By Karen Jensen, Program Director for the California Institute for Innovation and Design

Five teams recently graduated from the Rady School of Management’s StartR cohort and presented their company pitches to students, staff, faculty and potential investors at the biannual StartR Demo Day event.

Housed in the Rady School of Management, StartR is a non-profit accelerator program for Rady School of Management students and alumni designed to provide entrepreneurs the tools needed to start and grow their businesses. Participants are matched with entrepreneurially experienced mentors, attend a series of workshops, and work with program leadership on further developing their business.

“Over the past five years StartR has seen 57 teams graduate from the program,” said Dean Sullivan. “Of those 57 teams, 34 are still operational, meaning 60 percent of these startups have been sustained – that’s a remarkable number.”

In addition to their sustainability, Dean Sullivan stressed that StartR companies are not only alive, but continue to thrive. “StartR teams have raised about $41 million in capital,” he said. “Currently, 12 teams have participated in the prestigious EvoNexus accelerator program.”

The success of StartR teams was reinforced when Julio de Unamuno IV (MBA ’14) stopped by to discuss the success of his company, LabFellows, a member of the first StartR class and one of the first StartR/Rady School of Management startups to be accepted into EvoNexus. LabFellows is an integrated lab management platform. “We believe scientists developing medical breakthroughs shouldn’t have to spend three hours of their day on administrative tasks,” Unamuno said. “Before LabFellows, they had to. Our platform streamlines three hours of busy work into five minutes so scientists can do 60% more science.”

StartR Awards

After the pitch presentations, Lada Rasochova, Executive Director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development, and Kim Davis King, co-director of StartR and mystartupXX, presented the Spark Award to StartR sponsor CoEfficient Services for the company’s dedication and support of the StartR program and its teams. Longtime mentor Gioia Messinger was presented with the Guru Award in recognition of his support of students in the StartR program.

The audience had their say as well, selecting CReATE to win the $500 Audience Choice prize.

“We’re so grateful for the support of Dean Sullivan and the Rady School, as well as the greater San Diego community,” said Rasochova. “Our growth and the success of our teams would not be possible without all of you.”

Here’s a look at the teams that graduated from the StartR Acclerator and presented their pitches at Demo Day:

StartR Graduating Teams

Utilizing patent pending electrical biomarkers and machine learning, CReATE is providing patient-specific electro-anatomical heart models to aid physicians with the diagnosis of ventricular dyssynchrony, program CRT devices and predict patient outcomes to CRT treatment.

E-Way is developing the technology to safely electrify the roads using solar panels, removing the need to install large farms in distant locations and instead directly supply individuals, businesses, and the government.

Key is revolutionizing the birth industry by creating an accredited system for credentialing and licensing birth doulas and transforming a lifestyle based market into a profitable profession-creating industry. Key enables professional labor partners and doula agencies to build, manage and support their birth clients through a software platform that integrate billing and CRM while seamlessly providing a mobile work experience for doulas.

Kibots is a farm-to-fork food safety training and compliance system that uses IoT-enabled devices to train employees in safe food handling practices and hand washing hygiene, continuously monitors compliance and uses AI to predict risk of non-compliance.

Wasim The Dream is an online platform to help graduating students land their dream job through coaching, research and supportive online training.

April 10, 2018 0 comment
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Negotiating for what you’re worth can be a challenge even for seasoned professionals.  Typically, people don’t like this part of the interview conversation or talking to their boss about a raise, yet they still fixate on it.  Negotiating is an art, not a trick.  At the UC San Diego Rady School of Management, graduate students learn these helpful tips from their Careers Team:

