Sixteen founders graduated in the class of 2021 from the award-winning Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business in May. This is the second group to graduate from this unique program designed specifically for entrepreneurs.
Graduating MBC founders are leading 13 startups ranging from hotel-management software and luxury skincare with exotic ingredients to portable baby beds for refugee families. Three of the startups had multiple founders. Find a complete listing of the graduates and their MBC startups below.
The MBC program is a partnership of the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. Both are divisions of the Eccles School, which is ranked among the top 10 schools for entrepreneurship by Bloomberg Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, and the Princeton Review.
“We are very proud of what the MBC founders accomplished during this unprecedented year,” said Jack Brittain, the director of the MBC program and a professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy. “They overcame incredible challenges as they grew their businesses during the pandemic. Now, we look forward to seeing them succeed in the years to come. They are ready for whatever the future brings.”
Founders in the MBC program receive mentorship and resources to launch and scale their companies. They complete the program in just nine months and all received full scholarships that covered the costs of the program. All benefit from Eccles School courses, applied curriculum workshops, practicum labs and the intense learning-by-doing that occurs when lessons are applied to their own businesses.
The MBC program is one of the latest additions to the Eccles School, which celebrates entrepreneurship as a core value and fosters it throughout its undergraduate and graduate programs. The MBC program also was recognized by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) in the 2020 Innovations That Inspire member challenge.
The Eccles School created the MBC program to blend the best attributes of a business curriculum with a startup accelerator. The founders develop their startups while taking classes from leading experts and receiving extensive resources and mentorship to help them address their immediate business needs.
“The MBC program is the first of its kind – no other university offers a program like it – and it is designed for entrepreneurs to access lessons and mentorship they can use today,” Brittain said. “It is a fluid program. We adapt the curriculum as the year goes on, and we learn what the founders need to improve their businesses.”
Haley Zimmerman was selected as the outstanding graduate among the MBC class of 2021. She is the founder of Kara Tepe Kids (formerly Haven Rest). The company provides portable, lightweight sleeping solutions for refugees and families that travel.
“Especially coming from a background in product design, I really haven’t taken any business classes,” she said. “I have a product and I’m confident in it, but the program has helped me figure out the vision, mission, and business plan of my company.”
Adam Stewart is another graduate and founder of Backyard Estates. The company helps homeowners and investors increase cashflow on existing single-family properties through construction of accessory dwelling units (detached rentable units in the backyard).
“The MBC helped me to take all the different aspects of a business to put it together to hopefully see a much higher success rate when it comes to actual implementation,” Stewart said.
Yasmin Khan also graduated from the MBC program as part of the class of 2021. She is the founder of Khalm Skincare, a skincare brand that is based on innovative oud skincare formulations never before seen in the luxury skincare and beauty industry.
“Although I had a big picture of where Khalm Skincare would go, I didn’t really have the nitty-gritty established,” Khan said. “The MBC program is really timely for me in getting everything essentially down in case I do want to raise capital, in case I do want to go venture. All those skill sets are here for me to use in case I take those pivots.”
The MBC class of 2021 participated in the University of Utah commencement, which was held online on May 5. They also attended the Eccles School convocation at Rice-Eccles Stadium on May 6.
Learn more about the Master of Business Creation program at eccles.utah.edu/mbc. The application to join the program for is still open for 2021-22.
MBC Class of 2021 Startups & Founders
- Backyard Estates (Adam Stewart) – Helps homeowners and investors increase cashflow on existing single-family properties through construction of accessory dwelling units (or detached rentable units in the backyard) in California at scale. As a one-stop shop, the company handles all design, engineering, financing, permitting and construction both on- and off-site. Its streamlined process provides clients with a low-cost option, completed in half the time when compared to existing traditional build contractors.
- BidMyCrib (Alessandra Camargo, Nicolas Camargo) – An online marketplace for all things sublease, lease takeover and negotiable contracts. BidMyCrib offers an easy way to get out of your housing contract.
- Defy Industries Group (Malia Robinson) – A remedy for the overwhelming concern of the spread of bacteria by providing the sanitization process and elimination of germs in buildings. The company’s goal is to make people anytime, anywhere and any place feel protected, safe and have a bacteria- and germ-free environment. It is taking cleaning services to the next level by removing germs and bacteria.
- Kara Tepe Kids (formerly Haven Rest, Haley Zimmerman) – Focuses on portable, lightweight sleeping solutions for refugees and families that travel. The main product is a portable, packable, lightweight bed for babies ages 0-6 months.
- Field Rocket (Kody Kendall) – A customer-relationship management tool for home-service companies to track their customer information, schedule and track appointments and job information, and provide invoices and estimates to their clients. Integrates with Gmail, Google Maps and Quickbooks.
- Khalm (Yasmin Charania Khan) – A skincare brand that strives to create elevated and innovative oud skincare formulations never before seen in the luxury skincare and beauty industry. Its first launch consists of three foundational products anyone can add to their skincare regime today. Khalm designs gender-neutral skincare for multiple skin typologies and is culture-driven to redefine what skincare is supposed to be for a global citizenry.
- Kingdomwork (Chris Pawlukiewicz) – Maker of the gathr church app, which brings all your church’s groups, events and people together into one fully customizable and engaging experience to delight your members and create community. No matter the size of your church, it can be difficult to compete with all the social noise of our digital age. Enter gathr – the solution for churches looking to create meaningful engagement by giving your church staff and volunteers the tools to spread your church’s mission.
- SlideTech (formerly SlickKick, Matt Norton, Sam Norton) – SlideTech is a simple and effective way to measure and improve an audience’s experience – especially when remote. The company converts any PowerPoint into an interactive slide deck and then feeds audience interaction data back to the presenter through real-time and generates post-presentation analytics. With SlideTech, you can read the room – even when remote.
- SNN Analytics (Dhaval Chokshi, Viral Shah) – With HelloGM, this company empowers hoteliers to improve net operating income by 3-5% using data science. HelloGM is a single platform that automatically collects data from various business functions, from different hotels and provides a single point for the analysis.
- Speechcloud (Cameron Stoker) – Speechcloud is a business-to-business software platform that turns events and classrooms into online, interactive and accessible learning environments. The company sells to businesses and educational institutions.
- TwoFerry (Tiff Polmateer) – TwoFerry is a rideshare platform where users request a ride and a driver team of two pick the user up and take them home in their own vehicle.
- VIBE Wellness (Megan Hanrahan) – A physical therapy private wellness consultant, combining therapeutic exercise and yoga. The company also is developing and commercializing the Total Knee Rehabilitation System with a pending patent.
- Zomë (Danielle Bullock) – Equipment and instruction for children and families to provide options for physical activities within the home.
About the David Eccles School of Business
The Eccles School is synonymous with “doing.” The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers nine undergraduate majors, four MBAs, eight other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in six areas and executive education curricula. The School is also home to 12 institutes, centers and initiatives that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.
About the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute
The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The first programs were offered in 2001, through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, an alumnus of the Eccles School and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include workshops, networking events, business-plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, graduate seminars, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute also manages Lassonde Studios, a five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at Lassonde.Utah.edu.