Archive for April, 2013

Graduate Reunion Party draws more than 150 alumni

Tuesday, 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).

Beta Gamma Sigma inducts newest members

Monday, 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 Abramowitz

Emily Balcke

Benjamin Briggs Barrios

Nathaniel Ben-David

Annelise Broussard

Lu Chai

Alexandra Cohen

Colin Crosby

Catherine Cusimano

Ashley Falgout

Michael Finkelstein

Michelle Germain

Evan Golden

Sisi He

Chenwei Jiang

Rimas Kapacinskas

Walter Kissling

Courtney Kulchin

Huihua Lei

Keji Liu

Shengting Luo

Danica Mock

Danielle Myers

Samantha Oppenheim

Ryan Pruitt

Sisi Qiu

Aileen Rodriguez

Karli Rosen

Lijun Ruan

Christoph Schuhmann

Yuchen Shi

Taft Sibley

John Philip Stuart

Xiaohan Tian

Jacob Tripplehorn

Margaret Tumminello

Olivia Utt

Yu Wang

Xue Yang

Xingcan Yu

Jue Zhang

Linna Zhang

Jing Zhao

Jingyi Zhu

In addition, Linna Zhang, who was inducted as an undergraduate, also received second recognition at the graduate level.

Jazz Fest poster has Freeman School roots

Thursday, 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 recently introduced class called Entrepreneurship and the New Business Enterprise.

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 art. 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.”


Healthy beverage and teacher resource earn top prizes at biz plan competition

Monday, 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.


Seven top schools face off in Finance Case Competition

Monday, 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.




Elstrott to be honored as Entrepreneur of the Year

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

The A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University will honor longtime faculty member and entrepreneur John B. Elstrott Jr. at this year’s Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala. The ceremony will take place on Friday, April 19, at the Audubon Tea Room.

Longtime faculty member and entrepreneur John B. Elstrott Jr. will be honored at this year’s Tulane Council of Entrepreneurs Awards Gala.

Elstrott, a professor of practice and emeritus executive director of the Freeman School’s Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, will receive the Tulane Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Tulane Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the ceremony. This marks the first time in the history of the event that both awards have gone to a single individual.

Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon and Levy-Rosenblum Institute Executive Director Ralph Maurer will present the awards.

Elstrott earned his PhD in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1975. He joined Tulane in 1982 and has taught entrepreneurship at the Freeman School since 1986. In 1991, Elstrott became the founding director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, which was established to coordinate entrepreneurship initiatives at the school and in the community.

In addition to his career as an educator and administrator, Elstrott has also had a long career as an entrepreneur and investor. In the early 1970s, Elstrott was part of the management team that helped build Celestial Seasonings into the world’s largest specialty tea company. Today, Elstrott continues to be an active investor and board member in the venture capital, wetlands mitigation banking, pharmaceutical, financial services, medical and functional food, and herbal remedy industries. He currently serves as chairman of the board of Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading retailer of natural and organic foods. Elstrott has served as a director of the company since 1994.

The Levy-Rosenblum Institute presents the awards each year to highlight outstanding entrepreneurs. The Distinguished Entrepreneur of Year Award honors individuals who embody the true spirit of entrepreneurship and philanthropic generosity, while the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes individuals dedicated to improving their communities through entrepreneurial initiatives.

For more information about the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, visit






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