Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TI:GER: Everywhere You Want to Be

Hi, my name is Declan and I’m a first-year MBA working on a TI:GER project to commercialize a robot for testing autonomous-driving equipment and algorithms. 

There have been many benefits from the program, but at a recent career fair, I found one I hadn’t realized before. I had been waiting in line quite a while to talk to a recruiter for one of the major car companies. We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then I mentioned my TI:GER experience—“I’m also working with a multi-disciplinary team to commercialize research related to autonomous driving.” His jaw dropped. TI:GER skills are in demand by more companies than just start-ups.

The first thing people notice about the TI:GER program is how great the experience is for learning to start your own business, but there is much more to it. This recruiter was intrigued because he was looking for new hires that have an entrepreneurial mindset. The skills that we learn are valuable everywhere—not just in a startup. Large, small, new and old companies know that it’s not enough to keep doing the same things they’ve always done. They need employees that think big and are willing to take risks. If a company doesn’t keep coming up with novel ideas in their market, then a competitor will. This is the type of work that a TI:GER graduate can do.

Therefore, corporate intrapreneurship is another path that is opened via the TI:GER program. You could be an employee of a Fortune 500 company innovating around a problem that doesn’t even exist yet, or you could be a founder of an internal startup (think Waymo within Alphabet). The possibilities are endless; the only limits are ones you put on yourself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My First Semester TI:GER Experience

Hi, my name is Anna and I am a first-year Georgia Tech MBA student.  I am wrapping up the first semester of the TI:GER program and I wanted to share my experience thus far.  One of the best parts about TI:GER is getting to work on a cross-functional team that consists of one Georgia Tech PhD student, two Emory law students and two Georgia Tech MBA students.  Our team project for the duration of the TI:GER program is based off each PhD student’s current research.  I think that the PhD students are working on some really interesting projects and for me as an MBA student, the TI:GER program is a great way to apply business school concepts to a real world project.  It’s definitely an interesting experience to meet your classmates, learn about their backgrounds and then scramble to form a team that you will work with for the next year and a half!

My team consists of myself, Rob Mannino, Prateek Mittal, Creighton McMurray and Alek Siliunas.  Rob Mannino is a biomedical engineering PhD student at Georgia Tech.  Prateek is the other Georgia Tech MBA student on my team and Creighton and Alex are the Emory law students.  My group is working on an app that can monitor anemia using smartphone images.  Our team brings together many diverse backgrounds that all complement each other on this project.  I came to business school with a finance background, Rob is our subject matter expert, Prateek has a computer science background, Creighton brings law expertise via a previous background with bioethics and medical humanities and Alek comes from a family of successful inventors.  It’s this rich blending of backgrounds that provide for unique and thoughtful team discussions.  I’ve really enjoyed pausing to reflect on my team member’s thoughts as they consider a business problem from a different angle. 

I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the wonderful TI:GER lab that is available to all TI:GER students.  The lab has lots of workstations and conference rooms.  Also, there are computers, printers, lockers and a break room.  Our team uses the lab for team meetings and also as a breakout space.  I use the TI:GER lab as my home base to study and catch up on my other classes.  Most graduate students will agree that having a dedicated work space is an extremely valuable amenity and only another reason why I’m glad to be a part of the program.  At the end of our first semester, our team has only started our journey towards commercializing our TI:GER PhD project but I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure! 

Anna McDermott
TI:GER Class of 2018
My TI:GER Team at Georgia Tech Ropes Course 
From left: Prateek Mittal, Rob Mannino, Anna McDermott, Creighton McMurray (not pictured: Alek Siliunas)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Me and Civil Engineering: New to TI:GER

A funny series of events landed me as the first civil engineering PhD student in the TI:GER program, and I could not be happier with the way things have turned out. My name is Chloe Johansen, and I am a first year TI:GER PhD student studying the ways different civil infrastructure systems depend on each other and how to make these systems more resilient.

I believe imposter syndrome is prevalent among female engineers.. In short, it is a feeling that you somehow lucked into getting where you are. As a freshman, the fact that I wouldn’t be able to handle being an engineer was embedded in me, even though it is what I wanted to be.  I cycled through three different majors my first three years of college trying to figure out what else I could be good at and enjoy. I started as a pre-physical therapy major, realized that was not for me, changed to biology, realized that also was not for me, and tried out environmental science. Nope. Then finally, in my third year, I admitted to myself that I could handle an engineering course load after getting a rare A in physics. Also, I admitted that I would do it in two and a half years since I didn’t want to be an undergrad forever. At the end of five years, I realized my passion for research in a field that I am passionate about and decided a PhD was for me.

