Archive for March, 2010

Finalists announced for 2010 Tulane Business Plan Competition

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The developer of an orthopedic implant to help patients with osteoporosis undergo spinal surgery, a social enterprise to provide clean, affordable off-grid lighting to rural poor in the developing world, and the maker of a line of small wind turbines designed to make wind power cost competitive with electricity generated from non-renewable resources have been selected as the three finalists in this year’s Tulane Business Plan Competition.

The 2010 Tulane Business Plan Competition will take place at the Freeman School on Friday, April 16.

On Friday, April 16, teams representing those ventures—Cortical Concepts (Johns Hopkins University), Nuru Light (University of California, Berkeley) and Winduction (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)—will travel to New Orleans to pitch their plans to a panel of seven judges with a cash prize of $50,000 on the line. The three finalists were selected from among 93 applications submitted to this year’s competition, an all-time high.

“Orthopedic implants, clean, affordable lighting for the developing world, and cost-competitive wind power may not seem to have much in common, but each of these ventures demonstrated to our judges the potential to meet critical societal needs with innovative, sustainable solutions,” said Matt Dearmon, president of the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association. “After carefully evaluating all the entries submitted to this year’s competition, we feel confident these three exceptional ventures represent the best of the best.”

While the competition in recent years has offered two tracks—one dedicated to traditional business entrepreneurship and another to social entrepreneurship—this year’s competition does away with that distinction in favor of a new focus on the principles of conscious capitalism. In order to be considered, each venture had to demonstrate not only market potential but also the ability to positively affect all stakeholders and the society in which it operates. The Tulane Business Plan Competition is the first competition to incorporate principles of conscious capitalism into its requirements.

The 2010 Tulane Business Plan Competition will take place in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, with the winner to be announced later that evening at the Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala at the Westin Canal Place Hotel. The competition is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To reserve a seat in the audience, please visit

For more information about this year’s competition, please visit

Students team up for New Orleans Entrepreneur Week

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Jack and Jake’s Local and Organic Market is a new business that plans to bring locally grown food to customers in underserved neighborhoods within three days of harvest, but to achieve that goal, the company first needs a top-notch distribution system.

That’s where a team of MBA students from Tulane, Loyola and UNO comes in.

“They’re helping us not just with the warehouse but with the overall distribution network as well,” says John Burns, founder of Jack and Jake’s. “They’ve done a couple of months worth of work in literally just a few days. It’s amazing the amount of help they’ve already provided us with.”

Freeman students Xavier Cabo, Ruth Yomtoubian, Ashton Prat and Jon Atkinson teamed up with students from Loyola and UNO to provide consulting services to local startups as part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

The Jack and Jake’s project is part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, an annual event organized by the Idea Village that brings teams of MBA students from the nation’s leading business schools to New Orleans to work on consulting projects for local entrepreneurs. This year marks the first time that MBA students from Tulane, Loyola and UNO are participating.

“It’s an invaluable experience in both directions,” says Emily Mitchell, director of technical assistance at the Idea Village. “The entrepreneurs get an incredible amount of free consulting time from the best and the brightest, and the MBAs get to test their skills on real clients with real working challenges.”

Five MBA students from the Freeman School–Jon Atkinson, Xavier Cabo, Chonchol Gupta,  Ashton Prat and Ruth Yomtoubian–along with students from Loyola and UNO teamed up to form two consulting groups. One team is working with Burns to optimize Jack and Jake’s food distribution system while another is working to identify additional revenue streams for Sustainable Environmental Enterprises, which specializes in providing solar power for low- and moderate-income households.

“It’s really nice to be able to bring students from all over New Orleans together to work on this project,” says Chonchol Gupta (MBA ’10), part of the team working with Jack and Jake’s. “It’s been a good learning experience for us, and it’s been really nice to see the three universities come together to try to help a company that will do well for our community.”

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week wraps on Friday, March 27, when the MBA teams deliver their final presentations and hand off their deliverables to the clients.

For more information about New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, visit

MBA students make waves at “Investor Idol”

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Xavier Cabo, Chonchol Gupta and Alex Owings may not have much in common with Kelly Clarkson or Adam Lambert, but they can all say they’re idols.

Rebirth Financial, a new company started by the second-year MBA students, was one of four finalists chosen from among more than 30 applicants to participate in Investor Idol, a showcase for New Orleans small businesses seeking investors.

MBA students Alex Owings, Chonchol Gupta and Xavier Cabo, left to right, were chosen to participate in Investor Idol, a showcase for small businesses seeking investors.

The session was part of the 2010 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, the premier CRA training event for community development bankers. Since this year’s conference was taking place in New Orleans, organizers decided to add a session to let local entrepreneurs seeking funding pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalist judges.

Rebirth Financial plans to offer a web-based platform to connect small business owners in need of loans directly to individual and small organizational lenders. Borrowers will be able to post a loan amount and desired interest rate, and lenders will have the ability to research the loan request and specify the amount they’re willing to loan at the given rate. According to Gupta, the platform will enable businesses to get lower interest rates than at banks and lenders to earn higher returns than with bank deposits or CDs.

