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Special Student Webinar Series

The WSJ College Program has launched a new webinar series especially for college students. The first, focused on Interviewing, aired earlier this week.

WSJ Editor Nikki Waller and industry expert Pamela Skillings shared tips and answered questions on NOT bombing the interview. Viewers learned how to impress while avoiding common pitfalls.

They can view this webinar and register for future ones at WSJ.com/studentwebinars.

Be sure to share this information with your students.
THIS WEEK'S ARTICLES
Google Arm Invests In Farming Startup
Startups Upend Japan's Seafood Business
For Greek Yogurt King, Path Isn't Always Smooth
When E. Coli Becomes a Business Opportunity
Gender Gap Widens for Entrepreneurs

Google Arm Invests In Farming Startup
by: Jacob Bunge
May 20, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Business Startups

SUMMARY: Google Ventures is dipping its toe into agriculture. The venture capital arm of Google recently led a $15 million investment round in Farmers Business Network, a startup that evaluates public and private data on crop yields, weather patterns and planting practices, and then sells advice to farmers on how to increase their crop yields and cut wasteful fertilizer or pesticide use. The service costs $500 per year. To participate, a farmer submits to Farmers Business Network data on past crop yields, which seeds were planted, fertilizer use and other practices. In return, the client gets an analysis showing how his or her crops fared against farms working with similar soils and seeds, and suggests adjustments in planting and crop rotation. The company, which currently covers 7 million acres of cropland in 17 states, says its service will become more powerful as more farmers enroll.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Ask you students to speculate on why Farmers Business Network's service will become more powerful as more farmers enroll. Talk about the term "big data" and how big data relates to Farmers Business Network's service. Talk about the potential for startups like Farmers Business Network to disrupt traditional farming practices in the Midwest and elsewhere.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) On a scale of 1-10 (10 is high), how much potential do you believe exists in the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy for business startups? Explain your answer.

2. (Introductory) Why will Farmers Business Network's service become more powerful as more farmers sign up?

3. (Advanced) How has the advent of "big data" made Farmers Business Network possible?

4. (Advanced) Do you think farmers are an easy sell or a tough sell in regard to adopting new technologies?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Startups Upend Japan's Seafood Business
by: Eleanor Warnock
May 16, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Industry Evolution

SUMMARY: Despite Japan's reputation as a leader in technology, its seafood industry largely operates as it did 100 years ago. Layers of wholesalers and retailers move hundreds of tons of fish daily through centralized markets. The system relies on decades old business relationships, phones and faxes. To improve margins, many supermarket chains are now bypassing this approach and are buying directly from big distributors. Small restaurants and fish retailers have found a better way too. A Japanese startup, Hachimenroppi, gives small stores an iPad preloaded with an application that lists the day's catch. Store owners tap in their orders, and Hachimenroppi delivers the next day, in volumes as small as one fish-or a single piece of a larger fish. Hachimenroppi, which started in 2011, now has 1,700 stores as customers. The company buys from wholesalers all along the supply chain, often cutting out several layers of distribution. Hachimenroppi's founder, Masanari Matsuda, says his company saves small-store owners time and gives them access to many kinds of fish, particularly hard-to-find varieties.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Ask your students to describe Hachimenroppi's business model. Talk about the appeal of the business model, particularly for small stores. Speculate on the extent to which Hachimenroppi will be disrupt the Japanese fish industry.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Describe Hachimenroppi's business model.

2. (Advanced) For a small store or restaurant in Japan that sells fish, list the benefits of utilizing Hachimenroppi's service.

3. (Advanced) To what extent to you believe Hachimenroppi will disrupt the Japanese seafood industry?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


For Greek Yogurt King, Path Isn't Always Smooth
by: Annie Gasparro
May 18, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Succession

