Category Archives: innovation

New Startup Aims to Provide Nutrition for Those on the Go

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MacroFuel founders set out with the goal to make consuming a balanced and nutritious diet simple and effortless.

Max Tave (Cornell) and his classmate, Gus, came up with the idea for MacroFuel last year after enduring the effects of missing meals and subsisting off energy drinks and cheap protein bars as a result of long nights studying in the school library.

They set out with the goal to make consuming a balanced and nutritious diet simple and effortless. They worked with some of Cornell’s top PhD food scientists to develop their initial product, a healthy, wholesome drink that aims to maximize physical and mental performance.

MacroFuel’s all-natural recipe and portable packaging are designed to satisfy all of the body’s macro- and micronutrient needs in 30 seconds or less. They worked with food scientists to make sure the product would blend well with water.

Max and his MacroFuel co-founders have witnessed early success so far, earning support from two venture accelerators and investment offers from other groups.

With an interest in pursuing the humanitarian aspect of the company, the MacroFuel founders are now exploring potential initiatives to improve nutrition developing nations. MacroFuel currently makes a nutritionally complete meal for under $1 (not including packaging) that requires only 16 ounces of cold water.

Max says his experience co-founding MacroFuel has boosted his leadership skills, particularly the importance of being a good teammate through active listening. “Leadership is all about creating a vision, aligning people, and motivating them to achieve that vision. Our team has achieved early success because we are all super motivated and believe in the vision our founders have created for the company.”

MacroFuel maintains a company culture that is open, fun, and competitive. Instead of micromanaging, the group has found success by focusing on robust discussions that lead to new ideas.

What advice would they offer to other startup founders? “Be scrappy,” Max recommends. Too many startups see early success and start splurging on offices with lavish amenities, only to see their initial success soon dry up. Max and the team at MacroFuel take a different approach by staying lean and investing every dollar back into the company.

Max also advises would-be startup founders to make sure they are prepared for the demanding lifestyle required to get a new company off the ground. “When you start a company you need to live and breathe your idea,” he cautions. “There is always room for improvement and things you can and should be doing to increase your chances for success.”

As for advice directed at fellow Sigma Nus, Max urges entrepreneurs to use alumni connections, both at the national and local level. “Sigma Nu has an amazing network, and the alumni want to help and share their experiences with you,” he counsels. “With our food startup, we were able to get in touch with experienced alumni who’ve been in our position running a young company.”

Sigma Nu’s Gamma Theta Chapter provided an environment that helped Max and his fellow brothers excel in the classroom and surrounding community. The brotherhood supported all the various endeavors, from the pursuit of competitive internships to campus-wide events that involved top Silicon Valley tech firms.

With leadership roles as Recruitment Chairman, Social Chairman, and Risk Reduction Chairman, Max says his Sigma Nu experience helped him develop the individual skills that would help him excel after college. The competitive but supportive chapter culture helped him further refine his entrepreneurial ideas.

Max and his team are looking to build off their early momentum by raising capital and opening up a second seed round. As with any startup, sustained success and eventual growth requires capital to build on the initial momentum.

Visit MacroFuel’s Kickstarter page to learn more about supporting their continued growth: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/macrofuel/macrofuel-fuel-your-life

Max Tave - MacroFuel

Co-counder Max Tave (Cornell) demonstrating MacroFuel’s ability to provide nutrition on the go.

Falling Behind is Not a Noble Tradition

By Leadership Consultant Bill Morosco (Florida)

Throughout the course of my travels, I have seen some strikingly different sights: the mountains of Utah, the plains of West Texas, the lights of downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco, the beaches of San Diego and the breathtaking views from the Grand Canyon.

But as I began to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I started to think about what the vastly different chapters in my expansive region had in common. The first things that came to mind of course were our values: Love, Honor and Truth, and our opposition to hazing — those qualities that make us all Sigma Nus. Next came brotherhood, the LEAD program, and the desire to become a Rock Chapter. But one very concerning similarity seemed to follow me from state to state, city to city and chapter to chapter.

Every time I met with a campus Greek advisor the same issue would present itself: IFC. Whether it was in risk management, participation, involvement, philanthropy, or scholarship, IFC was always underperforming compared to Panhellenic, MGC or NPHC.

Lately, this problem has troubled me quite a bit. I’ve continually asked myself, Why? Why do we as IFC men always seem to be the problem, the bad guy, the black sheep? I’ve finally been able to come up with an answer, and unfortunately it’s all around us.

Tradition. Our nostalgic way to relive the times of the past. As Bob Dylan pointed out quite some time ago, “the times, they are a-changing.” And he is right. What you know has become more important than who you know. GPA, diversity, membership development and community involvement have become the focus of Greek communities across the nation. Yet we still see IFC as the late-adopter, being forced into submission by universities and national organizations, clinging to traditions and the days of old. We continue to act like we live in the days when hazing was a way of life, when grades didn’t matter, when respect was given and not earned, when leadership just meant being in the “boys club.”

We have seen time and time again that those who do not evolve face extinction. There are countless examples of old traditions that have needed to change and the ostracism that faced those who refused to relinquish their ways. Our insistence on tradition has made us continue to look back to the past instead of looking forward to the future.

With this, I challenge our chapters to become innovators. Be the trendsetters. Look around your campus, your community and your world and see what needs to change. Be the force of change instead of being forced to change.

New Group Learning Environment Mirrors Fraternity Leadership Development Programs

Faculty member Dave Mainella works with chapter presidents during the 2012 College of Chapters in St. Louis.

GOOD magazine has a new story up about an intriguing program at Penn State that aims to provide professional mentoring for college students all living in the same house:

Imagine as many as 60 entrepreneurial college students living under a single roof and being mentored by successful professionals in their chosen fields. That’s the idea behind a social living project called co.space in State College, Pennsylvania.

