TRIUM… an Incubator, Boardroom and Think-tank
The TRIUM Global Incubator Capstone is at the heart of the TRIUM Global Executive MBA program.
For this project, our students are encouraged to leverage the TRIUM resources, faculty, classmates and alumni to incubate an idea from inception to launch. That innovative idea they've envisioned but had to put on hold? Now's the moment to nurture it. Here TRIUM executives have the intellectual space, resources, and mandate to strike out in a new direction—the opportunity to take their vision, expertise and experience and make something new, to identify a niche and create a business to fill it.
Several examples of recent ventures follow:
|Bringing Traditional and Organic Foods Closer to Home
Growing up in Canada as a young man, Iranian born Cyrus Razzaghi missed eating his grandmother's traditional Persian cuisine and the Italian cuisine he got to love as a teenager in Italy- the natural spices and healthy nuts, and the fresh pasta and dizzying variety of cheese were hard to come by, unless you shopped in expensive specialty stores. What if, he thought, these delicious healthy and traditional foods could become available at corner stores and even directly to consumers at the click of a button? His journey to bridge the gap and make organic, healthy and ethnic/specialty products more accessible and affordable inevitably became the focus of his TRIUM Capstone Project, SabioQ.
From Concept to Launch
As a serial entrepreneur with past experience in e-Commerce, Cyrus contemplated how to launch this concept. At TRIUM, he not only met his future co-founders, but their talents and combined expertise, and passion for good eating, provided the ingredients for success. >>read more
SabioQ's business concept aims to make healthy and specialty foods more accessible and affordable to both businesses and ultimately to consumers around the world. Currently headquartered in Austin, Texas and officially launched in October 2013, SabioQ first began as a capstone TRIUM project with six members of the TRIUM Class of 2011, with four of them deciding to make SabioQ a reality: Cyrus Razzaghi, Manan N. Rawal, Donald H. Ruse and Charles Smith.
The international team (of Iranian/Canadian, American, Indian/American, French and Danish nationals) was formed early-on, at the conclusion of Module 1 in London. According to Cyrus, "the TRIUM program brings a unique global blend of senior executives to work together in a setting where the 'trust factor' exists." Each co-founding member brought unique talents to the project, from Marketing & Business Development, Finance, Strategy, Investor Relations, Operations, Member Support, HR, Legal and Operations to Quality Assurance. "While all of us had established a successful track record as experienced global executives, each of us enrolled in TRIUM to broaden our knowledge, tap our entrepreneurial spirit, and pursue a dream of building something that would not only create economic value, but also social value-In essence, we wanted to 'do well and do good.'"
The diverse expertise of SabioQ's co-founders, as Cyrus points out, perfectly reflected the "power" and "reach" of the "TRIUM network" within his class.
Healthy Living Closer to Home
According to its mission statement, SabioQ was "established to help small and medium size businesses in the organic, healthy and specialty foods market overcome the challenges of profitably and responsibly growing their business by offering its members a comprehensive suite of services and solutions." Through an e-Commerce approach, SabioQ strives "to provide the confidence, leverage, insight and reach" that SMEs would need to expand their business.
Come harvest time this November, the socially minded SabioQ aims to establish partnerships with 1000s of producers and distributors globally and working closely with large global partners such as food associations. It is also bringing business and market opportunities to entrepreneurs and investors interested in the healthy and specialty food sectors. If you are looking to smell the aromas and tastes of the spicy Sicilian oregano from Syracuse, Italy, drink the organic teas from the Caspian Sea, or taste the creamy hummus from Lebanon -- you needn't yearn any longer. Thanks to SabioQ, irrespective of where you live, it's all within the click of a button.
Living the Dream
- Swaady Martin-Leke
At some point during her many years with General Electric Co., where she was most recently GE Transportation's Regional Director for the US $300 million Sub-Saharan subsidiary, Swaady Martin-Leke, Class of 2012, developed a dream. "I wanted to do something very different, something that promotes our African resources, culture, and identity," she recalls. "It was my dream to capture true African luxury, change the world's perception of Africa, and produce a luxury brand that is truly African in origin, nature, and tradition." Swaady's dream of breaking out and doing something new motivated her to apply to TRIUM. >>read more
A winning team
For Swaady, TRIUM was the indispensable key to unlocking the future she is now creating. "The program equipped me with the necessary toolkit to move from being a corporate leader in a big company to an entrepreneur. The professors and my fellow classmates have been amazing mentors and knowledge resources. Through the TRIUM alumni network, I was able to make connections and build relationships around the world that have proven to be of true value to YSWARA."