SUMMARY: A year ago TPG, a private-equity firm, invested $750 million in yogurt-maker Chobani. Part of the deal was that the company replace its founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya with a professional manager. Chobani had simply grown beyond Mr. Ulukaya's expertise. The company's operations had become scattered, purchasing was inefficient and it lacked an adequate quality-control team. These missteps were costing the company money and sales. Chobani's story echoes that of other entrepreneurs who have struggled to develop their creations into mature companies-and often had to cede control. The article goes on to chronicle the rise of Chobani under Mr. Ulukaya's leadership, and the shift that's underway on the part of TPG to professionalize Chobani's operations. Its working, and sales and efficiencies are improving. Mr. Ulukaya says the biggest lesson he's learned is to seek out help early. Mr. Ulukaya will remain Chairman of Chobani.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This article provides insight into the challenges of rapid-growth. One of the principle challenges is whether the founding team has the expertise and experience to run an increasingly larger firm. The Chobani story is an example of a firm that is benefiting from the decision to bring professional managers on board. Discuss the dynamics of the Chobani case with your students and what startup entrepreneurs can learn from the Chobani story.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) What can startup entrepreneurs learn from the Chobani story?

2. (Advanced) Although Chobani stands to gain much from TPG's involvement including a new CEO what, if anything, will the company lose via Mr. Ulukaya's reduce role? How can Chobani best utilize what Mr. Ulukaya has to offer?

3. (Advanced) Make a list of the missteps that Chobani made as the firm grew. Next to each item on the list, report on how TPG is addressing the misstep or speculate on how TPG will address the misstep if TPG's plans aren't mentioned in the article.

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


When E. Coli Becomes a Business Opportunity
by: Jesse Newman
May 15, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Opportunity recognition

SUMMARY: This article focuses on the growing number of startups that are focused on helping U.S. food companies comply with new government regulations. An increased outbreak of food-borne illnesses has led to a major overhaul of U.S. food laws in the past several years. There has also been a step-up of criminal prosecutions of executives at companies implicated in the cases. The startups are getting help. VC firms have pumped $179 million into the segment over the past four years, up 40% from the previous four-year period. An example of a startup in the food-safety space is iFoodDecision-Sciences. The two-year old company sells mobile apps that enable food producers and processors to collect and analyze data to prevent disease outbreaks and product recalls. Some big companies are investing in food-safety products too. General Mills said it has provided funding or expertise to four companies working to develop methods to quickly test foods for the presence of toxic pathogens.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This article provides an example of how business opportunities arise and how they're capitalized on. An increased outbreak of food-borne illnesses has led to changes in food-safety laws. That set of events has provided an opportunities for startups to form to help food companies comply with the laws (and do a better job handling and testing food products). Talk to your students about the most likely firms that will form as a result of food-safety law changes. Spend a few minutes looking at iFood Decision Sciences's Web site and discuss what the firm does.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) In what ways do changes in government regulations provide opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures?

2. (Advanced) In what ways can "big data" help startups like iFood Decision Sciences assist its clients?

3. (Advanced) Why would a large company like General Mills invest in food-safety startups rather than satisfy its needs via internal research and development?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Gender Gap Widens for Entrepreneurs
by: Ruth Simon
May 14, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Entrepreneurial gender gap

SUMMARY: The entrepreneurial gender gap is growing. The share of new business started by women fell last year to its second lowest level in nearly two decades. According to new data, in 2014 women opened just 36.8% of new businesses in the U.S. The latest numbers reflect broad macroeconomic factors, such as a construction rebound, along with the obstacles facing women entrepreneurs. The drop in startup activity has been particularly sharp among young women. For example, the average number of businesses started by U.S. women ages 20 to 34 fell nearly 27% since 1996. Startup activity by men under age 34 fell just 3% during the same period. One obstacle women face is access to capital. Companies with a female CEO received bust 3% of venture-capital investments, and just 9% of seed funding between 2011 and 2013, according to a 2014 study by Babson College.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Ask your students to speculate on both the macroeconomic factors that are helping create the entrepreneurial gender gap along with the unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face. Talk about how to overcome the challenges that female entrepreneurs encounter. Talk about whether the playing field is level for both male and female entrepreneurs interested in starting businesses in the communities in which you live.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Make a list of 3-5 macroeconomic factors that may be contributing to the entrepreneurial gender gap. Briefly describe why each factor favors male entrepreneurs.

2. (Advanced) Make a list of 3-5 obstacles facing female entrepreneurs.

3. (Advanced) Make a list of suggestions for eliminating the entrepreneurial gender gap.

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


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