Through choosing and refining a research topic with my advisor, Dr. Iris Tien, I have discovered the potential for impact that much academic research can have on our built environment. I have also discovered the struggle for many academics to translate their research into terms that stakeholders and decision makers understand and will take action on. Last year, I read an article discussing both the lack of and great need for innovation in our infrastructure systems. I realized that my research had the potential to address this issue and started to look into the TI:GER program. I went to an info session and talked with Margi and Marie after. I learned that they had never had a civil engineering student in the program and was even more driven to apply and push for innovation in my field.

I started the TI:GER program a few weeks ago, and can no longer convince myself that luck has gotten me to where I am today. It is through hard work and great mentors that I have earned a spot in the TI:GER program at Georgia Tech. I look forward to the opportunity of gaining more mentors and incorporating much needed innovation into a field that I care about!

Chloe Johansen
TI:GER Class of 2018

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I am an attorney enrolled in the TI:GER program while pursing my MBA, so this is my second graduate student experience. My decision to pursue an MBA was based largely on my desire to work on business problems as opposed to problems that are strictly legal in nature. Having been through the law school experience, I know that practical experience is a key influence on future career choices.

During law school I took part in mock trials and law clinics where I represented individual clients in real court proceedings. I then went on to clerk for a trial judge, work as a prosecutor and eventually started my own law practice. My experiential learning had a strong influence on my confidence in interviews for some of these positions, as well as the strength of the cover letters that I wrote and how quickly I could adapt to the new role. In sum, my experience with trial work during law school lead to my desire and ability to pursue a career in trial practice.

While reflecting on that experience, I started my MBA journey with a desire to gain practical experience in advising companies on business strategies for commercializing new technology. In my law practice, I had experience advising a key client, a startup research and development company, on contract negotiation issues. As I now aspire to step into the new role of strategic business advisor, TI:GER has been a tremendous opportunity to learn how to apply essential consulting skills, such as how to analyze the market for a product as well as how to assess the commercial viability of a particular technology.

In TI:GER, I am also exposed to the team dynamic that exists in small startups and many project-based work environments. My team is composed of law students, MBA students and one PHD student. Although our primary roles are based largely on individual areas of academic study, we are all exposed to the variety of issues involved in commercializing technology, such as intellectual property protection, market analysis and customer discovery.

I chose TI:GER based on the expectation that its experiential learning format would be a huge influence on my career path after the MBA program. Being in TI:GER has already provided key experiences that have helped me distinguish my skill set during job interviews.  I am passionate about the program, the technology and the team, and consider my decision to apply to TI:GER one of the best career decisions that I’ve ever made. I look forward to applying my TI:GER experience in my new career.

Jermaine Fanfair
TI:GER Class of 2017

Thursday, January 28, 2016

All In

At 600 feet, the engine stopped, and we’re falling…. fast. Over 2000 feet per minute, which gives me a little less than 18 seconds to do something before we hit the ground. And we have no parachute.

Sitting through hundreds of hours of lectures, reading, studying and talking about theory and procedures, while a crucial foundation before this day, was no comparison to actually living in and experiencing that moment: when I completed my first helicopter autorotation during advanced flight training. My saving grace was that an experienced flight instructor sat next to me, ready to save us had I failed to act, or to correct the controls had I acted wrongly, coaching me as I landed us safely with only a few small bumps. I’m sure the outcome would have been much different without the luxury of having this mentor guide me during my first time through.

This is TI:GER.

It is not some theoretical mumbo jumbo that we may apply one day. Sure it feels like I’m standing in front of an open fire hose, being beaten with excessive information through a heavier course load, massive amounts of reading, many (but relevant, guest expert-led) lectures, discussions and lots of work (including patent filing, intellectual property freedom to operate, industry analysis, and currently working on funding, customer discovery, and a commercialization plan). It is challenging. But what makes this different… better… worth it, is that we are living it, experiencing it, testing it, as we work to try to actually commercialize a cutting edge technology and form a company.

