The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: July 2016

On staying cool at the end of the summer term

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow marks the start of the last week of classes for summer 2016 (time flies when you’re having fun!). If you’re a current student at GPS, this is likely one of your busiest weeks of the year. Perhaps you’re tempted to skip out on your discussion posts as you work to complete your final project. Perhaps you’re struggling to stay focused as your next vacation beckons. But before you mentally check out (or retreat into full-on study hibernation), check out our tips for making the most of your last week of class.

  1. Manage your time. Do what you can to map out what the next eight days are going to look like. Make a checklist of everything you need to do, and carve out blocks of time in your calendar when you know you’ll be able to sit down and focus. Try not to worry about missing out on social events, your kid’s soccer game, or your regular fitness class. Yes, you’re making sacrifices, but it’s only for a week!
  2. Minimize distraction. Try to find a place to study that gets you away from other things that demand your attention. Some students swear by the “white noise” provided by their local coffee shop, while others need the absolute quiet of their office after business hours.
  3. Don’t forget about those discussion posts. As enticing as it is to blow off your discussion posts, please remember that these posts make up 30 percent of your grade.
  4. Take some time to de-stress. Whether it’s a nightly meditation, an extra hour of sleep or a lunchtime walk, find something to do each day that will help you clear your mind. Bonus points if that something doesn’t involve a screen.

Good luck, and remember…

Cheers, you're almost there!

What Established Companies Can Really Learn From Startups

The following blog post was written by Timothy Bosco, Senior Vice President of Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman. Tim will be hosting a webinar on this topic on Thursday, July 28 at 2 p.m. EDT (rsvp here). 

Today, some of the most successful financial service providers are seeking lessons about risk taking from an unlikely source – early stage startup companies.

Whether it’s through the venture investment community or directly with leading fintechs, more and more established companies are looking to model startup behaviors despite the fact that these emerging companies actually fail more than 90% of the time.1

Learn more about the newest GPS master's degree: MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech

Learn more about the newest GPS master’s degree

It is easy to assume this growing trend must be because the fast-paced, innovative startup culture inspires established companies to take bigger chances in search of bigger rewards. The real reason for this new fascination, however, is often just the opposite. It might actually be the way startups deal with uncertainty and efficiently mitigate their risk of failure that is driving the real interest.


Clearly, the “eat-or-be-eaten” environment in which most startups operate has a way of forcing efficiency and creativity. When something is not working to plan, only those with the willingness and the ingenuity to shift fast enough have a chance of making it.

It’s that dexterity large organizations envy most. In fact, there probably isn’t a corporate innovation team out there that hasn’t, at some point, incorporated the “fail fast” mantra into their lexicon.

Large companies also recognize that many of the same factors that threaten a startup’s success can impact their own product strategies to the same degree – technology can evolve overnight, customer preferences are fickle, funding is always limited, and new competition can spring up from anywhere at any time.

The difference for startups, though, is that they have the most to lose by ignoring signals to fail fast. In most cases, it is their survival instincts that draw out the entrepreneurial resiliency needed to bootstrap success even if that means setting aside their original ambitions.

Pinterest is one of many great examples of a startup that was forced to abandon its initial plan only to architect an even bigger opportunity. In 2009, the founders of Pinterest initially attempted to launch the very first mobile-enabled shopping application called Tote. Despite strong customer demand, retailer support, and adequate seed funding, the idea never took off because of the relative immaturity of mobile payment technologies. Instead of doubling down and waiting for payment technologies catch up, Tote switched gears and relaunched a much simpler application that kick started a new visual social network phenomenon. It turns out that Pinterest is among the most likely IPO candidates in 2016 with an anticipated $11 billion valuation.2

While large companies can’t necessarily manufacture the competitive environments that shape actual startup behaviors, there is still a lot they can learn from successful entrepreneurs about staying lean, focused, and in control of new product innovation. The following table outlines a few key success factors commonly found among startups that reinvented themselves early in their lifecycles.

Adopting Successful Startup Strategies

What Established Companies Figure 1

Within the corporate context, these startup strategies also suggest an ideal investment profile for mitigating risk. The minimum and maximum ranges depicted below illustrate the relative levels of investment in terms of both time and money throughout the product development cycle.

Creating the Right New Product Investment Profile

What Established Companies Figure 2
It clearly takes both practical decision making and an unconditional commitment to make it big as a startup. The people who run them are responsible for every detail, every success, and every failure. It is that entrepreneurial perspective that guides startups to fail fast. For that reason, established companies must understand the importance of empowering their product teams to own their decisions about how to incorporate failure before it gets expensive or even worse… before it becomes destructive.

1 Forbes, 90% of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know About the 10%, January 2015.

2 Nasdaq, Is Pinterest a Top IPO Candidate for 2016?, December 2015.

This blog post was originally published on Brown Brothers Harriman’s Insights blog on May 6, 2016. RSVP to Tim’s webinar, What Can Established Companies Really Learn from FinTech Startups, here.

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)