For more than 40 years, Tuck has been a leader in diversity-focused education programs for executives.
Through its two flagship offerings, Building a Sustainable Diverse Business and Growing an Established Diverse Business, Tuck Diversity Business Programs have helped thousands of underrepresented leaders and entrepreneurs improve their skills and position their businesses for success.
Although these entrepreneurs turn to Tuck to learn critical business skills, to gain momentum and reach the next level, they also bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the masses. That’s why in 2019, Tuck launched a new initiative that partners MBA students with participants in the Diversity Business Program, called the Diversity Entrepreneurship Cooperation Program.
Implemented in collaboration with the Tuck Center for Entrepreneurship, the highly selective program combines MBA students and program participants to work on a specific project or problem facing the entrepreneur. The project is fully covered and structured as a consulting project, and the participating students receive half a credit for self-study each time they participate. Tuck students bring to the team everything they have learned from their courses, while the participating entrepreneurs contribute their knowledge and experience to the real world.
Of course, project teams are not left without guidance. Each is assigned a pair of lecturers to serve as probing and resource during the project, meeting weekly with the MBA student to provide additional guidance. Entrepreneur and student partners meet weekly to discuss progress, share feedback, and consider new ideas.
It was one of my favorite parts of the program: working with Barry and meeting after a meeting, carving marble, creating a work of art at the end, but we don’t know all the details at the beginning or knowing where the trip will take us.
– Gissell Castellon T’22
In 2021, Jonathan Chin and Gisele Castellon of T’22 worked closely with Barry Cole, founder of Spot Music, a music consulting and oversight firm with dozens of credits for film and music production. Cole sought help with two projects: a process map of his existing business and a presentation on a new venture.
The opportunity to work so closely with an experienced entrepreneur opened my eyes. “Barry is just amazing,” said Chin, a Massachusetts-born man with experience in trade. “He spent so much time teaching us about the music industry and answering our questions. He has so much experience and is so innovative in his thinking that our meetings always went on without us realizing it. ”
But the partnership with Cole was not only inspiring. It was also instructive.
Building a successful diversified business is designed for emerging entrepreneurs who want to build a strong foundation of business knowledge and learn how to be a better supplier to corporations.
“This work with Barry has helped me apply a lot of what I learned in my operations and strategy courses to see where a new product fits, its value proposition and how to run my daily life. It was a great experience that exposed me to a company at an early stage, where there are many choices that come with difficulty, but also a lot of fun with the various options and possibilities. ”
Castellon, who is from Miami and shares Chin’s experience in merchandising (both students previously worked for Target), agreed.
“From a training point of view, it was great to introduce some of the materials we learned from our core curriculum. “Through many sessions, we learned how best to tell Barry’s idea,” says Castellon. “It was one of my favorite parts of the program, working with Barry and meeting after a meeting, doing marble, creating a work of art in the end, but not knowing all the details at the beginning or knowing where the trip would take us.”
Castellon also noted that with her experience working for a large corporation, working in such a small team is a valuable reminder of the importance of compliance. “I have learned that agendas are valuable, interviews are mandatory, and sometimes clear indications of ownership are needed – even if they seem obvious.
Asking clarifying questions and breaking down the vision of short-term and long-term actions are some of my most valuable experiences. The collaboration brought me closer to helping a start-up company discover the pain and needs of customers and develop a unique value proposition.
– North Gandhi T’22
Shimoli Gandhi T’22, who works with Ayo Jemiri, founder and CEO of LOCOMeX, Inc., an artificial intelligence-powered joint project economy and supply platform focused on increasing sustainability and diversity, found the program a unique opportunity. to work on a different scale. Despite decades of international experience at Ernst & Young, Gandhi has never worked with start-ups at an early stage.
“Asking clarifying questions and breaking down the vision of short-term and long-term action is one of my most valuable experiences,” Gandhi said. “The collaboration has brought me closer to helping a start-up company identify the pain and needs of customers and develop a unique value proposition.”
For entrepreneurs in the program, partnering with Tuck students offers a unique chance to gain an outside perspective from talented emerging professionals. Jemiri, a recurring entrepreneur, found that working closely with Gandhi and other students was profitable.
While building a successful diversified business, participants work closely with Tuck’s faculty on key areas that entrepreneurs must master to succeed, including strategy, marketing, financial analysis, operations, management and leadership.
“I knew that partnering with MBA students could only benefit us and give us additional access to Tuck faculty,” says Jamieri. “What we were trying to do was really new for the students, so they also had a lot to learn.”
Together, Jemiri and his student team worked to refine their strategy to attract customers to LOCOMeX by gathering additional insights from its target market.
“We were able to work together to understand the customer’s point of view and adjust our products accordingly. Shimoli and others helped us do an additional round of customer discovery, created surveys, and helped us gather data and information for benchmarking that we will use to create a white paper. We implemented the research using our LinkedIn and CRM tools and actually found a potentially huge client using this strategy.
With rave reviews from both Tuck students and business owners, the Tuck Diversity Entrepreneurship Collaboration Program has proven to be a valuable tool for connecting students with professionals with very different backgrounds and experiences. As it focuses on its fourth year, the expansion of the program underscores Tuck’s continued commitment to the Business Diversity Program – one of the many reasons Jamie said Tuck remains the “gold standard for a variety of entrepreneurs.”