How does a Kellogg Graduate with no background in engineering become an advisory board member for the MEM program? Although his father attended NU and graduated with a degree in engineering, Jay Goldstein turned more to the marketing and development side of the picture as an entrepreneur with an eye for great ideas. Have you heard of Redbox? He played a role in developing the enterprise. Learn more below.
By Jay Goldstein
As a non-quant, non-engineer type I am amused to find myself on the MEM board. My father is a Northwestern University engineering graduate and I like to say he tried to make an engineer out of me because I was introduced to so many basic sciences growing up. I was also introduced to what entrepreneurialism is all about as he and his NU partner went on to form a business after they graduated which, among other things, created the residential garage door opener industry.
Personally, I leaned more toward the sales and marketing development sides of things rather than the technical but most of my entrepreneurial success has come from working alongside creative engineers. For example I was working with an engineer who had this idea for a DVD vending kiosk that I thought had a lot of possibility. I became their first business development person and opened up many of the first proof of concept chain-store trials, then went about raising venture capital and other early-stage activities. This company would go on to produce over 35,000 Redbox kiosks, which you may have seen around.
As I’ve worked with engineers throughout my career I’ve come to understand the different skill sets necessary in a successful team. Most recently at the IT software development firm that was engineering driven and until I arrived, without business processes or sales and marketing functions and they could not achieve their market potential. Once those business aspects were put in place the growth really accelerated, to about 400% in two years, and is forecasting another 500% growth over the next few years.
Being a serial entrepreneur I love transformational growth and development—developing people, markets, products and services, and the businesses themselves. Today it is interesting that universities are the new incubators (at least according to Donna Fenn’s book Upstarts). At McCormick I have guest lectured in leadership and entrepreneurship classes, acted as a project judge at the freshman and senior levels, and even had a design project for my own company completed by a senior team which came up with an amazing, creative, and even patentable design. As an MEM advisory board member I hope to bring my creativity and divergent thinking to team and help shape students so they can learn to work with non-engineering types before they leave the classroom.