Thursday, May 31, 2007

New venture watch...

photo source

The room next door to me at my Palo Alto home, sleeps an MBA who has been EXTREMELY busy in the last couple of months, whilst I have been ramping down. I feel so bad for not blogging about this earlier... But today is great news for a Stanford team consisting of MBA, engineering and design school  students pursuing the entrepreneurial dream.

D.light design, a team that includes my room-mate and another Stanford MBA just secured $250,000 prize from the DFJ venture competition. The team is a for profit venture introducing a low cost LED light for the poor in the developing world intended to replace kerosene and those out of reach of an electric grid. 

As some of you know about the funding process, you shop your idea around the valley for ages and then once you get that initial funding, everyone wants to participate! This is an interesting space, I am of course very interested in this area as it's making money by creating real value for the developing world.

The venture is a result of strong collaborative nature at Stanford between engineering, design  and the business schools through some really great classes- the one that comes to mind is the increasingly popular design for extreme affordability class.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Its not over till its over...

So I am trying to ramp down my time here at the GSB by shifting to more time with friends and enjoying California weather- but the GSB refuses to do so, a full quarter is a full quarter, and by no means dull. This last week a case in point, some big events that just showcase the diversity of learning and opportunity at the GSB that leave me hungry for more.

- Wednesday I ended up going to 4 dinners including a small yet informative Africa Business Club event with one of my Nigerian classmates' brother. Tope Lawani, founder of Helios investment partners a $300 million fund, came in to talk about his foray into Private Equity investment in Africa and had some great insights on the challenges and opportunities of private equity in the region- not surprisingly, real estate, travel/transportation and telecommunications are hot sectors- deal making infrastructure (lawyers) and exits (capital markets, willing buys etc...) amongst the things that make the business environment tough to handle for an investor coming in from more developed markets.
- Thursday was another treat in the Private Equity arena, with the founder of Carlyle, David Rubenstein, giving a highly entertaining yet serious overview of Private Equity and technology buyouts- I remember him saying that Microsoft and other visible tech giants such as HP and SUN may become buyout targets someday as the funds get larger and larger.
Later that afternoon, I headed down to San Francisco for the Facebook f8 launch, a developers conference/codejam. It was great to see some of my classmates in action outside the classroom- one a full-time employee of facebook coordinating the event, and even some getting their hands dirty trying to build applications for this, one of the hottest social networks today. Interestingly enough, we are doing facebook as a case in my aligning startup class on Tuesday, and the case was updated TODAY to reflect the major milestone of facebook opening its platform- a great example of how fast GSB academics catches up with the reality of business!
I then darted into the mission district for a the Africa Business Club dinner I had organized at the Bissap Baobab, with great turnout- I was nervous that given multiple events happening, there would be a high flake rate (typical of busy GSB students), but it turned out very well, with one female club member turning up in a full Ugandan outfit!
- Friday, was my usual classes on Supply Chain and Advertising- at the end of the day, I went up to Marin for a local entrepreneur and Stanford professor's engagement party which was particularly fun. I mentioned long ago, that one of my goals for my experience here at Stanford is to make close friends with real live entrepreneurs and engineers in the bay area beyond meeting them in the class-room environment- I am more than happy with this decision at the expense of more GSB events, I have now made real good friends in the local area that have been invaluable and have completed my California experience- I'll have more reasons to come back to California other than GSB alumni events or work purposes.

This memorial day weekend, the partying and catching up continues- will try and get major bits of work out the way, to clear a runway to enjoy my last 2 weeks at the GSB.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The UK trip... back in Silicon Valley- perspective forever changed.

The final month of my time at Stanford is here, and I'm trying my best to give my time to friends, academics and a number of errands (graduation arrangement for my parents and siblings flying in from Tanzania). But first, a quick reflection on my UK trip, I hadn't been back for 2 years and my tour included my university town, Bristol, where a lot of my friends from uni still work and of course, London. Aside from enjoying the pub culture over the weekend, it was interesting to see how optimistic I sounded over the more conservative and risk averse brit friends of mine over entrepreneurship. The change at Stanford in perspective is definitely permanent...
A nice piece here on this very thing from a class mate who has been writing a Stanford diary on the Financial Times.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Final class is looking like the allstar finale...

