May 15th, 2013
For almost 30 years, the Periwinkle Foundation has offered children with cancer one of the most powerful healing therapies in existence: Fun.
The Periwinkle Foundation hosts a summer camp and other programs for children with cancer. Last semester, a Houston-based class of PMBA students partnered with the foundation to develop strategies to improve marketing, development and community engagement.
The Houston-based foundation hosts an annual summer camp for children undergoing cancer treatment that enables the pint-sized patients to enjoy a week filled with all the traditional camp activities, from horseback riding and archery to fishing, swimming and even ziplining. Periwinkle also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Hematology Center, all dedicated to meeting the social and emotional needs of children living with cancer.
On an annual basis, the foundation touches the lives of more 4,000 children, teens and family members, but like a lot of nonprofits, Periwinkle doesn’t always have the time or resources to devote to strategic marketing.
That’s where a Houston-based class of Freeman School PMBA students comes in.
Last fall, Yiorgos Bakamitsos, professor of practice and assistant dean for executive education, reached out to Periwinkle and offered the consulting services of students in his Topics in Marketing class. Over the course of the six-week module, the students met with representatives from Periwinkle and developed a host of recommendations to meet the organization’s wide-ranging needs.
“They wanted to, for example, grow their donor base,” says Giovanni Edwards (MBA ’15), one of the students in the class. “They wanted to make better use of technology. They wanted to improve their direct mail campaign. They wanted to increase volunteer support and turnout. It was a really nice consulting project.”
Bakamitsos has put his students to work on experiential learning projects with nonprofits for more than a decade, but he says the Periwinkle project stands out both for the commitment of the students to the organization’s mission and the quality of their recommendations.
“The recommendations were really excellent,” Bakamitsos says. “One of Periwinkle’s board members who came to see the presentations does marketing for HP, and her comment to me was that their work was very professional and that she sometimes wished she would get that kind of work from the people who work for her, which was a very nice compliment for the students.”
Working in teams of five, the students came up with ideas that ranged from simple and straightforward to surprisingly sophisticated given the project’s short timeline.
In addition to its annual summer camp, above, the Periwinkle Foundation also hosts weekend camps for teens and families and monthly programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
One team highlighted the importance of color branding, and encouraged the foundation to be more consistent in its use of periwinkle blue—the foundation’s official color—in its logos and marketing materials. Another team used census data to generate a heat map showing areas in Houston with high concentrations of charitable donors. The team then showed the foundation how to use that information improve its direct mail campaigns.
One of the best received ideas was Edwards’ proposal for the creation of a new program to expand and enhance volunteer support. The fellows program would enable young professionals in Houston to gain experience and build their resumes by leading volunteer projects for the foundation. Periwinkle in turn would receive valuable professional services while at the same time building name recognition in the local business community.
Doug Suggitt, executive director of the foundation, says the fellows program was just one of many ideas suggested by the class that Periwinkle hopes to implement in the near future.
“We were tremendously satisfied with the project,” Suggitt says. “I would say the vast majority of the recommendations that came from the students will be utilized by the foundation. We’re truly a more dynamic organization thanks to Tulane University.”
While the students say they enjoyed the chance to put their skills to work for a real-world client, the fact that the client was an organization like Periwinkle made this project that much more special.
“We would have worked just as hard if the client had been Exxon or Apple, but I think our connection to the organization and our satisfaction from the impact was very different,” Edwards says. “It felt better because it meant something.”
“There are definitely projects within the MBA program that are kind of draining and exhausting, but this was one that I wish we could have had more time to work on,” adds Kelli Stilley (MBA ’15). “We felt like we actually made a difference in the organization, so it was a lot of fun.”
May 7th, 2013
Geoffrey Parker’s research is featured in the May 2013 issue of International Innovation, a publication dedicated to the dissemination of science and technology research. The article, titled The Power of Platforms, discusses the research conducted by Parker and Marshall Van Alstyne, associate professor at Boston University, on platform-driven markets, a topic the two colleagues have studied for over 15 years. The magazine also features a Q&A with Parker and Van Alstyne. Parker is a professor of management science at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business.
May 1st, 2013
Over the past school year, a team of 52 members of the Freeman School community has been engaged in an intensive strategic planning effort. The purpose of this process has been to discover and refine the Freeman School’s mission, core values, capabilities and goals. The result is a comprehensive plan that builds on the Freeman School’s unique strengths to chart an ambitious course for the future.
The Strategic Planning Leadership Team consisted of faculty, staff and students as well as Tulane administrators and members of the Business School Council. Beyond these individuals, ideas and comments were solicited from the entire Freeman community, including alumni and partner organizations. All of these contributions were essential to shaping the strategic planning document.
