California Latinos who lack a credit rating. As customers repay their loans, Progreso reports to credit bureaus, thus building the borrowers’ credit scores. By summer 2010, the company had financed more than 50,000 loans and opened 29 locations in the state. In May, the company was certified as a Community Development Financial Institution by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Hear Gutierrez talk about providing more financial security for the Latino community.
The social network Skinny Scoop was founded by Eden Godsoe and Erin Crocker, both MBA ’98, for women to share experiences involving pregnancy, child care, sex, careers, and anything else that concerns them. Members’ opinions are aggregated and the results displayed in easy-to-access, biz school–type charts, a practice that has intrigued advertisers looking to connect with the mom market.
Listen to Godsoe and Crocker talk about providing an online forum specifically for mothers.
Founded by Dave Gulezian, MBA ’94, Viscira develops new media solutions to medical problems. Using motion graphics, video, animation, and other technology Viscira aims to help physicians "visualize science," Gulezian says. In one instance, Viscira used 3D animation to demonstrate why a new oral therapy for multiple sclerosis was a more effective means of treatment. Another of the company’s goals is to get doctors to empathize with their patients’ experience. At an ophthalmology conference, Viscira used virtual reality to simulate the vision of a person with age-related macular degeneration for doctors.
Listen to Gulezian explain how Viscira used virtual reality to put doctors in their patients' shoes.
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