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.
March 26th, 2013
Tulane startups in nutrition, medical technology and public health will compete for $50,000 next month in the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association’s (TEA) 13th annual Tulane Business Plan Competition.
The 13th annual Tulane Business Plan Competition will take place on Friday, April 19, 2013, at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.
TEA announced finalists for the business plan competition, which is open to student innovators from around the world, as well as the Domain Companies New Orleans Entrepreneur Challenge, which awards $20,000 to the best plan for New Orleans-based venture with strong growth potential and positive local impact.
Tulane Business Plan Competition finalists include: Be Well Nutrition, a nutritional beverage startup; Humanure Power, which aims to provide sustainable sanitation and electricity to rural India; and TRUE-See Systems, a healthcare venture that has a new high-resolution digital system for diagnostic imaging. While 51 companies from 21 universities and four countries entered the contest, this is the first year that all finalists are from Tulane.
Finalists for the Domain Companies Challenge include Be Well Nutrition, TRUE-SEE Systems and Haystack EDU, an online platform to help connect schools and teachers.
Both contests focus on ventures committed to conscience capitalism, which is based on the belief that a business can benefit both the community and major stakeholders.
“In today’s world, young business leaders are looking for ways to do business better, while making a bigger, sustainable impact. That is why our competition awards those with the best plans to achieve all around conscious capitalism – maintaining high standards and integrity, while serving itself, its employees, investors, the community and the entire world,” said TEA President Callan Maumus. “The companies chosen as finalists represent the value of conscious capitalism and know that the pursuit of a higher purpose is mandatory in doing business in today’s global marketplace.”
All finalists will present their plans to judges in a live event starting at 8:30 a.m., Friday, April 19, at the A. B. Freeman School of Business. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tea.tulane.edu.
March 26th, 2013
Jennifer Merluzzi’s paper “How many names are enough? Identifying network effects with the least set of listed contacts” has been accepted for publication in Social Networks. Merluzzi, an assistant professor of management at the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, co-authored the paper with Ronald S. Burt, Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
March 21st, 2013
The fifth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week shined a spotlight on the city’s fast-growing startup scene this week, but the head of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane University told attendees that the event is also a testament to the important role Tulane plays in the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Ralph Maurer, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship, moderated a panel highlighting’ entrepreneurship programs across the university at the fifth annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)
“If you look at all entrepreneurial ventures that are active this week in various competitions, over a third are founded by Tulane graduates and many more have Tulane alums and students as employees or interns or faculty as advisors,” said Ralph Maurer, a professor of practice who specializes in strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. “That is no accident. We work very hard at building better entrepreneurs.”
On Tuesday (March 19), Maurer moderated a panel highlighting entrepreneurship programs across the university as part of Entrepreneur Week’s second annual Tulane Day.
Joining Maurer on the panel were Rick Aubry, assistant provost for social entrepreneurship and community engagement; Don Gaver, department chair of biomedical engineering; John M. Christie, executive director of technology transfer, Dr. Mark J. Kahn, professor of hematology/medical oncology at Tulane School of Medicine; and alumna Sarah Mack, founder of Tierra Resources, an environmental consulting firm that’s working to establish a cap-and-trade system to support coastal wetlands restoration.
Gaver described Tulane’s new interdisciplinary Bioinnovation PhD Program, which is designed to fast-track students for careers as biotech entrepreneurs.
“This is one of the only universities in the nation that has a school of science and engineering and also medicine, public health and a primate center all under one university, and the boundaries are very low for us to collaborate with one another,” said Gaver. “This is a great place for development of these kinds of technologies.”
In addition to the panel, NOEW’s Tulane Day also featured a discussion on entrepreneurial opportunities in New Orleans moderated by John Elstrott, professor of practice and emeritus executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute, and a keynote talk from Avram Glazer, Tulane parent and co-chairman of Manchester United football club.
March 18th, 2013
What should the A. B. Freeman School of Business look like in five years?
That was the central question posed to a large, diverse group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and employers in September 2012. Now, seven months later, the group—known collectively as the Strategic Planning Leadership Team—is preparing to release its findings to the entire Freeman community.
Since last September, a large, diverse group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and employers has been working to develop a new strategic plan for the Freeman School.
Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon assembled the team last summer to begin the difficult task of drafting a new strategic plan for the Freeman School. With more than 50 participants representing all the major stakeholder groups and professional support from Academic Leadership Associates, a nationally respected firm specializing in strategic planning for higher education, the effort is the most inclusive, most comprehensive strategic planning process in school history.
“I think we all share the view that it’s critically important for this school to determine what it wants to be on a goingforward basis,” says Solomon. “There’s a widespread recognition that we don’t have the scale to be everything to everybody, so this is the time where we’ve got to figure out where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”
“It’s something that needs to be done,” adds Albin Soares (MBA ’13), president of the Graduate Business Council. “The business school has been around a long time, but the market has changed dramatically. Where do we fit in? What do we do well? Where do we go from here? That’s what we’re trying to figure out in these strategic planning sessions.”
The planning process is actually part of a larger initiative being undertaken at the university level. Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, Tulane is embarking on a major strategic planning effort designed to move the university beyond recovery and into the next stage in its growth. As part of that process, the provost’s office asked each academic unit to develop its own strategy document that will feed into the master plan, ensuring that key school priorities get the resources and support they need from the university’s central administration.
The Strategic Planning Leadership Team is in the final stages of a preparing a plan to guide the Freeman School over the next five years.
For the Freeman School, the process couldn’t come at a more critical time. Across the nation, business schools are facing increased competition from a wide variety of sources, including online programs, for-profit universities and institutions in Asia and Europe. At the same time, prospective students are becoming more demanding consumers, increasingly questioning the value of traditional business school offerings. Interest in the two-year, full-time MBA, long considered the flagship program at most business schools, has declined for five straight years, according to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council.
“If we are focused as we have been for a number of years on a strong MBA program, expecting that to continue, that’s not going to happen,” says Business School Council member Jerry Greenbaum (BBA ’62). “That’s just not where graduate education is going in the future, so we need to clarify where it is we want to go and what it is we want to do.”
Since the process kicked off in September, the Strategic Planning Leadership Team has spent hundreds of hours studying the management education environment and developing five-year goals for the Freeman School along with strategies to achieve those goals and metrics to measure outcomes.
“By collecting all the inputs from the various constituencies and then organizing that input around a clear vision of where we’re trying to go as a school, you get clarity on what you’re trying to get done, but you also get the buy-in, which I think is critical,” says Business School Council member Jay Lapeyre (MBA/JD ’76). “It’s a terrific process.”
March 8th, 2013
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional services firm, has awarded the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University a $10,000 grant to develop new accounting courses in the Master of Finance program.
Clif Brown, left, and Paul Spindt are members of the Accounting Curriculum Study Group, which has received a $10,000 grant from PwC to develop new accounting courses in the MFIN program.
The grant was awarded through the PwC INQuires program, which funds applied research projects contributing to the practice of auditing and tax.
The Freeman School’s Accounting Curriculum Study Group — which includes Jasmijn Bol, Clif Brown, Kell Riess, Paddy Sivadasan, Christine Smith and Paul Spindt — submitted the proposal for funding to assist in accounting curriculum development to support an upcoming revision of the Master of Finance program.
“I am delighted that one of the world’s leading accountancy firms has given us its support in our effort to provide stronger accounting coursework for one of our most highly regarded graduate programs,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School.
The curriculum plan includes the development of a two-course sequence on Financial Reporting for Financial Analysts which will focus on the nature and role of accounting in organization measurement, reporting and control processes from the perspective of a financial analyst. The courses will cover how to read, analyze and interpret financial accounting data to make a variety of informed business decisions with an emphases on analysis of operating profitability and return on investment as well as forecasting financial performance. Throughout, the courses will incorporate business and accounting cases and research projects based on real companies.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin this summer, and it’s expected to be completed by the end of the fall 2013 semester.
March 7th, 2013
Eric Hamerman’s paper “Conditioned Superstition: Desire for Control and Consumer Brand Preferences,” co-authored with Gita Johar, professor of business at Columbia University, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Consumer Research. The paper explores the notion of conditioned superstition, the idiosyncratic superstitions people form through everyday associations between a product and an outcome. The authors find that people are more likely to engage in superstitious behavior when they have a high level of desire to control an uncertain outcome combined with a low perception of their ability to do so. Furthermore, Hamerman and Johar find that after engaging in superstitious behaviors, individuals are more likely to predict a successful outcome. Hamerman is an assistant professor of marketing at the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.