Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization visits ZX Ventures!

Recently the members of the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization had the opportunity to visit Anheuser-Busch InBev's office and speak with its ZX Ventures team. 

ZX Ventures is a global disruptive group, incubator, and venture capital team formed to find new avenues of growth for AB InBev. We talked with their team about new companies they're incubating, venture investing trends, and how they see both the technology and beverage sectors evolving. It certainly didn't hurt to have a beer or two for the discussion!

Thanks to the ZX Ventures team for having us! 

Exploring the Israeli startup scene with The Chazen Institute

By Laura Kornhauser

Israel was in such high demand that Columbia’s Chazen Institute doubled down and created two groups for this year’s trip! It was a wonderful week long adventure during which we met with founders and executives of startups, Venture Capitalists, and leaders of the Israeli Government and Military.  These visits, combined with trips to the exceptional cultural sites in Israel (and a Dead Sea day party), gave us a strong and lasting impression of what makes Israel a magical country and an unique place to do business.

Our group started with a visit to Perion, a global technology company that delivers high-quality advertising solutions to brands and publishers, were we had a discussion with Perion CEO Josef Mandelbaum (former CEO of the American Greetings Intellectual Properties Group). Josef welcomed us into the informal Israeli business culture by immediately opening our discussion up with a lively Q&A where we discussed the differences in doing business in the US and Israel and how to best bridge the cultural gap to extract the most out of the different talent and styles in each country.

From there, we moved to Noble energy for an engaging discussion and debate surrounding their natural gas projects and assets in Israel and their current negotiation with the Israeli government and people over the future of their off-shore natural gas projects.

At the same time, our counterparts in the other group visited Caesarstone, a newly IPO’ed company specializing in high-end countertops founded on kibbutz, a collective community in Israel traditionally based on agriculture. This exposure to the unique Israeli social construct and the modern-day success of Caesarstone provided a fascinating contrast of traditional living style with the relatively new start-up culture of the country.

This action packed day ended with a trip to a new We-Work in Tel Aviv for a Venture Capital Panel featuring investors from Genesis Partners and Canaan Partners.  We also heard from the Israeli Ministry of Science about some of the programs sponsored by the government and private firms to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and inspire innovation.  In particular, we focused on Israel’s current efforts to move from the “startup nation” to the “scale up nation”.

Additional trip highlights included a visit to Tulip winery.  Tulip is a boutique family winery focused on using innovation and creative to produce quality wines with social responsibility, as the winery aspires to enable members of the local special needs community to develop and realize their potential by offering them a business platform to integrate into the workforce.  Later in the week, we were given an inside look at Israel’s elite Air Force unit where a decorated Pilot shared his experiences.  He discussed and showed the methods they employ for constant review, validation, evaluation and improvement of military operations and the impact this has on the Israeli culture of innovation.  Upon return to Tel Aviv, we had an engaging visit from the Ministry of Finance where we discussed how he works to bring a business mentality to governmental organizations and their efforts to combat rising cost of living in Israel.  We ended the week with alovely outdoor reception with members of the CBS alumni community in Jaffa.

A HUGE thank you to Amir Hazan, Ezer Cherki, Hila Sarig, Michael Cherkassky, Idan Vlodinger, Prof. Netzer and Prof. Jick and all the organizers at Chazen for such an amazing and impactful week!

How can an MBA help you become a founder?

A guest post by Wendy Xiao '15, Co-Founder of CoHatchery, & CEO's VP of Specialized Events

“Don’t get an MBA if you really want to start a company.” Many aspiring entrepreneurs have probably heard this just as I did when I was thinking about my next steps after management consulting. There is some logic to this argument: an MBA is expensive; you should be executing rather than studying; you can’t teach entrepreneurship… etc. However, (at the risk of sounding cliché) my journey with founding CoHatchery has taught me that specifically an MBA at Columbia gave me the exactly the right tools to get this thing off the ground.

Upon entering the J-term class of 2016, I had no idea what type of business I would start, but I started by joining every entrepreneurship club (including CEO, where now I serve as VP of Specialized Events) and taking all of the intro to entrepreneurship classes (Launch Your Startup and Intro to Venturing are both good classes to practice idea development). I got my feet wet and cold-emailed a NY-based startup for a part-time internship, where I learned that the GSB email opens many doors. Over the summer, I did a little soul searching in PLS (quite literally), and found my idea. I met my partner, Susann Friedrich in a brand building class where we practiced working together on a final project and liked the result. I learned about fundraising in Entrepreneurial Finance with Dean Hubbard, and customer discovery in Lean Launchpad with Steve Blank. We even incorporated through the law firm whose partner taught our Angel/VC Deals: Gut-driven Tech Investing and Entrepreneurial Law class. We practiced our pitch with our peers at our J-Term Pitch night and New Product Development. Through a CEO event, we met the founders of RentTheRunway who agreed to host a pilot with us in their offices. We also met with many executives in residences along the way and built a network of angel and VC investors through our classes and clubs. Seed Stage Investing with Angela Lee and VC Seminar with Will and Stuart taught us about the hard and soft sides of the investor ecosystem. One of our first formal advisers is our Real Estate Entrepreneurship (also great class) professor Joe Azrack, who also supervised our independent study project for CoHatchery in the fall. We applied to and were accepted by both Greenhouse and IE @ Columbia (but only joined Greenhouse), where we continue to learn from the amazing speakers from the wider NYC startup ecosystem. We are also contenders in Fall Venture Fair, Shark Tank, Columbia Venture Competition, Tamer Social Venture Competition, and the Spring Venture Fair…

This is starting to sound like a laundry list and I have not even comprehensively mentioned all of the resources we took advantage of here at Columbia. Truly there are so so SO many instances where Columbia has and will continue to support us and CoHatchery. If we weren’t a co-working company we would definitely be working out of the Start-up Lab next year.

CoHatchery is now more than just an idea. We have over 300 people on our wait list, and we are joining forces with co-working spaces across Manhattan to launch co-working with childcare. We have been published in the local press several times, and we are well on our way to launching our first full location by the end of 2016.