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MBA Startups To Look Out For—2018

We highlight some of this year's best MBA entrepreneurs set to take over the business world

Our big vision is to address the future of work. Ultimately, we want our protocol to be the foundation for tech solutions that help doers become owners of their work.

Quidli was selected to participate in the first cohort of Tachyon, ConsenSys' new blockchain accelerator in San Francisco, where we receive backing, mentorship, and workshops with some of the leading figures in this space.

Now, our future plans have become even more ambitious—to become an integral part of the growing Ethereum blockchain ecosystem as a whole.


Resprana

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Who: Micah Steiger, co-founder and CRO

Where: New York University (NYU) Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Class of 2018

Resprana is an in-nose air filter that aims to protect against air pollution as mankind continues to rely on fossil fuels. A silicone air pod with an activated carbon filter to remove dust and the most common elements of air pollution, Resprana offers a sleeker, less cumbersome alternative to the traditional filter mask.

How did Resprana get off the ground?

I saw the 300k New Venture competition 2017 for entrepreneurship in my final year at NYU Stern and thought I might as well take advantage of all the great resources that are on campus and enter.

I arrived with a different startup but after meeting Sophie Frank, another really passionate NYU student, I wanted to get involved with Resprana. The company is built around improving the world and that’s something I’m passionate about.

How did the MBA help you start your business?

Holistically, I think the MBA helps you think bigger picture.

Where a lot of people get caught up day to day, going from task to task, an MBA helps you view business and society on more of a global, long-term scale. You are encouraged to think about where various industries and sectors will be in the future, what are the trends that we can see emerging, and to see society and business from a birds-eye view.


Rock Stone Silk

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Who: Terry Scarrott, founder and CEO

Where: Cranfield School of Management, Class of 2018

Rock Stone Silk is a luxury designer based in the UK, using digital printing to create designs based on microscopic sections of rock samples. From silk scarves to tiles, the company has 24 designs registered, and is looking to expand further with an autumn/winter range in late 2018.

How did the idea for Rock Stone Silk come about?

I used to work in the oil and gas industry and used to do a lot of work with micriscopes, so I just had this idea one day.

It’s only really in the last year that I’ve gotten involved in graphic design and started building on some of the images, and I produced this catalogue of quite intricate, quite stunning designs.

Because of digital printing, it’s really easy to get almost anything you want translated onto every surface, so I had some printed onto silk scarves and they just came out [beautifully].

How did the MBA help you start your own business?

The marketing module has been worth its weight in gold—trying to understand our audience, trying to find a balance between trusting your gut and [consumer] feedback.

I [also] used an exhibition to do a soft launch for the business back in May, at Make It British Live in London.

The feedback from that was very positive and very constructive; what I gathered from it was that we have a very strong brand, but maybe the message was lost in that people thought we were just selling scarves, or printing designs when in fact we use a third-party supplier.


The Skeww

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Who: Sean Graber, co-founder

Where: Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, Class of 2018

The Skeww is a one-of-a-kind news site that uses AI and natural language processing to scrape the internet for the most important news stories of the day, and then curate the best commentary from both the political Left and Right. Each article is assigned a score based on partisan bias, before a team of writers create summaries for each side.

Where did the idea for The Skeww come from?

Keal [Harter, Sean’s co-founder and MBA classmate] is a former naval intelligence officer, he worked on the Hill, and I’m just really interested in the news and politics. We disagree on a lot of issues, but we have really great conversations.

[Whereas], the type of [political] discourse that you’re seeing [in the US] is really poor. There’s not a lot of fact, there’s a lot of name-calling, there’s not a lot of analysis—and what’s contributing to that, in large part, is social media and algorithms that are designed to please us.

What Keal and I realized was that in conversations that we were having, we were disagreeing but we were having constructive conversations, and that was where the idea was born. We thought, is there a way to replicate the experience that we’re having here online.

How did the MBA help you in setting up the business?

I was an entrepreneur before coming to Tuck, and I just did everything wrong! What Tuck did for me is two different things—number one, it introduced me to a new way to think about entrepreneurship. I participated in a number of academic classes and more practical classes as well, that taught me about the lean startup method.

And then you have a ton of great resources. Your classmates, your professors—everyone knows someone who has experience in an issue that you’re looking into.

Dartmouth has something called the DALI lab, which is a centre in the school which has both undergraduate and graduate computer science students in. What we did was use the lab, and have the students help us when we got stuck with more difficult technical problems.

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