Empowering Women One Job at a Time
Dr. Kalpana Sankar, TRIUM Alumna 2012, has a lot to smile about. Her Indian based NGO Hand in Hand is celebrating its 10th year of empowering women and serving the community, creating over 1.3 million jobs for women in the process. In its short lifespan, the achievements and impact of Hand in Hand have been impressive - this is no doubt due to the leadership, passion and determination of its tireless CEO.
Dr. Sankar undertook her TRIUM studies during a crucial time for Hand in Hand India. With ambitious targets to expand to over 15 countries, Hand in Hand needed to reevaluate its business model, branding, and redefine its mission. TRIUM's unique coursework, focusing on an incubator project, became the perfect testing ground to explore the NGO's new expansion plan. This case study became the basis of her capstone project, Academy for Social Entrepreneurs.>>read more
From Theory to Practice
"TRIUM believed and invested in me" she reaffirms. "I drew on the expertise of my TRIUM classmates and launched a professional project close to my heart."
The TRIUM Curricula, through the capstone project, led by Dr. Sankar and her team of fellow TRIUM students, Panagiotis Skordas, Rakesh Kumar, Amol Khisty, Anurag Gupta, and Herve Koffi, provided a real live business model to test her NGO's growth plans. In particular, fellow team member Panagiotis Skordas, an expert in business planning, process design and improvement, and change management, was instrumental in providing the necessary guidance and expertise necessary from the project's inception to eventual launch.
The purpose of setting up the Academy for Social Entrepreneurs was to provide "comprehensive post training support to implementers and funders in the microfinance and social enterprise sectors." In order to further the mission of the organization and create three million new jobs by 2020, Hand in Hand needed to create a platform to address the needs of how to provide quality leadership and management training to professionals.
The Road to Empowerment
The poverty and gender imbalance she witnessed fueled her desire to pursue a second PhD in women's studies, on Gender Perspectives of Women in Self Help Groups.
This was the beginning of her professional metamorphosis. And thus began her plight to correct economic gender imbalances, by empowering women. This initially led to several international missions and consultant work with the UNOPS, UNDP, Christina Aid, Wetlands International, in addition to work with the Government of South Africa and collaboration on microfinance and poverty reduction programs in Afghanistan and Brazil. Reducing poverty through job creation is a fundamental principle that has propelled her drive to help others.
This guiding principle and her professional experiences in government, civil society and the private sector proved pivotal for her current role as Chairperson, Managing Trustee and CEO of Hand in Hand India.
Celebrating Ten Years of Creating Jobs
Today, the fully launched Academy for Social Entrepreneurs will be located within a unit of Hand in Hand in Tamil Nadu and will provide on-site training programs "through world renown faculty" in addition to post training programs.
This impressive achievement gives Dr. Sankar yet another reason to smile.
and Profitable Business Opportunity
"Is it possible for small businesses to do great things on small budgets?" According to TRIUM 2010 graduates and current business partners, Ameet Sardesai and Arend de Jong, not only is this possible, but it can also be profitable too! Launched in 2012, they created RenewThink Inc., a strategy advisory firm aimed at accelerating the development of sustainable strategies in businesses and (semi-) public organizations.
New Perspectives Creating Positive World Change
Ever since their meeting at LSE in 2008, Ameet and Arend have been talking about their passion for business with real societal impact. At TRIUM’s Ten Year Alumni Anniversary event in 2011, they sat down and started discussions around what has now become RenewThink. >>read more
Their diverse professional expertise in consulting on strategy development, business development, and organizational change, as well as their varied backgrounds (Dutch and Indian), could provide fertile ground to combine their talents, network, and visions to do good.
Their business venture RenewThink is firmly rooted in the belief that 'positive change' comes from 'business and enterprise,' not just good political will; and, that 'lasting change' must have cost effective benefits for both consumers and business. As Arend highlights, "It was the TRIUM experience that put the focus in my life, that changed the way I worked and saw the world."
