Entrepreneurship is not only profit-driven

As I’m sitting here in JFK waiting for my flight back to Budapest, I hardly feel that the 3-week study trip and 6-hour exam last Saturday were all behind me. I must say most of the valuable learning points of the 3 weeks are very well presented in the presentation by Hochman from the Business Incubator Association of New York State, Inc. For example, Brooklyn Research operates more as an “incubator” by providing not only office spaces but also networking opportunities to researchers. WeWork also has similar community-building value proposition to startups which rent spaces in their buildings. However, I have strong opinion that WeWork can only thrive in cities which are active innovation hubs, not in cities with less support for entrepreneurship.

Regarding Digital Marketing, the presentation by Michael from Spark451 made me realize that it’s not very difficult for a “lousy” electrical engineer with only business-analytic experience like me to enter this area. First, I don’t need to be scared off by the programming part of a Digital Marketing solution because the more important things are identifying customers’ problems and how your solution can help them solve these problems. Second, there is huge market in my home country Vietnam because domestic companies are not familiar with digital marketing solutions yet. Third, to overcome clients’ doubt over the effectiveness of digital market, one way to penetrate in Vietnam market is to offer clients free-trial period. If our solution works well for clients with proven, hard-fact numbers (e.g. sales/profits growth) after they try our solution, we will get paid eventually. When I come back to Budapest, I will definitely do my own research on Digital Marketing and learn from my classmate Gabor who is very experienced in this area.

The meetings from remaining 3 company visits were “unique” in the sense that these company are not solely profit-driven as the ones that I visited in the first 2 weeks:

  • Wendy and Bob from Green Map showed their passion of building the community where they live. Wendy has to operate her organization under a very limited budget but her work is so amazing that the Green Map has been adopted in many other countries. Bob raised an interesting issue when he presented in our classroom about the idea that rich people nowadays care less about giving back to the society. Some big corporations even abuse charity by using it as a marketing tool. As a lesson for me if I become an entrepreneur, I must first care more about the well-being of my employees and second demonstrate genuine interest in charity.
  • The visit to Rudin Management offered at least 4 classic lessons in doing business. First, Rubin partner and grow with their tenants in order to foster a long-term and sustainable relationship. Second, the development of DI-BOSS system not only helps Rudin become more cost effective but also “greener” (i.e. environment friendly) at the same time. Third, the innovative solution DI-BOSS provides Rudin opportunity for starting a complementary business in building’s optimization besides their traditional real estate development business. Lastly, DI-BOSS cannot become online without the partnerships with university (Columbia) and external partner (FinMechanics). This last point reconfirms Hochman’s slide on “Where does innovation come from?”.
  • The founder of Brooklyn Grange is similar to Wendy and Bob in the sense that he prefers to be a social entrepreneur to working for a big company as he did in the past. Although the company still has many challenges such as thin margin, winter break, scalability, etc., I do hope that they can sustain and grow the business by focusing on developing and marketing a unique organic agriculture products’ brand which highly appeals to a sizeable group of New Yorkers.

To conclude, I would like to thank Prof. Mel, Prof. Bala, and the admin officers at CEUBS who helped bring us to NYC and gave me a lifetime opportunity to witness how different NYC is from my home country. Definitely I will apply what I have learned when I go home after this MBA program.

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