Business school can be a place of inspiration for budding MBA entrepreneurs. Startup labs, consulting projects, and trips abroad all spark new ideas. Ali Moore’s business idea came out of a case study.
An MBA graduate from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Ali founded her own greetings cards business – Groundswell Greetings – in January this year. A proud, Philadelphia-based business, Ali’s greeting cards are designed by a team of over 30 local Philly-based artists – created and printed in Philadelphia.
Ali launched her website in April, and is three months into full-scale operation. Her aim is to provide affordable, meaningful alternatives to greeting cards found in high street stores, while building a community in support of local arts and women in business.
For her local entrepreneurial ambitions, Fox – part of Philadelphia’s largest public university and ranked among the top 35 business schools in the country by US News and World Report – was the perfect platform.
A non-traditional MBA student, Ali worked in the nonprofit world doing arts and cultural advocacy before business school. During her MBA, Ali served as vice president of Fox’ Net Impact chapter, and went on two global immersion trips to China and South America, working on consulting projects for real firms.
She landed an internship at telecoms giant Comcast and secured a full-time role after graduation – one of the 100% of actively seeking Fox MBA grads placed into jobs in 2016. In December 2016, she left her role at Comcast, took the career leap, and launched her own business.
How did the idea to start up Groundswell Greetings come about?
I've always loved giving and receiving unique greeting cards, but am usually disappointed by the mass market selection available at most convenience stores.
In business school, we read a case study about the challenges and opportunities American Greetings – a heritage greeting card company in the US – faced as it entered the internet era. Inspired by this experience, I saw an opportunity to market artful, playful, progressive greeting cards to modern shoppers via a user-friendly, e-commerce model.
What do you hope to achieve?
This year, my focus is on introducing and raising brand awareness locally, both with individual consumers and resale outlets. My strategy is to try just about everything – from attending craft fairs, to sponsoring lifestyle blogger events, to building social media presence – see what resonates, and invest in those marketing avenues.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Fox?
I was committed to staying in Philly for business school because I love the creative energy of this city and was excited about growing my career here. Because Temple University is the largest public university in Philly, its local roots run deep. I knew I would have opportunities to network with a large and diverse area alumni network during and after business school.
Before business school, I had worked exclusively at non-profits doing arts and cultural advocacy. Another selling point of Fox's program is that they see non-traditional backgrounds as a strength in building a well-rounded, dynamic class.
How have you profited?
The Fox MBA program has helped me open new doors professionally. I graduated with a sense of entrepreneurial eagerness that was especially enriched by one of our global immersion trips abroad to Colombia and Chile where we spoke with native and American expat business owners. Everyone faces adversity, but the commonality among those we spoke with was a pervasive curiosity and optimism about doing things differently and better than the competitors.
It's an infectious spirit that I fell in love with a bit, and helped motivate my decision to start Groundswell Greetings.
What advice do you have for MBAs looking to start their own business?
Get a co-founder! If you can find someone who is as passionate about your idea as you are, I'm already jealous.
One of the biggest challenges I faced in my first days of Groundswell Greetings was knowing how best to spend my time. The opportunities for impact seemed endless. Before taking the entrepreneurial leap, really try to anticipate how a productive day will look. Create fake schedules for yourself. Eventually, you'll start to see where your time and efforts get the most returns.