A Life Changing Experience
A Dutch national, Arend came to TRIUM from a financial and consulting background seeking an international atmosphere of senior professionals where 'pragmatism' and 'theory' could flourish. "I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was 19," he states. "I thrive in multicultural and multidisciplinary environments. For me, TRIUM was the biggest life changing experience of my professional life."
Ameet, who, at the time, was a Silicon Valley-based Senior Business Project Manager in the infrastructure software sector, also has a ton of international consulting experience. As they were both eager to begin a new entrepreneurial project with a sustainable focus, their serendipitous re-encounter was the perfect opportunity to begin exploring. Two years later, they are finally enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Fields of Opportunities
RenewThink provides SME's and semi-public enterprises a variety of services, ranging from strategy advice to comprehensive Sustainability Reporting and Sustainability Research. RenewThink's methodology is straight forward: following a 'sustainability scan' (where data is collected), RenewThink reports and liaises on behalf of the client with the relevant reporting guideline body. By assisting in the design of a company's sustainability reporting methods, and by defining opportunities for improvement, RenewThink's business model promotes competitiveness.
Two current international projects that clearly illustrate Arend and Ameet's business model in action are with PTC+, a Dutch based provider of practical agricultural training, and with the Government of Meghalaya, India, on food sustainability.
As Arend points out, at PTC+, "agricultural training has traditionally focused on efficiency" that yields improved economic results. RenewThink is currently in partnership with PTC+ to reevaluate the way its agricultural "programs are developed and crucially affect the way trainers work and educate in their daily practice" and to introduce sustainability as a leading learning edge.
In working with The Government of Meghalaya, India, RenewThink faced a different challenge. Currently, the State of Meghalaya's aims to provide 100% of its own nutritional needs and also hopes to achieve 100% organic farming practices by 2018. As a result, RenewThink is leading a project to develop a state-wide training and advisory system to help achieve this.
Other projects, yet to be announced, are currently underway, focusing on sustainable coffee in Uganda, organic Tea in India, and on organizing a basic skills training venture with a major Indian automotive partner.
In the summer of 2013, RenewThink launched its SME-service in the Boston and San Francisco areas in the United States, its true home market. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, RenewThink works globally and virtually, with bases in San Francisco, California and Amsterdam, The Netherlands, using sustainability as a tool for long term results that are visibly profitable for SMEs.
When reflecting on where he is today, Arend is quick to point out that, "TRIUM taught me to grab opportunities, […] to let go of 'old convection', […] and made me realize there are no geographic barriers." The timing would seem ripe for RenewThink to continue reaping.
in Moscow? Call MediaCab to the Rescue
Professionally, Konstantin is the founder and a member of the boards of two leading Moscow-based IT companies. In RRC, his responsibilities cover management of the Board of Directors. He is also responsible for relationships with senior management of the largest customers and key executives of major vendors. He is in charge of the development of corporate governance and coordinates relationships with potential investors.
When asked how his experience at TRIUM prepared him, Russian born Konstantin was quick to point out that the "entrepreneurial spirit of TRIUM" along with "the valuable network and business connections" among his classmates helped launch the project. Graduating in 2012 from a class of 66 executives from 32 different countries living around the globe, there is no limit to a student or alumni's ambitions.
Timing is also key. As Konstantin explains, after the fall of Communism, Russia's taxi market became unregulated. In 2011, a law "requiring that fleet companies and drivers posses newly issued licenses, taximeters and specially marked cars" was passed. Launching MediaCab "at the right time" was ideal to changing a "wild market" to become "a civilized market", according to Konstantin.
As part of the new taxi regime, MediaCab brings an unprecedented level of customer service compared to its peer fleet taxi regimes in Moscow. As Konstantin highlights, their product's technology aims to improve their customer's experience by accepting payment by credit/debit cards. Additionally, their taxi's core services provide media and news information for customers and improved navigation capabilities. Finding these less congested routes offers a safer ride, conforming to the new strict regulation rules.
Although in pilot phase with 100 taxies with fleet company MediaCab and set to expand to 150 taxis in Moscow, the team has plans for eventually further expansion to St. Petersburg and Sochi in Russia and neighbouring countries - Kazakhstan (Alma-Ata) and Ukraine (Kiev). In addition, with the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 World Football Cup in Moscow, it would seem that MediaCab is well positioned in the market.