INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY; CREATIVE BUSINESS IDEAS FROM NYC

During our 1-month New York MBA program we learned to embrace the global perspective of business. Compared to Hungary the scale of business in the US is obvious when business leaders talk in terms of billions of USD, not millions of HUF. Each guest speaker and company representative with their unique global background and experience had a huge part in my growth at the NYC Module. The exposure to these companies and networks allow me to think bigger. By learning the fundamentals in Budapest, and seeing them in action in New York, I am able to get the full picture MBAs need to thrive in the global market place. After this month I can see much clearly my career perspective, and plan my future more self- confidently.
Our last week, which was dedicated to social innovation and sustainability, was a logic completion of the program. We learned that the future of successful businesses is about not only generating profit but also being sustainable and providing social benefits and responsibilities.
The week was kicked off by Andrew Pek’s lecture. Mr. Pek previously worked in Energy sector, Pharmaceuticals, Bank sector and has a broad understanding how to help organizations to gain competitive advantages. He also teaches courses of design thinking at Cornell University.
He explained us why it is important looking at the tools available from different perspective and how should we employ empathy, creativity and rationality in design thinking in order to manage the challenges and be able to establish sustainable business.
He also talked about innovation. According to his definition innovation is “a strategic and human centered creation of something desirable to others that is doable and is commercially and socially relevant”. Along with this definition we could understand why many ideas, especially fail as they do not include all the three aspects of innovation. The three mentioned elements are: 1. there should be a need unmet so people want it (Desirable) 2. It should be capable of being done (Doable) 3. Company should make a profit and deliver value (Relevant).

My favorite company visit on the 4th week was at Brooklyn Grange, which company’s business is growing food on NYC roofs. Ben Flanner – Head Farmer / President spoke enthusiastically about their business, and everyday practice.
We visited their second farm which was installed in 2012 from 800 thousand USD initial investments. It was on the top of an 11 story building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard close to DUMBO. This is a 1.5 acre rooftop farm.
The green roof is a covering of vegetation and growing plants, planted over the waterproofing membrane of an existing roof. Building owners also enjoy several advantages like increased insulation, storm water capture, extended life of the waterproof membrane by 2-3 times, and last but not least real estate tax credit.
Brooklyn Grange’s products are uncertified organic food. More and more people consider organic products priceless, so for growers organic is very valuable, because the price premium is high. Unfortunately Brooklyn Grange doesn’t have organic certification yet, because the rules are extremely strict. In spite of that they have waiting list of 300 people, so there is a big demand for their healthy, organic products, which are sold, smartly and efficiently. Their price is the bottom of the regional distributors.
Ben also spoke about their biggest challenge and their future plans. Their plans are to produce 3000 jars of honey per year, new mushroom cultivation, food service and processing-building commercial kitchen on new farms.
Brooklyn Grange‘s biggest challenge to grow is to find the right building.

Our guest speaker, B. Laszlo Karafiath, (Producer of CultureCulture Inc.), who started the renowned “Sziget Festival” in Budapest in 1993, spoke about memetic. We learned some tools of memetic marketing which help influence public thinking and behavior, and also help acknowledge the importance of sustainability and environmentally friendly business.
I also enjoyed the company visit to Green Map System. Their business is an innovative idea, which serves the social need, but approximately 80 % of their income derives from mostly grants. However this community centered business with its enthusiastic representatives could build a caring community, which was missing in that part of NYC.

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