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Jul 2015

Tips for LGBT MBAs Interested in Entrepreneurship

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Angulus won the LGBT MBA Startup Pitch Competition at ROMBA 2014

Guest blog by Kati Karottki, MBA Class of 2016 at Booth School of Business

One of my reasons for going back to school was to explore entrepreneurship a bit more deeply. Among its peer disciplines entrepreneurship at my program had been flying under the radar to outsiders but the approach and thinking combined with accelerator opportunities and strong VC network appealed to me. For those LGBT MBAs and other graduate student attendees of the 2015 ROMBA Conference, particularly those who are preparing for the LGBT MBA Startup Pitch Competition (sponsored by Capital One with judges coming from StartOut), I want to share just one point of view as you take the plunge into entrepreneurship. I’ve sifted through to summarize and share what I’ve found to be most valuable both theoretically and practically speaking. These stem from my coursework as well as real-world experience and participation in an accelerator as a member of my team’s new venture. While not comprehensive, the below provides some thinking for those new (and not so new) to the space;

  • Thinking about how you think: Entrepreneurial thinking leverages effectual reasoning while managerial thinking leverages causal reasoning (or even creative causal reasoning). What’s the difference? With the former you’re imagining new outputs (or ends) based on current but rapidly changing means (i.e. who you are, your idea, your network). The exact end-goal is not usually clear and you’re, in fact, very comfortable with that. Working with what you have you test what does and doesn’t work as you “go”. In the latter, you have clearly (pre)defined end-goal(s) backed by tons of data and historical insights. You think through how to leverage and maximize established resources to obtain a pre-defined goal. Prof. Sarasvathy at Virgina’s Darden School of Management writes about this extensively in a paper “What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial?”. If, as an MBA you fall into the latter (pretty common), think about partnering up with someone who thinks like the former.
  • The pieces to the puzzle: You think you have a great new idea or a way of making an existing product or service even better. Where do you start? What are the areas you need to think about as you build out your idea? Understanding the components of a business model framework is important in this regard and a great resource for that is Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur. To quickly (albeit inadequately) summarize what Osterwalder & Co. outline, they are: Customer Segmentation, Value Proposition, Channels, Customer Relationships, Revenue Streams, Key Resources, Key Activities, Key Partnerships, and Cost Structure. Working through these components will essentially build the rationale for how your venture creates, delivers and captures value.
  • The Pitch: No matter how good the idea, how hard you have worked, and how “connected” you are, you need to sell-in the idea and stimulate interest. To use the analogy of dating, a pitch is like a coffee-chat. You’re simply trying to earn a follow-up invite for a more serious dinner date. So, make a good first impression, tell a compelling story and save the granular details for (hopefully) round 2. Guy Kawasaki lays out a nice framework for a pitch deck and Hyde Park Angels provides a great step-by-step guide to building a compelling story for your venture.
  • When the idea comes, get ready to sweat: Ultimately, remember that innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration (someone said that…). Simply put, when the idea comes about, get ready to sweat and work your butt off. You’ll soon find out just how passionate you (and members of your team) are about the idea. More importantly, it’s through a lot of hard work, coupled with a great idea, that you’ll ultimately be rewarded.

Good luck and go get it!

Kati Karottki is a member of the 2015 Reaching Out LGBT MBA & Business Graduate Conference organizing committee and obtaining her MBA from Chicago Booth. She enjoys exploring entrepreneurship, both with startups and larger Fortune 500 companies looking to drive disruptive growth. Her team’s food+tech venture, Maestro, won the 2015 New Venture Challenge at Chicago Booth (a #4 Accelerator in the country and with previous winners including GrubHub and Braintree). 

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Dec 2014

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

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

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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