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Exploring the Intersection of Software Development, AI Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Success | Week in the Life of a TMMBA Student

Week in the Life of a TMMBA Student

Today I will share with you one week of life and experiences with Foster school of a business student. This quarter is full of entrepreneurial spirit and I am excited to share what we are doing in TMMBA, but before I drive in I would like to give you some context and to tell you a bit more about me.

I have a Master’s degree in computer science from Kharkov Aerospace University, but I decided to pursue an MBA to understand the business side of things and to learn how to build my own company. Five years ago I relocated from Ukraine to see how the biggest software company in the world operates and I still work as a software engineer for the Microsoft Bing team. The best option for me was TMMBA degree, because it is work compatible and it is only 18 months, and I am now 4 months away from graduation. The program is intense but well thought out to make your life easier.

Sunday: 15 Jan 2017

I am going to enjoy the nice weather with my friend Marat and my wife Anastasia in the ski resort called Alpental (it is just 45 minutes’ drive from Seattle for folks who don’t know). On the way to resort and back I read few chapters from the “Disciplined Entrepreneurship” book which explains 24 steps to a successful startup, I learned about calculation for TAM (Total Addressable Market) size for your beachhead market. Here are a few pictures from this place and I could say that day was well spent.

After a day well spent in mountains, we visited Twedes Café in North Bend, this is a famous place from Twin Peaks movie with famous cherry pie. David Lynch's Twin Peaks was one of those improbable, instant phenomena that almost give you nostalgia for the days when network television had an iron grip on American culture. I watched these shows when I was a kid and this was one of those mysterious movies from rainy Washington State. They are working on the second season of this show now.

Monday: 16 Jan 2017

I don’t always stick around for events near the UW campus, but I am trying to visit all the ones related to entrepreneurship and startups. A few months ago, on one of the team formation night events, I met a Ph.D. student who was interested in tools to build better batteries, he is studying at the material engineering department and they need help with better data analytics software for R&D. I am working with him on this startup idea and we are planning to participate in upcoming UW competitions like SEBA, Environmental Challenge, and Business Plan. We are also planning to take part in Amazon Catalyst and Berkeley Cup. This week my goal was to compete in SEBA competition and I am working on a poster to showcase our idea there. After a full day of work when I returned back home, I worked on the poster for UW SEBA (Science & Engineering Business Association) competition this week. We also talked with the startup team about final touches and around midnight I reviewed the homework assignment for an entrepreneurship class.

Tuesday: 17 Jan 2017

It was no school and full productive day at work; I prefer to work long hours when I have energy and no school. At work we are building one of the biggest knowledge graph teams in the world, we crawl data from Wikipedia, LinkedIn, IMDB and other websites. Today, I made our Natural Language Processing service responses running faster and 30% smaller with the new Bond schema.  

Also, it was our payment due for seven days’ international tour. The international study tour is one of the main attractions of the TMMBA program, in March we are going to Germany (Berlin) and Estonia (Tallinn) this year. We negotiated a price of $2,225 and 60% participation from our Monday and Wednesday classes. The main idea of this tour is to know each other better and build a better connection with a class, and to visit some businesses like Cisco, Siemens, Mercedes–Benz, and Skype.

Wednesday: 18 Jan 2017

Running is fun, and I am trying to do it in the days when I can, today was a bit of rain that made it very refreshing, nine laps in the close by soccer field helped me to plan for the day ahead. Today we discussed a couple problems with our project and how we can increase the accuracy of our results at work. At 5:15 PM it was time to go to school.

Today is our entrepreneurship class: The course objectives are two-fold: (1) to develop an awareness and understanding of the range, scope, and complexity of issues involved in startups; and (2) to gain insight into how entrepreneurs conceive, adapt, and execute strategies to create new enterprises.  The course will be taught primarily through case discussions, supplemented with lectures and guest presenters. During the course, the participants will be placed in the role of an entrepreneur asked to address issues related to new venture creation.

Our professor Benjamin  Hallen is one of a kind, he is good to learn from because he has experience as a founder, CEO and CTO for Topik Solutions, he also has Ph.D. in entrepreneurship from Stanford University. I really enjoyed a session with guest speaker - chief executive officer of a company called Poppy. Avni Patel was a guest speaker in entrepreneurship class and she was talking about successful startup experiences and how she raised $2M from top venture capital companies in the area. Poppy is a corporation with neighborhood’s best sitters, only a text away. Based on a presentation by a real-life entrepreneur, we need to write up an ‘Opportunity Analysis Memo’ regarding whether you feel the opportunity is attractive, your biggest concerns, and metrics and factors you would track with the venture going forward. The main idea to do opportunity analysis is to use frameworks that we learnt in class like DWI (Doable? Worth it? AM I right person?) and it is 20% of our grade.

 Thursday: 19 Jan 2017

After the standard day at work I am heading to UW for SEBA competitions to pitch our startup idea:

"Battery technology will enable greater penetration of renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, and other energy efficiency solutions. However, battery testing infrastructure used for research and product development is both expensive and compromised by 15-year-old software packages. The limited functionality of these data processing tools wastes time. Therefore, manufacturers cannot catch defects in time. For Samsung and its Galaxy Note 7, this failure has been a $17 billion liability!

For our go-to-market strategy, Cloud Instruments is building a platform for battery testing and analytics. In the future, this analytics platform will be extended to address additional Internet of Things devices. Our platform automates data handling, storage, and visualization - tasks that take between 25 and 50% of a battery engineer's time! We provide real-time access to battery production data and send alerts when quality standards are not met. Our analysis tools provide deeper understanding beyond surface-level performance statistics and focus on predictive analytics with machine learning."

The competition went great, we raised money from the University of Washington on the prototype, made connections in the startup community, and we recruited new people to our team.

Friday: 20 Jan 2017

Today is a long day at work to cover a few missing hours from the week. Later at night a lot of readings to prepare for pitch class tomorrow, one that I really enjoyed was “The Art of Pitching” by Guy Kawasaki. Our pitch class is very unique because we have the opportunity to learn how to pitch from principal venture capital partner - Julie SandlerThe course will follow a progression of different forms of “pitching” that you will need to deliver as an entrepreneur (and even as an “intrapreneur”).  Each session, we receive feedback on the way we verbally communicate an idea. To make this course as practical and as applied as possible, we will have plenty of guest speakers, feedback providers and “judges” coming in to share their perspective directly with you.  These guests are some of the most influential members of the Seattle startup ecosystem:  CEOs, investors, tech company executives, journalists, attorneys, etc.   As a side benefit, it is a great chance to get to know some heavy-hitters in Seattle (all of whom happen to be excellent at the skills built in this course).

Saturday: 21 Jan 2017

As an entrepreneur, your success is directly tied to your abilities to communicate effectively. Our professor from TMMBA Entrepreneurial Influence and the “Pitch” is Julie Sandler. She is a partner in Madrona Venture Group and she worked at Microsoft and Amazon. This class was about entrepreneurship and the role that verbal communication, influence, and persuasion play in shaping your success in starting, growing, managing, leading, and even exiting a venture. We also had 3 amazing guests, leaders of the local companies: Aaron Easterly (CEO of Rover), Mark Britton (CEO of Avvo), and Eric Scollard (Vice President Of Worldwide Sales). We talked about fundraising, sales and best practices for pitch deck. 


Foster school of business 

TMMBA (Technology Management MBA) 

MBA school 


Please reach to me if you want to get in touch or if you have any questions about school or anything else. It was the awesome week with a lot of fun; I hope you enjoyed my short story.

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