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Dec 2014

LGBT MBA Profile: ROMBA Startup Pitch Winner Frank Glaser (Columbia Business School ’15)

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Frank Glaser, MBA, CBS Class of 2015

Business School: MBA, Columbia Business School (’15)
Med School: MD, Tulane School of Medicine (’16)
Undergraduate Institution: Dartmouth College (2008)

Frank accepting the top prize at for the ROMBA LGBT Startup Pitch Competition with Reaching Out & StartOut Board Members

Tell us a bit about your background, prior work experience and career interests. 

My original background post-undergrad was in strategy consulting for the lifescience industry.  I learned a tremendous amount about healthcare and enjoyed the subject matter, but yearned to get closer to healthcare delivery and the actual products.  Having always dreamed of becoming a physician, I decided to pursue an MD/MBA at Tulane School of Medicine and Columbia Business School.  First-hand clinic experience re-ignited my entrepreneurial drive, which I could now apply to healthcare – opportunities abound. With input from clinicians and support from advisors, I identified a way to really benefit clinical medicine with my current start-up Angulus.  Throughout my career, I strive to continue to impact healthcare on a systems level by innovating as an entrepreneur and/or investor.

What made you decide to get your MBA?

I felt the MBA would enhance my network and credentials, provide time for entrepreneurial pursuits, and give me access to the startup ecosystems that would support these goals.

Were you out as you went through the business school application process? 

Yes.  It’s important to be yourself, always.  In my experience, top business schools are very open to diversity of all kinds.

Tell us a bit about your involvement with the LGBTQ and Ally communities on your campus.  Are you particularly active?

I am socially active in Cluster Q, Columbia’s LGBT group.  Some of my best relationships in business school developed through this group!

You won the 2015 Reaching Out Startup Pitch Competition at ROMBA 2014 with your company Angulus.  Can you tell us a bit about what Angulus is? 

Angulus develops smart solutions for critical healthcare needs. The company’s initial focus is on ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), a fatal condition that develops in patients who are intubated.  Our flagship product helps providers maintain ventilated patients at a 30 to 45 degree position – an angle that’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to reduce the risk of VAP. Affixed to the patient’s sternum, the disposable inclinometer has a built-in alert system that signals a cue at bedside and at the central nursing station when patients are outside of the desired recumbency for a certain period of time. The Angulus technology conveniently integrates into vital signs monitoring equipment and electronic health records.

Where are you right now in terms of funding and in terms of development?  Is there any help you need from the LGBT MBA or entrepreneurial community?

We have conducted extensive market validation, including focus groups with end-users in the hospital.  Armed with that feedback, we developed a beta product, partnered with key hospitals, and positioned ourselves for launch of a pilot study in Spring 2015.  We plan to begin raising a full seed round in January, so we would welcome the opportunity to speak with potential investors or folks with connections to that community.  We always hope individuals with hospital/delivery connections will reach out as well.  Please reach me at frank@angulus.us.

What made you decide to enter the Startup Pitch Competition?  Did you make any connections or get any feedback that’s been helpful as you move forward? 

The ROMBA pitch competition posed an opportunity to get feedback from a predominantly non-healthcare audience.  Each and every pitch sharpens the sales skills.  The chance to win a cash prize for Angulus also didn’t hurt! In the process of the competition, I also made some valuable connections with investors and fellow entrepreneurs.

Some people say that being entrepreneurial and an MBA aren’t things that go together.  We’re guessing you disagree – what advice do you have for prospective MBAs who want to do startup work?

Yes, quite the contrary! Business school is like an insurance policy – it gives you the time and space to really hit the ground on a startup opportunity while credentialing you for virtually any career!  For folks who have limited previous startup experience, business school a perfect opportunity to get your feet wet and decide if this is ultimately the right path for you.  It also gives access to an ecosystem – Angulus has made most of its connections through Columbia and its alumni network!


Columbia Business School is a participant in the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship which provides scholarship and leadership opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & active ally student pursuing their full-time MBAs.  Learn more.

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Nov 2014

LGBTQ MBA Alumni Profile: Justin Belmont, Columbia Business School ’14

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

Do you feel like you might not be a traditional MBA candidate who wants to go into finance, marketing or consulting?  This post is for you!

Justin Belmont is a class of 2014 alumnus of the Columbia Business School (a partner in the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship program, which provides scholarship and leadership opportunities for LGBT business school applicants) and received his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College.  While in school Justin founded a startup called Perk.la, which won the 2013 ROMBA Startup Pitch Competition and earlier this year was acquired by ID.me.  Check out the interview below to learn what his journey was like as an entrepreneur in business school, resources for LGBT entrepreneurs in b-school, and how it feels like to sell your company!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and where you went to
business school?

I’m a 2014 graduate of the MBA program at Columbia Business School. Before school, I was a product manager at Merchantry, an B2B eCommerce software startup in New York City.

Tell us a bit about what Perk.la is. When did you come-up with and develop
the idea?

Our team discovered that the breadth of perks and discounts offered to students in stores was not offered online. In 2013-14, while full-time students in business school, we created Perkla to solve this problem.

And this big update for Perk.la is that it was…

Perkla has been acquired by ID.me!

Now that you’ve been acquired what happens?

As part of the sale, I’ll be joining ID.me as Director of Product Management, leading product development for ID.me’s gamified shopping site targeting students and millennials.

While still a student, you were the winner of the 2013 Reaching Out MBA Conference Startup Competition, which came with a $7,500 prize. How did winning that help you really get Perk.la off the ground?

That was the very first capital we received. So, it was hugely helpful! With it, we were able to hire a lawyer to help us set up a
structure for the company, do some online advertising, and build out a nifty competition which helped to juice our user base.

How have your fellow MBA peers provided support for you and Perk.la as you launched the company? Could you have had the same success outside of business school?

Having access to “the network” is hugely helpful. Most of our initial retail partners came through Columbia MBA students and alumni. I’ve been blown away by how much the Columbia family is wiling to do for each other.

What advice do you have for prospective LGBT MBA entrepreneurs?

What a great time to be an LGBT MBA entrepreneur! The community is growing like crazy — so be sure to tap into all the resources out there (especially StartOut and ROMBA).


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