The Power of the Network

Two great stories this week–Jump for Jude and Readydesk–both showing the power of networking and the power of FEMBA.

Story #1 Jump for Jude. Make a difference for a child in need.

Hi FEMBA, I’m Ashley Nathanson FEMBA ’11, and with my friend Katie Malone, we’re taking on a dare, Jump for Jude, to raise money in order to help my beautiful godchild, Jude DeMatteis, and his amazing family.  Before we get to the dare we want to tell you why this is so important to us. READ MORE ABOUT THE DARE or watch our video.

Jump for Jude is raising money for the DeMatteis family using Darelicious, the entrepreneurial brain-child of my 2011 classmate, Jorge Jernandez ’11.

20140422Darelicious

 

Story #2 Readydesk: Kickstarter campaign

FEMBA Ben Larson ’13 has already raised 165% of his Kickstarter goal, but he’s leaving the kickstarter campaign open, and you can see it above.

You can also see Ben’s company website here Readydesk and learn why it is time to break up with your chair.

20141205 ReadyDesk Ben Larson

Our very own Ben Larson ’13, on the left, with his business partner Joe Nafziger. They’ve been best friends since age 4.

20141205 ReadyDesk product

The Readydesk–I want to buy one of these!

20141205 ReadyDesk

Here’s background on Ben’s entrepreneurial journey to Readydesk, including FEMBA’s contribution.

Ben Larson Bio

Ben is currently the Worldwide Communications Strategy Manager for the Immersive Systems group at Hewlett Packard, where he’s just finished working on the launch of Sprout by HP—the company’s first Immersive Computer. For the past six years he has worked in the technology and entertainment industries, in rolls spanning from operations to strategic marketing and communications. Prior to this Ben’s work history includes serving in the Illinois Air National Guard, touring as a professional bass player, and traveling for six months as an adventure travel guide.

Ben’s Education

BS Physics, Illinois State University
BA Philosophy, UC Irvine
FEMBA UCLA Anderson School of Management 2013

Joe Nafziger Bio

Currently a Creative Director at i.d.e.a., a San Diego-based marketing and communications shop, Joe has spent the past decade as a copywriter at various advertising agencies in the Western United States. His colorful work experience includes selling cars, catching shoplifters and jumping a child-sized motorcycle over 50 pizzas while dressed as a client’s mascot.

Joe grew up on his family’s farm in Central Illinois. There he discovered an inclination toward mechanical function and visual solutions…an idiosyncrasy that aided in designing the Readydesk.

Joe’s Education:

BS in Marketing, Illinois State U.
Graduate of The Bookshop School of Advertising, Los Angeles

Some more context from Ben…

Like Joe, I grew up on a farm in Central Illinois (in fact, our farms were 2 miles apart and we’ve been best friends since age 4). Both of us have had to work since we were old enough to pick up sticks or push a lawn mower. I think these early work experiences, combined with a broad range of life experiences since, have equipped me with a strong work ethic and a willingness to take the road less travelled.

With regard to product development: Anderson taught me the importance of making a minimum viable product and getting market feedback. I had to laugh at “you made it look easy” because we spent so much time trying to get the design right. Neither of us have product design experience. We hired multiple industrial engineers off of craigslist. We got feedback from all of our friends. We built the prototypes ourselves. We did market tests with follow up surveys. Joe has a good eye for functional design even though he has no training. That helped. Also Joe’s advertising background and copywriting skills helped us develop really compelling communications, which goes a long way on Kickstarter.  

I was motivated to earn an MBA first and foremost because I wanted to learn the skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur. Marketing was something that I gravitated toward while I was there. It’s been a lot of fun seeing a little bit of everything I studied—supply chain, operations, marketing, finance—all coming into play in the course of setting up a business. It’s on a small scale, but it’s really cool to have that end-to-end view and to have the knowledge set to make informed decisions in all areas. Maybe the biggest asset Anderson gave me was the confidence to just get out and do it. I was sitting in classes listening to successful entrepreneurs speak, watching classmates start businesses, and then I see my buddy Joe has built this crazy stand up desk. So I call him up and I say, “I think we can sell this thing.” One of the lessons that really stuck with me from my Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation class is that succeeding in a new venture is “1% idea, 99% execution.” The MBA taught me the importance of that 99% and gave me the skill set to get it right.

On future plans:

We’re already thinking of ways to grow the “Ready” brand into new products. Aside from add-ons and accessories for the Readydesk (cup holders, cable management, and standing pads) we’re looking at other areas in life where being “ready” helps people. Our company exists to improve people’s lives by designing products that allow them to work in healthier ways, and to be “ready” for whatever life throws at them. We believe that by helping people make small adjustments to their daily habits, we can significantly impact their health, improve their performance, and increase their happiness and sense of well-being.

 

 

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