The University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute will graduate the first group of founders from the unique Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the end of the Spring Semester.
The graduation marks a major milestone in an effort to create a one-of-a-kind program designed specifically for entrepreneurs who want to learn how to launch and scale their companies. It also demonstrates one of the many ways the Eccles School has significantly grown its entrepreneurship opportunities in recent years to become ranked among the top-10 schools in the country for entrepreneurship.
“At the Eccles School, our tagline is ‘Doers Wanted,’ and we want everyone to study business and do business at the same time,” said Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “The MBC program is the perfect example of this. Everyone in the program is expected to be ‘doing’ from day one.”
The first class graduating from the MBC program consists of 25 founders who have launched 20 companies (numbers subject to change) in a wide variety of fields, ranging from fitness tech and travel gear to medical devices and telehealth. They all entered the program in May 2019. (See below for descriptions of all the MBC startups.)
All the founders entered the program at an early stage of development to grow their companies with help from a mix of academic learning, professional mentoring, and other resources – all tailored to meet their immediate needs. They also benefited from joining a strong cohort who learned together and taught each other.
“Each of the founders have made great progress building their ideas and learning what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, the executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and an assistant dean at the David Eccles School of Business. “We look forward to seeing them continue to thrive as they apply all the skills and knowledge they have gained in the program.”
Unlike other business degree programs, everything founders in the MBC program learn and do is focused on their companies, the program is only nine months long, and substantial scholarships are available to help cover the costs. When developing the program, the Eccles School started from scratch and created a program to accommodate the business challenges each a participating founder faces.
“Entrepreneurs needs have changed, and we’re changing with them,” said Jack Brittain, the Pierre Lassonde Presidential Chair in the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the Eccles School. “They need a master’s program focused on their startup, one that can be customized to meet the unique challenges of their business, and they need intensive mentoring and coaching in conjunction with rigorous training in all the business disciplines. Our founders are the company accountant, financial wizard, operations specialist, CEO and janitor – duties they have to execute every day. The MBC program is unique in its design focus on these startup challenges.”
Dylan Turner is one of the founders in the MBC program expecting to graduate. He is the chief operating officer of Doxy.me, a telehealth startup. The company has been growing rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turner said he entered the program with another founder, Schuyler Welch, to be a part of an innovative new program and grow this company.
“The MBC program gave us the technical details, strategy and oversight that only people with years and years of startup experience have,” Turner said. “We accomplished almost everything we set out to do. We are more organized now, we have a comprehensive sales strategy, organizational charts, strategic objectives and oversight. We have a plan, and now we know how to implement it. In short, we went from a startup to a ‘real’ business.”
Julia Perry is another one of the first founders graduating from the MBC program. She entered the program with three degrees and a company, Wyetta, that sells fashion for the plus-sized community.
“The amount of resources and tools for students to be successful entrepreneurs just blew me away,” she said. “As a cohort, we’ve been able to pull together and help each other. It’s a supportive group of students, along with mentors from faculty and the community that really want you to succeed.”
Justin Rae entered the MBC program to launch Cinch, a marketing automation company. He wanted to benefit from all of the University of Utah’s resources without giving up any equity. Through the program, he said he learned how to demonstrate value, network, build a financial model, started raising money and launched their product out of beta.
“The MBC program has shown us the path for Cinch to become what we’ve envisioned for it,” Rae said. “Then set us on that path and made sure we’re staying on it.”
DJ potter has used his time in the MBC program to build his cargo company, Sawtooth. The company’s primary product is a flexible tonneau cover for trucks.
“I have always wanted to get an advanced business degree from the University of Utah,” Potter said. “I also knew I didn’t want the common, traditional MBA. When the MBC program was brought to my attention, I jumped at the opportunity. I felt the program was program was tailored to my businesses’ needs and circumstances.”
Through the program, Potter has been able to start making revenue, fulfill orders, and being conversations with national retailers.
“Through the program, I have gained skills and knowledge that are specific to what I am trying to accomplish through my business, Sawtooth,” Potter said. “I strongly believe that the professors, teachers and mentors conveyed not only the theoretical but also the practical aspects of starting and operating a business. The MBC professors, teachers and mentors encouraged me to push my business harder and to avoid certain pitfalls.”
Learn more about the MBC program at eccles.utah.edu/mbc.
