MBA for Executives Students Launch New Wave of Startups
EMBA students, who already have expertise in various sectors, make up an increasing percentage of the entrepreneurs launching new ventures at the Yale School of Management.
By Karen Guzman
When Ian Madom ’17 and George Fernaine ’17 entered the Yale School of Management’s MBA for Executives program, both planned to build on their existing careers in the healthcare industry. “We’re both practicing physicians and we wanted MBAs to help us advance our careers in healthcare administration,” Madom says.
A couple of months into the program, however, they were seeing things differently. “So many ideas germinated during our class weekends,” Madom says. “We realized that we can change healthcare more effectively through entrepreneurship rather than working within the system.”
The two launched MyMOC, Inc., which oversees MOCingbird, a software-as-a-service (SAAS) platform that manages ongoing education requirements for healthcare providers seeking to update and maintain their credentials. Madom now serves as president and CEO, and Fernaine as chief medical officer.
“Yale SOM gave us the tools we needed to start our company, and it’s still providing the network to help us grow,” says Madom. Classmate Ankur Kapadia ’17 recently joined MyMOC as chief technical officer.
“The EMBA program has been instrumental, both in terms of what we learned and the friendships we made,” Madom says. “Yale has informed so much of what we do now.
MyMOC is just one example on the exploding list of startups spawned at Yale SOM in recent years. The evolving biotech and healthcare sectors, in particular, are fertile ground for new ventures today, and Yale students are able to take advantage of the many resources for entrepreneurs across the university, including the SOM’s Program on Entrepreneurship, the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, and the Center for Biomedical Innovation Technology.
Increasingly, MBA for Executives students, who arrive at the school with expertise in healthcare, asset management, or sustainability, are launching ventures while at the school. In founding their companies, they partner not only with their classmates, but also with likeminded students in other SOM programs and from other Yale schools.
Sri Muthu ’16 and Donna Lecky ’16 cast a wide net when they co-founded HealthVenture in 2016. “We’re working with MBAs, MAMs, and EMBA students across various vintages and also with colleagues from SOM partner programs with other schools,” Muthu says. “Sharon Mwale MPH ’16 was a Yale School of Public Health student who was taking classes at SOM when we hired her.”
HealthVenture is a startup incubator and full-service investment firm that helps new companies build, develop, and launch digital healthcare products. Located in New Haven, the company seeks to aid the transformation of the healthcare industry through technology. Besides co-founders Muthu and Lecky, the team includes Daniel Feng ’16, a Master of Advanced Management program graduate; Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ankur Kapadia ’17; and David Pearlstone ’10, executive director of HealthHavenHub.
This fall, HealthVenture is partnering with member schools of the Global Network for Advanced Management to host pitch competitions as a means of identifying promising startups. HealthVenture has already held competitions in New Haven and in Beijing, China. Working with the India Institute of Management, HealthVenture will co-sponsor national pitch competitions in Bangalore, India, and Suzhou, China, this fall. Future competitions are scheduled for Mexico, Africa, and Europe with Global Network for Advanced Management partner schools.
“Our mission is broad,” Muthu says. “We want to partner with ventures addressing global healthcare needs, and Yale has the network to support that mission.”
Global reach was also important to Kodjo Adovor ’18 when he launched Kevi Capital during his days in the EMBA program. “Yale has a particularly wide and active network,” he explains. “This was very important in my decision to attend SOM. I knew I wanted to start my own company.”
Kevi Capital is an investment fund focused on infrastructure development and investments in Africa. Adovor, a native of Ghana, runs the company as CEO/founder.
Adovor says that the opportunities Yale SOM gave him to meet people and learn different perspectives were invaluable. “Networking is so critical to accomplishing your goals,” he says. “It has played a huge role in helping raise funds for the company.”
Kevi Capital focuses particularly on healthcare and education infrastructure development and investments. “Health, education, and entrepreneurship are the best tools to spur individual empowerment, wealth creation, and sustainable economic development,” Adovor says. “At Yale, I found people who share this vision.”
Future Yale SOM students will continue learning from Adovor’s experiences. His company is the subject of a Yale SOM case study, titled “Kevi Capital: Starting an Africa Infrastructure Fund,” which is taught in the school’s Commercial Real Estate course.
“I’m hoping to return to SOM to speak with students and share our experiences,” Adovor says. “There are so many opportunities to continue working with Yale as my company goes forward.”
More of the companies launched by recent Yale EMBA graduates.
Sandra Ortega Saldana ’17
Mark DeVry ’16, Raj Gorla ’15, Venkat Thumula ’15
Marc Wigder ‘17, Seydina Fall ’17 and Trevor Heaton ’17
Melissa Medina ’18