A group of MBA students who are traveling the country to meet with small businesses came to Albuquerque this week. MBAs Across America is a group of Harvard Business School students looking to understand the problems small businesses are facing.
In a style that’s part Kerouac, part consulting, the group observed everything from a hair salon in Detroit to a Montana clothing company that hosts an annual music festival. Their goal this summer is to not only learn from these businesses, but to understand some of their struggles.
Amaris Singer grew up in Albuquerque. She said the Duke City is a blank slate when it comes to start up companies. “On the one hand you have all this technology and talent that kind of spills over from the labs and can be put to other uses,” she said. “But then you also have the opportunity to stand out more here.”
In Detroit, the group worked with salon owner Sebastian Jackson of The Social Club Grooming Company. He had figured out how to recycle hair clippings from his customers by using them as compost. But Singer said the first realization was with the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “It started out as shipping hair off to be used to help clean up oil spills,” Singer explains. “And then once there was enough hair kind of going in that direction, he started looking into other uses for the trimmings.”
MBA’s Across America is wrapping up the tour before heading back to school. But Singer says it would be a wasted experience if they kept the trip to themselves. She's hoping the trip can spark a conversation to inspire new ways to think about business. “The four of us really want to build this into something bigger than ourselves,” Singer says.
The group’s next stop is New Orleans.