While the tongue-in-cheek name and format of the session were borrowed from the television show “American Idol,” Investor Idol did not single out a winner, but Gupta says the opportunity pitch their business idea to an all-star panel of judges and make contacts in the national investment community was prize enough.

“We have somebody that we’re going to be talking to this week about investing with us, but even more importantly we made a lot of great contacts at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco,” says Gupta. “They’ve been working on peer-to-peer social lending as an investment tool, and now they’re really excited about our idea and want to help us.”

According to Ian Galloway of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who coordinated the session, that was the idea.

“All the presenters delivered excellent pitches to our panel of judges,” Galloway says. “Hopefully, the experience has better positioned them to secure growth capital and bring their ideas to life.”

Freeman hosts 14th annual Finance Case Competition

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

MBA students from Freeman and seven other top-ranked business schools competed for $10,000 in cash prizes at the 14th annual Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Finance Case Competition.

This year’s competition, which took place on March 19 in Goldring/Woldenberg Hall II, featured teams from Tulane, Emory, Rice, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of South Carolina, University of Texas at Austin, Washington University and Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt took first place and the grand prize of $5,000 in the competition, Emory earned second-place honors and a prize of $3,000, and University of Texas at Austin won third place and $2,000.

Joe Agular, a senior partner at Johnson Rice & Co., was one of four alumni who served as guest judges for this year's Finance Case Competition.

Serving as judges of this year’s competition were Joe Agular (MBA ’88), senior partner and energy analyst with Johnson Rice & Co.; Chris Conoscenti (MBA/JD ’01), executive director of the Oil & Gas Investment Banking Group with J.P. Morgan; David Morris (MBA ’94), managing director of Oracle Capital Partners; and Gay LeBreton (MBA ’77), a managing director with Chaffe & Associates.

“The competition is a tremendous event that really showcases the MBA students’ financial training by allowing them to apply the lessons learned in the classroom to a complex problem,” says Agular. “But it’s more than just an academic exercise. It’s the pressure of working under a time constraint and then presenting to judges, in effect a situation that very much represents what the students might face in their careers in finance or industry.

“I have been a judge for the competition for a number of years now, and I continue to be amazed by the talents of the MBA students that participate. The quality of the analysis presented by the teams is quite impressive considering the difficulty of the case and five-hour turnaround time they are working under. The competition really puts these students to the test, and they deliver well-thought-out recommendations to the issues the case presents. It makes being a judge quite challenging because the teams are all so talented.”

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 chairman of Kirby Corp., an operator of inland tank barges based in Houston. He is a former member of the Board of Tulane and serves on the Business School Council.

To see more photos from the competition, including photos of the winning teams, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr site.

Record attendance highlights Freeman Days New Orleans

Friday, March 19th, 2010

This year’s Freeman Days New Orleans recruiting and networking event broke records for both corporate participation and alumni involvement.

More than 60 alumni attended this year's Freeman Days New Orleans Networking Reception.

Freeman Days kicked off on Thursday, March 11, with the annual alumni networking reception. More than 150 people attended this year’s event, which gives students the opportunity to mix and mingle with both alumni and corporate recruiters. That number included more than 60 alumni, an all-time high for the reception.

On Friday, a record 31 companies held information sessions, far exceeding last year’s total of 16 companies. Among the firms presenting this year were Abercrombie & Fitch, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Disney, Google, Harrah’s, Intralox, Merrill Lynch, Northwestern Mutual, Ochsner, Pan-American Life, the Receivables Exchange, Verizon Wireless and Zehnder Communications.

To see photos from the networking reception, visit

Energy summit aims to spur mutidisciplinary research

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Since 2008, the Freeman School and the School of Science & Engineering have been collaborating on research into the production and utilization of next generation fuels for clean power, including butanol from sugar cane waste products, but according to Geoff Parker, more research is needed.

Geoff Parker, director of the Tulane Energy Institute, hopes the inaugural Tulane Energy Day will help promote collaboration among researchers.

“A lot of times when we apply for grants or funding, we have some pieces of the puzzle, but we might have to scramble to identify all capabilities we need,” says Parker, associate professor of economic sciences and director of the Tulane Energy Institute. “Many of the challenges are really multidisciplinary now and require coordination across units.”

Promoting coordination across units is the goal of this Friday’s Tulane Energy Day. Sponsored by the Provost’s Office and organized by Parker and Doug Meffert, deputy director of the Center for Bioenvironmental Research, the one-day summit represents the first attempt to bring together researchers interested in energy from across the university. Faculty members from chemical and biomedical engineering, economics, business, environmental studies, public health, law and other disciplines will make brief presentations about their current research.

“This is one way to prepare to take advantage of some of the multidisciplinary opportunities that have been coming up as part of the stimulus funding,” Parker says. “It’s really about knowing what Tulane’s capabilities are.”

Much of Tulane’s recent energy research has been coordinated through the Clean Power and Energy Research Consortium, a collaboration between Tulane and five other universities in Louisiana established to addresses critical scientific, engineering and economic issues associated with power and energy generation. Given the complexity of the subject, Parker says a multidisciplinary approach makes sense.

