Thursday, February 5, 2015

MBA Entrepreneurs Collaborating Across UGA

I entered the MBA program with one goal: start a business while I’m in school.  I was looking
Kari Baker, MBA '15
for a program that would provide the support that I needed as an aspiring entrepreneur. 

Upon entering the program, I became involved with the Entrepreneurship program within the Terry College of Business. With time, myself and other MBA entrepreneurship students started to hear whisperings of other exciting entrepreneurial things happening all over campus.  We began exploring and talking with researchers, professors, and administrators in other colleges.  What we found was a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that was unfortunately siloed within the different colleges on campus. 

We began to dream of what it would look like if entrepreneurial computer science students communicated with business students, or family and consumer science students collaborated with art students, etc.  In talking with entrepreneurial students from different disciplines, we found this theme echoed: Students do not know how to connect with entrepreneurial people outside of their “silos”.  We also found that many students did not know how to take the next step with their business ideas.

This is what inspired us to create the Tree Fort, a business incubator created by students, for students.  The Tree Fort was founded by Daniel McBrayer (MBA), Alex Edelstein (undergraduate MIS major), and myself to provide students with co-working space, interdisciplinary resources, and accountability in taking the next steps with their business ideas. 

The Tree Fort is a place to put into practice the entrepreneurial/innovation skills that we’re learning in our classes.  Though this incubator, we now have physical space to pursue our business ideas, not only with other business students, but along-side some of the brightest students from all over campus.

What I love about the Terry MBA program is the amount of support we receive from faculty and staff.  Not only do they know our names, but they know what we are passionate about and are eager to support us as we pursue these passions.  The Tree Fort would not be where it is if we did not have faculty and administrators like Dr. Sutherland, Chris Hanks, and Don Perry who believe in us and have helped us to find the resources that we needed to pursue this dream.  

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