Bridging Gaps for My Community

group photo of students while at a company visit

My international business experience helped me come up with potential solutions in my own business community

I accomplished some of my goals and grew personally and professionally by attending the Summer MBA Seminar.

Some of my goals were a bit difficult to accomplish during the IBS program; however, the personal and professional growth I experienced seemed inevitable. Time management proved to be a bit of a challenge, especially in the first few days where I was jetlagged. In some ways, the jetlag helped because it made it easy to stay up late and do school work. However, staying up late to do school work also meant being tired for early morning meetings.

I often worked on coursework for my Information Systems class until 2:00 AM in order to stay caught up. I also had to prioritize my time and turned down invitations to dinner in order to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I did school work. I do not regret any of these choices though, it was well worth all the sacrifices. I would have rather been overwhelmed with school work and traveling in Europe than to have not been stressed out by schoolwork and still in the U.S. For this reason, I enjoyed our longer rides in the coach bus. For one, I was able to get work done, plus whenever I needed a “brain break” the scenery was always a great distraction.

Presenter at Cushman & WakefieldThe opportunities for personal and professional growth were abundant during the IBS program. I am most excited about the professional growth I was able to make with the amount of exposure we had to international business experience. This exposure was also beneficial when I needed creativity for a project I am currently completing. During the Cushman and Wakefield presentation, I was struck with an idea that has been a huge help for a project I am currently working on for my UNCW MBA program. As Richard Hogg continued on about the different types of commercial real estate the company was involved with. He started discussing a new concept called office sharing that was still somewhat in its experimental stages.

In order for companies to reduce overhead costs, real estate spaces have begun being leased out to several firms that are able to function with some flexibility. The presentation did not go much deeper into this idea but it was enough to spark an idea for a project I was working on. In the MBA program for UNCW, participants are assigned a group project in which they partner with a local start-up company. This Learning Alliance course is based around a Growth and Profit project which begins in Marketing and continues over the duration of the summer semesters. Each group researches the history of their partner company and analyzes their marketing approaches, their target customer market as well as their challenges and successes. Based on this information, each group is to provide feedback on the companies’ current standing and generate a strategic approach to benefit each company moving forward.

The company my group was assigned for this Growth and Profit project is called INVESTinNC. INVESTinNC is an educational platform created to inform North Carolina-based small business owners and potential investors about new opportunities to participate in investment crowdfunding under the recently enacted NC PACES Act. Historically, only a select pool of wealthy individuals and businesses have been able to participate in capital raises. With the passing of the NC PACES Act, which was passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor in 2016, and went into effect with the publication of the rules by the North Carolina Securities Division of the Secretary of State’s office on April 1st, 2017, the door has been opened for a much larger pool of potential investors to support local business via investment crowdfunding. Investment crowdfunding is the process of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from many people, typically via the internet.

INVESTinNC is in a unique position within their field as their functionality depends on reaching and maintaining two different target markets; Investors are needed equally as much as issuers are needed. In this aspect, investors and issuers also represent supply and demand. Their challenges are similar to those faced by Uber when they first started out. In order to attract riders, you need drivers; in order to attract drivers, you need riders. The biggest challenge for our Growth and Profit project has been what recommendations to provide for INVESTinNC to attract issuers and investors.

Picturing these shared office spaces being developed by Cushman and Wakefield made my thoughts go to INVESTinNC and the partnership they provide to entrepreneurs. Besides the obvious incentive of gaining capital, the other attraction for issuers to sign on with INVESTinNC is that they will receive financial consulting and other business advice from the experts at INVESTinNC. Perhaps these shared office spaces are the missing link for INVESTinNC. Providing a collaborative office space with significantly lower rent costs (since office space is shared), may be exactly what is needed to help local entrepreneurs get to the next step in the business process.

If INVESTinNC could provide this space that allows business owners access to an office where they are able to have face-to-face conversations with experienced consultants they would, in turn, provide some confidence for potential investors. Since returning from the IBS program I have presented the idea to my team. They agreed that this is an innovative idea to suggest to INVESTinNC and we are currently incorporating it into our Growth and Profit project.

Liz Howard
Liz Howard

School: University of North Carolina, Wilmington

I believe that the ability to effectively communicate across cultures is extremely important in today’s world.

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