“There are economic issues, there are scientific issues, there are cultural issues,” Parker says. “In order to make progress, you really need a multidisciplinary approach to understand the problems and then help fashion improvements.”

For more information about Tulane Energy Day and to see the complete schedule, visit

Freeman mourns the death of Douglas Schantz

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Douglas N. Schantz, president of Sequent Energy Management, died tragically in New Orleans on March 5 after apparently falling accidentally into the Mississippi River.

Schantz, who served on the board of the Tulane Energy Institute, had been in New Orleans to present a gift of $25,000 to the institute as well as award two scholarships to Freeman students seeking careers in the energy industry.

Douglas N. Schantz, right, presented James McFarland with a gift of $25,000 for the Tulane Energy Institute at a reception in the Lavin-Bernick Center on March 4.

Schantz, a Tulane parent, was largely responsible for establishing the close relationship that exists today between Sequent and Freeman. In 2006, Sequent began actively recruiting Freeman students for positions in the company, including its prestigious rotational program, which enables high-potential candidates to gain experience in various functional areas prior to assuming management-track positions. Over the last four years, Sequent has hired eight Freeman School graduates, more than any other energy company. Schantz also served as a guest lecturer in Freeman School classes, sharing his insights and experience with students.

Sequent also provided significant financial support for the Freeman School. Since 2007, the company has donated more than $100,000 to the Tulane Energy Institute in addition to sponsoring a scholarship program for students seeking careers in the energy industry. Six Freeman students have earned the $2,500 scholarships over the past four years.


Freeman wins KeyBank Minority MBA Case Competition

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A team of Freeman School MBA students won first place in the 2010 KeyBank Foundation Minority MBA Case Competition.

The competition, sponsored by KeyBank and coordinated by Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, took place on Feb. 27 at KeyBank’s corporate headquarters in Cleveland.

From left to right, KeyBank’s Margot Copeland, Juan Molina (MBA ’11), Luiz Barros (MBA ’11), Mario Coronel (MBA ’11), KeyBank’s Bob DeAngelis and Olcan Moncayo (MBA ’11).

Freeman students Luiz Barros, Mario Coronel, Juan Molina and Olcan Moncayo earned the top prize of $6,000 for developing and presenting solutions to make KeyBank’s online banking service a better experience for customers. In winning the competition, the Freeman students beat out teams representing 18 prestigious universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Indiana, Texas and Penn State.

“The Tulane University team presented a compelling, innovative and strategic solution that responds to a fast-paced, challenging business climate,” said Bob DeAngelis, executive vice president at KeyBank. “I’m encouraged by the level of talent and diversity represented by MBA students from across the country. Many of their winning solutions offer fresh perspectives to complex business issues.”

Based in Cleveland, KeyCorp is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $93 billion. Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally.

Students participate in real-time power trading simulation

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

With the threat of recent massive power blackouts ever present, a small group of Freeman School MBA and MFIN candidates are reliving the nightmare of a darkened landscape, not as students but as the next operators of the Smart Grid.

Students in the course Introduction to Electricity Markets assume the roles of electricity producers, traders, dispatchers and analysts.

Students in the course Introduction to Electricity Markets assume the roles of electricity producers, traders, dispatchers and analysts.

The course Introduction to Electricity Markets, taught by adjunct professor Gregory Thurnher, engages students in the challenges faced by power traders, electric utility analyst, independent power producers and utility dispatchers, whose job it is to keep America’s lights on in the most cost-effective manner.

Students in the course assume the roles of these “power brokers,” answering the call of the Obama administration to shore up the nation’s electrical system by integrating renewable energy sources, optimizing transmission systems with smart-grid technologies, and participating in a fair and seamless wholesale electric marketplace.

In keeping with the Freeman School’s expertise in experiential learning, the exercises the students participate in are “real” enough to be recognized by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the Electric Reliability Organization delegated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to administer System Operator Training, as suitable for operator continuing education hours.

Students who have successfully completed the course have gone on to jobs in utility and commodity trading roles at firms including Entergy Corp., Florida Power and Light, Ameren Energy and JP Morgan.

On Friday, March 5, students will take their final exam in the course by participating in a simulated 12-hour energy dispatch shift. The exercise will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. and representatives from Shell and Entergy Corp. will be on hand to observe and act as judges.

Alumni and others interested in attending the simulation should contact Gregory Thurnher at for more information.

Burkenroad Symposium explores emerging technologies

Monday, March 1st, 2010

From rooftop solar panels to tissue-engineered human organs, many of the innovations we take for granted today became reality through the combined efforts of scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

For the 17th Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, “The Quest for Fool’s Gold: The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Technologies,” three nationally respected experts in the areas of nanotechnology, alternative energy and regenerative medicine offered their thoughts on what it takes to bring cutting-edge technologies to market.

The symposium, an annual presentation of the Burkenroad Institute, took place on Friday, Feb. 26, in the Lavin-Bernick Center. Laura B. Cardinal, Exxon Professor of Strategy and director of the institute, moderated the event. (more…)

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