2019-20 MBC Startups & Founders
Here are the 2019-20 MBC startups and founders expected to complete the program (subject to change and in alphabetical order by company):
- Accuretta Health (Kevin Stratton) – Enables health care providers to better connect and communicate internally and with their patients. By using intelligent surveying applications, remote monitoring devices and leveraging connected telehealth tools, it aims to support better outcomes and efficiencies for patients.
- Artciel (Aaron Dobron) – Offers a state-of-the-art technology to provide vertical wall printing that allows graphics to be applied directly to a variety of vertical wall surfaces (such as drywall, brick, cement, glass and tile).
- Banwa Technologies (Isai Fraire) – Online marketplace dedicated to local bike shops. Its purpose is to help you find the perfect bike and connect you with your local bike shop. Its goal is to make the thousands of bike shops in the United States more easily accessible.
- Bedvee (Stella Markova) – Developing an automatically adjustable bed wedge. It provides customers with an affordable way to adjust in bed, filling the gap between an adjustable bed and a wedge pillow.
- Cinch (Jeremy Howlett, Justin Rae) – A tool that allows businesses to automate and personalize marketing to new customers and win back the old ones while still giving the highest level of service and support to your existing loyal customers.
- Doxy.me (Dylan Turner, Schuyler Welch) – A simple, free and secure telemedicine solution. Almost anyone can sign up and figure out how to use it the same day. Anyone can sign up and use it without cost being a barrier. It uses an encrypted connection and provides a business associates agreement.
- Drift (David Rupp) – An outdoor product company specializing in high-end, performance-based products that solve problems for outdoor adventures. Its flagship product, Drift Boards, allows snowboarders to travel uphill through deep snow and allows them to return down riding traditional snowboards.
- Feinberg Designs (Juliana Feinberg) – A combination of high-end and sought-after vintage clothing and a collection of custom-made, well-curated wearable designs. Each are handmade and encompass a youthful and colorful feel with luxury.
- Healixir Health (David Aiderzada) – A state-of-the-art system for shaping and customizing liquid blends. Users browse a digital library of blends on an app and express them through a connected device, on-demand. The results are instant essential oil blends for the ultimate wellness experience, and custom multivitamin blends for precise nutrition. (Updated: 4-30-20)
- Heimdall Health (Tarek Marrouche) – Medical device company that specializes in middle-ear-infection detection devices. Its “The Mapping Otoscope” is an innovative device that allows for quantitative measurement of tympanic membrane compliance during the examination, resulting in a more accurate diagnosis.
- KidConnect (Anneke Cannon) – A business-to-business education management company. It provides experts who manage the logistics of opening world-class, on-site childcare centers for all companies big and small.
- Live Martial Arts (Samery Moras) – Live Martial Arts creates digital content in the martial arts industry that includes videos, online courses and merchandise. It has a large and growing presence in social media, most prevalent on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
- My School Dance (Taylor Buckley) – An end-to-end dance and event-management platform for schools that eliminates the hours teachers and administrators waste managing large-scale events. The web-based application is free to schools and facilitates digital ticket sales, online permission form collection and a QR code check-in system with text alerts to parents.
- NexText (Julie Edwards) – A dispatch system for 911 operators to use when dispatching tow trucks. It alerts tow companies when they are up next for a tow and sends them the location of the police officer that needs assistance via google maps. Other applications are possible.
- Pebble (Jeff Barson) – A platform to bring buyers and sellers together and unlock the value in unfilled local business inventory.
- Rise Up School of Dance (Alyssa Bertelsen) – Supporting SLC children as they grow into the people they are meant to be by transforming ballet training. The company invests in children through free outreach programs, where the goal is for every child to feel seen, known and loved.
- Sawtooth Tonneau (Dennis Potter) – Produces a novel, patented load-expanding cargo cover for pickup trucks and cartop carriers. Its pickup truck-bed covers are the only tonneaus in the market that will expand, and secure, loads taller than the pickup truck bed walls.
- True Adherence (Chris Bright, Kyle Poulin) – Empowering people to own their fitness by giving them the knowledge and feedback needed to engage in exercise effectively. It provides this through real-time computer vision biomechanics feedback.
- True North Behavioral Health (Sofia Di Gregorio, Andrew Sidoli, Isabelle Stavras) – Offering MindShield, a trademarked, researched, resiliency training developed by the College of Social Work at the University of Utah to help first responders with traumatic issues.
- Wyetta (Julia Perry) – Curvtique.com is an online multi-vendor deal marketplace that focuses exclusively on the curve fashion community. It will recruit multiple vendors to post daily deals initially across four core categories: tops, bottoms, dresses and outerwear.
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 seven 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.