Darden MBA for Executives
Class of 2009
Briefly describe the company you started.
Biz-LX offers learning experiences that ask current and future business leaders to confront real-life situations in a safe virtual environment. These experiential exercises, authored by Darden professors at the top of their field, are designed to test and challenge participants’ instincts for ethical decision-making, but in a supportive and structured virtual learning environment.
In addition to having customers around the world, we are very proud that every MBA student at Darden uses our simulation Turning Gears as part of their program. Everyone in business needs to have an ethical decision-making framework that only comes through experiencing meaningful ethics education. Our goal is to make ethics education available to everyone.
Did you start your company before, during or after the Darden MBA for Executives program?
I started Biz-LX during the program. The idea was first discussed with Professor Andy Wicks, in response to the global financial crisis that we were in the middle of during the program.
I then met with Dean Krehmeyer from the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics that is based at Darden and with Professor Bobby Parmar, the original author of Turning Gears, and discussed the value of bringing the business ethics thought leadership of Darden to a wider audience through online experiencing learning.
My classmates, Katherine Gronberg, Don Kendrick and Jeremy Leahman worked with me as we took this base idea and made it a reality.
How did Darden help you launch and/or improve your company?
Without Darden there would be no Biz-LX. There has been so much support it is hard to describe briefly.
From the start we had support for the concept from the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics. We worked with Maureen Wellen on how we could work best with Darden Business Publishing. Professor Robert Caraway and Chris Lembeck supported our cause and helped us work with Darden Media.
The team at Darden Media is one of the hidden gems at Darden. Very few people realize the resource that exists there that constantly produces world class results.
Professor Paul Simko was our academic advisor for our business plan. We were supported by Phillippe Sommer and Fred Drake through the Batten Institute and their Business Plan Competition, which helped us prepare to go after funding, and also through their internship program where we were able to get other Darden students to intern for us for a fraction of the cost they would have been otherwise.
I felt so much support from the Dean down through all the levels of Darden. We as a company give back each year to Darden because we appreciate the importance of the role that Darden played in making this idea a real business.
How did the Darden EMBA curriculum/resources aide your entrepreneurial efforts?
Classes at Darden are dynamic and the professors enjoy real world issues being brought to them to discuss in class. If I had a question or idea about my company I could discuss it in class, and others got value out of the discussion in the same way that I got value out of questions my other classmates would ask. This real-time learning is where a lot of the value of Darden is.
In addition to being able to tailor my electives to get the most help for my business idea, any faculty at Darden would always welcome me into their office to discuss any aspect of starting my business.
I also found that Darden faculty were always willing to introduce me to their connections to help. I met angel investors, accountants, lawyers and others all through Darden connections.
I always talk about Darden being about family, and even a few years out from graduating, I still feel that Darden is a family that cares and helps its members to succeed.