  1. Forget about the money. Too much time is spent “researching” salaries and anticipating a low offer. Focus on getting the interview, then winning the interview.  Without this, you won’t have an offer to negotiate. It is when the hiring manager determines that you’re the right person for the job that you now have leverage. Focus on what’s important.
  2. Understand your worth. That’s right, it is about your history, what you’ve learned in grad school, and how that all matches with what the employer is seeking. Also, all candidates are not made equal. Specific skills and experience are worth more to certain employers — it’s not only about the degree or years of experience. It’s best is to talk to someone close to the industry or the hiring market to get real time input on realistic salary expectations.
  3. Be careful when doing the research – size of the company, the industry, where the job is located all factor into the numbers. A small public company in the southwest will pay differently than a public company in the northeast. Use validated compensation data tool, such as, which includes the complex factors, or again talk to someone close to the industry to help set your expectations.
  4. Be a good judge of your counter negotiation. It’s not about the dollar difference, but the percent difference. If someone offers you $80,000, I’d strongly advise that you don’t counter with $100,000. You may be thinking “it’s only $20,000 more” but it’s really  a 25% increase. I doubt anyone is going to try and lowball their offer to you by that much. It’s not logical. So take emotion out of it and think about what a reasonable response is (I suggest starting with a “thank you for the offer…can we discuss” approach). And remember, if you like the offer, it is ok to accept without negotiating. Some companies start with their best offer, knowing the market is tight and the best talent is important for the company’s success.
  5. Last, set yourself up for a non-emotional conversation when it comes to compensation. Build a spreadsheet of either your last or current compensation package in one column (line item specific – base salary, bonus, 401K, vacation, benefits, stock, etc.) and then the offer in the adjoining column. This side-by-side comparison opens the conversation up to a simple business discussion and allows both sides to come to an offer that is fair.

Yes, it can be that simple! Remember, both sides want the offer to work out and to start you out as a happy employee. Keeping this in mind should decrease some of the stress you’re already feeling. Good people want to hire good people – the rest is simply a professional conversation. Happy negotiating!

April 9, 2018 0 comment
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Millennials – those born from 1981 to 1996 — may be the most studied generation in history. According to the Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Millennials will comprise more than one in three adult Americans by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. This generation will steadily reshape corporations and how business is conducted. Given their majority in the workforce it is important to develop training programs that will empower them to grow as employees and leaders.

As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers retire or take on different roles, more Millennials are taking on leadership roles. Although some view Millennials’ attention to screens, phones and tablets as a detriment, growing up with technology has provided this generation with a unique set of skills – but also unique challenges. More technology means less face-to-face interaction. Developing soft skills can greatly benefit Millennials as they move into leadership positions and advance in their careers.

So where do we start?

You can’t expect great results from a one-size-fits-all online program or by shoving them in a conference room with dated information and visuals. They want a personalized learning experience. Millennials are hard-working, never satisfied with the status quo and hungry for continuous learning. They are looking for innovative ideas and new content. Millennials will be fully engaged when the training presented is relevant to their career goals, allows for continuous learning as they progress, and provides opportunity for collaboration, problem solving and instant feedback.

What training do they need?

Millennials are the most connected generation in history. Most of the Millennial’s time has been spent on computers consuming large quantities of information. Therefore soft skills training that promotes interconnectivity, face- to-face communication, and develops patience and persistence will help the Millennial succeed in the workplace.

Gone are the days when training consisted of an employee handbook and three or four months of “learning the ropes” by making mistakes. A study from Gallup reveals that 87 percent of Millennials state professional growth and development is important to them. Millennials are the most energized, skilled and capable generation to enter the workforce. Train them well and they will ensure your organization has a bright future!

The Mindful Executive, Leadership, Communications certificate programs and the Strategic Thinking for Managers class are just a few of our excellent Rady Executive Education programs for Millennial career success.




March 28, 2018 0 comment
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It’s been five years already since the Harvard Business Review declared business analytics the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” and students who are graduating with a business analytics degree today are finding the market thriving for their skillset. Analytics continues to become increasingly valuable, as technology is facilitating the storing and processing of more data.

The Career Connections Team at Rady guides the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) students to best communicate the value of their degree to the employer. While “Analytics” may be a specific department, the focus is really that of an informed approach to decision-making. Generally, analytics positions are not housed within an analytics department but have various internal clients – either a business or a product owner for a specific segment of the company.

All successful businesses rely on data and models to make decisions, optimize budgets, manage inventory and gain competitive advantage. Data is used to monitor and track a number of insights, including customer behavior, supplies, operations and financial transactions. Having an employee who is capable of identifying trends, organizing large data sets and transforming data into insights is invaluable to the success of a company.

