When I first stepped onto the Rady School of Management campus last year, the innovation and entrepreneurship was obvious – I could feel and see it happening around me. I was very excited with the conversations I had with students and faculty, and after attending the class “Research for Marketing Decisions” with Professor Anand Bodapati, I decided to apply to the Master of Science in Business Analytics program.
At the beginning of this year I was invited to join the third cohort of the MSBA program that started classes in August. I found it very demanding, but at the same time very fulfilling, because I could further develop my critical thinking skills and dive deeper into complex business issues.
However, I felt that just attending classes and completing my assignments wouldn’t be enough to be successful in my career. In fact, I quickly realized that the Rady School and University of California, San Diego had so much to offer that I had to take advantage of every possible opportunity!
On October 3, I attended StartR Demo Day. StartR is a free, six month-long acceleration program held twice a year on the Rady School’s campus, and at the conclusion of the program, StartR teams are given an opportunity to pitch to investors and industry experts during Demo Day.
This was an amazing experience and I learned so much about different innovative business models! At the end I connected with each of the startups representatives and because of my networking ability, I was able to start working with Kabir Gambhir (MBA ’10), a Rady alum who launched a business called Bevea.
Bevea, is a startup in the consumer and packaged goods industry that created a new drink made from the coffee fruit, also known as cascara. Unfortunately, cascara is often dumped into rivers or just left to rot in reaps which both brings harmful environmental impacts. Bevea is currently buying cascara from Costa Rica and producing a drink that is both healthy and delicious, while also preventing pollution and generating extra income to cascara farmers and their communities.
Encouraged by our advisor Lada Rasochova, we decided to join the Triton Innovation Challenge — a business competition focused on fostering creativity and bringing commercially promising, environmentally focused technologies generated by the finest minds at UC San Diego to the spotlight. Supported through the generosity of The William and Kathryn Scripps Family Foundation Inc., the program is presented through a partnership between the Rady School of Management, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Jacobs School of Engineering.
This was indeed a great challenge for me because I had to create a new pitch from scratch to properly address the competition’s criteria and connect to the audience to convey our company’s message. I had support from the organization because they provided us with the workshop “Art of the Pitch” led by Silvia Mah (MBA ’12), a successful Rady School alum and startup expert. Attending this workshop was a game-changer for me and Bevea.
We progressed through the Triton Innovation Challenge, competing in the initial pitch competition and making our way through the semifinals. I represented Bevea at the finals, competing against five other extraordinary startups: The BioEnergy project, Ocean Motion Tech, FreeGen Technologies, Khepra and CleanCoast – The Water Quality Sticker.
After watching six outstanding presentations from teams coming from diverse backgrounds and representing startups from different industries, the judges and the audience made their choices:
- 1st prize – $10,000 (Bevea)
- 2nd prize – $5,000 (Ocean Motion Tech)
- 3rd prize – $2,500 (Khepra)
- Audience Choice – $2,500 (Bevea)
My pitch won first place for Bevea and was also able to capture the audience support for our sustainable cause. This was a unique moment and an extraordinary personal achievement for me! I can still barely believe that I could balance everything ranging from my personal life to work and academics in the last several weeks. I was proud to represent Bevea and the Rady School at this prestigious business competition.
I am grateful for all the inspiration my fiancé, Cintia Kussuda, gave me and the support of my family and friends. Special thanks to Emily Dayton, Rady Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions, for encouraging me throughout the MSBA program and Kabir, Bevea CEO, for believing in my unlimited potential!
My mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda once said: “This lifetime will never come again; it is precious and irreplaceable. To live without regret, we must have a concrete purpose, continually setting goals and challenges for ourselves. And we need to keep moving toward those specific targets steadily and tenaciously, one step at a time.”
Bevea is now one step closer to becoming a successful product enjoyed by the masses and I look forward to the next goals and challenges that I am going to achieve during the winter quarter.
Renan Sallai Iwayama is an MSBA candidate at the Rady School of Management.