I am humbled to be part of a brilliant team working to commercialize a new additive manufacturing technology (ahem… sorry Margi… “3D printing”) which “prints” lighter/stronger production-grade composites (carbon fiber, Kevlar, etc). Led by the Georgia Tech PhD who invented the technology, Chris Oberste, our “dream TI:GER team” was the first to form this year, taking in incredible talent with our Emory University JD’s Daniel Ledesma and Nathan North and my Scheller MBA counterpart Akshay Saxena. We’ve already made incredible strides towards our goal.

TI:GER is an entrepreneurial accelerator that thrusts you beyond the books into the action.

Just as the flight instructor was there during my initial helicopter flights to increase safety, as we go through TI:GER, we are not alone. We are surrounded by dedicated advisors and current field-expert business and legal mentors, hand selected to match their expertise with our technology. They are there guiding us, helping to prevent us from making catastrophic (or, at least, costly) mistakes, allowing us to learn the process through doing while having a safety net should we falter along the way.

This next year is going to be awesome. I’m all in.

Lewis Motion
TI:GER Class of 2017

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Insights from Team NanoCliq...

I am Vibin with team NanoCliq. We are a second year Ti:GER team working in the immunotherapeutic space. My teammates are Rob Demont (PhD), Indra Datta (MBA), Bunny Sandefur (JD) and Nikki Leung (JD).  Our technology helps pharmaceutical companies reduce their preclinical testing time and shaves as much as 2-years off the drug discovery period. This translates to 2-years of additional patent protected revenue and for each blockbuster drugs that translates to at least $1 billion in additional revenue/year. We are a technology that serves the pharma world without getting caught in the muck of FDA approval. How cool is that!? Our market size in preclinical testing across all immunotherapeutics is estimated at $20 billion a year. Yes! We will turn into corporate leviathans, hell bent on world domination if things work out.

That’s us on the podium
Instead of boring y’all with further details of how cool the technology is, I thought I will give you a brief overview of what is ahead for us. We are on the cusp of getting this technology to market. One large pharmaceutical company initiated contact with us (name withheld for no reason other than to sound mysterious) and we are in discussions to get a first pilot going. This semester we worked on putting some structure to the business model and presenting it to the larger audience. We represented TI:GER at the Georgia Bio Innovation conference this November. For us, it was important to get the word out about NanoCliq and possibly find out at least two more partners to enter into a pilot project. 

For those who don’t know what GaBio Summit is, please see the links below: http://www.gabiosummit2015.com/

                                                                                              So what Next?
The full team in close up!
We have to iron out the details of our business model. The devil is unfortunately in the details. We have an idea of how we will make the revenue, what could the costs be and who are the partners required to get to market. That however will not be sufficient. We will have to structure the exact details, so that we can start negotiating for a deal with the pilot partners. This is going to be a lot of work, but we have an awesome team to get the things done. Before I wind up, a shout out to our awesome mentors MG. Finn, Richard DiMonda and Gary Busch.  Rich and MG went with us through every step of the process and we have a business model because of their help.  Also a big thank you to Bob McNally who sat with us and made GaBio Summit happen.

A final word on TI:GER:
It’s not possible to take something complex like an Immunotherapeutic technology to the market place without having a structure to frame the business. TI:GER is one of the most awesome programs to make this happen. TI:GER provides a solid dependable team, an extremely structured academic framework and super well connected and experienced network to make things happen. This program was the single most awesome experience in my entire educational experience till date. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Semester Wrap Up

Hi everyone, it’s Maggie again.  Our TI:GER class of 2016 just finished our third semester and I thought I’d share some of the highlights.

One of the best things about this semester, in my opinion, was all the help we received in honing our pitch, clarifying our slide decks, and learning how to be better presenters all around.  For one class, we had a “Pitch Camp.”  Each team presented a three minute pitch and then was assigned a coach who worked with your team one-on-one to improve. 

The week after that we gave a practice 15 minute presentation to our business and law mentors in preparation for our final presentation in front of the TI:GER Advisory Board.  I’ve written about this in the past, but one of my favorite parts about TI:GER is the exposure you get to real world entrepreneurs and patent attorneys.

It’s been a great semester all around with some really good guest lecturers from the startup community and the angel investing and venture capital world.  Moving forward, some teams will continue to work on their TI:GER PhD project, some will choose to work with an ATDC start-up company, and some will choose to take a different class next semester.  A real positive for TI:GER which I hadn’t realized before now is that the program is very flexible and individualized to each student.

I look forward to seeing what next semester brings!