According to Top Universities, career opportunities are being found in areas such as market research, supply chain management, project management, talent analytics or consultancy. The Career Connections team sees these same trends with our Master of Business Analytics students landing in analyst roles across various departments.

Ultimately, students are graduating with the ability to assist business leaders in business modeling and decision-making with the use of quantitative methods and evidence-based data.

The career path also requires more than analytical skills, as there can be a lot of subjectivity and/or assumptions to analytics – different people in the organization may have different agendas. The Rady MSBA program provides students with the business acumen needed to help them be creative problem solvers and navigate all of these challenges. MSBA students receive career support from Career Connections through personal coaching, an array of programs and resources and a commitment to creating access to opportunities. Whatever the career aspirations are for MSBA students, Career Connections enhances their potential for success.



March 26, 2018 0 comment
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Alumni from the Rady School of Management share how they used their degrees to disrupt their industries to bring innovative ideas, products and programs to the market. 

Jimmy Wu – Foreign Exchanges Made Easy

Sending money abroad? Prepare to spend an exorbitant amount, thanks to transaction fees and exchange rates. And don’t forget to provide confidential information, such as your bank statements, addresses and phone numbers. Rady School of Management alumnus Jimmy Wu (MBA ’17) recognized the currency exchange system was broken, and was costing him and his family a fortune, when transferring money to and from his home country of China– so he set out to disrupt the industry.

USYNO simplifies global currency exchange by connecting users who have different currencies rather than relying on banks to initiate transfers. Utilizing the free and real-time payment tools in different countries, people get the target currency they need without making costly international money transfers.

The USYNO system is also safer and more secure than using traditional forms of currency exchange. Rather than having access to an individual’s entire bank account, the system connects others to payment tools. USYNO does not hold the money and does not ask users to provide confidential information that banks require. All the features allow users to pay significantly less and transact much faster.

The innovative approach to currency exchange is disrupting the multibillion dollar industry, generating interest in the company. USYNO was recently accepted into the prestigious EvoNexus accelerator – a premier tech startup incubator in Southern California.

Wu was inspired to scale USYNO into a fully-fledged company after completing the coveted Lab to Market sequence housed in the Rady School of Management, which teaches students how to turn ideas into market opportunities. The company has also received investments from the well-known LA incubator MuckerLab.

“The extraordinary entrepreneurial atmosphere at the Rady School motivated and encouraged me to start my own business,” Wu said. “The Lab to Market courses and accelerators gave me confidence that I can make my idea happen. Without the resources and connections I have access to at Rady, it would be much more difficult to achieve today’s milestones at USYNO.”

March 23, 2018 0 comment
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Christopher Russow graduated from the Rady School of Management’s FlexMBA in 2014.

“I actually started in the FlexEvening program, and during my second year at Rady I ended up switching to the FlexWeekend program for greater flexibility,” he said. “This is a perfect example of why the Rady FlexMBA was perfect for me, as it gave me the flexibility to manage my career, my personal life and my pursuit of an MBA degree all at the same time.”

After graduating in 2014, Russow’s MBA experience helped give him the confidence to leave his previous job to go out on his own and pursue a career as an independent consultant. After consulting for a few years both domestically and in Europe, an opportunity came his way in 2017 to start a business with a former boss and mentor Sean Marsh, who is now his business partner.

“Our startup, Tangello, is disrupting the mortgage industry by creating a mortgage-less solution to affordably finance and buy a home that you love,” Russow said. “Starting your own business isn’t what it looks like on TV, and the skills I learned at Rady, as well as the support of the Rady School and my cohort, have really been invaluable.”

Outside of his current role with Tangello, Russow enjoys spending time with his wife Gabi, investing in real estate and other startups, and tinkering with classic German cars.

Why did you decide to come to the Rady School?

I had been thinking about getting my MBA for several years, and shortly after moving to San Diego to start a new job, the desire to get my MBA bubbled to the surface once again. I weighed the options available to me locally, as well as what I could commute to (either by car or plane) and decided that the Rady School of Management FlexMBA program was the right one for me.