Working with more than 50 student interns from Penn State, New Leaf built the framework that will serve as a model for other universities interested in the project: a two-year program for juniors and seniors that includes a semester of training, the opportunity to lead a semester-long project, a summer internship, and a personal mentor—plus a plethora of professional networking options in-house.

It sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? What are some ways fraternities could collaborate with GOOD or co.space on a similar project?

How Your Chapter Can Benefit from the Hacker Culture

Earlier this week, as his company was filing its historic IPO, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg published a buzz-worthy letter explaining the company’s “hacker” culture for potential investors.

Though often associated with unlawfully accessing computers, “hacking” has taken an entirely different meaning in recent years. “In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done,” Zuckerberg explained. “Hacker” culture has been in the tech/DIY lexicon for a number of years now thanks in large part to the popular DIY site Lifehacker.com.

“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration,” Zuckerberg continued. “Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.”

The spirit of hacker culture, particularly the idea of continuous improvement, resonates closely with Sigma Nu’s vision statement Excelling with Honor. Additionally, embracing the concept that something can always be better fits right in with Regent Durham’s focus on chapter strength.

“We all have an obligation to make sure our chapters operate at the highest level of excellence, delivering our mission, pulling their own weight, and always striving to improve,” Regent Durham said in a recent interview. “[Sigma Nu’s Founders] were not interested in mediocrity or being average.”

So you might say Sigma Nu was practicing the hacker culture before it was cool (that is, rejecting the status quo in favor of continuous improvement).

Even companies outside the tech industry are starting to realize the importance of testing the boundaries of how something should be done as they strive for excellence. And, more to the point, so are many of our collegiate chapters.

//Nathaniel Clarkson

Give your chapter meetings (and chapter culture) a makeover

Here’s a small excerpt from a must-read piece by Martin Lindstrom:

The first thing I do during the course of my change-agent work for Fortune 100 companies is to establish the 4:30 rule. The maximum number of people in any meeting should be four, and meetings should never last any longer than 30 minutes. No phones allowed. You may think this a little radical but, if you want to act entrepreneurial, then these are the most important steps to take.

If you’re able to get the right people into one room over two days, the stage is set. Make sure the room is far from the office and prep everyone on the notion that it’s essential to not only come up with ideas for change, but actually lock them in by the end of the second day. If the incentive is great enough, and everyone’s prepared to roll up their sleeves, in my experience, it will happen.

Do yourself a favor and set aside 5 minutes to read the full story.

How could you apply Lindstrom’s other ideas to your chapter?

What your chapter can learn from a resurgent magazine

By Nathaniel Clarkson

Print is dying, we’re always told, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Magazines and newspapers are losing readers–and revenue–to blogs and other forms of new media. There’s just no way print can compete when everything is stacked against them. Or can they?

The unfolding story of The Atlantic offers a refreshing counterexample to the idea that print is helplessly disappearing.

More generally, the magazine’s resurgence during a particularly hostile climate demonstrates for our chapters that achieving success against the odds is quite possible (and the perceived odds are often illusory).

The following story also provides a number of other lessons for student leadership organizations looking to reach the next level.

Reports Ad Week:

For eight years, [Bradley] been trying to staunch the flow of red ink at what was then called the The Atlantic Monthly, only to see the losses increase (one year, to more than $10 million).

On recruiting the right people (values-based recruitment):

When the story of The Atlantic’s turnaround is told, the credit tends to go to the 58-year-old Bradley. But Bradley himself believes his greatest talent is finding talent, and he gives the majority of the credit to Smith, who he calls “unmatchedly gifted.”

On the importance of innovation (i.e. not getting caught up in what “everyone else is doing”):

By rethinking everything about the company, however, Smith found a way to make that pay. Think Silicon Valley, but without the free food and massages. (Smith did away with perks like free bagels in the mornings.) “We don’t have foosball machines, but we filter for entrepreneurial talent,” Smith says.

On admitting mistakes:

Bradley, looking back, is candid about his own failings.

The Atlantic’s losses mounted quickly under Bradley’s hands-off ownership style, growing from $4.5 million to more than $10 million. […] Realizing he had to be more involved, he then tried every fix he could think of: He upgraded the paper stock, moved subscription prices up, then down, took advertisers on exotic retreats, to no avail.

==> People make mistakes and chapters err. Acknowledge the mistake, fix it and move on.

Again on the importance of innovation and reinvention:

“One of the great flaws in traditional media companies is they pay lip service to innovation,” Smith says. “They can’t restructure because they’re supertankers. They don’t reinvent themselves to their core.”

There will always be some reason to explain away poor chapter performance. “Numbers were down for everyone this year.” “Every other student organization hazes too.” “Our university president is anti-Greek.” (Have you ever asked her why?) “We’re waiting for the seniors to graduate to fix problem X.”

So what. The odds were against The Atlantic and they made it happen anyways. How will your chapter rise above the everything-is-against-us narrative and defy the trend to achieve excellence?

Khan Academy and the LEAD Program

“Khan Academy is an educational website,” reports technology writer Clive Thompson, “that, as its tagline puts it, aims to let anyone “learn almost anything—for free.” Students, or anyone interested enough to surf by, can watch some 2,400 videos in which the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily discusses principles of math, science, and economics (with a smattering of social science topics thrown in).”

The core of Khan Academy’s approach sounds remarkably similar to the impetus behind moving the LEAD Program to an online format:

The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed on the kids’ own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this flipping makes sense when you think about it.

Similarly, the LEAD Program transitioned to an online format so participants could learn the vital information on their own, freeing up time for interactive discussion during group meetings.

Read the full story here and browse Khan Academy’s impressive collection of video lessons here.