CEO of PushKin
Walton EMBA with Entrepreneurship Focus
As CEO of PushKin, Amanda has grown a team on a mission to bring the power of real-time analytics to the service economy.
“I had always thought about starting my own business," Amanda said. "I'd actually started prior to school, and it was a passion project that I really loved. It didn't take off in a way that I expected, and as part of my MBA, I wanted to focus on what I could have done better. So that led me into the NVD program.”
“The skills I gained during the program were the tools that were provided,” she said. “They were incredibly helpful to frame out the activities that you need
to complete before starting a company,” she said. Amanda used connections made during the program to launch her venture,
PushKin, tapping into mentors for marketing and financial guidance.
“My advice for someone thinking about participating in NVD would be to go into the program with a strong sense of what role you want to play and what skills you want to get out of the program, beyond the business you want to build.”
Mechanical Engineer at Sphero, Co-founder of More Technologies
Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering
“I got connected to OEI because my co-founders enrolled in the New Venture Development (NVD) class. The most beneficial part of NVD for us was becoming involved with OEI’s resources – the people and access to funding to do things. To get the budget, you are motivated to certain things like surveys and exhibitions. The networking aspect was also influential, being able to make connections and establish relationships was really, really beneficial.”
“When it comes to OEI, the resource that we've benefited from most was Office Hours. It was valuable being able to talk about nitty gritty with people. They are qualified group of people who provide you with useful information, and you don’t have to pay for it. When we got acquired, we could not really afford lawyers, because they are incredibly expensive. Through the OEI Office Hours, we were able to learn how to navigate things from a lawyer who specialized in helping startups. Essentially every new company deals with challenges we were facing, and being able to talk through with experts was so beneficial.”
“When you look back at success stories, it's like yeah, anyone could do it, but they had all of these different key resources that made it much easier [for them]. Things like advice and funding are one of those really influential factors, so being able to have that at OEI was just incredible.”
CEO & Founder, Nyarai Skincare
Master of Education, Adult and Lifelong Learning
Warrenesha is the founder of Nyarai Skincare whose mission is to is to promote natural, organic, and plant-based products. Her business journey started with her personal experiences.
“It all started with my insecurities and skin inflammation. I experienced acne as a teenager to around 20 years old. Some products I tried caused my skin adverse effects, so instead of continuing to just try various products, I decided to create my own formula. I did my research to develop a formula that worked for my skin. I came to the realization that I should develop plant-based skin care, with less ingredients that are toxic and harmful.”
Warrenesha's entrepreneurship journey began while connecting with local entrepreneurship support organizations. Following that, she started attending workshops at the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to further develop her entrepreneurial journey. “Once I connected with OEI, I started attending the sessions, the storytelling sessions, marketing, branding, developing a business plan. And honestly, those resources were supportive.”
For aspiring entrepreneurs, she offers this advice: starting a business is a gift, an opportunity to pursue your passion. Embrace the journey, set your goals, and stay resilient in the face of challenges. Remember, it's not about the pace but the progress.
CEO of Godwin Retail Group
Walton EMBA with Entrepreneurship Focus
Throughout her career, Leslie has worked with worldwide brands such as Nestle, Kellogg, and Chobani. Leslie found the entrepreneurial track of the MBA program to be the most beneficial because it provided her with networking opportunities and essential skills to start her own business.
“All of the tools, all of the networking that I got from the entrepreneurship program literally set me up to start and run my business,” Leslie said. “The top skill I acquired during the program is leading teams through competitions. Leading teams was challenging, because it involved a lot of helping the right people get on the bus and find the right seat.” Leslie felt that despite the challenges, the program was life-changing and instrumental in her career journey.
“Every industry that anyone goes into in business, you experience in the entrepreneurial program. Plus, there's like actual, real dollars that you can earn and if you put your knowledge and skill against the things that you're learning and you go to these competitions, you can win hundreds of thousands of dollars.”