The first thing I thought about was the fact that UC San Diego is part of the California Public School System, and as a lifelong supporter of public education, this was very important to me. Second, there are a bunch of great aspects to Rady’s program offering; the faculty are outstanding, the program is flexible and perfect for people who are working full-time, and it’s centered around entrepreneurship and the idea of cultivating startups and helping its alumni to enter the startup world. Finally, you just can’t beat the location, both of the school (you can see the ocean from campus) and of San Diego itself.

What was the most valuable thing you learned while at the Rady School?

It’s hard to really pick one thing as the “Most Valuable” thing that I learned while at Rady. I could talk about the Business Model Canvas, which is an incredible tool that anyone starting a company should utilize. I could also talk about the Lab to Market program, which isn’t really “one thing” but was a critical part of my Rady education. But even more than what I mentioned above, the thing that really stood out to me was the overall shift in the way that I evaluated business opportunities before my MBA and how I evaluate them now.

Before Rady, any time one of my friends mentioned their “new innovative startup idea” I would share in their excitement and enthusiasm, but not really understand if that idea had strong potential or how it could become a real business. After Rady, I feel like I can comfortably evaluate (on the back of a napkin sometimes) the potential of new business ideas and can quickly assess the value of those ideas in real time. This skill, of being able to evaluate opportunities, is what eventually drove me to start a company, based on what I felt was an incredible opportunity in a market I had a competitive advantage in.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Take your MBA program seriously. I know that should go without saying, but it’s easy to get caught up in work, life, etc. and let some of the deliverables from your MBA program fall by the wayside. The reality is that what you get out of your MBA program will be directly correlated with what you put into it. Attend events, lectures and social gatherings. Take classes that are outside of your comfort zone and that challenge you. The MBA experience is about filling any gaps in your skill-set, forging lifelong bonds with your cohort, and creating a solid foundation from which you can pursue your post-MBA goals, whatever they may be.

March 21, 2018 0 comment
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Alumni from the Rady School of Management share how they used their degrees to disrupt their industries to bring innovative ideas, products and programs to the market. 

Kian Salehizadeh – Bringing Sustainability to Charitable Organizations

 The shift to solar energy is sweeping the nation – but for the majority of Americans, adopting the energy efficient practice is not in their budget. Although solar panels can save money in the long run, acquisition and installation can cost up to $15,000. The high cost of energy bills is especially detrimental for small businesses and community charities while working with small budgets to make big societal changes.

Noticing the lack of access to a sustainable practice, Kian Salehizadeh (MBA ’11) co-founded Everybody Solar — a company that works to protect the environment and strengthen U.S. communities through solar energy projects.

“Everybody Solar raises funds to provide solar installations to local charities, helping them reduce electricity costs and direct their limited resources to the communities they serve,” Salehizadeh said. “We are promoting clean energy and environmental sustainability by raising funds for disruptive charities that are critical to their local communities, and in some cases, involved in national efforts and causes.”

The benefit of the company is two-fold – charities are able to install solar energy systems that save money so nonprofits are able to divert funds away from utility bills and back into their programs, while the sustainable energy efficient system benefits the environment.

I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, and the Rady School emphasis on innovation was apparent from the start. The faculty constantly encourages thinking outside the box and the Lab to Market series serves as a foundational element of the program.”

March 21, 2018 0 comment
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The interview process is finally evolving.  A growth in entrepreneurism and technology is spearheading changes in how hiring managers interact and evaluate candidates. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends, the top five key evaluation tools adopted by employers are:

  • Soft Skills Assessments
  • Job Auditions
  • Meeting In Casual Settings
  • Virtual Reality Assessments
  • Video Interviews

What does this mean for candidates and those who support them?

New tools are making their way into the hiring process, but employer expectations remain the same. Employers still expect candidates to submit well-written resumes, have polished LinkedIn accounts, and know how to interview. General, behavioral, technical and case interviews will remain a core part to the hiring process.

Preparation is still the key to a successful interview. Preparation should now include time to learn more about these evaluation tools, how to perform at your best, and when to expect them within the hiring process. On the plus side, candidates will likely enjoy a speedier hiring process as more companies adopt one or more of these new tools.