“This effort was the most rigorous, comprehensive strategic planning process in school history,” said Dean Ira Solomon. “We hope that all of our community members will share our enthusiasm for the plan and join us as we work to implement its goals.”
The final plan is available in PDF format on the Freeman website.
May 1st, 2013
This year’s Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference attracted a record crowd of 750 people, but event organizer Peter Ricchiuti says he didn’t need to see an attendance roster to realize they’d broken a record.
This year’s Burkenroad Reports Investment Conference attracted a record attendance.
“We knew it was bigger than we expected because we ran out of cookies,” laughs Ricchiuti, professor of practice at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business and research director of the acclaimed equities analysis program.
Now in its 17th year, the conference, which took place on Friday (April 26) at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place Hotel, features presentations from senior management at many of the small- and mid-cap companies covered by the program’s student analysts. This year, more than 30 companies led information sessions.
Ricchiuti says one of this year’s hottest sessions was by Evolution Petroleum Corp. The Houston-based energy company specializes in tertiary recovery, a process in which carbon dioxide is used to extract oil from previously drilled fields. The company’s Delhi Field in northeastern Louisiana was thought to be drilled out, but since purchasing the property eight years ago, Evolution has turned it into a monster field.
“The Delhi Field has now produced to a level where the royalties that are going to come back to Evolution are going to go up significantly between now and the end of the year,” Ricchiuti says. “The stock currently sells for about $9.50 a share and when you look at what they think they have under the ground, it ends up being closer to $18. So that was a session that people loved.”
Peter Ricchiuti, center, talks with conference attendees Arvind Sanger (MBA ’87), managing partner of GeoSphere Capital Management, and Ron Mills (MBA ’95), equity analyst at Johnson Rice.
According to Ricchiuti, the big turnout this year was partly a reflection of the overall stock market — the S&P 500 is up 12 percent in the last year — and partly a reflection of the performance of Burkenroad Reports’ “stocks under rocks.” Hancock Bank’s Burkenroad Small Cap Fund, which uses Burkenroad Reports as a primary sources of research and invests in many of the companies followed by the program, is up an impressive 17 percent in the last year.
“The Burkenroad Mutual Fund has outperformed 99 percent of the nation’s mutual funds since its inception,” Ricchiuti says. “The returns have been just amazing.”
April 30th, 2013
More than 150 alumni and guests from the classes of 1968 through 2008 gathered in City Park Friday night (April 26) for the Freeman School’s third annual Graduate Alumni Reunion Party.
The event, which took place in Parkview Terrace (second floor of the old City Park Casino building), is a chance for the Freeman School to recognize alumni of graduate programs (MBA, MFIN and MACCT) celebrating milestone graduation anniversaries. This year’s party honored graduates from the years ’08, ’03, ’98, ’93, ’88, ’83, ’78, ’73, ’68 and ’63.
The reunion is also a chance for friends and former classmates to catch up with each other and to catch up with the Freeman School. Dean Ira Solomon attended the reunion along with a number of faculty and staff members, and he gave attendees a brief update on the state of the school. Lauren Nelson (MBA ’13), a member of the Graduate Business Council and president of Tulane’s chapter of MBA Women International, also spoke to alumni, offering guests a few comments about life at Freeman from a student’s perspective.
The party also included the presentation of a check to Freeman on behalf of the reunion classes. Members of this year’s reunion classes together pledged more than $300,000 to the Freeman School to provide support for a wide range of operating expenses. Reunion fundraising efforts are continuing through June 30, 2013, so if you haven’t yet made a gift, you can visit the Freeman School’s online giving page to make your pledge.
To see all the photos from this year’s Graduate Alumni Reunion, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.
Left to right, class of ’03 alumni Ana Derbez, Jose Mascarell, Tsetsa Dankova and Victor Luque.
Left to right, Kell Riess, Alvin Jones (MBA ’68) and Harry Smith (MBA ’68).
Left to right, Justin Collins (MBA ’08), Lorena Rojas (MBA ’08), Philip Allison (MBA ’08), Ryan Usner (MBA ’08) and Oscar Parada.
Members of the MBA class of 2003, which had the biggest turnout of all the classes honored at this year’s party.
This year’s reunion class chairs presented Dean Ira Solomon with a check for more than $300,000, representing the collective gifts of the reunion classes. From left to right, Chuck Atwood (MBA ’73), Dean Solomon, Alex Hernandez (MBA ’03), David Heikkinen (MBA ’98), Alvin Jones (MBA ’68), John Silbernagel (MBA ’88) and Bob Kottler (MBA ’83).
