I came into Fuqua having already started a few companies, some of which were successful. I knew I had more to learn, hence the MBA, but what I hadn’t anticipated was just how much I would learn from my fellow classmates. When you’re building a business, there’s a tendency to put your head down and work toward whatever your goal may be. While that work ethic is admirable and can achieve great things, it can lead you to miss quite a bit along the way. Even as you seek advice, you’ll likely seek it from other entrepreneurs or people who’ve had success in the same industry as you. What’s been eye-opening for me since starting at Fuqua is how much I’ve learned in my interactions with classmates, many of whom have pursued vastly different career paths than I have.
I co-founded a new company in late 2020 after starting the program, Structerra Outdoor. The goal of Structerra is to accommodate an increased emphasis on outdoor space, in both residential and commercial design, by curating, importing and internally developing high performing, modular outdoor structures. We source from a select group of international suppliers, and are developing a proprietary product that will leverage advances in mass timber construction to offer a more sustainable product line. I have been applying the lessons learned from professors and classmates alike in developing our go-to-market strategy, while the global perspective of the GEMBA program has helped in navigating a volatile supply chain environment. The results have been astounding; we are on track to deliver a ROIC of well over 100% within 12 months of inception. The early success of this venture has far outstripped my expectations, and I attribute a large part of the performance to lessons I learned at Fuqua.
Fundamentally, entrepreneurship is about problem solving. Both in a big picture, market opportunity sense, and also in the day-to-day operations. Sometimes you encounter an intractable problem, and you must completely rethink how you’ve framed your approach. In that moment, the professional caliber and sense of camaraderie of the Fuqua community is the entrepreneur’s most valuable resource.