Through the CareersRady system, Rady students and alumni can access online interview support technology such as Big Interview, Career Insider/Vault, Mock Interview, and GoinGlobal to help prepare and practice for interviews 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  Rady students can also find a list of workshops, networking events and panels hosting business professionals, hiring managers and experts on career topics, including interviewing success.

To ensure Rady School of Management students and alumni are prepared and comfortable with the interviewing process, the Rady Career Connections team provides individual coaching and mock interview practice. Specifically, alumni and students can meet with a career coach to help identify their applicable experience, strengths and skill sets to focus on, and identify areas that need improvement before an interview.




March 20, 2018 0 comment
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Alumni from the Rady School of Management share how they used their degrees to disrupt their industries to bring innovative ideas, products and programs to the market. 

Richard Castle – The Future of Hospitality Management

When booking a vacation or business trip, consumers want things to run smoothly. From check in to check out, hotel staff work tirelessly to ensure the needs of guests are not only met, but exceeded. But how do hotel operations ensure everything about a guest’s stay is as perfect as possible? Enter Cloudbeds, a company developed by Richard Castle (MBA ‘13) and Adam Harris.

Cloudbeds provides hospitality software that helps independent operators run their properties’ operations. The Cloudbeds system provides a variety of services, including the software the property uses to check people in, manage reservations, run important reports, distribute inventory and more.

Thanks to the internet, travelers have the technology at their fingertips to book accommodations anywhere in the world. Thanks to Cloudbeds, booking is easier for travelers and managing operations is easier for providers. The streamlined platform is making waves in the industry – Cloudbeds programs are used by tens of thousands of properties in more than 100 countries to help properties generate more reservations and provide a better guest experience.

“Powerful property management and channel management software was previously only available to the largest hotel brands in the world,” Castle said. “Cloudbeds provides a flexible, cost-effective software solution that helps independent properties navigate an ever-changing industry.”

Castle’s time at the Rady School of Management was integral to the creation of Cloudbeds. From an emphasis on innovation and creative thinking to courses dedicated to providing insight on starting a business, Castle credits the Rady School for helping his business interrupt the hospitality industry.

“As Cloudbeds grows, the skills that I acquired at Rady continue to apply and I feel that I’m continuously reflecting on all of my coursework, faculty lectures, and conversations with my fellow alumni.”


March 19, 2018 0 comment
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Alumni from the Rady School of Management share how they used their degrees to disrupt their industries to bring innovative ideas, products and programs to the market. 

Silvia Mah – Inspiring Diversity in Entrepreneurship

Have you noticed an influx of women raising their voices and taking their seats at the entrepreneurial table? It is women like Silvia Mah (MBA ’10) who are helping make that possible. Through her various organizations focused on supporting women in the startup world, she has helped with the launch of more than 120 female-led business endeavors.

Mah serves as the Executive Director of Hera Labs, a business accelerator dedicated to helping women-led businesses launch and grow. Hera Labs is not your typical accelerator. Founded on principles of innovation, support, community and collaboration, Hera Labs was created to encourage diversity in entrepreneurship by providing women access to mentors, education and capital to ignite female-led innovation.

With a background in biochemistry, Mah initially came to the Rady School to enhance her business acumen and expand her network. After a few courses highlighting entrepreneurship, Mah caught the entrepreneurial bug and worked to develop mystartupxx – an accelerator housed in the Rady School dedicated to helping women create and launch business ideas.

“My time at Rady transformed my business decision-making process, challenged me to think big and dream of a different world where funding opportunities are not dictated by our gender or color,” Mah said.

The success of Hera Labs has led to a number of additional resources for female entrepreneurs added to the lineup.  Hera Labs recently partnered with Seed San Diego and Product Rebels, to launch Ad Astra, a 12-week business accelerator for female founders with revenue-generating businesses. Throughout the program, participants gain access to funding and clarity on their product, customers, and market, so they leave with a compelling business case that leads to subsequent investments.

“Rady supported me tremendously in the launch and growth of a business accelerator made for female change-makers and innovators. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Rady, the faculty and the students for creating a safe place to grow ideas for maximum impact.”

March 16, 2018 0 comment
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