April 29th, 2013
The Tulane University chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence, welcomed its newest members on April 18, 2013, at a ceremony hosted by the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
Bachelor of Science in Management students Michelle Germain, Samantha Oppenheim and Walter Kissling, left to right, were among this semester’s inductees into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society.
Celebrating its centennial year in 2013, Beta Gamma Sigma is recognized by the educational and corporate communities as the highest recognition a business student can receive in a program accredited by AACSB International — the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Since its founding, Beta Gamma Sigma has inducted more than 700,000 members from over 520 collegiate chapters and 24 alumni chapters. Members currently reside in all 50 states and more than 160 countries throughout the world. The Tulane chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma was established in 1924.
The inductees, including students from the BSM, MACCT, MBA, MFIN and MNRG programs, are as follows:
Benjamin Briggs Barrios
John Philip Stuart
In addition, Linna Zhang, who was inducted as an undergraduate, also received second recognition at the graduate level.
April 25th, 2013
In the 38 years since its debut, the official New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival poster has become as much a part of the annual celebration as Irma Thomas, Crawfish Monica and Rosemint Tea, but few fans are probably aware that the highly collectible posters—which fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay—got their start as a class project at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
Bud Brimberg (L ’75) created the first Jazz Fest poster, shown above, as a class project in the Freeman School’s first entrepreneurship course.
In 1975, Bud Brimberg (L ’75) was a third-year law student casting about for a class to take just for the fun of it. Unable to find anything to his liking at the law school, he wandered over to the Freeman School and signed up for the only course that didn’t require any business school prerequisites, a new class being taught at the B-school for the very first time. It was called Entrepreneurship.
Developed by marketing professor Bill Bennett and based on a class he’d taken at Harvard Business School, the course consisted primarily of case studies, but Bennett also required his students to complete a class project. Each student was asked to create a pro forma for a proposed business detailing the venture’s capital requirements and projected cash flows and income. Those numbers would then have to be programmed in FORTRAN and run on the university’s mainframe computer.
That’s a lot of work for just a simulation, Brimberg thought. One day after class, he approached Bennett and asked if instead of writing a pro forma he could actually start a business.
“He looked at me and he said, ‘That’s highly unorthodox,’” Brimberg recalls with a laugh. “I looked at him and said, ‘For God’s sake, it’s entrepreneurship!’ And he said, ‘Well, go ahead.’ And that was it.”
From the beginning, Brimberg focused his entrepreneurial attention on Jazz Fest, which was then in its sixth year. His original plan was to make a live recording in the Gospel Tent and release it as an album, but when that concept didn’t pan out, he went to his friend Quint Davis, producer of the Fest, and pitched his second idea: a high-quality commemorative print in the style of classic French poster artists like Alphonse Mucha and Jules Chéret. Davis was skeptical.
“We’ve already got a poster,” he said, pointing to the cardboard placards volunteers would staple to telephone poles around town to promote the Fest.
Brimberg explained he was proposing something very different, a numbered, limited-edition print silk-screened onto museum-quality paper. Davis still wasn’t convinced.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what,” Brimberg finally said. “Maybe you’re right, but I think I can come up with some program that will work and I’ll pay you off the top a percentage of gross. No risk. I’ll underwrite the whole thing. And if I sell one poster, you’ll make money.”
The 2013 Jazz Fest poster was designed by artist James Michalopoulos and features Aaron Neville.
It was an offer Davis couldn’t refuse. Brimberg commissioned two Tulane architecture students to create a design featuring an umbrella-waving parade grand marshal with lettering in the classic art nouveau style. The hand-pulled edition of 1,000 posters sold for $3.95 each at the Fest, and Brimberg spent much of his time explaining to customers why that was such a good deal.
When the dust settled, Brimberg walked away from the Fest with less than $500 in profits (and an A in the class). It may not have been much, but it was enough to launch Brimberg on what’s become an almost 40-year career as a businessman and entrepreneur.
He went on to found ProCreations Publishing Co. and Art4Now, which together have produced the Jazz Fest poster every year with the exception of a three-year stretch in the early ’90s. In 1994, Brimberg began producing the Congo Square poster as well, and in 1998 he debuted an expanded line of Jazz Fest apparel — BayouWear — based on the popular “HowAhYa” Hawaiian shirt he’d introduced in 1981. He also started a number of other businesses along the way, most notably Plan-A-Flex, a manufacturer of architectural design and planning kits. Brimberg sold that company to Stanley Works in 1986.
Looking back on his career, Brimberg credits the Freeman School and that first entrepreneurship class with giving him the tools he needed to be successful.