I walked into today's new class that starts midquarter (2 units)- "Aligning startups to their market", lead by Andy Rachcleff of Benchmark Capital. And I felt an amazing feeling- the class consisted of individuals that I could see have taken an amazing journey over the last 2 years- starting with the rigors of the core, fine tuning their way through the GSB to an entrepreneurship class taught by a practitioner in venture capital. I remember how I was so gun-ho about trying to get into consulting- but here I am, such a big proponent to entrepreneurship and risk taking... Looking back, it makes a lot of sense, kid from Africa, sent to school in UK at age 12, delivers results that satisfy parents, goes to work for a comfy aerospace company yet organizes random internal expedition to climb the highest mountain in Africa with 24 people doing it for the good of his country's education- then applies to school in a fantasy land that he has never even been to while his colleagues and friends look the other way... It's not surprising, that my final class is one on maximizing the success of risky ventures.

Some of my classmates have launched some interesting ventures:
Techtain- social networking meets swapping/trade objects on campus.
Reputation defender- In the world of blogging, social networks, wikis etc... what some call the "participation" phase of the net- a way to ensure your online reputation is sound has become increasingly important- these guys will help you out in a similar method to maintaining your credit report- enough said.
Trippert- A better way to research a travel destination through rich articles- I think of this one as social networks/wikis meets lonely planet.

I am heading out to UK tomorrow for a few days- I'm dying to see friends and colleagues that I have been out of touch with for 2 years! They'll think I've changed- beginning with my accent.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Business of Space- reflecting on independent projects

One of the nice things about the GSB when you are coming out of the 1st year core is the independence you get to explore new ideas in projects. Last year around this time, I was in full swing in doing G390 independent project on the emerging entrepreneurial Space industry. The idea was that I could apply my 1st year business knowledge with my experience in aerospace industry in previous life. We worked with a former NASA Director and now part of the leadership of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) based right here in Menlo Park/Palo Alto.In a team consisting of MBA1, MBA2 and Sloan with aerospace backgrounds in public and private sectors from Israel, NASA, UK and Russia we interviewed some new space entrepreneurs including Elon Musk of SpaceEx.
I carried this on with a Mobile Marketing independent project last quarter that also went great.

An interesting podcast for further information is available here from the BBC's In Business program.
I'll post an update here later on the report that was the deliverable of the project.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Parties abound, GSB show is coming... the update.

With Admit weekend and C4C behind us, recruiting for 1st years almost complete and 2nd year's winding down- parties are emerging all over the place around the GSB community, this weekend will feature a large 2nd year house party in Palo Alto,"Cabin 552", on Friday, Spring Formal at Bimbos in San Francisco on Saturday. On top of that, multiple dinner parties are being thrown- the house I live in has doubled its number of parties for the entire year in just week- and there's one coming up this Sunday. Its going to be tough finding time to hang out with my friends in Silicon Valley who are outside the GSB. I can expect a fun sprint finish to the end of my time at the GSB. I'm looking forward to "Disorientation" week, sandwiched between last day of classes and graduation day, where second years will bond and party for one last time- including drinks and dinners organized by different ways imaginable (sections for the core, destination cities after graduation etc...). Other events happening? The GSB show is on next week- a truly specular show of talent within the GSB. Who said MBAs don't party?

Here is the evidence:


GSB SHOW 2006- Mock Interview- My personal favorite!

GSB SHOW 2006- 4

GSB CRIBS- This is how we roll at GSB!

GSB SHOW 2006- Mid-term Capital Management

UCLA CHEER LEADING @ C4C WEEKEND 2007(Stanford 2006 here)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A post for aspiring young MBAs

A popular post on this blog I wrote in my 1st year. I got interviewed in January by MBA Podcaster about being a "younger MBA"... (I come on around 10 mins into the podcast) Ha, I wish i could do the MBA all over again- after all, I'm about the average to apply now.