“If you try to understand what makes a frog jump by cutting it open, which is what most academics do, you really don’t know what makes a frog jump,” Brimberg says. “But if you sit there and observe the frog from every angle, you may not understand the molecular level, but you’ll understand what makes the frog jump. I think what [the entrepreneurship class] did was make me understand how the frog jumped. It showed me all the moving parts you would need to start a business and how everything locked together. So, yes, it was pretty useful.”
April 22nd, 2013
Be Well Nutrition, maker of a new healthy lifestyle beverage, and Haystack EDU, an online platform that connects teachers with schools, were the big winners at the 13th annual Tulane Business Plan Competition.
The competition, an annual presentation of the student-led Tulane Entrepreneurs Association, took place on Friday (April 19) at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
Be Well Nutrition, led by Billy Bosch, standing, and Michelle Chatelain (L ’14), far left, won the grand prize of $50,000 at the 2013 Tulane Business Plan Competition, which took place on Friday (April 19) at the Freeman School.
Be Well earned this year’s grand prize of $50,000 with its plan for Iconic, a new all-natural meal replacement drink that’s high in protein and low in sugar. According to Michelle Chatelain (L ’14), Be Well’s director of business development, the functional beverage market — which consists of sports drinks, teas, energy drinks and protein drinks — is dominated by beverages that promise protein, energy or alertness, but up until now no product has offered all three benefits in one drink.
“Iconic is the answer to this problem,” Chatelain said. “It’s the only beverage out there that’s straddling all three of fastest growing industries in this area.”
The hybrid quality of the product impressed the judges.
“Be Well has a very differentiated nutritional product that the market is starting to realize it needs,” said competition judge John Bertuzzi, a private investor and former managing director at Goldman Sachs. “I think it has very good potential to be an attractive addition in stores where the consumer looks for that type of differentiated product.”
Be Well co-founder Billy Bosch said the prize money will help the company complete its next production run, which is expected to cost about $70,000.
Thomas Hayes, standing, won the $20,000 top prize in the Domain Cos. New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge with his business plan for Haystack EDU, an online platform to connect teachers with job opportunities.
In the 3rd annual Domain Cos. New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge, which took place immediately following the Tulane Business Plan Competition and which highlights ventures with the potential to positively impact the local economy, Haystack EDU founder Thomas Hayes earned the $20,000 grand prize for his web-based platform that helps match teachers with schools and other professional opportunities.
“It was really the growth potential that attracted us,” said contest judge Matt Schwartz, principal of the Domain Cos. “We thought that our prize could really make a difference in giving him a shot, and if he’s ultimately successful, we think that will translate into benefits to New Orleans on a number of different levels, not just for creating jobs and bringing capital here but for the social impact as well.”
To see more photos from the 2013 Tulane Business Plan Competition, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.
April 15th, 2013
Student teams from seven top schools vied for $15,000 in prizes on Friday (April 12) at the 17th annual Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition. The contest, an annual presentation of the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, took place in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II on Tulane’s uptown campus.
Berdon Lawrence, left, and Rolanette Lawrence, third from left, presented this year’s grand prize to a team from Rice University.
Each year, the competition tests the valuation and financial analysis skills of students in a challenging, time-sensitive environment. Students teams are tasked with analyzing a real-world finance case and developing recommendations for the company in question. The students must then present those recommendations to a distinguished panel of judges charged with selecting the top three presentations.
For the second straight year, a team representing Rice University took home first place honors and the competition’s grand prize of $7,000. The University of North Carolina won second place and a prize of $5,000, and the University of South Carolina earned this year’s third place award and a prize of $3,000.
In addition to those schools, other universities participating in this year’s competition included Tulane, University of Texas at Dallas, Vanderbilt and Washington University in St. Louis.
This year’s judges included, left to right, John Raymond, Casey Herman, Chris Conoscenti, and David Grzebinski.
Serving as this year’s judges were Chris Conoscenti (MBA/JD ’01), executive director of Energy Investment Banking at JP Morgan Securities; David Grzebinski (MBA ’93), executive vice president and chief financial officer of Kirby Corp.; Casey Herman (BSM ’86), partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers; and John Raymond (BSM ’92), CEO and managing partner of the Energy and Minerals Group.
The Finance Case Competition began in 1997 and has been sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence since 1998. Berdon Lawrence (BBA ’64, MBA ’65) is the founder of Hollywood Marine and former chairman of Kirby Corp., an operator of inland tank barges headquartered in Houston. Kirby purchased Hollywood Marine in 1999. Lawrence is also a member of the Business School Council and a former member of the Board of Tulane.
To see more photos from the competition, including photos of all the winning teams, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.